Mid-range marvel: Samsung’s Galaxy A5 reviewed

Over to the camera side, and the 13 megapixel shooter isn’t the best we’ve used, but is very reminiscent of our time with the S4, those two years ago, providing nice and bright images when the sun is out, and mostly detail-less images when the sun goes away at night.

Out in the real world, you’ll find that’s a usable amount of megapixels with a camera that can handle its own in general daylight, though up close, few of the images are every that detailed, suggesting these would be better for online use than printed, though we don’t know how many people would print their photo these days, anyway.

Image from the Samsung Galaxy A5.
Image from the Samsung Galaxy A5.

When the lights go down, the image quality isn’t too impressive — again, like what we recall with the S4 — with blotchy colours and little detail in the black, though with a flash on the back, we suspect most won’t be complaining dramatically, and overall, most should be happy with this camera.

Image from the Samsung Galaxy A5.
Image from the Samsung Galaxy A5.

At the front, the 5 megapixel selfie camera is definitely an improvement on the 2 megapixel front-facing camera the S4 relied on, offering more image quality from a newer and slightly more capable sensor, so selfie lovers should be relatively happy with this.

But the camera performance is one area where the Galaxy A5 can take a bit of a hit, and it seems to come from trying to load up the gallery in this section, of all places.


Load the camera up from the standby screen and you’ll see it ready for you to take a shot, and generally, it does this with ease, but the moment you want to load your photos, prepare yourself for a couple of seconds of waiting, waiting, waiting for the phone to do your bidding, delivering you that photo you just shot a couple of moments ago.

Image from the Samsung Galaxy A5.
Image from the Samsung Galaxy A5.

It’s one of those bizarre little bugs that really needs to be squashed, though it’s reminiscent of some of the camera and gallery issues we’ve had on other Samsung phones, such as when the galleries would refuse to load, waiting for the phone to synchronise with Dropbox and other galleries every time you wanted to open the gallery app.

We even recall fixing this flaw with one of our “how to fix the flaws” article, written for at least two generations of Samsung’s flagship phones (but not this year’s, which actually does something to mend this situation).

Need to upgrade memory? You'll find a microSD slot next to the SIM slot.
Need to upgrade memory? You’ll find a microSD slot next to the SIM slot.

Strangely, beyond the camera, the performance is actually pretty good, with quick swiping, relatively speedy menu and app loads, and a general feeling that the phone itself is pulling its weight quite well.

Benchmarks aren’t the strongest in the world, coming in at not far off from where the Galaxy S4 sits, but this should be acceptable for most users, provided they’re not loading the latest games that take advantage of lots of new graphical technologies.


Synthetic benchmarks are good like that, with little real world value for mobiles, and more an indicate of what the processor can do. In the case of these benchmarks, it’s showing how strong the processor is, and while it’s not Galaxy S5 or S6 level performance, it still handles itself for regular activities, such as making phone calls, messaging, emails, and lots of other activities that don’t lean too hard on high-end performance.

But it’s the camera that throws a bit of a question mark, and particularly that gallery app, because when you touch the app, it almost feels like the whole thing has stalled, which is odd for something that appears to be otherwise well engineered.

It’s a shame, too, as for the most part, the inclusion of 2GB RAM really helped this phone pull its weight, providing more of a backbone than so many other phones.

Unfortunately, that lag was frustrating to deal with, producing a wait that happened every single time you opened the gallery from the camera that was totally out of your control.



Samsung sure manages to surprise us every so often, and while we’ve loved seeing what its engineers can do in regards to a flagship product, it’s this year’s mid-range marvel that is impressing us greatly, taking technology from the past year, a design that meshes two of Samsung’s products, and making something that could possibly be Samsung’s best value phone altogether.

And with up to two days of battery life, fairly solid all-round performance, and a great design mixing metal and plastic, that seems to be what we have: a solid phone for a solid price.


Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Feels great in the hands; Features metal in its design, and even supports upgradeable memory; Mostly decent performance all round; Takes nanoSIM; Excellent battery life; Decent assortment of cameras for a mid-range phone;
Battery isn’t removable; Slowdowns can be seen, particularly when you’re trying to see a photo you’ve taken; Arrives with Android 4.4 “KitKat”, not the latest “Lollipop”;