Over the last few week's we've been covering the major bases from this years Mobile World Congress (MWC). We started with the latest Samsung Galaxy S7 series and now we're going full circle back to Samsung, this time to look at a few devices announced late last year that have only just started to show up outside the Chinese market. These are the 2016 range of the Samsung A Series, the Galaxy A3, Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7.
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)
Last December, Samsung showcased the 2016 generation of its A series smartphones. The Galaxy A3 (2016), Galaxy A5 (2016), and Galaxy A7 (2016) were initially only available in China, but recently that changed with the addition of several international models. The A series slots in under the flagship S series and above the mid range J series. This time around, it seems the A's are much closer to the S's than the J's, placing them firmly in the upper mid tier. All three members of the new 2016 Galaxy A series share a design with last years flagship, the Galaxy S6 ; they all have similar metal frames and glass front and backs.
The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) gets the biggest upgrade of the three when compared to the 2015 models. There's a bigger 4.7" Super AMOLED display with 720 x 1280 pixel resolution. There's still a quad-core CPU, 1.5GB RAM and 16GB internal storage as standard, however now a bigger 2300mAh battery unit powers the device. Two improved cameras have been added, both with f/1.9 apertures, the rear camera clocks in at 13MP and the front at 5MP. The Galaxy A3 does have LTE support and there is a dual SIM option but unlike the Galaxy A5 and A7 there's no fingerprint sensor. The new Galaxy A3 will have Android Lollipop support and in the UK will set you back £269.
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
Both the Samsung Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 have OIS on the rear cameras, as well as the fingerprint sensor which the A3 lacks. The Galaxy A5 also has 5.2" a Super AMOLED display with 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution, giving us a nice 424ppi. Internally there is a Snapdragon 615 chipset or on some models Samsung's own Exynos 7580. The Snapdragon version has an octa-core Cortex-A53 processor and Adreno 405 GPU. Both chipset variants come with 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage, however half that is taken up by the firmware. Thankfully there is also a MicroSD card slot for further expansion, something the Galaxy S6 omitted.
There is the same 13MP camera with f/1.9 aperture and 5MP front-facing camera as seen on the Galaxy A3. The battery unit is 2900mAh, with Samsung Pay enabled NFC support as well as LTE connectivity. If we compare against the Galaxy S6, we can see it doesn't have wireless charging support, has a slightly lower resolution camera and display, as well as 1GB less RAM. It is also lacking a heart rate monitor. On the plus side, an FM radio is included and the battery is bigger, 2,900mAh vs. 2,550 mAh. In addition, it has a MicroSD card slot, which for many is a deal breaker. Like the Galaxy A3 the Galaxy A5 will also ship with Android 5.1 Lollipop, the A5 costs £319 and is available to order now.
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
The Samsung Galaxy A7 and A5 are more alike than their little sibling, the Galaxy A3. The key difference here is screen size, the A7 is essentially the new A5 stretched onto a 5.5" display. This size has become the de facto standard for larger 'phablet' smartphones. We've seen in the past that if you go much bigger, the phone just becomes too unwieldy. Numbers wise, it's a 5.5" Super AMOLED display which rocks a 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution, giving us 401ppi. Still good, but slightly less than the A5, which is entirely expected. Almost everything else is exactly the same as the Galaxy A5, including the hardware, the camera resolution and the connectivity features.
The one single difference aside from the display size comes from the battery size, 3300mAh compared to the A5's 2900mAh unit. This change merely helps to drive the larger screen, real world battery length will be the same for both devices. Comparing the 2016 and 2015 models of the A7 we can see that there isn't any drastic upgrades, screen size, screen and camera resolution, chipset, CPU and GPU are exactly the same. The major additions are an extra GB of RAM, the inclusion of OIS on the rear camera, a much bigger battery (the 2015 model had just 2600mAh) and the addition of 2.5D Gorilla Glass 4 protection on the back. The bigger display with cost you £70 more than the Galaxy A5, for a total of £399.
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