Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) is a proud part of the newly revamped set of smartphones from Samsung. The new A series for 2016 comes with three phones, A3, A5 and A7. You can read our first impressions about the new series here: Samsung Galaxy A 2016: First Impressions. The (2016) moniker refers to the year of availability of these phones. With better and more premium materials on the exterior and improved hardware on the inside, the new Galaxy A5 (2016) is bound to win quite a lot of hearts! The A5 is adequately placed in the middle thanks to its manageable screen size of 5.2 inches and it also includes a fingerprint scanner which is absent from the A3 (2016).
The new phone comes with 2GB RAM as standard, a quick fingerprint scanner, dual-SIM variant and microSD card support. Even though the back is closed off and is finished in Gorilla Glass, the expand-ability on this phone is quite remarkable. The phone currently ships with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with a confirmed Marshmallow upgrade coming in the near future.
Below we have written our views on the phone after extensively putting it through its paces over the course of few days.
Galaxy A5 2016: Technical Specifications
- Network: LTE – Cat 6 in applicable regions.
- Display: 5.2-inchFHD (1920×1080) Super AMOLED
- Processor: 1.6GHz Octa Core
- OS: Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
- Camera: 13MP OIS(rear), 5MP (front)
- Additional features: MST technology(Samsung Pay), Samsung KNOX, S-Voice, Dual SIM option
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth® v 4.1, ANT+, USB 2.0, NFC (UICC, eSE)
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Proximity, Geomagnetic, RGB Light, Hall Fingerprint scanner
- Memory: 2GB RAM + 16GB Storage and Micro SD slot (up to 128GB)
- Dimension: 144.8 x 71.0 x 7.3mm , 155g
- Battery: 2,900mAh, Fast Charging
Galaxy A5 2016: Design and Hardware
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) focuses largely on the design, glass back, metal chassis and a premium paint finish, all remind you of what luxury truly is. The screen size is perfect. Display real estate is ample for modern day browsing and viewing images whereas you can also manage the phone with one hand most of the times. It is not a one-handed phone, definitely, but TouchWiz does provide you with features like one-handed operation which are quite useful.
The screen itself is quite an amazing panel. Vivid colors and pitch blacks thanks to Samsung’s renowned Super AMOLED technology. The sharpness is quite exceptional as well due to 1920×1080 Full HD resolution. You can modify the display colors and warmth extensively with different Display Modes in the settings menu. In direct sunlight however, the gloss coating causes some problems but the brightness level do get high enough to utilize the screen easily. Speaking of the gloss, the screen shows fingerprints easily and added to that, the back catches fingerprints as well. Even in our gold color Galaxy A5 (2016), the back caught fingerprints quite easily requiring us to often clean the phone thoroughly. This is a drawback with having glass not with the Galaxy A5 (2016) itself. We’ll pick fingerprints over plastic!
Thanks to engineers at Samsung, the glass on each end wraps around the edges. This makes the glass and metal sit flush with each other. All you experience is a smooth flow when you move your finger across the edges to the main screen. Think of it as Edge functionality but with utmost practicality. Android is filled with drawer gestures in all mainstream apps and once you use the gesture on the Galaxy A5 (2016) glass, you’ll instantly feel the difference.
Also read: Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) Review
Going through the phone, at the front, you will notice an array of sensors. All the usual ones are placed right above the screen along with the front facing camera, which we will get to soon. As with Samsung tradition, there is a physical button present alongside capacitive buttons at the bottom. This physical button couples up as a fingerprint scanner, a very fast and responsive one.
The power button is individually placed on the right-side of the phone. This is also where you’ll find your SIM-card and microSD card slot. Rest is plain metal.
The left-side of the phone houses the volume buttons. You’ll notice with the Galaxy A5 (2016), there are individual volume up and volume down buttons for easier identification. Again, rest is plain metal.
Bottom of the phone is where you’ll find the speaker, one of the multiple microphones, microUSB slot and a 3.5mm universal headphone jack. There are two pale lines going vertically downwards. These lines serve as antennas for the connectivity of the phone.
Top of the phone houses another microphone and in our DUOS (Dual SIM) variant, we had our second SIM-card slot placed right here as well.
