Kuala Lumpur: While companies like Asus and Motorola are kicking off the year in India with their premium devices laden with innovations, Samsung appears to have opted a different strategy. It seems that the South Korean giant, this year, intends to first treat Indian users with its mid-range devices before it serves them the upcoming flagship S7 (that is expected to be unveiled on February 21).
At the Samsung Forum 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, the company announced the launch of the next-gen Galaxy A5 and A7 smartphones for the Indian market, which are priced at Rs 29,400 and Rs 33,400, respectively. In times when competitors including Motorola, Xiaomi, Asus, OnePlus, have their mid-range devices (with similar features and specs) placed on the lower end of the price spectrum, the new Galaxy phones may appear to be a little on the expensive side. But are they really overpriced or do the phones actually justify the price tags? Our first impressions review of the new Galaxy A5 and A7 attempts to distinguish between perception and reality.
Our hands-on reviews are usually dedicated to a single device, but here we are going ahead with two devices in one piece as both the new handsets are almost the same, while varying a little on a few fronts including size, RAM and battery. Take it as twins, with one a little taller and slightly more efficient than the other. Precisely, the Galaxy A5 (2016) and A7 (2016) differ from each other majorly on three fronts - size (and consequently, weight), RAM, and battery.
Before we continue with how the phones actually differ, there is an interesting thing about them that you should know. Samsung has borrowed the design language for the new Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 phones from its flagship Galaxy S6 smartphone, which looks good and far better than the designs of the Galaxy S3, S4, and the S5. Designed on lines similar to those of the S6, the new Galaxy A5 and A7 are encased in a metal body with a glass at the back. No doubt that the glass surface at the rear makes the phones elegant, but the downside here is that it is a fingerprint magnet. The back panel easily catches fingerprints, and requires you to wipe it off every now and then. But if you are okay with it and/or can deal with it, this shouldn't be an area of concern for you.
Offering a comfortable grip, both phones feel light in hands and easily nestle in your palm, but I found the size of the Galaxy A5 (measuring 5.2 inches) better than that of the A7 (measuring 5.5 inches). Not that the A7 is uncomfortable in hands, it's just, if given a choice, I would opt for a screen close to 5 inches. You may not, and that's okay :)
The new 4G-enabled Galaxy A5 and A7 may differ a little in terms of screen size, but they feature the same full HD Super AMOLED display. The display is great to look at, produces great colours and offers excellent viewing angles. Super AMOLED displays on the Samsung phones are not something new and have so far been greatly received by both critics and users.
While the successors to the Galaxy A5 and A7 come with a host of improvements, the most noticeable of them are a fingerprint scanner for quick unlocking and the fast-charging feature, which is claimed to “rapidly” charge your smartphone to full. We, however, are yet to test the performance of these features in the new Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7. In terms of numbers, the Galaxy A5 has a 2900 mAh battery in comparison to the 3300 mAh one on the Galaxy A7.
On the camera front, both the Galaxy A5 and A7 come with a 13 megapixel rear camera (with OIS) and a 5 megapixel front camera - both with an f/1.9 aperture. While both cameras capture good light and produce bright results, I found the front camera a tad disappointing. Unlike the detailed and clear results generated by the rear camera, the photos captured by the front shooter had a bit of noise. Given that both the phones come at prices close to Rs 30K, you are bound to have higher expectations from them.
At the heart of the Galaxy A5 and A7 are an octa-core processor clocked at 1.6 GHz, but the former includes 2 GB of RAM and the latter 3 GB. While these specs look great on paper, only the real-world tests can reflect on their performance. The speakers on the phones are fairly loud and have a decent audio quality, but this is not our final take on speakers as this opinion comes merely from the tests that we conducted at the demo zone at the Samsung Forum. We would like to have our final word on them after putting the phones to tests in different room (and also outdoor) environments.
The Galaxy A5 and A7 come in only storage variant offering 16 GB of internal storage space (around 10 GB is user-accessible), with support for a microSD card of up to 128 GB. While users can expand the storage space on the phones via a microSD card, I believe the company should have come up with the 32 GB storage variant at these price points.
The new Galaxy A5 and A7 are based on Android 5.1 Lollipop, and the company has not announced as to when it plans to roll out Marshmallow update for the new Galaxy phones.
The phones, which will be available in three colours - Gold, Black, and White, will go on sale in India from February 15.
Altogether, the new Galaxy A5 and A7 have managed to leave a positive impression in the first place, but we are yet to review the devices thoroughly. Even if the handsets fare well, we think their price tags could be a deterrent in their success. This is because, the competition is offering similar features at lower price points. Wait for our full review to know our final verdict on the phones and where they actually stand in against the competition.