Notebookcheck

Samsung Galaxy A5 Smartphone Review

Florian Wimmer, Tanja Hinum (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 02/18/2015

Who knew? Samsung stuck to polycarbonate, removable batteries and a slightly fancy design for years... and then it launches the Galaxy A lineup and takes a U-turn. We will see whether there are more surprises by examining the 5-inch Galaxy A5 model.

In review: Samsung Galaxy A5.

For the original German review, see here.

It immediately becomes obvious that everything is different about Samsung's Galaxy A5 the first time it's picked up: a unibody metal casing, restrained design, non-removable back cover. Samsung wants to improve quality, particularly since customers have not been buying as many of the Korean smartphones as usual lately. After the Galaxy Alpha marked the start of the metal era at Samsung, two mid-range models with an aluminum unibody have been released in the market: the somewhat smaller Galaxy A3 and the Galaxy A5 that we are testing here.

There are, however, even more manufacturers in the mid-range, for example HTC with its Desire 510. The One E8 and Sony's Xperia Z3 Compact are not much more expensive, either. Huawei's Ascend G7Nokia's Lumia 830Asus' Zenfone 5 and Sony's Xperia T3 are also contenders from this price range. Of course, Google's long running Nexus 5 is still in the market.

Case

The metal casing is very slim and stylish.
The metal casing is very slim and stylish.

At first glance, the Galaxy A5 looks very high-quality and stylish, and it has a less obtrusive design than former Galaxy models. Leather textures, curved lines, and elaborate designs seem a thing of the past; a more serious yet very elegant sobriety now prevails.

The casing is also extremely thin with a height of just 6.7 millimeters. It is even slimmer than the latest iPhone 6. Nevertheless, the casing's stiffness is very satisfactory. The device at most creaks quietly under high pressure, barely warps, and it does not pass pressure applied on the front and back to the screen. The quality impression is high owing to the unibody, non-slip rear, and the components' flush gaps.

White, black, gold and silver colors are available in Germany and Austria. The more eccentric pink and light blue colors are reserved for other markets.

However, a typical characteristic of Galaxy smartphones has been cut due to the slim build. The battery in the Galaxy A5 is no longer removable. The nano-SIM and micro-SD card are in trays on the side, which can be opened with a special SIM tool or another small, thin object.

153.5 mm / 6.04 inch 77.3 mm / 3.04 inch 7.6 mm / 0.2992 inch 165 g0.3638 lbs151 mm / 5.94 inch 77 mm / 3.03 inch 7.7 mm / 0.3031 inch 148 g0.3263 lbs148.2 mm / 5.83 inch 72.8 mm / 2.87 inch 10.34 mm / 0.4071 inch 145 g0.3197 lbs146.4 mm / 5.76 inch 70.67 mm / 2.78 inch 9.85 mm / 0.3878 inch 145 g0.3197 lbs139.9 mm / 5.51 inch 69.8 mm / 2.75 inch 9.99 mm / 0.3933 inch 158 g0.3483 lbs139.4 mm / 5.49 inch 70.7 mm / 2.78 inch 8.5 mm / 0.3346 inch 150 g0.3307 lbs137.84 mm / 5.43 inch 69.17 mm / 2.72 inch 8.59 mm / 0.3382 inch 130 g0.2866 lbs139.3 mm / 5.48 inch 69.7 mm / 2.74 inch 6.7 mm / 0.2638 inch 123 g0.2712 lbs127.3 mm / 5.01 inch 64.9 mm / 2.56 inch 8.64 mm / 0.3402 inch 129 g0.2844 lbs

Connectivity

Until now, only a few mid-range devices supported NFC, the standard for near field communication. LTE has become standard even in the mid-range now. With 16 GB, Samsung's Galaxy A5 has a slightly higher storage capacity than some other mid-range models. The screen resolution of our review sample is also in line with the category level, although Google's Nexus 5, for example, has Full HD. The Galaxy A5 makes an overall well-equipped impression, but it is also considerably more expensive than other mid-range smartphones.

Left: volume rocker
Left: volume rocker
Right: SIM slot, micro-SD slot, standby button
Right: SIM slot, micro-SD slot, standby button
Upper edge: no interfaces
Upper edge: no interfaces
Lower edge: micro-USB port, 3.5 mm combo-audio jack
Lower edge: micro-USB port, 3.5 mm combo-audio jack

Software

Samsung's TouchWiz interface is still based on Android 4.4.4. However, now that even older devices like the Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy S4 are being updated to Android 5, buyers of current Samsung phones from the mid and premium ranges should not worry too much. It is also possible to work well with the latest TouchWiz version. The desktop is clearly arranged and will not puzzle users switching from other Android phones.

The user will find a so-called "briefing" from Flipboard when scrolling to the far left on the home screen. Flipboard is a preloaded news aggregator that can also link social media updates from the user's profiles. Many smartphone builders offer this now, and it is also quite handy although its features are a bit sparse. For example, we would like to delete news that has been read.