The phone is cordoned off at the back and you can not access the battery but even for a closed back phone, you have multiple options to expand. The battery is quite a large one, rated at 2900mAh. Software optimization considered as well, this phone can easily handle out a day’s of intensive usage. For average users, it would go further than that.
The processor is coupled with 2GB of RAM. This combination made the Galaxy A5 (2016) handle different apps and games nicely. Surely it is not comparable with highest end smartphones but do note, most of your money is going to achieve a phone with exquisite looks rather than being the best performer on the street. We have attached benchmark screenshots below so you can judge where it is placed.
Lastly, the Galaxy A5 (2016) houses a fingerprint scanner. This reader is quite fast and thankfully it is a departure from the old and annoying swipe to register. With this, you just need to place your finger on top of the scanner and it will register within fractions of a second. For the time we had the device for review, we used this functionality and had zero grievances.
Galaxy A5 2016: Camera
The camera truly shines in this phone. Galaxy A5 (2016) features a 13 Mega-Pixel main camera but importantly, it has OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). The dark shots are above average in the price range whereas daylight photos are just stunning and in the right conditions, you can easily fool someone to think you took the photos with a higher priced smartphone. Coupling the great sensor, is great software. TouchWiz camera app lets you modify quite a lot of settings to truly unlock the best but if you do not fancy messing around, it arguably also has the best just point and shoot functionality in full auto mode.
Samsung being the part of the Selfie movement, the front camera is 5 Mega-Pixels and has a good wide range of view. You can easily take group photos with good amount of people even without a selfie stick which Samsung will cater as an achievement. Beauty Face and other accompanying modes can also enhance the picture with post-processing, another welcomed feature.
Galaxy A5 2016: Connectivity, Memory and Battery
All usual connectivity is present in the Galaxy A5 (2016). You get latest Bluetooth v4.1, WiFi support for a/b/g/n networks for faster connections, NFC and a microUSB slot with Fast Charging capabilities. This is where you’ll notice why buying from an established brand like Samsung is a good idea. They haven’t cut corners in any sort with all of the connection options. Furthermore, for each connection capability, you’ll have the latest technology iteration.
Internal storage comes in at 16GB which might seem quite low but thanks to microSD card support you can easily expand down the road. DUOS (Dual-SIM) support is also available helping you to cut down phone bills and run multiple connections at once. Both SIM card slots support 4G LTE bands for fast data speeds.
Galaxy A5 2016: Software
Another strong suit of the Galaxy A5 (2016). Compared to competitors, Galaxy A5 (2016) has the most easiest to use software out there. With refined TouchWiz based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, you do get a comfortable experience. A slight downside, however, is the fact that this phone hasn’t yet received Android 6.0 Marshmallow. We do hope Samsung releases the major update soon to gain further attraction and help grow its user base.
Some features that we truly adored include the customizable icon grid option. As tiny and negligible this may seem, it is quite functional! You can customize the icon grid through 3 options. We preferred the highest possible selection. This not only utilized the screen real estate better but allowed us to navigate easily.
The Galaxy A5 (2016) has Theme support and you can install multiple themes from the Galaxy Theme Store. This feature was introduced in the S series flagship and it is great to see it coming to other phones as well.
Small annoyance to note with the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) is the fact you can not turn off or even modify the back-light timing for the capacitive touch buttons. We cant even think why Samsung removed the option to modify such a minute thing from its phone.
Default bundled Samsung Apps & Features:
File Manager is a simple but mandatory app available in the Galaxy A5 (2016). It functions to provide you access to all of your stored media and data. OTG connections also show up in this app.
Galaxy Apps lets you install proprietary Samsung apps which aren’t listed or available on the Play Store like S Note.
S Voice is a personal voice-powered assistant. You can control your phone hands free through S Voice and perform different actions otherwise not available in Google Now.
Ultra-Power Saving mode if you are running on low battery and cannot charge your phone, you can access this mode. It cuts down on all of the different features while still letting you access the basic ones.
Private Mode works with the fingerprint scanner in locking different sorts of data and encrypting it. Once locked, no one will have access to it except when you authenticate with your fingerprint.