Samsung Galaxy A Phones: What You Need To Know

04Jul

The Samsung Galaxy A smartphones are a mid-range answer to their flagship Galaxy S line. The A series has solid features and specs and is for those who won’t spend the premium for the S phones. Unlike other Samsung Android smartphone lines, the A series releases new models with the same name each year.

Think of how cars are released – rather than sporting a new model name; they just append a year on the name. The naming convention makes it confusing to tell some models apart – there are three different Samsung A3 smartphones – so we did our best to showcase the similarities and differences throughout the years.

Note: The Samsung A series is available in many countries around the world, but not the United States.

Samsung Galaxy A8 and A8+

Display: 5.6-in Super AMOLED (A8); 6.0-in Super AMOLED (A8+)
Resolution: 1080×2220 @ 441ppi
Front camera: Dual 16 MP
Rear camera: 16 MP
Charger type: USB-C
Initial Android version: 7.0 Nougat
Final Android version: Undetermined
Release Date: January 2018

The Samsung Galaxy A8 and A8+ are mid-range smartphones that the company showcased at CES 2018, and their design and feature-set are very close the S series of high-end phones. The main difference between the two is that the phablet-sized A8+ has a larger, 6-inch display. Both the Galaxy A8 and A8+ have ultra-thin bezels (the S8 and S8+ have curved screens with no bezels) and use Samsung Infinity Display technology to make most of screen real estate.

These Samsung Galaxy A smartphones have glass and metal bodies, but a cheaper looking finish than the S series. The selfie camera on each has a dual lens to create the popular blurred background (bokeh) effect using a Samsung feature called Live Focus, but neither camera has optical image stabilization.

The fingerprint scanner is on the back of the phones, just under the camera lens, rather than on the home button like older Galaxy A phones. Both Samsung phones have headphone jacks and microSD card slots, are dust and water resistant, support fast charging, but not wireless charging.

Samsung Galaxy A8 and A8+ Features
  • Virtual Reality: The A8 and A8+ are the first in the Galaxy A series to support Samsung’s Gear VR headset.
  • Dual Messenger Mode: Users can run two instances of a chatting app at the same time if they have more than one account. For example, one for work and one for friends.
  • Face Recognition Unlock: You can unlock these A smartphones using facial recognition, which works best in good lighting.
  • Time Lapse Videos: A feature called Hyperlapse lets you create time-lapse videos at various speeds.
  • Samsung Bixby: Samsung’s virtual assistant, Bixby, is built into both phones, and works similarly to Siri and Google Assistant.
  • 18.5:9 display ratio: Like the Galaxy S8, the A8 and A8+ have an unusual aspect ratio, which is to accommodate the Infinity Display technology. You may experience some black bars on videos, which typically use the 16:9 aspect ratio.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)

Display: 5.7-in Super AMOLED
Resolution: 1080×1920 @ 386ppi
Front camera: 16 MP
Rear camera: 16 MP
Charger type: USB-C
Initial Android version: 6.0 Marshmallow
Final Android version: Undetermined
Release Date: January 2017

The Samsung Galaxy A7 looks a lot like the premium Galaxy S7, with a large phablet-sized display. It boasts up to 22 hours of battery life and supports fast charging technology. It has a metal and curved glass build, slim bezel, and is water and dust resistant.

The A7 has a fingerprint sensor on the home button, a headphone jack, and dual SIM card slot. The 32GB Samsung smartphone has a microSD card slot that accepts cards up to 256GB. A Smart Stay feature keeps the screen awake while you’re looking at it and there’s also a handy shortcut in which you can turn the camera on by double tapping the home button.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)

Display: 5.2-in Super AMOLED
Resolution: 1080×1920 @ 424ppi
Front camera: 16 MP
Rear camera: 16 MP
Charger type: USB-C
Initial Android version: 6.0 Marshmallow
Final Android version: Undetermined
Release Date: January 2017

The Samsung Galaxy A5 has higher resolution camera (16 vs. 12 MP) than the flagship Galaxy S7, which came out in 2016 (12 MP), but the image quality is not as good, at least in part due to the lack of optical image stabilization. It also has the same size battery as the S7, but since it has a lower resolution screen, it doesn’t eat up as much power, and thus lasts longer. The phone also comes with a fast charger, that should fill up the battery all the way in about an hour.

Storage-wise, the phone has 32GB built in, and a microSD card slot so you can expand it by up to 256GB. The Galaxy A5’s fingerprint scanner is below the screen, but not integrated with the home button. Like the Galaxy A7 (2017), the A5 is water and dust resistant.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)

Display: 4.7-in Super AMOLED
Resolution: 720×1280 @ 312ppi
Front camera: 13 MP
Rear camera: 8 MP
Charger type: USB-C
Initial Android version: 7.0 Nougat
Final Android version: Undetermined
Release Date: January 2017

The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) is the first in the Galaxy A series to adopt the USB-C standard, which adds fast charging technology and an end to the hassle of trying to insert the cable upside down. Like the A5 and A7 released the same year, it bears a resemblance to the S7, with a metal rim, glass back, and shimmery bezel, and water and dust resistance. There’s a fingerprint scanner in the home button for unlocking the smartphone and making mobile payments.

The interface features a lighter version of Samsung’s TouchWiz than in previous phones in the series, which means less sluggishness. The A3 has only 16GB storage, but it will accept microSD cards up to 256GB. Its battery is said to last through about two days of regular usage, likely in part due to its lower resolution (720p) display.

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