Samsung wants to restrain itself with preloaded apps in future. Instead, the "Galaxy Essentials" widget that provides tips for more or less useful downloads from the App store is installed. Voice control "S Voice," the calendar "S Planner" and the image editor "Studio" are still preloaded. Although the user will have to accept a few adware apps, longer pressure on the icon allows uninstalling them quickly.

Communication & GPS 

The Galaxy A5 supports six LTE bands and achieves speeds of up to 150 Mbit per second in downstream and up to 50 Mbit per second in upstream, owing to LTE Cat. 4. Four frequencies are available in the GSM and UMTS networks. We mostly had good signal strength in the poorly developed German E-Plus net in an urban area.

The fastest available Wi-Fi standard is 802.11 n, which at least enables network speeds of up to 300 Mbit per second. The signal strength was decent. We still had three-quarters of the signal ten meters away from the router and through three walls. Websites opened very fast. The signal dropped to half another two meters and an additional wall between the device and router, and websites opened a bit slower.

NFC is installed just like Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+. The latter is a standard that aims to improve the communication among other devices like gym machines, remotes, home electronics, and smartphones.

No localization possible indoors
No localization possible indoors
Fast and accurate localization outdoors
Fast and accurate localization outdoors

The GPS module located us with an accuracy of three meters outdoors. Localization was not possible indoors. The module also supports the Russian Glonass and Chinese BeiDuo networks.

A car trip provides more detailed data about accuracy. We took both Garmin's Edge 500 navigation system and Samsung's Galaxy A5. There was a deviation of not quite 150 meters between both navigation systems at the end of our roughly 37-kilometer route. In fact, the differences in tracking accuracy in difficult sections, such as crossing a bridge or in the woods, were relatively low between both devices. Samsung's Galaxy A5 was a bit more off-route in the woods than Garmin's device. However, the Galaxy A5 is well-suitable for navigation.

Garmin Edge 500 GPS overview
Garmin Edge 500 GPS overview
Garmin Edge 500 GPS bridge
Garmin Edge 500 GPS bridge
Garmin Edge 500 GPS woods
Garmin Edge 500 GPS woods
Samsung Galaxy A5 GPS overview
Samsung Galaxy A5 GPS overview
Samsung Galaxy A5 GPS bridge
Samsung Galaxy A5 GPS bridge
Samsung Galaxy A5 GPS woods
Samsung Galaxy A5 GPS woods

Telephone & Voice Quality

The phone app will be familiar to Samsung veterans, but it should not puzzle newcomers too much, either. Four tabs at the top of the screen open the keypad, the call log that, for example displays missed calls, the contacts and favorites determined by the user. The keypad's design is quite plain and provides big keys. However, it can only be used in portrait mode. Additionally, multiple settings allow rejecting calls from specified contacts directly, ending calls automatically by pressing the standby button, and many more options.

Unfortunately, the voice quality is not completely convincing. Though sound is quite loud in maximum volume, it is not always clear and hums sometimes. The sound is more balanced as soon as the volume is reduced, but it is by far not as rich and clear as, for example, in Sony's Xperia Z3 Compact. The sound that our caller hears is much worse. The microphone in the Galaxy A5 occasionally clicks and does not register our voice when we are a bit further away from the microphone. At least the background noise suppression functioned quite well.

Cameras & Multimedia

Samsung's Galaxy A5 has better camera equipment than most mid-range phones in the comparison. At least the data on the spec sheet suggests that. The rear-facing camera has a resolution of 13 megapixels, an auto-focus and LED flash, and it records Full HD videos with 30 frames per second. The front sports a 5-megapixel camera with special features for selfies.

The pictures shot with the rear-facing camera are still sharp when zoomed. However, the exposure is not quite as accurate and the focus is a bit more blurry when compared directly with pictures taken with the iPhone 6. The feature "Rear-cam Selfie mode" enables taking sharp self-portraits even with the primary camera; the camera automatically focuses on detected faces. The image is either shot automatically via the self-timer or when volume up is pressed on the rocker. Although this feature works, our experience is that the face's sharpness is not always correct. Good selfies are also possible with the 5-megapixel front-facing camera, though they look a bit grainy.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images

Accessories

A power supply, USB cord and a headset are in the box. The latter conveys a good sound and is also quite suitable for hands-free mode. An S View Cover in white or charcoal black that enables accessing some functions, such as taking pictures, via a plastic window on the front is also optionally available for around 40 Euros (~$45). A protective cover that envelops the device like a frame and protects it against shocks is sold for 20 Euros (~$22).

Samsung includes a 24-month warranty on the smartphone itself. The battery and accessories are only repaired free of charge for six months. Naturally, this does not affect the implied warranty.

Input Devices & Controls

The virtual keyboard provides many options and input methods. However, its keys are also a bit small. The keys' generous spacing compensates for that and typing is thus relatively accurate. Voice dictation or swiping over the keyboard are just as possible as switching quickly between different keyboard language layouts and dictionaries by holding down the space bar for a longer time. The keyboard's lettering is very basic and clear despite the multiple features.

The touchscreen responded absolutely reliably and fast to our inputs. It is sensitive into its corners. Besides that, multi-touch gestures were almost always identified and implemented correctly.

