Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review: Alphabet soup

GSMArena team, 20 January 2017.

Telephony

The Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) comes in single-SIM and dual-SIM flavors, and it so happened that we had the single-SIM version.

Dialer - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review Call log - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review All contacts - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review In-call screen - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review
Dialer • Call log • All contacts • In-call screen

There's native support for blocking incoming calls - you can block specific numbers and all anonymous calls.

Blocking unwanted calls - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review More call settings - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review
Blocking unwanted calls • More call settings

Loudspeaker

This year's A-series have their loudspeakers in a novel position - on the right side of the phone. The single speaker on the A5 (2017) posted numbers that put it in the Good category in our test in terms of loudness, just like the A3 (2017). It's a noticeable improvement over the 2016 model, and puts the A5 (2017) on par with most of its competition. Output quality is quite good, too.

Speakerphone testVoice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Sony Xperia X 61.3 61.1 65.7 Below Average
HTC 10 (Theater mode) 61.9 66.0 62.1 Below Average
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 65.8 66.0 66.5 Below Average
OnePlus X 65.9 66.3 70.7 Average
HTC 10 (Music mode) 63.1 66.7 74.3 Average
Oppo F1 Plus 67.9 71.9 66.5 Average
Samsung Galaxy S6 68.1 66.3 73.7 Good
Xiaomi Mi 5 66.9 67.2 74.0 Good
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 66.1 66.9 75.5 Good
Samsung Galaxy C5 67.4 69.0 72.9 Good
Samsung Galaxy S7 69.5 69.3 71.1 Good
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 66.4 66.2 78.0 Good
Huawei P9 72.1 66.6 75.6 Good
Honor 8 67.1 66.2 82.6 Good
Xiaomi Mi 5s 64.2 70.0 84.9 Very Good
Google Pixel 74.0 68.3 78.0 Very Good
Huawei nova 69.2 71.9 80.6 Very Good
Meizu MX5 75.7 73.5 79.5 Excellent
Google Pixel XL 73.4 72.1 84.1 Excellent
OnePlus 2 75.7 73.5 80.7 Excellent

Messaging and text input

Samsung preloaded its own Messaging app to handle SMS/MMS instead of using Google's Allo (which isn't even available out of the box). The app has a clean but powerful interface, much of its functionality hides behind a slide-out menu on the right.

This menu lets you view all photos (or even general attachments) in a conversation, sort of like a two-person gallery. You can also insert canned responses, block numbers (or just mute notifications for the contact) as well as pin the conversation thread so it's always on top.

You can insert smiles and photos, similar to popular chat apps (except that files are sent over MMS).

Threaded view • Chatting with Dee Dee • Slide-out menu • Attachments: Smilies - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review Threaded view • Chatting with Dee Dee • Slide-out menu • Attachments: Photos - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review Threaded view • Chatting with Dee Dee • Slide-out menu • Attachments: Photos - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review Threaded view • Chatting with Dee Dee • Slide-out menu • Attachments: Photos - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review Threaded view • Chatting with Dee Dee • Slide-out menu • Attachments: Photos - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review
Threaded view • Chatting with Dee Dee • Slide-out menu • Attachments: Smilies • Photos

The Samsung Keyboard handles text input. It can be heavily customized - you can resize it (in height and width), hide the number row and add additional symbols (punctuation on long key press).

Swipe input can be tasked with one of two tasks - move the cursor or text input. A High contrast mode is available for people with poor eyesight.

Samsung keyboard: Default view - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review Samsung keyboard: Settings - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review Samsung keyboard: Resizing/secondary symbols - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review Samsung keyboard: High contrast mode - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review
Samsung keyboard: Default view • Settings • Resizing/secondary symbols • High contrast mode

Other apps

Samsung's S Health is available and it can track your walks/runs and your sleep. With help from the right accessory, it can track a lot more - it works with Samsung's activity trackers, of course, but you can connect heart rate monitors, bike sensors, smart scales, even blood pressure and glucose monitors. Both Bluetooth 4.0 LE and ANT+ accessories are available. If it was a flagship, you'd have a heart rate sensor built in, but not here.

For those who need motivation, you can challenge a friend and compete to win virtual crowns. You also get a global leaderboard so you know where you stand. S Health can cooperate with a number of third-party apps (from Withings and others).

S Health: Main screen - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review S Health: Tracking screen - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review S Health: Rewards - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review S Health: Nope, no heart rate sensor on board - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review
S Health: Main screen • Tracking screen • Rewards • Nope, no heart rate sensor on board

The File manager shows the most recent files by default and supports basic folder operations as well as compression.

File browser - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review File browser - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review File browser - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review
File browser

Finally, there's Galaxy Apps, an alternative (or, rather, parallel) source of apps. A number of Samsung apps are available here, including ones not pre-installed on the Galaxy A5 (2017). You can also find freebies and exclusives here.

Galaxy Apps - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review Galaxy Apps - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review Galaxy Apps - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review Galaxy Apps - Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review
Galaxy Apps