Samsung Galaxy A5 and A7 2017 first impressions: Mid-range smartphones with something special

After using the 2017 Samsung Galaxy A5 and A7 for a short while, it seems that Samsung does have a few tricks up its sleeves that should help them stand out from the sea of budget and mid-range devices.


Samsung Mobile India today announced its new and improved, 2017 range of A series smartphones. The new smartphones pack in new and improved hardware and get a complete redesign in terms of physical appearance.

The Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) has been priced at Rs 28,990 while its bigger sibling the Galaxy A7 (2017) has been priced at Rs 33,490.

With price tags like these Samsung is taking a big risk and pegging these mid-range devices against the hordes of Chinese smartphones (both budget and flagship) that obviously come with better hardware and a lesser asking price. But as after using them for a short while, it seems that Samsung does have a few tricks up its sleeves, which will help it’s 2017 A Series stand out from the sea of budget and mid-range devices.

Design and Build

This is supposed to be Samsung’s premium take at the mid-range and right from the first glance, it sure shows. The handsets are available in Black Sky and Gold Sand finishes, out of which the black finish looked premium and classy.

Samsung Galaxy A5 and A7 2017 first impressions: Mid-range smartphones with something special

The handsets felt weighty and cool giving an impression of premium device even though it does not sport a metal unibody finish like the recently announced C9 Pro smartphone.

What you get with the new A Series is a mix of metal and glass that fuse together to deliver a seamless look and feel. There’s a 2.5D glass that sits on the front, and a 3D curved glass that fits on to the back with a sandwiched metal frame and chassis that is squeezed into the center.

Samsung Galaxy A Series Galaxy A5 2017 (10)

Samsung Galaxy A Series Galaxy A5 2017 (12)

Samsung Galaxy A Series Galaxy A5 2017 (13)

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The fingerprint reader sits on the front under the home button and yes it can be pressed down to access the main menu. The fits and finish of the device are top class with no creaks whatsoever. And this is a must especially because the A5 and A7 are IP 68 dust and water resistant similar to the Galaxy S7 models.

Display

Both the Samsung Galaxy A5 and A7 feature Full HD Super Amoled displays with 2.5D glass screens protecting them. The Galaxy A5 features a 5.2-inch display while the A7 features a 5.7-inch unit.

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During my limited hands-on time, I noticed a yellowish tinge on both units which is a bit odd since they are both Super AMOLED displays that are usually showcase cooler tones. There are however settings to change those preferences, but more of this in the full review. And because it’s an Amoled display, Samsung has also managed to squeeze in its Always on Display technology that is found its high-end devices like the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.

Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy A5 features a 5.2-inch Full HD Super Amoled display as well and is powered by an Exynos 7880 SoC. There’s 3GB RAM and 32GB of storage that is expandable up to 256GB using the microSD card slot. The Galaxy A5 packs in 16MP f/1.9 units for both the primary and secondary cameras. The handset runs Android Marshmallow and is powered by a 3,000mAh battery.

The Samsung Galaxy A7 features a 5.7-inch Full HD Super Amoled display with the same internals as the A5 along with a battery upgrade to 3,600mAh.

Other hardware details include Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth v 4.2, ANT+, NFC and a USB Type-C port at the bottom for charging and data transfer.

OS

Samsung 2017 Galaxy A series smartphones surprisingly feature Android 6.0 Marshmallow inside, this is a bit weird since even budget offerings from the competition have planned upgrades to Android 7.0 or like in the case of the Asus Zenfone 3S Max feature the same out of the box.

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The Android 6.0 software comes fused with Samsung’s TouchWiz skin that tries to get in your way, but like with recent iterations, is not that bad and at times feels useful in some places by bringing Nougat features into its Android 6.0 ROMs. The software feels snappy considering that there’s 3GB RAM and an Exynos chipset underneath.

Camera

Both the Samsung Galaxy A5 and A7 feature identical camera units. This would include a 16MP f/1.9 camera setup on the back with LED and a similar set up sans the LED flash on the front. The same set up is carried forward onto the bigger A7 with nothing new on offer.

What you do get with the A5 and A7 is new software. During the launch event, Samsung’s SVP, Asim Warsi explained that a great camera is important for millennials (the target group) which  is why the software has been simplified that lets you access basic controls with a swipe to the right and the camera filters with a swipe to the left. Swipe upwards to get to the selfies camera mode.

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There’s also a floating virtual shutter button that lets you conveniently place the control anywhere on the screen for better access.

The images from the smartphone looked fairly good keeping the wider f/1.9 aperture in mind, but look out for our full review for all the details. This is more so because one can even submerse the smartphone under water.

The smartphone offers FHD, HD and VGA recording for video.

Conclusion

For now it will make the Samsung A5 and A7 owners feel in a bit special in the sense that the smartphones do not feature the usual run-of-the-mill Qualcomm Snapdragon silicon inside. But we have yet to check out whether this move brings any advantages to this smartphone.

The premium seamless design with a 3D glass on the back combined with an IP 68 rating along with the always on display however may prove to be a winner for some. While the above details will add to its exclusivity in the overcrowded mid-range segment, the 16MP f/1.9 camera too will have perform to compete with flagship offerings from the OnePlus and this will be the true test of this mid-ranger. So look out for our full review before your take the leap.

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