Mid-range marvel: Samsung’s Galaxy A5 reviewed

In the hands, it’s definitely comfortable enough, and Samsung’s staple button configuration is here, unchanged from the past year, with a power button on the right edge, volume rocker on the left, and the regular home button flanked on other side by the multi-task and back buttons which are soft (no physical button underneath) but light up and vibrate when you press them.

Hooray for simulated presses.

Switch it on and a lovely little 5 inch screen comes to life, bright and cheery, and reliant on Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology offering excellent viewing angles, though offering the 720p HD screen resolution instead of the Full HD 1080p res used on the S4 and S5, and the new Quad HD 1440p on the Galaxy S6.

Despite that fact, the screen is still very pretty and easy on the eyes, and while it won’t win the pixel wars for being the sharpest on the block, a different of 30 pixels before Apple’s Retina quality isn’t likely to bother anyone, especially since this is a mid-range phone and doesn’t try to compete with the big boys.


Using the phone is pretty much pure classic Samsung, with TouchWiz revealing itself to be the same sort of experience we’ve seen on the Galaxy S5, the Note 4, and so on, with multiple home screens, various Samsung widgets, an app menu that flows left and right, and a drop down notification bar with power control you can edit yourself.

Some things are still typically Samsung, though, such as being forced to press a rotation button when you want to rotate an image in the Samsung image gallery (something you can get around by replacing the gallery app), but at least the shortcut dock can now be customised to match your own choices.

And the 5 inch screen is a good size, too, providing a large enough on-screen keyboard with gesture typing included, and an easy to see dial pad, you know, in case you have to call someone whose number isn’t stored in one of the many accounts you can synchronise the mobile with.


Equally decent — hey, it’s better than that — is battery life, and we’re instead rating that as impressive.

In our time with the Galaxy A5 — in our general time of using the phone to make phone calls, send texts, talk online on various social systems, surf the web, listen to music, read and write emails, and so on and so on — we found roughly two days were possible from the A5’s 2300mAh built-into-the-body battery.

That has to be one of the better battery runtimes we’ve seen of any Samsung phone in the past… well… ever, and this beats any of the past flagships we’ve seen from Samsung in at least two or three years.


Granted, what you’re likely seeing here is a combination of the high definition only screen — 720p makes a difference, and the less pixels there are to power, the more a battery can do its job — as well as Android 4.4 KitKat, and of course that Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 chip that Samsung is using in this phone.

Power users will see closer to a full day of life, but it’s a full day, not the “I need to find a charger the moment I get home” type of day that other “full days” resemble, and just in case you can max out the battery — and you’d have to practically live on the phone — the A5 supports Samsung’s ultra low power saving mode which saves power by switching almost everything off, updating much less frequently than the push updates you’re used to getting that are pushed to you the moment they happen.


Mobile speeds are also pretty good, with 4G speeds hitting around the 30Mbps upload mark in our tests on Telstra’s 4GX network in the Sydney CBD, though it’s possible you could definitely net faster speeds depending on where you are and the network you’re on.

Download speeds were all over shop, suggesting Telstra may need to do some work to keep its 4G speeds consistent, but a 30Mbps upload tells us this phone can do the downloads if the telco is doing its job properly.

Sufficed to say, you shouldn’t be disappointed with mobile broadband performance, and this phone handles its own.


WiFi is also decent, though only supportive of up to 802.11n, so if you’re looking for faster and stronger WiFi via the 802.11ac technology, this will pick up on the n network you’re broadcasting, not the faster ac one.

We guess you have to save something for the flagship phones of today.