The volume rocker on the casing's left and the standby button on the right have a high-quality feel, and they both feature a good pressure point. A physical home button that functions properly and two touch buttons that also always responded directly to our inputs are below the screen.

Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard portrait mode

Display

The Super AMOLED screens by Samsung are known for their great color reproduction and absolute black because the organic light-emitting diodes simply do not light up in black areas. The screen in the Galaxy A5 has a resolution of 1280x720 pixels and achieves a high maximum brightness of 482 cd/m². As to illumination, the darkest area of a homogeneously colored surface is only 85% as bright as the brightest area. That is an average rate; we did not see a brightness difference on large, white surfaces with only our eyes.

432
cd/m²
429
cd/m²
413
cd/m²
435
cd/m²
482
cd/m²
416
cd/m²
436
cd/m²
431
cd/m²
410
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 482 cd/m² Average: 431.6 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 85 %
Center on Battery: 482 cd/m²
Contrast: ∞:1 (Black: 0 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 2.15 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6
ΔE Greyscale 1.81 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
Gamma: 2.42
Samsung Galaxy A5
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 16 GB eMMC Flash
HTC Desire 510
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB SSD
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Huawei Ascend G7
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Nokia Lumia 830
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8926, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Asus Zenfone 5
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8926, 8 GB eMMC Flash
Sony Xperia T3
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8928, 8 GB SSD
Google Nexus 5
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB iNAND Flash
Screen
-245%
-142%
-80%
-15%
-39%
-83%
8%
Brightness middle
482
355
-26%
513
6%
446
-7%
440
-9%
389
-19%
521
8%
469
-3%
Brightness
432
371
-14%
500
16%
451
4%
421
-3%
375
-13%
504
17%
452
5%
Brightness Distribution
85
80
-6%
94
11%
91
7%
87
2%
88
4%
89
5%
94
11%
Black Level *
0.37
0.41
0.73
0.77
0.58
0.77
0.49
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
2.15
12.13
-464%
8.54
-297%
5.72
-166%
2.6
-21%
4.22
-96%
5.73
-167%
2.05
5%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
1.81
14.77
-716%
9.88
-446%
6.16
-240%
2.64
-46%
3.08
-70%
6.83
-277%
1.45
20%
Gamma
2.42 91%
2.42 91%
3.03 73%
2.19 100%
2.32 95%
2.57 86%
3.46 64%
2 110%
CCT
6626 98%
17097 38%
8659 75%
7699 84%
6686 97%
6840 95%
8370 78%
6441 101%
Contrast
959
1251
611
571
671
677
957

* ... smaller is better

Large, black surfaces on the screen look absolutely dark. Since the AMOLED screen can completely deactivate the diodes and because there is no backlight, the black level is 0.0 cd/m². The theoretical contrast ratio is thus infinite, and colors make a very vivid impression due to the high contrast. Samsung again installs different screen modes that can be set individually in the menu. Colors look a bit paler but more natural in "Standard," they are more emphasized in "Photo," and the colors are very bright in "Movie." The screen can also automatically select the matching screen mode according to the opened application.

We check just how accurate the color reproduction is with a photospectrometer and CalMAN software. The sRGB color space is used as the reference unless we note otherwise. Again, "Standard" mode displays the most accurate colors. The colors are very close to the reference color space value. "Movie" is the exact opposite, and the naked eye can see that the colors are oversaturated and that bright hues have an evident violet cast. Thus, users who want an as accurate color reproduction as possible should select "Standard" mode because the screen provides a very good color reproduction here. However, it will unlikely be exact enough for professional users. Finally, we look at the "Photo" mode in the AdobeRGB color space comparison. We are very satisfied with the marginal color shift here.

Color Management - "Standard" profile
Color Management - "Standard" profile
Grayscale - "Standard" profile
Grayscale - "Standard" profile
ColorChecker - "Standard" profile
ColorChecker - "Standard" profile
Saturation Sweeps - "Standard" profile
Saturation Sweeps - "Standard" profile
Color Management - "Photo" profile
Color Management - "Photo" profile
Grayscale - "Photo" profile
Grayscale - "Photo" profile
ColorChecker - "Photo" profile, sRGB
ColorChecker - "Photo" profile, sRGB
Saturation Sweeps - "Photo" profile
Saturation Sweeps - "Photo" profile
Color Management - "Movie" profile
Color Management - "Movie" profile
Grayscale - "Movie" profile
Grayscale - "Movie" profile
ColorChecker - "Movie" profile
ColorChecker - "Movie" profile
Saturation Sweeps - "Movie" profile
Saturation Sweeps - "Movie" profile
ColorChecker - "Movie" profile, AdobeRGB
ColorChecker - "Movie" profile, AdobeRGB

The surface reflects to such an extent in direct sunlight that virtually nothing can be recognized on the screen. However, content becomes legible again when the smartphone is tilted the slightest bit. It is then possible to work well with the device as long as the text is not too small. The high brightness and theoretically infinite contrast make it easy to recognize something on the screen in bright surroundings. Indoor use or the shade are no problem from the outset.

