Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) hands-on

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The recent launch of the revamped Galaxy J (2017) series marks a significant event in the development of Samsung’s hardware design. Though some markets already saw the launch of similarly built devices late last year (check our Galaxy J7 Prime review, for example) most Western buyers will only get their hands on Samsung’s new premium Galaxy J lineup in the coming weeks. I’ve got my hands on the first device of the series to be launched, the Galaxy J5 (2017), and will now share a few quick first impressions.

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Galaxy J5 (2017) hands-on: Build quality

After many years of repeated ridicule over its cheap choice of materials, it is safe to say the Galaxy J5 (2017) proves Samsung has learned from the past. While it is easy to see progress in expensive flagship devices like the Galaxy S8, the arrival of a full metal body in the much more affordable Galaxy J series is perhaps an even more significant landmark. After all, Samsung expects to sell one hundred million of these units this year. And with the Galaxy J5 (2017), it is not all that hard to imagine that happening, especially when you consider how well the earlier J series phones have done in the market.

The device feels very, very solid. The smooth curves and cool back plate certainly give the device a more sturdy, premium feel than the Galaxy S6, which was considered flagship material a mere two years ago. In fact, were it not for the lack of IP68-rating, I would prefer the hardware of the J5 (2017) over that of the Galaxy A5 (2017) by quite a margin.

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Display

Notwithstanding the excellent design, the Galaxy J5 (2017) is not a high-end phone. Therefore, the AMOLED display comes with a somewhat modest 720p HD resolution. If you try hard, you can see some pixels, thanks to Samsung’s loyalty to the PenTile subpixel matrix, making it similar to the J5 (2016) in this regard. Then again, a vast majority of users will never notice. I know you can get a phone with a 1080p display in this price class, but there’s something to be said for choosing AMOLED over LCD in spite of resolution. I will reserve final judgment until our full review of this device, but as a first impression, the display of J5 (2017) is fine, even without winning any awards for pixel density.

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Software and performance

Something similar can be said of the performance of the Galaxy J5 (2017). The Exynos 7870 SoC can also be found in the Galaxy J7 (2016) as well as the Galaxy A3 (2017), and was designed with one thing in mind: energy efficiency. The chip delivers sufficient performance to run Android 7.0 and the Samsung Experience UX smoothly.

The latter comes in version 8.1, which is the same as found on the Galaxy S8. And indeed, though a little less feature-rich, it is the same, offering plenty of customization options. Choose new themes and icon packs, and set how many apps your home screen and app drawer shows. Even entirely disabling the app drawer is an option, just like on the S8. Furthermore, there are features like Secure Folder, Blue light filter, and Samsung Cloud integration. And to be sure: there is no trace of Bixby.

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Fingerprint reader

Slowly but surely Samsung is fulfilling its promise to bring secure authentication methods to affordable devices. So yes, the Galaxy J5 (2017) comes equipped with a fingerprint reader (so did the J7 Prime, but that device was limited to a very few markets). In line with the overall user experience described above, it works well. It is always on, so you can unlock the phone without pressing the home key. But also when using it with Samsung Pass or Secure Folder it is an easy, fuss-free solution that is a welcome addition to Samsung’s lower mid-range portfolio.

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Camera and battery life

As you might expect, a short period of playing around with the Galaxy J5 (2017) is not at all sufficient to say anything useful about cameras or battery life. From what I’ve seen, the former should be more or less on par with the device’s price range, while the latter seems to be very promising. But again, you will have to wait for the final review for a definitive opinion. I will add that if there are any fans of easily exchangeable batteries left in 2017, the J5 is no longer a device that accommodates this requirement. Here, too, the design now trumps flexibility.

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Overall impression

The most important takeaway from this short Galaxy J5 (2017) hands-on, is that Samsung is indeed upping its affordable smartphone game in a big way. Mind you, it won’t be dirt cheap when it launches in Europe costing €279. However, most buyers will be paying considerably less for it, as prices decline in the course of the next twelve months. If the battery life does what the specifications promise, and the camera turns out to be at least up to the standard of its class, I have no problem imagining Samsung selling this phone by the boatload. Stay tuned for the full review.

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19 Comments

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locarno
6 months 25 days ago
locarno

Hello. Which camera will be better. A5 2017 or J7 2017 ? I don’t know what to choose.

yassine7
6 months 24 days ago
yassine7

A5 2017

Abhijeet
6 months 25 days ago
Abhijeet

To be honest, Samsung’s non-flagship cameras are rather average this year due to the lack of optical image stabilization. Too many images get blurred because the camera’s slow at focusing, and we’d wager the J7 (2017) will be the same, so it wouldn’t matter. We’ll let you know once we’re done with the review, however, after we’ve tested them out.

locarno
6 months 24 days ago
locarno

So bettery to stay with A5 2016 with OIS ? I compared J5 2017 with my A5 2016 and I do not see big difference. Photos are almost the same. I would also tell I think J5 2017 take better photos than A5 2016 in my test in shop.

yassine7
6 months 24 days ago
yassine7

J entry level
A mid level
There is always difference between entry and mid

locarno
6 months 24 days ago
locarno

Yes, but J7 2017 looks better than A5 2016 on paper. J have better specs.

yassine7
6 months 23 days ago
yassine7

no . i talk about A 2017 . A 2016 is last-gen

locarno
6 months 20 days ago
locarno

So, which is better ? J7 2017 or A5 2016 ?

pidarblyat
6 months 25 days ago
pidarblyat

Since both J5 and J7 main camera sensors are at f1.7 aperture, it should have Dual Pixel PDAF.

Abhijeet
6 months 24 days ago
Abhijeet

Many Samsung phones have F1.7 aperture these days, but Dual Pixel autofocus is only on its flagships. PDAF is different, but Samsung’s new J series doesn’t have that either. It’s standard autofocus like the 2017 A series phones, and it rather sucks in low-light and indoor conditions thanks to the blur it induces in many shots.

yassine7
6 months 23 days ago
yassine7

“However, unlike the previous Galaxy A5 (2016) there is no OIS or Optical Image Stabilization for the Galaxy A5 (2017) but Samsung have equipped the camera with PDAF or Phase Detection Auto Focus which handles light and captures details better.”

yassine7
6 months 24 days ago
yassine7

hahaha no . The reference of the camera in A5 2017 is S5K3P8 . it’s have PDAF auto focus and EIS but samsung disabled The EIS. go search about the front camera of OP3T it’s the same that in a5 with EIS

locarno
6 months 24 days ago
locarno

I don’t know. Too much mess with it.

pidarblyat
6 months 25 days ago
pidarblyat

J7 2017 is better, but only on paper. You should probably wait for the full review.

locarno
6 months 25 days ago
locarno

What about top microhpone ? J7 don’t have top microphone compared to A5 2017. So call quality will be bad ?

pidarblyat
6 months 25 days ago
pidarblyat

Does this phone and the J7 2017 support fast charging?

ionutdicu
6 months 25 days ago
ionutdicu

most probably not

pidarblyat
6 months 25 days ago
pidarblyat

It no longer matters, it comes with a 5V-1.55A charger, it sucks

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