Samsung Galaxy A 2016 hands on and first impressions

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When I found out that the new Galaxy A 2016 series from Samsung was going to borrow design cues from their Galaxy S flagship lineup, I was definitely intrigued. With the Galaxy S6, the South Korean electronics company showed that they could do “premium” incredibly well and I wondered if that aspect would carry over to the Galaxy A lineup, or if it would just be a half-arsed rehash.

Well, when I arrived at the launch venue floor, that thought was quickly answered.

Build

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The one I was waiting to find out about. Was it going to live up to the hype? In short, yeah it did that and more. Like the Galaxy S6, the glass panels of the A series (yes all three of them) came together with the metal frame about as well as glass and metal can possibly come together. The 2.5D contoured edge glass helped with giving the side of the phone a rounded and more natural feel in the hand.

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Each panel was a massive fingerprint magnet, though — as glass usually is — but at least they’re Corning Gorilla Glass 4, so that should keep scratches at bay. The buttons were fantastically tactile and had a satisfying click, even the home button.

Performance

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The three devices are spec’d accordingly, with the smallest 4.7-inch Galaxy A3 being powered by a 1.5GHz Snapdragon quad-core processor paired with 1.5GHz on RAM and 16GB of expandable internal storage. It is also powered by a smaller 2,300 mAh battery.

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On the other hand, the bigger 5.2-inch Galaxy A5 has the same processor as the Galaxy A7 — a 1.6GHz octa-core Snapdragon SoC — with the only difference being that the 5.5-inch Galaxy A7 has 3GB of RAM over the Galaxy A5’s 2GB of RAM.

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Performance across the board was relatively smooth, the most buttery of which is the Galaxy A7. If you place the Galaxy A3 next to either the Galaxy A5 or Galaxy A7, you will notice a slight delay when it comes to switching between multiple applications. In terms of connectivity, all 3 models support Dual-SIM and you’ll be pleased to know that the Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 has a dedicated microSD slot, so you can pop in two SIM cards with no compromises.

Camera

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For a series separated by price and tiers, buyers would be happy to know that Samsung didn’t skimp on the camera optics. Well, not by much anyway. All three devices share the same 13-megapixel rear/5-megapixel front camera combo, except for the fact that the Galaxy A3’s snapper is missing optical image stabilisation.

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Though, with a large f/1.9 aperture lens I don’t foresee poor low-light performance to take too much of a hit. That said, we will have to put them through a proper camera test before passing judgement.

Cool features

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As these are Samsung devices. it isn’t surprising that they come preloaded with some extra features. While some were fairly gimmicky, there are two features that stand out. The first of which is the fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7.

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It’s supposed to be an improved version over the existing Galaxy S6 and from what we can tell, it’s pretty good. Nowhere near as snappy as a Huawei or Apple sensor, but it’s not bad.

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Another great feature that we were happy came over to the midrange devices was the double tap home button to quick launch the camera. It works as well as on the other flagship devices.

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In conclusion, these are really pretty good devices. They’re well built and look really premium but they’re expensive. Very expensive. The Galaxy A3 is priced at RM1,299 while the Galaxy A5 is priced at RM1,599. The top of the range Galaxy A7 is going for RM1,899, which is encroaching flagship price territory. To make the Galaxy A series more enticing, all 3 models will come with an extra 32GB microSD card, giving them a total of 48GB of storage out of the box.

If you’re looking for something affordable, I can’t honestly recommend any of these devices. But, they do come in pink (EVEN THE CHROME AROUND THE HOME BUTTON IS PINK), so if that tickles your fancy, then these will be the devices for you.