Samsung’s new trio of mid-range smartphones – the Galaxy A3, Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 – pack some premium design at a good price. So which of the three is best for you and what’s the difference? Check out our full comparison review.
At a glance
|Phone||Galaxy A3||Galaxy A5||Galaxy A7|
|Screen resolution||960×540 (245ppi)||1280×720 (294ppi)||1920×1080 (401ppi)|
|Processor||Snapdragon 410||Snapdragon 410||Snapdragon 615|
|Storage||16GB + micro SD||16GB + micro SD||16GB + micro SD|
|Cameras||8MP + 5MP front||13MP + 5MP front||13MP + 5MP front|
All three Galaxy A-range phones look strikingly similar, with a nostalgic Samsung design that at first glance reminds us of older Galaxy flagships. However, there’s one important difference: they all sport a full metal jacket, which stretches around the sides and back, similar to the Galaxy Alpha.
The result is a more premium feel than your plastic fantastic phones of yesteryear, and all three phones are solid enough to withstand a bit of punishment, especially thanks to the Gorilla Glass 4 front panels. Which means the main decisive factor between these phones when it comes to design is the sheer size of the buggers.
The Galaxy A3 is the smallest of the bunch at just 4.5-inches, which is positively dinky and quaint by modern smartphone standards, but great news for anyone with little hands or stubby fingers. Next up is the Galaxy A5, which at 5-inches is (just about) a pleasing fit for most hands, thanks to its slim design and narrow bezels. Lastly there’s the Galaxy A7, a whopping 5.5-incher like the LG G3. So if you’ve got small pockets, you might want to steer clear of the larger model.
The higher you go, the heavier these phones get too – but not by much. The Galaxy A3 is nice and light at just 110g, while the Galaxy A7 tips the scales at 141g; not exactly a beast, so it shouldn’t weigh you down at all. The Galaxy A7 is also the slimmest phone of the trio at just 6.3mm, while the Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A3 measure up at 6.7mm and 6.9mm. That means that even the chunkiest phone in the A-range is still as slim as Apple’s iPhone 6.
Screen and media
If you’re after a mobile entertainment machine for watching movies and shows on the go, then the Galaxy A7 will be your best bet. Not only does it sport a more spacious screen, but the visuals are pin-sharp thanks to the Full HD resolution (1920×1080, giving 401 pixels-per-inch), to make the most of your high-def content.
That said, the Galaxy A5 packs a 720p 5-inch screen (1280×720, giving 294 pixels-per-inch) which is seriously good for enjoying video, even over extended periods. And while the Galaxy A3 packs the dinkiest and least beautiful display of the bunch, it’s still a bright and bold Super AMOLED panel and a satisfying way to mess around with apps or browse the web.
Performance and battery life
Both the Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5 sport a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor, which in normal speak means they can handle the latest apps and Android 4.4 KitKat without issue. You can play games with a nippy enough frame-rate too, although time will inevitably take a toll and these phones will start to get sluggish before the more powerful Galaxy A7 – especially the Galaxy A3, which has half of the RAM.
We haven’t had a chance to fully test out the Galaxy A7 yet, but the octa-core Snapdragon 615 should be a step up from its siblings, offering solid multi-tasking performance and a more future-proofed experience.
As for battery life, we again haven’t fully tested the Galaxy A7, but both the Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5 are top performers. The Galaxy A5 will happily make it through a full day even if you hammer the camera and stream a lot of video. In fact, it lasted over six hours during our non-stop streaming test. The Galaxy A3 goes for even longer, with ten hours of playback per charge.
When it comes to features, the Galaxy A-range is pretty uniform. All three phones run Android 4.4 and pack 4G support for smooth media streaming and nippy web browsing. There’s also no difference when it comes to storage space, with 16GB built in and a micro SD memory card slot for expansion. Ditto for NFC, which appears on the full range.
However, that Samsung stalwart the infrared port is missing on all three phones, so you can’t use the A range to control your telly. These phones are also missing fingerprint scanners, heart rate sensors and most of the other extras that Samsung bolts onto its more premium phones. Most of it we don’t miss at all, although the lack of a fingerprint scanner is a shame, especially given Samsung’s obvious interest in mobile payments.
The Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 sport the same 13-megapixel rear camera tech, complete with autofocus and LED flash. They’re great cameras for everyday shots, with photos packing plenty of detail. However, snaps taken in bars and restaurants tend to be more grainy, while the HDR mode is useless at helping out tricky lighting situations.
If you opt for the Galaxy A3, you’re dropping down to an 8-megapixel sensor, also with LED flash and auto-focus. However, it’s still a perfectly capable snapper with the same strengths – and limitations – of the A5 and A7 cameras. You also get the same features, which are thankfully limited to just a handful including the obligatory burst mode and panorama.
All three phones boast 5-megapixel front-facing cameras, which are as sharp as you need for selfie shots and chatting online. So if you’re a selfie maniac, any of the A-range will suffice.
The three Samsung Galaxy A-range phones are obvious siblings, rocking almost identical design and very similar specs. However, the obvious difference is the size of the buggers – if you hate using two hands, then the Galaxy A3 is your perfect portable pal, while the Galaxy A5 should just about suffice.
More bothered about having a pin-sharp screen, to enjoy movies on the move? The Galaxy A7 is your best bet thanks to that Full HD display but we still love the A5’s bright 5-inch panel, which is a match for any high-def content. In fact, the Galaxy A5 is a great compromise if you want strong specs in an easily-manageable form factor.