AMOLED screens normally provide very good viewing angles, and the Galaxy A5 is no exception. The image can be recognized well and without color shifts even from very flat angles.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles
Outdoors
Outdoors

Performance

All mid-range devices used for comparison are based on Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs that usually come from the 400 line. Only Google's Nexus 5Sony's Xperia Z3 Compact and HTC's One E8 sport the faster 800 or 801 SoCs from Qualcomm.

Our review sample is furnished with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916 with 1.2 GHz and four cores. That could certainly have been more when that is put in relation with the fairly high price of Samsung's Galaxy A5.

It is possible to work swiftly with the operating system in practice. The multi-window function can also be used easily and without lags when running a YouTube video and the image gallery simultaneously. Slow-downs cannot always be prevented in more sophisticated applications, but that is likely due to the graphics card. The processor in the SoC operates with its full speed in any case. The Galaxy A5 is on par or even faster than its mid-range rivals, but it is clearly slower than high-end devices in Geekbench.

Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
1437 Points ∼2%
HTC Desire 510
1421 Points ∼2% -1%
HTC One E8
2822 Points ∼3% +96%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
2670 Points ∼3% +86%
Huawei Ascend G7
1411 Points ∼2% -2%
Asus Zenfone 5
1119 Points ∼1% -22%
Sony Xperia T3
1345 Points ∼2% -6%
Google Nexus 5
2239 Points ∼3% +56%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
479 Points ∼10%
HTC Desire 510
475 Points ∼10% -1%
HTC One E8
965 Points ∼20% +101%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
966 Points ∼20% +102%
Huawei Ascend G7
476 Points ∼10% -1%
Asus Zenfone 5
340 Points ∼7% -29%
Sony Xperia T3
401 Points ∼8% -16%
Google Nexus 5
694 Points ∼14% +45%
Smartbench 2012 - Productivity Index (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
5826 points ∼31%
HTC Desire 510
6053 points ∼32% +4%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
9879 points ∼52% +70%
Asus Zenfone 5
5134 points ∼27% -12%
Sony Xperia T3
5778 points ∼31% -1%
Google Nexus 5
4966 points ∼26% -15%

Legend

 
Samsung Galaxy A5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916, Qualcomm Adreno 306, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
HTC Desire 510 Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916, Qualcomm Adreno 306, 8 GB SSD
 
HTC One E8 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Huawei Ascend G7 Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916, Qualcomm Adreno 306, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Nokia Lumia 830 Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8926, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Asus Zenfone 5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8926, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 8 GB eMMC Flash
 
Sony Xperia T3 Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8928, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 8 GB SSD
 
Google Nexus 5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB iNAND Flash

The Galaxy A5 stands out in Internet browsing. It is the fastest device among the mid-range contenders in many benchmarks and is only clearly surpassed by high-end devices. Thus, even more demanding web applications, such as videos and animations, should not be a problem.

