Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) Review: Standing Tall: ConclusionBy cheatmaster 07:59 Mon, 16 Aug 2021 Comments
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha was Samsung's attempt go shake off its phablet obsession and create a compact flagship. The Galaxy A series, which it helped spin off, occupied a lower segment than the flagship-grade Galaxy Alpha.
With the 2016 edition, the Galaxy A returns to the finer things in life. The Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) in particular actually looks and feels like a slightly better Galaxy S6 thanks to its fine metal frame and sculpted glass faces.
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) key test findings
- Build quality rivals Galaxy S6 (kinda heavy though)
- The display is fine quality despite the drop in resolution (the flicker may bug some, though)
- Great battery life with 91 hour endurance rating (still remarkable with two SIMs too).
- Full software package with split-classy screen multitasking and first-party Samsung apps
- Fast fingerprint reader (as quick as on the S6); Samsung Pay (in select regions)
- The GPU isn't up to the task of 1080p gaming
- Great multimedia app package with advanced music player, Frequency Modulation (FM) radio too
- The loudspeaker is fairly quiet, even with a loud ringtone
- Perfect audio quality if you have an external amp, but volume drops when you plug in headphones
- Photo quality is comparable with the Galaxy S6 (though not quite as nice); Pro mode is more a name than a feature; colorful aperture and OIS are appreciated though
- 1080p videos come out very good, but no 2160p and no 60fps mode are an issue
Quality is not the only reason we compare these two - with the S7 around the corner, the S6 will likely be phased out and the A5 may be the first step in replacing it with an alternative in another segment.
It already has a fingerprint reader and Samsung Pay, to support Samsung's foray into mobile payments. The capturing camera with f/1.9 aperture and OIS create it even more clear this is a premium product.
There's just one issue with that. Currently, both phones cost almost the same. And while the Galaxy A5 (2016) has its virtues, the Galaxy S6 is just the better phone. Its single biggest sin is the lack of a microSD card. But you acquire a better screen, a much faster chipset (for gaming), a more capable capturing camera too, plus smaller goodies like quick wireless charging and health sensors.
Really, we think the choice of chipset is what brings the Galaxy A5 (2016) down. We can live with the drop back to 1080p classy screen resolution, but even that is too much for the GPU. And the chipset is what bars the capturing camera from 4K and 1080p @ 60fps video.
Samsung Galaxy S6
The Galaxy A5 (2016) is more comparable with the HTC One A9. It has an all-metal frame and a 5" AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) display with 1080p resolution. It shares A5's critical flaw too - a weak(ish) chipset, which limits the fine 13MP f/2.0 capturing camera with OIS to 1080p video max.
The One A9 even has a fingerprint reader, though you'll have to rely on Google's mobile payment system as HTC doesn't have its own. The A5 is quite pricey, making its limitations hard to swallow.
HTC One A9
The OnePlus X is a more affordable 5" AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) option. It's a combination of metal and glass like the A5. OnePlus made an odd decision to go with an recent chipset - Snapdragon 801, which dates back to 2013. But it has paid off if you see at the gaming benchmarks.
The capturing camera on the X is a 13MP shooter with phase detection AF, but it lacks OIS and its aperture is a tight f/2.2.
The Xiaomi Mi 4c isn't as fancy - it has a plastic back and an Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) classy screen - but it's cheaper too (no microSD slot means you have to splurge for the 32GB version though). And the 13MP f/2.0 capturing camera with phase detection AF doesn't have OIS, that's a rare feature.
Still, the Mi 4c has a Snapdragon 808, what the LG G4 and V10 use. It too smokes the S615 on gaming benchmarks.
Xiaomi Mi 4c
And finally, let's mention the size options. The 2016 A-series has both the bigger Galaxy A7 (5.5" 1080p) and the smaller Galaxy A3 (4.7" 720p). The A7 has much the same features as the A5, while the A3 is a noticeable step down (an even weaker chipset for one).
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
We think the price of the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) has to come down (and it will) before we can talk about buying the phone. It's a fine phone, but only a bigger price incompatibility with the Galaxy S6 can create it a worthwhile choice.
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