Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) review
A metallic smartphone at an affordable price
Our Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) review uncovers a smartphone that offers the premium feel of metal at an affordable price. On a UK two year monthly contract, the Samsung Galaxy J5 2016 can be picked up from £11 per month, while SIM free it can be purchased for £188.99.
Display - Nobody does it like Samsung
Samsung displays always seem to be the brightest and most vivid around and the screen on the Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) follows suit accordingly. The 5.2” Super AMOLED HD display has a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels, which equates to 282 pixels per inch.
16 million colours work to create true-to-life colour reproduction and an outstanding contrast ratio creates deeper blacks. Most of the front of the phone is display, with a 70.7 percent screen-to-body-ratio.
If the sun is shining, then Outdoor Mode springs to life to ensure that the screen content remains viewable.
Design - Metal frame
A uniform ultra slimline all-metallic integrated frame has been used and the UK version of the Galaxy J5 (2016) is slimmer at 7.9mm and lighter at146g than the version released in Samsung’s home country of South Korea.
The UK version also has a greater range of colours to choose from and these are black, gold and white. These colours area applied to the front and back, while the metallic frame remains silver-coloured across the range.
On the bottom we find both the 3.5mm audio jack and microUSB port. On differing sides we find the power key and volume keys.
Phone Set Up
Getting started - Transferring data
The Samsung Galaxy J5 2016 is pretty versatile when it comes to transferring data over from an old smartphone or PC.
Samsung Smart Switch is a PC software version than will allow users to transfer data between the device and a computer. It is also possible to transfer data wirelessly from an old smartphone using either Wi-Fi Direct (connects two devices together directly using Wi-Fi), Bluetooth or via NFC and Android Beam (NFC can also be used to make contact-less payments).
This Samsung phone has an 8GB memory for storing data, of which 4.3GB is available to the user. This isn’t a great deal of memory but there is a microSD card slot that will accept cards that have a value of up to 128GB. The price of microSD cards has dropped significantly in recent times, so this shouldn’t be an issue that will put off buyers.
Security and privacy
The lock screen on the Samsung Galaxy J5 offers a choice of unlocking methods. The first option is Swipe and this will allow any user to access the phone. If the phone needs to be protected from unauthorised access, then this can be done with either a Pattern, PIN or Password.
If the mobile phone is to be used by more than one person, then it is possible to browse the internet (over 4G or Wi-Fi) using Secret Mode. This separates the owner’s saved bookmarks and pages and protects them behind a browser password.
The Samsung Galaxy J5 2016 has a home screen that lets the owner resize the grid. This makes it easy to personalise the experience by showing more or less apps, folders and widgets on the home screen.
New apps can be downloaded from Google’s Play Store and if the owner registers for a free Samsung account, then apps made for Galaxy can be downloaded from the Samsung App Store.
A variety of keyboard layouts can be chosen, right down to a 3x4 keyboard where three or four letters are on each key. The phone can further be optimised for one-handed operation and voice typing is also possible.
The final elements of the set up process includes scheduling the Do not Disturb times (exceptions can be selected), setting up a mobile data limit and if needed adding phone numbers and phrases that should be blocked, in regards to incoming calls and text messages.
Operating system - Android Marshmallow
The Android Marshmallow OS is pre-loaded and this brings with it a range of Google apps that includes Chrome, Gmail, Maps with GPS, Play Music, Play Movies & TV, Drive (cloud storage), YouTube and Hangouts.
The whole experience is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 1.5GB RAM. This ensures effortless browsing, gaming and lag free multitasking.
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The Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) can be kept in tip-top shape through the Smart Manager. Here the owner can view the battery status, RAM, storage and device security, showing when the last scan took place.
With just a couple of taps it is possible to close down unused apps, run an anti-virus check, delete unused files and improve RAM and battery performance.
There are a number of pre-loaded apps that stand out and this includes S Planner, which can be used to set calender reminders. S Finder can be used to search the whole device for content, while the Memo app makes it easy to type notes, voice type, draw and insert images.
An FM radio and media player take care of music playback and there is a rear mounted speaker that has an output of up to 92dB.
Camera & Video
Photography - Main camera
The 13MP main camera has a f1.9 lens and this aperture size ensures that clear photos can be taken at ultra fast speeds, even when it is dark. To ensure special moments are never missed, Quick Launch (a double tap on the home key) opens the camera app in the quickest possible time.
The Samsung Galaxy J5’s camera can be used in Auto Mode or Pro Mode, the latter of which lets the user adjust the white balance, ISO and exposure values. There is a wide portfolio of camera features and these includes Geo-tagging with face detection, Panorama, Continuous Shot, Sound & Shot and Sports.
The photographer can use either touch focus or auto focus and the volume key can be set to zoom in or out or alternatively it can be set to activate the shutter. Video recording is possible at a Full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels) resolution at 30 frames per second and there is as expected, a photo and video editor.
Photography - Selfie camera
The 5MP selfie camera also has an f1.9 lens to tackle low light situations and there is a front LED flash to illuminate the scene. Beauty Mode can be used to provide smooth skin tones and Palm Recognition can be used to activate the countdown timer.
Samsung’s Wide Selfie feature can be used to capture group selfies and this works like Panorama, where the holder pans from side-to-side. Interval Shot can also be used to ensure good results and here the camera takes four photos at two second intervals.
Power - Slim comes at a cost
Earlier we highlighted that the UK version of the Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) was slimmer than the South Korean version. This has been enabled by using a 2,600mAh battery instead of the 3,100mAh battery, that features in South Korea.
This isn’t the end of the world though as this removable battery can still offer up to 11 hours of internet use, play video for up to 13 hours, play audio for up to 62 hours or give a talk time of up to 18 hours.
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Owners can quickly view the battery percentage and estimated usage time remaining and while the phone is charging, it is possible to see the remaining charging time.
Should power become critical, then the phone can be switched into either Power Saving or Ultra Power Saving Modes. The Ultra Power Saving Mode ramps battery usage down to just a trickle, by switching to a single monochrome home screen and by providing access to only a limited number of apps.
Final thoughts: We have taken quite an in-depth look at the Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) and if buyers have limited funds available, then this phone really is a good buy. The highlights includes the brightness of the screen, low-light capabilities of both cameras and the shear number of ways that the phone can be personalised.
Written by: Michael Brown