WebXPRT 2013
Offline Notes (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
1922 ms * ∼40%
HTC Desire 510
2016.4 ms * ∼42% -5%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
1224 ms * ∼26% +36%
Nokia Lumia 830
2795.9 ms * ∼58% -45%
Asus Zenfone 5
2648 ms * ∼55% -38%
Google Nexus 5
30.35 ms * ∼1% +98%
Stocks Dashboard (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
2130 ms * ∼57%
HTC Desire 510
2080.3 ms * ∼56% +2%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
1248 ms * ∼33% +41%
Nokia Lumia 830
2476.7 ms * ∼66% -16%
Asus Zenfone 5
2642 ms * ∼71% -24%
Google Nexus 5
57.39 ms * ∼2% +97%
Face Detection (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
2922 ms * ∼24%
HTC Desire 510
3133.9 ms * ∼26% -7%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
1917 ms * ∼16% +34%
Nokia Lumia 830
5915.1 ms * ∼49% -102%
Asus Zenfone 5
3375.1 ms * ∼28% -16%
Google Nexus 5
1210.86 ms * ∼10% +59%
Photo Effects (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
1468 ms * ∼16%
HTC Desire 510
1423.2 ms * ∼16% +3%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
898 ms * ∼10% +39%
Nokia Lumia 830
2042.7 ms * ∼23% -39%
Asus Zenfone 5
1633.6 ms * ∼18% -11%
Google Nexus 5
28.05 ms * ∼0% +98%
Overall Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
203 Points ∼9%
HTC Desire 510
200 Points ∼9% -1%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
326 Points ∼14% +61%
Nokia Lumia 830
137 Points ∼6% -33%
Asus Zenfone 5
167 Points ∼7% -18%
Google Nexus 5
302 Points ∼13% +49%
Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
1360 ms * ∼15%
HTC Desire 510
1264.8 ms * ∼14% +7%
HTC One E8
546.4 ms * ∼6% +60%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
825.5 ms * ∼9% +39%
Huawei Ascend G7
1513 ms * ∼17% -11%
Nokia Lumia 830
1237.7 ms * ∼14% +9%
Asus Zenfone 5
1684 ms * ∼18% -24%
Sony Xperia T3
1333 ms * ∼15% +2%
Google Nexus 5
1090 ms * ∼12% +20%
Google Nexus 5
716.3 ms * ∼8% +47%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
2796 Points ∼5%
HTC Desire 510
2717 Points ∼5% -3%
HTC One E8
2989 Points ∼6% +7%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
5294 Points ∼10% +89%
Huawei Ascend G7
1839 Points ∼4% -34%
Asus Zenfone 5
1822 Points ∼3% -35%
Sony Xperia T3
2242 Points ∼4% -20%
Google Nexus 5
5416 Points ∼10% +94%
Google Nexus 5
4722 Points ∼9% +69%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
13938 ms * ∼23%
HTC Desire 510
14332.3 ms * ∼24% -3%
HTC One E8
9075 ms * ∼15% +35%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
6528 ms * ∼11% +53%
Huawei Ascend G7
16248 ms * ∼27% -17%
Nokia Lumia 830
27128.5 ms * ∼46% -95%
Asus Zenfone 5
16691.6 ms * ∼28% -20%
Sony Xperia T3
14507 ms * ∼24% -4%
Google Nexus 5
7852.3 ms * ∼13% +44%
Vellamo 3.x
Metal (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
876 Points ∼23%
HTC Desire 510
767 Points ∼21% -12%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
1510 Points ∼40% +72%
Asus Zenfone 5
763 Points ∼20% -13%
Sony Xperia T3
771 Points ∼21% -12%
Google Nexus 5
1295 Points ∼35% +48%
Multicore Beta (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
1166 Points ∼26%
HTC Desire 510
1226 Points ∼27% +5%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
1921 Points ∼43% +65%
Asus Zenfone 5
1132 Points ∼25% -3%
Sony Xperia T3
1248 Points ∼28% +7%
Google Nexus 5
1544 Points ∼34% +32%
Browser (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
2083 Points ∼28%
HTC Desire 510
2139 Points ∼28% +3%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
2739 Points ∼36% +31%
Asus Zenfone 5
1705 Points ∼23% -18%
Sony Xperia T3
1881 Points ∼25% -10%
Google Nexus 5
2884 Points ∼38% +38%
Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
2813 Points ∼14%
HTC Desire 510
2759 Points ∼14% -2%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
6297 Points ∼32% +124%
Nokia Lumia 830
1152 Points ∼6% -59%
Asus Zenfone 5
2188 Points ∼11% -22%
Google Nexus 5
3032 Points ∼15% +8%

* ... smaller is better

The graphics performance of the Adreno 306 with a clock of 450 MHz lags behind devices based on the same SoC in 3DMark, but the scores are again proper in GFXbench. Thus, we do not presume bigger problems. Stutters cannot always be avoided in very sophisticated graphics calculations in real-world usage. Nevertheless, the graphics card's power should be enough for most games in the Play Store.

3DMark
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
8690 Points ∼10%
HTC Desire 510
9458 Points ∼11% +9%
HTC One E8
17748 Points ∼21% +104%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
14404 Points ∼17% +66%
Huawei Ascend G7
9137 Points ∼11% +5%
Asus Zenfone 5
7872 Points ∼9% -9%
Sony Xperia T3
8960 Points ∼10% +3%
Google Nexus 5
9622 Points ∼11% +11%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
2190 Points ∼0%
HTC Desire 510
4037 Points ∼1% +84%
HTC One E8
21263 Points ∼4% +871%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
21034 Points ∼4% +860%
Huawei Ascend G7
3896 Points ∼1% +78%
Asus Zenfone 5
4156 Points ∼1% +90%
Sony Xperia T3
4216 Points ∼1% +93%
Google Nexus 5
15100 Points ∼3% +589%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
2627 Points ∼1%
HTC Desire 510
4626 Points ∼2% +76%
HTC One E8
20367 Points ∼9% +675%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
19082 Points ∼8% +626%
Huawei Ascend G7
4465 Points ∼2% +70%
Asus Zenfone 5
4643 Points ∼2% +77%
Sony Xperia T3
4778 Points ∼2% +82%
Google Nexus 5
13404 Points ∼6% +410%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
5.3 fps ∼0%
HTC One E8
27.6 fps ∼0% +421%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
27.2 fps ∼0% +413%
Huawei Ascend G7
5.3 fps ∼0% 0%
Nokia Lumia 830
4.2 fps ∼0% -21%
Google Nexus 5
21 fps ∼0% +296%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
9.5 fps ∼0%
HTC One E8
29.8 fps ∼1% +214%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
41.1 fps ∼1% +333%
Huawei Ascend G7
9.8 fps ∼0% +3%
Nokia Lumia 830
7.2 fps ∼0% -24%
Google Nexus 5
23 fps ∼1% +142%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
1.8 fps ∼0%
HTC Desire 510
1.8 fps ∼0% 0%
HTC One E8
12.1 fps ∼2% +572%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
11.9 fps ∼2% +561%
Huawei Ascend G7
1.8 fps ∼0% 0%
Asus Zenfone 5
0 fps ∼0% -100%
Sony Xperia T3
1.2 fps ∼0% -33%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
3.9 fps ∼1%
HTC Desire 510
8.4 fps ∼2% +115%
HTC One E8
12.8 fps ∼4% +228%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
25.5 fps ∼7% +554%
Huawei Ascend G7
4.1 fps ∼1% +5%
Asus Zenfone 5
3.9 fps ∼1% 0%
Sony Xperia T3
4.2 fps ∼1% +8%

Samsung has always stood out with very high speeds in storage, and the Galaxy A5 can also outperform many of the comparison devices. Even the high-end devices can only keep up in the read speeds; the Galaxy A5's write rates are clearly higher than those of all other devices.

