Samsung Galaxy A3 and A5 unboxing and first impressions: embarking on a new design journey

“We have the latest devices from Samsung’s stable in our labs, and we have given them a warm welcome with an unboxing followed by our first impressions”

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After years of sticking with a similar-looking plastic-based design for its smartphones, the Korean manufacturer Samsung has finally given in to consumer demand by launching a couple of metal-clad devices. While the Galaxy Alpha (review) was its debut metal offering, the company is bringing the same design cues to the mid-range with the newly-introduced Galaxy A series. Not just the design, Samsung has also tried not to deter potential buyers with confusing names, by offering three devices with different specs as well as different pricing in this range: the Galaxy A3, A5 and A7.

The company recently launched both the A3 and A5, along with announcing the Indian launch of the A7 (first impressions) at its annual forum yesterday. Both the Galaxy A3 and A5 have made their way to our labs and we’re keen to check them out extensively, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves and first give them a welcome treatment with a quick unboxing, followed by our hands-on impressions.

Both the Samsung Galaxy A3 and A5 come enclosed in extremely-compact boxes. The first thing you’ll notice inside the boxes are the smartphones themselves. Underneath those, there are the usual set of contents which include quick start guides, warranty cards, earphones along with ear tips, SIM-ejection tools, micro-USB cables and wall chargers (1A  for the A3 and 1.55A in the case of the Galaxy A5).

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Now before wasting more time, let’s take a closer look at what makes the Galaxy A3 and A5 unique as compared to other phones from the company. The first thing you notice when you pick up the devices is how light they are and the snug fit in the hands. While there’s a difference in sizes of the two devices, with the A3 housing a 4.5-inch display and A5 sporting a slightly bigger 5.0-inch screen, both of them are ideal for use with a single hand.

From the front, you might not find much of a difference between the two and Samsung’s previous phones, since the fascia is dominated by the display, along with an earpiece, a couple of sensors and a front-facing snapper above and hardware keys below. Yes, the mobiles offer three buttons for navigation, with the oval-shaped home key flanked by a recent apps key and a key to return to the previous screen.

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However, when you look at the sides, then you’ll find the cold feel of a metal extending along the edges. The power button can be found on the right, along with two ejectable trays. While the primary slot gobbles up a nano-SIM, the secondary slot can accept either a nano-SIM or a microSD card, in case you are in need of more storage. The volume rocker is available on the left spine. The top is almost empty, except having a microphone input, whereas the bottom is choc-a-block with a 3.5mm audio interface, a micro-USB port and a mic.

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On the rear, the devices feature the primary camera, with an LED flash and a speaker grille present on either sides in a symmetrical manner. While the Galaxy A3 offers an 8MP snapper, its sibling, the A5 sports 13MP camera. While the back panel is still plastic, it feels nice and doesn’t seem flimsy like previous devices from Samsung. Another difference between these new devices and the previous offerings from the brand is that the former are unibody smartphones. Yes, the ability to remove the battery – which was considered as one of the stronger points for Samsung devices – is no longer possible, but that’s the price we are happy to pay to get a better designed smartphone.

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When we dive deeper in the spec department of the Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5, then the differences between them become apparent. As the numeric naming scheme indicates, the Samsung Galaxy A3 is the more affordable of the two. The A3 sports the resolution of 960 x 540 pixels on its 4.5-inch display, which might seem low in terms of pixel density, but thanks to the Super AMOLED tech, offers lovely visuals and impressive viewing angles. The 5-inch display on the Galaxy A5 fares a little better in the display department by featuring HD resolution.

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Powering the show on both the Galaxy A3 and A5 is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, a 64-bit SoC offering four cores running at 1.2GHz. The processor is mated to a gigabyte of RAM in the A3, while the A5 is more powerful with double the amount of RAM. For storage, both devices come with 16GB of flash memor, that can be increased further by making use of a microSD card.

For photography, the Galaxy A3 has an 8-megapixel rear shooter, whereas the Galaxy A5 is equipped with a 13MP camera. Both devices get an LED flash each for shooting in low-light conditions. Targeted at selfie addicts, both devices feature 5MP snappers at the front.

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In terms of software interface, you’ll be greeted with the familiar TouchWiz UI based on Android 4.4 KitKat. The devices come with the usual goodies from Samsung such as Multi Window, Easy Mode, Ultra Power Saving Mode, etc. On the connectivity front, the devices have support for 4G networks in the upcoming FD-LTE Band 3 along with the usual options such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC and GPS. Tasked with keeping the Galaxy A3 alive is a 1,900mAh battery, while a 2,300mAh pack assumes this responsibility in the case of the Galaxy A5.

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Overall, the Samsung Galaxy A3 embarks a new journey for the brand, and we’d like to tell you more about the phones, so stay tuned.

Photos by Raj Rout. Video by Pratik Vyas

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