Samsung introduced the A series sometime back and this was all about bringing phones that have a look and feel similar to their flagship devices but slightly underpowered when it came to specs – essentially a step below the flagship Galaxy S series. They have done pretty well at that. Few weeks ago an upgraded version of last year’s A7 and A5 were launched in China, and Samsung has been quick enough to bring it to India. This will basically fill up the shortcoming that the original A7 had to make it more desirable and powerful.

The Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 are so similar in their looks and design, we thought it’d make more sense to club them together in our first impressions today.

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The instant you look at the devices, you will know these two are premium smartphones. Edges chamfered on both the sides give them a nice appeal and the shine is so subtle that it brings in lots of elegance to the looks, something that is very important in phones that want to come off as premium. The antenna bands are limited to the top and bottom edges and this would mean that the back is clear of any lines. The back of the phones will instantly remind you of the Galaxy S6 or the newly launched Galaxy S7, thanks to the camera bump and the LED sitting right next to it. The back of the phone is made of glass but well protected by Gorilla Glass 4 and is very slippery, more than what we saw on the OnePlus X. Even when a surface has an angle of 203 degrees inclination, the phones just start sliding. Another problem with this kind of a surface is it’s a fingerprint magnet and also very prone to smudges. The one we got is the gold color where thankfully the smudges are not that evident. Bottom line you gotta grip your phone tight or much better, get a case.

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To the right of the phones is a power button and a dual slot tray which will hold a nano SIM and a micro SD card that can be bumped upto 128 GB. There is secondary nano sim slot at the top of the phones. Onto the left are the volume rockers. Both the power and volume rockers are well made to give you a good tactile feedback and are not pokey. At the bottom, we have a 3.5mm audio jack, a micro USB port and the speaker grille. The position for the speaker grille is really bad and we will see how this works especially when we game. On the face of the phone there is a home button at the bottom that doubles up as a fingerprint scanner and programming this is not as quick as the ones we’ve come to see in the other phones but works just well. Very well-lit pair of apps and back capacitive buttons sit on either sides of the home button, which we cannot stop but falling in love with. Most of the phones off late go with very dim LEDs on the capacitive buttons and when we have well-lit ones it does bring in a delight.

The display on both the phones is Super AMOLED screen coming with Gorilla Glass 4 protection. While the A7 has 401 ppi, the A5 has 424 ppi. If you were to put the phones side by side, it’s really hard to tell the difference. Touch response is truly brilliant here. We love the 2.5D edges display that allows for smoother experience while moving things from once screen to another and also feels good when you hold the phone. The A7 weighs 172 gms while the A5 weighs 155 gms but both come at a thickness of 7.3mm. Both the phones are heavier when compared to their 2015 predecessors as Samsung has fit bigger batteries to tackle the not so satisfactory battery life they gave. The A7 has a 3300 mAh battery while the A5 has 2900 mAh and they are non-removable.

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Under the hood, both the phones have the same Samsung Exynos 7580 Octa Core processor clocked at 1.6GHz. A7 has 3GB of RAM while the A5 has just 2GB. We feel Samsung should’ve gone with 3GB on the A5 as well but that is what we get here. With 16GB of internal usage and around 10GB available to the user, our experience so far has been good barring that 2-3 times a day when the A7 just freezes for a couple of seconds regardless of what app you’re working with. This wasn’t seen in the A5 though. We will test the phones more to see if this persists. The dual sims worked just fine and call quality was sublime.

The primary camera on both the phones is a 13MP shooter with f/1.9 aperture and has OIS support. This should allow for some good pictures and we cannot wait to test it out! An LED flash which provides good brightness sites by its side. The front shooter is a 5MP one also with f/1.9 aperture and has 1080p support as well. The camera so far has been really fast in processing while the focus takes an extra second especially with close-up shots and low light. We will test the camera out in detail in coming days.

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Our first impressions of both the phones are really positive around the key selling points of the A series : Super awesome design, a feel of sturdiness when you hold the phone and meaningful corrections in battery capacity – all of this make for a very good offering. But of course, when you think of the price, they come at around 32-33K INR and 26-27K INR and are definetly not cheap. Both of them are not for the ones who hinge on the pricing and compare other offering with the same specifications. They are for the ones who care about a well-built phone with flamboyancy in design and good grade materials used in making a phone that performs well on a day to day basis and has some brilliant camera. We will test out the phones in greater detail for a detailed review. For the moment, Samsung’s A series surely seem to have got their A game right this time around.


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Video Reviewer

GK aka CosmicPaladin is based out of Bangalore and is a gadget freak right from the day he owned the Nokia 3310 right on the day it was released! He has been using tons of handhelds from then on – witnessing the evolution of phones to smartphones and now wearables. He holds an engineering degree along with MBA and has over a decade of experience in building mobile and web enterprise apps.