AndroBench 3-5
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
6 MB/s ∼2%
HTC Desire 510
1.05 MB/s ∼0% -82%
HTC One E8
1.8 MB/s ∼1% -70%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
1.6 MB/s ∼1% -73%
Huawei Ascend G7
1 MB/s ∼0% -83%
Asus Zenfone 5
1.26 MB/s ∼1% -79%
Sony Xperia T3
0.62 MB/s ∼0% -90%
Google Nexus 5
0.84 MB/s ∼0% -86%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
12 MB/s ∼6%
HTC Desire 510
8.55 MB/s ∼4% -29%
HTC One E8
16 MB/s ∼8% +33%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
14.7 MB/s ∼7% +23%
Huawei Ascend G7
7 MB/s ∼4% -42%
Asus Zenfone 5
12.43 MB/s ∼6% +4%
Sony Xperia T3
14.18 MB/s ∼7% +18%
Google Nexus 5
9.88 MB/s ∼5% -18%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
71 MB/s ∼12%
HTC Desire 510
7.29 MB/s ∼1% -90%
HTC One E8
25 MB/s ∼4% -65%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
17.5 MB/s ∼3% -75%
Huawei Ascend G7
23 MB/s ∼4% -68%
Asus Zenfone 5
12.45 MB/s ∼2% -82%
Sony Xperia T3
11.26 MB/s ∼2% -84%
Google Nexus 5
15.52 MB/s ∼3% -78%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A5
130 MB/s ∼9%
HTC Desire 510
86.15 MB/s ∼6% -34%
HTC One E8
118 MB/s ∼8% -9%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
133 MB/s ∼9% +2%
Huawei Ascend G7
84 MB/s ∼6% -35%
Asus Zenfone 5
95.47 MB/s ∼6% -27%
Sony Xperia T3
123.71 MB/s ∼8% -5%
Google Nexus 5
74.9 MB/s ∼5% -42%

Games

The Galaxy A5 proves to be an average mid-range device in games. Though most games in Google's Play Store can be played, titles with high graphics requirements will not satisfy users who value an absolutely smooth gameplay and high frame rates. For example, Asphalt 8: Airborne can be played in high details, but it is very visible even for the naked eye that the frame rates are very close to the limits of micro-stutters. However, simpler games like Angry Birds: Star Wars 2 will run absolutely smoothly. 

The precise control via touchscreen and position sensor is pleasing. They never let us down in any situation.

Graphics whoppers like Asphalt 8: Airborne can be played but push the graphics card to its limits.
Graphics whoppers like Asphalt 8: Airborne can be played but push the graphics card to its limits.
Simpler titles like Minecraft are no problem.
Simpler titles like Minecraft are no problem.

Emissions

The performance is stable even during longer load.
The performance is stable even during longer load.

Temperature

The casing's temperatures are not really worth mentioning. The maximum temperature that we measured in full load was 31.4 °C. It is barely lower with 29.2 °C in idle mode. Thus, only very sensitive users will likely notice a change in the temperature during load. The temperature development is therefore very good.

Only the question whether the performance relevant components can maintain their full power even after a longer period of high load remains open. We tested that with the battery test of GFXBench, which runs the same test 30 times in succession and records the frame rates. It is obvious that the components are throttled when the fps drop at some time. This is not the case in the Galaxy A5 - the performance remains stable.

Max. Load
 31.4 °C
89 F
31.4 °C
89 F
28.9 °C
84 F
 
 31.4 °C
89 F
30.8 °C
87 F
28.6 °C
83 F
 
 30.4 °C
87 F
29.7 °C
85 F
28.3 °C
83 F
 
Maximum: 31.4 °C = 89 F
Average: 30.1 °C = 86 F
29.2 °C
85 F
31.3 °C
88 F
31.2 °C
88 F
28.9 °C
84 F
30.7 °C
87 F
30.1 °C
86 F
28.5 °C
83 F
29.9 °C
86 F
29.3 °C
85 F
Maximum: 31.3 °C = 88 F
Average: 29.9 °C = 86 F
Power Supply (max.)  38.4 °C = 101 F | Room Temperature 21.2 °C = 70 F | Voltcraft IR-350
(+) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 30.1 °C / 86 F, compared to the average of 33.1 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 31.4 °C / 89 F, compared to the average of 35.5 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 31.3 °C / 88 F, compared to the average of 34.1 °C / 93 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 27.7 °C / 82 F, compared to the device average of 33.1 °C / 92 F.

