By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent
There is an awful lot of mid-tier smartphones out there. Some are pretty awful, some are ok and a few rise to the top.
The Samsung Galaxy A5 fits into the latter category and with many features you’d only expect to find in a premium smartphone is in fact among the best money can buy at this level.
The A5 has been compared in looks in many quarters to the Samsung Galaxy S7. And for good reason.
With a metal frame and glass back, as well as smooth rounded edges and a very narrow bezel, it has all the hallmarks of its more expensive sibling.
That shiny rear is a bit of a scratch and finger mark magnet, but overall the device is comfortable to hold – albeit a little chunky feeling.
Aside from that it looks much the way you might expect a Samsung phone – home button with built in fingerprint sensor, as well as back and recent apps buttons to the front, volume rocker on the left, power switch to the right, near flush main camera and flash to the rear, and audio jack and USB-C charging socket to the bottom.
Two things that are slightly different though are the separation of the MicroSD and SIM trays and the position of the speaker, which is placed at the top right of the handset, not the bottom.
The screen on the A5 is a 5.2” Full HD Super AMOLED display.
And it is a great example of how, despite all the hype, a decent HD screen can to the untrained eye appear every bit as good as a 4K one.
The quality is really great – bright vibrant colours, deep blacks and strong contrasts.
It is also a useful Always-On display, showing the date, time and battery level when it is sitting in standby.
The device is driven by a 1.9GHz Exynos 7880 Octa Core processor and 3GB of RAM, which gives it more than enough “umph” under most standard use conditions.
It comes with 32GB of storage but that can be expanded up to 256GB using the MicroSD slot.
It’s all powered with a respectable 3,000mAh battery that’s fast charging enabled and is well capable of lasting a day under normal levels of use.
The main camera is a 16MP sensor (f/1.9) with autofocus but no optical image stabilisation.
Nevertheless it takes pretty good shots, although it seemed to struggle a little in low light conditions.
It is fast to fire and the user interface is simple to navigate, with plenty of different options to play with, including HDR.
On the front is another 16MP camera, an upgrade from last year’s model, although this one lacks autofocus.
Video recording is 1080p, more than adequate for most people’s basic needs.
One of the most notable additions to the spec of the A5 is that it is IP68 certified, meaning it is dust proof and can withstand immersion in water to a depth of 1.5m for 30 minutes.
A nice feature for a mid-range handset and handy for those occasional accidents
The audio from the speaker is pretty good too – its replacement at the top of the device does make a difference.
One slight disappointment is that the device runs Android 6.0.16 Marshmallow, not the most up to date version of the operating system.
Overlaid on that is the Samsung Touchwiz user interface, which is pretty clean and simple to use.
There are a fair number of apps pre-installed, but then one user’s bloatware is another’s basic setup.
It comes in three colours – Blue Mist, Gold Sand and Black Sky.
There are a few downsides to the Galaxy A5 – the fingermark attracting design, the absence of any 4K features, the version of Android.
But overall it is a solid, feature pack device that punches above its middleweight level.
It is certainly priced at the upper end of that tier – from €389.99 SIM free, which is around the same as a OnePlus 3T and more than the Honor 6X.
But nonetheless it represents good value for money for those looking for many of the bells and whistles of a premium handset but at a more affordable price.
Comments welcome via Twitter to @willgoodbody