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I was just a little surprised to see that the phone runs Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 rather than Nougat, but it is being generally reported that an update will be appearing soon.

Both front and rear cameras are 16 megapixel, f/1.9 units. Maximum video recording resolution is 1080p30, not the 4K available from the S7. A double tap on the home button will get the camera going even if the phone’s locked (of course, you can switch that off if you prefer).

(To be clear, the formal model number of this phone is SM-A520F.)

Performance

Since I was already using a Samsung Galaxy S6 phone, and since the Galaxy A5 implements NFC (Near Field Communications) and a full service automatic update, setting it up was super easy. I unlocked the S6, touched the backs of both cameras for an instant, touched the permission button on the S6 and that was pretty much it. The new phone could have downloaded all my apps, but said that because there were more than a hundred, it was offering a chance to choose. So I picked the forty-odd I’d most need in the next few days and released it to do its thing. After some Samsung account stuff, the phone started with my regular wallpaper already in place and my apps downloading. It was about as pain free as it can get.

In the clock faces section of the always on screen, you get a choice of just two

Will that work with your old phone? That’ll depend very much on your old phone, but this shows that the Galaxy A5 is capable of handling its end of the exchange.

The screen was gorgeous. I simply didn’t miss the higher 1440 by 2560 resolution of the Galaxy S6 or S7. Only with a magnifying glass and careful examination of specifically chosen items, might one be able to tell the difference.

The phone felt good in the hand. It seemed solid and sturdy. Samsung doesn’t say what kind of glass is used, but Corning isn’t so backwards, saying that it’s Gorilla Glass 4. The body seems to be aluminium or some alloy thereof, covered in glass.

But I’d note that this is a slippery phone. Both front and back are super smooth. Sliding fingers over the screen seems to be a smoother process than most phones. The screen seemed more resistant to fingerprints than most. Because it’s so slippery, you’ll need to be careful, and to get a case.

The processor wasn’t particularly fast. According to the Quadrant performance test, it ran at 93% of the speed of an S7, but do remember that the S7 is somewhat slower than quite a few lower cost phones. The Oppo R9s Plus, for example, is only $50 more than the A5, and the A5 runs at only 72% of its speed. But the Samsung Galaxy S7 has much faster memory than either of those phones. Indeed, it’s slightly more than twice as fast as the memory in the A5.

Wagga Wagga Public School

Regardless of all that, the phone worked well and very rarely with any delay. I am not much of a gamer, though, so if you are, you should probably look to a higher performance phone. It might work fine with today’s games, but next year’s?

All the software worked properly. Notifications interacted properly with their associated apps. The whole thing was just smooth in operation. The fingerprint scanner worked about as effectively as in the S7, which means pretty well, but not as well as in some other phone models.

Detail from above, unscaled

Perhaps the biggest step down from the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S7 was the camera. It has the same resolution as the former, but it generally didn’t focus as quickly or as well in low light, and the colours of greenery tended to be a touch darker, less glowing. That said, it was rather better than that in most low and mid-cost phones.