Introduction

Segmentation is at its finest in the Samsung smartphone lineup. That’s how we have the entire alphabet of series with a handful of models in each of them. Near the bottom of the food chain – which is in no way sorted alphabetically – the hugely successful J series is the place to get good value for money, and the Galaxy J5 (2017) is ready to oblige.

At 5.2 inches of screen diagonal, the Galaxy J5 (2017) fits between the 5-inch J3 (2017) and the 5.5-inch J7 (2017). From then on it takes some careful balancing between those two extremes to assemble a J5 that is that much better than the J3 without being as good as the J7. Perhaps most importantly, the J5 for this year gets the Exynos 7870 SoC – a proper 14nm chip with an octa-core CPU, as opposed to the quad-core Snapdragon 410 that powers the J5 (2016).

With only the J7 treated to full-HD, the J5 has a 720p screen – which is acceptable considering the smaller diagonal. Plus, the J7 (2016)’s sales figures didn’t seem to be hurt by its own 720p display, a 5.5-inch diagonal there, not to mention that the Mali-T830MP2 GPU appreciates the lower load of fewer pixels. There’s no always-on display on the J5, unlike the J7, and that’s a bit of a waste of AMOLED.

The J7 (2017) comes with 3GB of RAM in all its incarnations, but the J5 only has 2 gigs, except for a Pro version that matches the big bro. Storage is less than generous too, with the international version getting just 16GB, though it’s double that in some regions – remember, segmentation.

The cameras come from the J7, and not the J3, which is good, even if we weren’t ecstatic about the J7’s output. The overall body design is identical to the larger model’s, which makes the J3 look like a member of a different family. Additionally, you do get a fingerprint reader with the J5 (2017); the basic J3 is denied that.

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) key features:

  • Body: Aluminum unibody
  • Screen: 5.2″ 720p Super AMOLED screen (282ppi)
  • OS: Android 7.0 Nougat; Samsung UX
  • Chipset: Exynos 7870, 14nm: octa-core 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 CPU, Mali-T830MP2 GPU
  • Memory: 2/3GB of RAM; 16/32GB storage, dedicated microSD slot for expansion
  • Camera: Primary 13MP, f/1.7, LED flash; Secondary 13MP, f/1.9, LED flash
  • Video: 1080p at 30fps
  • Connectivity: nano SIM (dual SIM version available); LTE (Cat. 6); dual-band Wi-Fi ac; Bluetooth 4.2; FM Radio; microUSB; 3.5mm jack
  • Battery: Li-Ion 3,000mAh, sealed
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader, Samsung Pay

Main shortcomings

  • Low base storage for the global version at 16GB
  • microUSB port is getting outdated
  • No quick charging
  • No Always on display

There’s no denying the usefulness of a dedicated microSD slot, and we’ve got nothing but praise for Samsung for going this route with the J-series. That said, it’s no substitute for decent internal storage. The lack of quick charging is a nuisance but hardly a deal-breaker, and while microUSB is yesterday’s interface, at least you’ll probably have a use of legacy chargers and cables.

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