Water resistance on smartphones is still not as common as you think, especially when you look at smartphones that aren’t flagship devices. Even the super pricey Google Pixel doesn’t come with any form of meaningful water resistance.
This makes Samsung’s decision to include IP68 water resistance in their new mid-range Galaxy A smartphones all the more interesting. They’ve launched the two brand new smartphones, the Galaxy A5 (2017) and Galaxy A7 (2017), here in Malaysia but the question is: Should you be looking for water resistance when you’ve got a fixed budget in mind?
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
If you had asked me that question about a year ago, I would have probably said no. But now, after using several water resistant devices, my answer’s a little different. In a nutshell, I now find life without a water resistant smartphone very inconvenient.
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
That said, this is the mid-range market so users should be looking to squeeze as much performance and longevity out of their smartphones as possible. And the good news is that the Galaxy A (2017) devices aren’t exactly what I’d call slouches.
Both the Galaxy A7 (2017) and the Galaxy A5 (2017) have pretty much identical internals. They’ve got a 1.9GHz Samsung Exynos 7880 octa-core processor mated to 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. This storage is expandable via a microSD card which has its own dedicated slot — so no hybrid sharing nonsense in this dual-SIM device. They’re also sporting high-resolution 16-megapixel f/1.9 aperture cameras in the front and back.
The only big difference between the two, as you’ve probably guessed, is the size of their screen and battery. On the Galaxy A7 (2017), you get a 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display while the Galaxy A5 (2017) sports a 5.2-inch Full HD Super AMOLED panel instead. On the battery end of things, the larger A7 (2017) is packing a 3,600 mAh cell while the A5 (2017) comes with a 3,000 mAh cell. Both do support fast-charging via USB Type-C, however, which is great.
Keeping with Samsung’s new premium-build tradition, both handsets come in beautifully machined bodies of glass and metal. Like Samsung’s newer flagship handsets, the back of the smartphone is also ever so slightly curved so that it’ll fit nicely into your palms while the front glass has a subtle 2.5D finish.
In front, you’ll also find a fingerprint scanner tucked under the physical home button which you can use to unlock your smartphone and make payments via Samsung Pay which is compatible with MST and NFC payment terminals.
These new devices from Samsung do come with some pretty decent specifications, but they aren’t without compromise. Although you don’t have a camera bump at the back, you also lose optical image stabilisation on the primary cameras, which is a pretty big deal to me. But in its place you get water resistance that lets your device be submerged up in depths of up to 1.5 metres for as long as 30 minutes. And that might just be a trade I’d be willing to make, though I’ll save my judgement until after I get a full review.
For those who are interested, the Galaxy A (2017) will be available at Samsung brand outlets nationwide from the 25th of January 2017 onwards. The A7 (2017) will be priced at RM1,899 while the A5 (2017) will be priced at RM1,699. However, these devices will be up for in-store pre-orders from the 6th to 15th of January 2017 at selected Samsung outlets. Customers who place a pre-order with Samsung during that time will receive a pair of Samsung Level U Pro wireless headphones worth RM399.