After the innovative Galaxy S8 and the attractive Galaxy A3 and A5, Samsung completes its range with the J5. An entry-level smartphone designed to appeal to smaller budgets. The data sheet is modest, with a processor clocked at 1.6 GHz, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage (expandable). For 279 euros, Samsung integrates a 5.2-inch Super Amoled screen, a fingerprint sensor and two 13-megapixel cameras, however.
A more successful design
In terms of design, 2017 was the year of renewal for Samsung. First with its Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5, with more subtle curves than those of their predecessors. Then with the Galaxy S8, taking advantage of a huge screen without edges. The South Korean does not forget its entry level. After releasing a plastic Galaxy J5 a year ago, the manufacturer is dressing its successor in a metal shell. The rear even offers the luxury of taking up the curvature of the brand’s flagships. All with very visible antennas and a photo sensor that blends perfectly into aluminum.
The Galaxy J5 is not a large format. Thanks to its rounded shapes, it ensures a comfortable grip. This good grip benefits from metal finishes, where the use of glass tends to slide smartphones. At this price level, no question of an edge-to-edge screen. The slab still occupies more than 70% of the front facade. For comparison, the figure rises to 72% for a Samsung Galaxy S7 and drops to 66% for an iPhone 7.
Below the screen, the main button acts as a fingerprint sensor. It is surrounded by icons symbolizing the multitasking and return functions. A detail specific to inexpensive devices, which does not necessarily honor the J5. Neutral capacitive buttons, which would also have made it possible to reverse the two functions, would have been appreciable. With a thickness of 8 mm and a weight of 160 g, the Galaxy J5 is not particularly thin or light. But as often with Samsung, the finishes and the build quality are impeccable.
Super Amoled without Full HD
At 279 euros, the J5 is less competitive than a Huawei P8 Lite, sold for 249 euros. Except that Samsung has the advantage of having a subsidiary called Samsung Display, which provides Super Amoled screens at very good prices. The J5 benefits from this, with the display quality that goes with it: infinite contrast and correct brightness – but perfectible – of 441 cd / m². Even in direct sunlight, we were able to use the smartphone without much difficulty.
When turned on, very bright colors can be tempered from the device settings. Its real weakness of the smartphone is summed up in two letters: HD. The resolution of 282 ppi of its 5.2 inch screen is, it is true, not prohibitive and only the finest observers will suffer from the slight lack of finesse of the texts. A Full HD definition would still have been a plus.
The Galaxy J5 takes advantage of the new Samsung overlay, called Experience 8.1 and which is based on Android 7.0. Thanks to the visual overhaul made on the occasion of the release of the Galaxy S8, the icons are more modern and the menus are simplified. We appreciate the new shortcuts – allowing you to bring up the application drawer by touching the home screen – like the old ones – allowing you to open the camera with a double press on the main button. The fingerprint sensor is very responsive, even if it does not reach the excellent performance that Huawei mobiles can offer in this area.
The whole Samsung experience. And Google. And Microsoft.
Flicking the main screen from left to right takes you to Upday, an equivalent to Google News made by Samsung, which has an annoying habit of displaying advertising. The Game Launcher app is also integrated. It allows in particular to deactivate the touch keys during the game or to record a game on video. For those who use the smartphone for professional and personal use, the dual messaging function allows you to register two accounts on applications like Facebook, WhatsApp or Skype.
Despite its many qualities, Samsung’s overlay suffers from too many pre-installed applications. Between the suites of Samsung, Google and Microsoft, the repetitions are numerous. You will start – among others – with two browsers, two mailboxes … and three online storage services. Unfortunately, these apps can be disabled, but not uninstalled.
Limited power, unlimited endurance
After integrating a Snapdragon 410 last year into its first J5, Samsung is now switching to a house chip, the Exynos 7870 processor (8 cores at 1.6 Ghz). The South Korean act in passing the end of its partnership with Qualcomm, at least on UK’s territory. With its 2 GB of RAM, the J5 does not work miracles. The smartphone is sufficiently well armed to navigate between the different applications, but it sometimes lacks fishing.
We have regularly suffered from slowdowns. On Twitter as on Facebook, the news feed unfolds with a few jerks. In difficult times, the heaviest applications can take up to three or four seconds to open. In game, the performance of the Galaxy J5 is honorable. Without taking advantage of the finest level of graphics, all the titles remained playable.
For a year now, both the Galaxy J and the Galaxy A have amazed us with their autonomy. This year, the J5 does better, much better than its predecessor. In the review of versatile autonomy, it died out after 5:03 pm, against 9:34 for the J5 released in 2016. A feat that places it in the top 5 of the most enduring smartphones passed by the lab. The Galaxy A3 2017 – one of the benchmarks – lasted 2:32 p.m. The Galaxy J5 is therefore a beast of endurance that can graze the two days of autonomy. To recharge it, however, you will have to settle for a micro-USB cable.
Improved photo quality
In the photo, Samsung plays the balance card with a 13-megapixel sensor on the back and front. A choice that allows in particular to obtain selfies of excellent quality, although the front sensor is less efficient than the main sensor.
See photos taken with the Samsung Galaxy J5 in high definition
The latter benefits from great improvements compared to the version released in 2016, with a higher level of details. The colors are realistic and the shooting is fast. The main limitation of the sensor is its poor ability to manage differences in brightness. Too much light in the background will result in unbalanced shots, with an environment too exposed or a subject too dark.
In low light, the exposure remains good, despite a great loss of detail. The video part also suffers from this difficult light management. It remains satisfactory to save some memories and post Instagram or Snapchat stories.