Speakers

One Samsung Galaxy tradition has not changed - the speaker is on the rear of the Galaxy A5. The drawback of this is that the sound distorts extremely when the smartphone is on a table. It even muffles clearly when it is placed on a soft surface. The sound is well balanced in maximum volume when the smartphone is held in the hand. However, it lacks the final hint of power and richness. In any case, the speaker is more suitable for an occasional music clip or conversations than for clashing movie effects. When preferred, a speaker can be connected either via Bluetooth or the 3.5 mm combo-audio jack. That is recommendable; both methods allow an impeccable sound.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The power consumption of the Galaxy A5 makes a mixed impression. The minimum requirement in the idle scenario (features like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off, minimum brightness, no load) is quite high with 0.8 watts. Then again, the other idle consumption rates are quite satisfactory, although Google's Nexus 5 clearly undercuts them.

The average load consumption (maximum screen brightness, all additional functions on) is relatively low with 1.9 watts. It can climb up to 4 watts under absolute maximum load. Other mid-range smartphones, such as Nokia's Lumia 830 and Asus' Zenfone 5, consume less here.

The "Ultra Power Saving" mode can be activated should the battery be low on-the-move. It switches the screen to black and white and disables all unnecessary background processes. Besides that, only specified apps can be accessed. The user easily gains a few more hours of battery power, for example when waiting for a call.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.1 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.8 / 1.2 / 1.4 Watt
Load midlight 1.9 / 4 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

The removable battery is often a make or break factor among Samsung Galaxy disciples. The battery life can factually be doubled by carrying around a second, charged battery. This is, unfortunately, no longer possible with the Galaxy A5 because the battery is not removable. The battery has a capacity of 8.7 watt hours, which is not bad within the comparison field. Only the premium range model Xperia Z3 Compact or the 0.5-inch bigger Huawei Ascend G7 have more.

Overall, the runtime is quite similar with those of the other mid-range smartphones in the comparison. However, Samsung's Galaxy A5 particularly shows a weakness in a real-world category: it did not even manage 9 hours when browsing via Wi-Fi. All smartphones manage at least a slightly longer runtime. Nokia's Lumia 830 even achieved over 12 hours. The Galaxy A5 easily lasts a day in mixed use including standby. The smartphone has to be first recharged every second day when it is used frugally.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
19h 12min
WiFi Surfing
8h 53min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
9h 57min
Load (maximum brightness)
4h 02min
Samsung Galaxy A5
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 16 GB eMMC Flash
HTC Desire 510
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB SSD
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Nokia Lumia 830
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8926, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Sony Xperia T3
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8928, 8 GB SSD
Google Nexus 5
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB iNAND Flash
Battery Runtime
9%
99%
15%
-10%
4%
Reader / Idle
1152
1280
11%
2614
127%
1808
57%
1169
1%
1107
-4%
H.264
597
1478
148%
577
-3%
WiFi
533
570
7%
1326
149%
721
35%
634
19%
734
38%
Load
242
262
8%
173
-29%
174
-28%
118
-51%
188
-22%

Verdict

In review: Samsung Galaxy A5. Review sample courtesy of Samsung Germany.
In review: Samsung Galaxy A5. Review sample courtesy of Samsung Germany.

The Galaxy A5 is not exactly cheap, but the buyer gets a round total package. The stylish, slim and very rigid casing sets standards in the mid-range, the camera configuration is generous, and the input devices are pleasingly accurate. Besides that, it sports a superb screen, useful battery runtimes, and the user does not have to worry about increased casing temperatures.

However, there are still some wishes open: A Full HD would have rounded off the image on the screen, a swifter SoC would have justified the price more, and Samsung could improve the quality of both the microphone and speaker.

The buyer overall gets a high-priced but also high-quality mid-range smartphone with Samsung's Galaxy A5, though.

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In review: Samsung Galaxy A5. Review sample courtesy of Samsung Germany.
In review: Samsung Galaxy A5. Review sample courtesy of Samsung Germany.

Specifications

Samsung Galaxy A5 (Galaxy Series)
Graphics adapter
Qualcomm Adreno 306, Core: 450 MHz
Memory
2048 MB 
Display
5 inch 16:9, 1280 x 720 pixel, capacitive touchscreen, Super AMOLED, glossy: yes
Storage
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB 
, 11.2 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm combo audio jack, Card Reader: microSDXC max. 64GB, Sensors: motion sensor, light sensor, proximity sensor, A-GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, NFC, ANT+
Networking
802.11a/b/g/n (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4), Bluetooth 4.0, GSM quad-band (850/900/1800/1900), UMTS quad-band (850/900/1900/2100), LTE hexa-band (800/850/900/1800/2100/2600)
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 6.7 x 139.3 x 69.7 ( = 0.26 x 5.48 x 2.74 in)
Battery
9 Wh Lithium-Ion, non-removable
Operating System
Android 4.4 KitKat
Camera
Webcam: 13.0MP, AF, LED flash, videos @1080p/30fps (rear); 5.0MP (front)
Additional features
Speakers: rear-sided speaker, Keyboard: virtual keyboard, headset, S Voice, Flipboard, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
123 g ( = 4.34 oz / 0.27 pounds), Power Supply: 58 g ( = 2.05 oz / 0.13 pounds)
Price
400 Euro

