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Samsung Galaxy A3 & A5 2017 hands-on

Samsung's new Galaxy A3 and A5 (2017) bring a few features from the Galaxy S7 at a much more affordable price. Should you buy them?
By
February 7, 2017

The Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge might be Samsung’s current – and soon to be replaced – flagships, but you don’t have to buy them to experience the flagship Galaxy experience. The Galaxy A 2017 series offer a few flagship features from the Galaxy S7 at a much more affordable price point. The question is, should you buy the Galaxy A3 or Galaxy A5?

This year’s handsets don’t overhaul a lot from previous years, with Samsung opting to borrow specific Galaxy S features to improve the overall experience. The first of these is the design, with all three Galaxy A models borrowing the curved 3D glass rear and minimal bezel from last year’s flagships. In the hand, these definitely feel a lot like the Galaxy S range and the curved rear makes them very ergonomically friendly.

Galaxy A3 and A5 2017

Another change is the camera bump, which has been shaved from 1.3mm in 2015 to 0.7mm last year and now, it sits flush with the rear of the handset. All three models also borrow the Galaxy DNA, with IP68 certification for waterproofing, an always-on display, microSD card expansion and a long lasting battery. In particular, IP68 certification is fantastic for the price point and the always-on display (coupled with general design) does make you feel like you might be using the Galaxy S7.

Those are the similarities, but the differences are also crucial, with varying specs across the Galaxy A3 and A5 we have here, as well as the Galaxy A7 (which isn’t coming to the UK).

Up front, the Galaxy A3 2017 sports a 4.7-inch 720p display, the A5 has a 5.2-inch Full HD display and the Galaxy A7 has a larger 5.7-inch Full HD 1080p screen. All have Super AMOLED displays and offer the vibrant colors, rich saturation and deep blacks we’ve come to expect from Samsung’s displays.

All three also sport what Samsung is calling an advanced camera, with the A3 offering a 13MP rear and 8MP front camera, while the A5 and A7 have a 16MP camera on the front and back. All lenses come with f/1.9 aperture for better low light photos and the Galaxy A5 and A7 also have Phase Detection Autofocus for lightning fast focus times.

One particularly useful feature is a floating shutter, which allows you to drag the camera shutter button anywhere on the screen, in a bid to solve the problem of cramping your hand when reaching down to take a selfie. The camera also has a simple Swipe UI so you can swipe up or down to flip between the cameras left to change modes and right to change effects. It’s simple enough but rather effective and there’s little to no lag when swiping around the interface.

The Galaxy A3 is powered by Samsung’s quad-core Exynos 7870 processor with 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM, while the A5 and A7 feature a slightly better Exynos 7880 CPU, 32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM. All also come with USB Type-C ports as well as a fingerprint sensor built into the home button beneath the screen.

The A3 is powered by a 2,350mAh battery, the A5 has a much beefier 3,000mAh battery and the A7 is powered by a 3,600mAh battery. Interestingly, Samsung chose to move the speaker to the upper corner of the handset rather than the bottom which should prevent the issue of the speaker being covered when you’re watching a video in landscape.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
Display
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
4.7-inch 720p HD Super AMOLED, 312ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass 4, Always On Display
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
5.2-inch Full HD Super AMOLED, 424ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass 4, Always On Display
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED, 386ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass 4, Always On Display
Processor
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
Exynos 7870 Octa, 1.6 GHz octa-core
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
Exynos 7880 Octa, 1.9 GHz octa-core
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
Exynos 7880 Octa, 1.9 GHz octa-core
GPU
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
Mali-T830
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
Mali-T830MP3
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
Mali-T830MP3
RAM
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
2 GB
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
3 GB
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
3 GB
Storage
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
16 GB
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
32 GB
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
32 GB
Software
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
MicroSD
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
Yes, up to 256 GB
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
Yes, up to 256 GB
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
Yes, up to 256 GB
Rear camera
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
13 MP CMOS, f/1.9, autofocus, 1080p video recording,
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
16 MP CMOS, f/1.9, autofocus, 1080p video recording,
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
16 MP CMOS, f/1.9, autofocus, OIS, 1080p video recording,
Front camera
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
8 MP, f/1.9 aperture, 1080p video recording
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
16 MP, f/1.9 aperture, 1080p video recording
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
16 MP, f/1.9 aperture, 1080p video recording
Fingerprint sensor
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
Yes
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
Yes
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
Yes
Battery
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
2,350 mAh, USB Type-C
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
3,000 mAh, fast charging, USB Type-C
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
3,600 mAh, fast charging, USB Type-C
Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
Dual-SIM, LTE, FM Radio, dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
Dual-SIM, LTE, FM Radio, dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
Dual-SIM, LTE, FM Radio, dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS
Extras
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
MST technology (Samsung Pay), Samsung KNOX, IP68 certification
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
MST technology (Samsung Pay), Samsung KNOX, IP68 certification
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
MST technology (Samsung Pay), Samsung KNOX, IP68 certification
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
135.4 x 66.2 x 7.9 mm, (weight 135g)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
146.1 x 71.4 x 7.9 mm, (weight 157g)
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
156.8 x 77.6 x 7.9 mm, (weight tbc)
Colors
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
Black Sky, Gold Sand, Blue Mist, Peach Cloud

Available in four colors – Black Sky, Gold Sand, Blue Mist and Peach Cloud – these handsets offer a touch of the flagship Galaxy S experience at a more affordable price point. At a price point of £279 for the A3 and £369 for the A5 in the UK, they’ll both have stiff competition but offer a glimpse of the Galaxy S experience for half the cost or less. The Galaxy A7 doesn’t have a price point in the UK but we’d expect it to cost the equivalent of £450-£500.

What do you think of the Galaxy A 2017 series? Do you plan to buy any of them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!