 

Samsung attempts to relaunch in the mid-range with the Galaxy A5.
Samsung attempts to relaunch in the mid-range with the Galaxy A5.
The slim and restrained design of the metal casing appealed to us right away.
The slim and restrained design of the metal casing appealed to us right away.
That is complemented with a superb AMOLED screen that is also fairly bright.
That is complemented with a superb AMOLED screen that is also fairly bright.
We did not like the voice quality as much: there are interference noises, and the microphone behaves oddly.
We did not like the voice quality as much: there are interference noises, and the microphone behaves oddly.
The input devices, including the physical keys, have a very high-quality feel.
The input devices, including the physical keys, have a very high-quality feel.
The camera equipment is also impressive.
The camera equipment is also impressive.
However, the battery can no longer be removed.
However, the battery can no longer be removed.
We like the fact that Samsung bids farewell to polycarbonate at least in these devices.
We like the fact that Samsung bids farewell to polycarbonate at least in these devices.
There is room for improvement in the screen's resolution, and...
There is room for improvement in the screen's resolution, and...
...the somewhat sluggish SoC.
...the somewhat sluggish SoC.
The Galaxy A5 is an overall very well-designed and high-quality device.
The Galaxy A5 is an overall very well-designed and high-quality device.
The software is in line with that and offers many options.
The software is in line with that and offers many options.
Even if the translations are not always perfect...
Even if the translations are not always perfect...
"Briefing" from Flipboard is found at the very left. It links the latest news with social media updates.
"Briefing" from Flipboard is found at the very left. It links the latest news with social media updates.
The device can be connected with its environment in multiple ways.
The device can be connected with its environment in multiple ways.
The software also supports multi-window and runs smoothly on the mid-range SoC.
The software also supports multi-window and runs smoothly on the mid-range SoC.
The graphics card copes with sophisticated games, but the frame rates are sometimes close to the limit.
The graphics card copes with sophisticated games, but the frame rates are sometimes close to the limit.
The software interface is overall very clearly arranged and provides overview.
The software interface is overall very clearly arranged and provides overview.
Samsung, unfortunately, preloads some adware apps.
Samsung, unfortunately, preloads some adware apps.
The options are also clearly arranged as far as it is possible with so many setting options.
The options are also clearly arranged as far as it is possible with so many setting options.
It is also possible to increase or decrease the automatic brightness.
It is also possible to increase or decrease the automatic brightness.
Users who find the 5-inch smartphone too big can open the one-hand mode.
Users who find the 5-inch smartphone too big can open the one-hand mode.
There are several profiles for displaying content, and they have a visible impact on the image.
There are several profiles for displaying content, and they have a visible impact on the image.
"S Planner" is one of the apps that Samsung preloads on the device.
"S Planner" is one of the apps that Samsung preloads on the device.
"S Voice" voice control is also installed,...
"S Voice" voice control is also installed,...
...and the image and video suite "Studio."
...and the image and video suite "Studio."
The photo app also comes from Samsung and provides many features.
The photo app also comes from Samsung and provides many features.

Similar Devices

Links

  • Tips for buying a notebook - notebookCHECK Purchase Advisory

  • Find the right notebook - notebookCHECK Hardware Guide

  • Display resolution comparison - DPI (grain size) of displays

  • Our test criteria
  • Manufacturer's information

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Pros

+Stylish metal casing
+Plain, elegant design
+Very slim and stiff casing
+Screen's superb color reproduction
+High brightness and very good viewing angles
+Extensive software
+Decent camera equipment
+Accurate touchscreen
+Virtually no palpable temperature increase
+Practical battery life
 

Cons

-Non-removable battery now
-Preloaded adware apps
-Speaker's unfavorable position...
-...and quality
-Microphone occasionally clicks

Shortcut

What we like

The casing is fantastic: slim, stiff and stylish.

What we'd like to see

A slightly stronger SoC could have been installed.

What surprises us

Samsung's sudden U-turn away from its beloved polycarbonate.

The competition

HTC Desire 510, HTC One E8, Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, Huawei Ascend G7, Nokia Lumia 830, Asus Zenfone 5, Sony Xperia T3, Google Nexus 5.

Rating

Samsung Galaxy A5 - 02/10/2015 v4(old)
Florian Wimmer

Chassis
93%
Keyboard
71 / 75 → 95%
Pointing Device
92%
Connectivity
49 / 60 → 82%
Weight
95%
Battery
92%
Display
88%
Games Performance
53 / 63 → 84%
Application Performance
28 / 70 → 40%
Temperature
93%
Noise
100%
Audio
55 / 91 → 60%
Camera
77%
Average
76%
87%
Smartphone - Weighted Average
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Samsung Galaxy A5 Smartphone Review
Florian Wimmer, 2015-02-18 (Update: 2018-05-15)