Well, that’s a bit embarrassing. The Galaxy J5, one of Samsung’s brand-new budget handsets for 2016, has just beaten Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S7 in our battery life test. Only by two minutes, mind, but it just goes to show that you don’t necessarily need to fork out hundreds of pounds to get a smartphone with plenty of stamina.
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With the screen brightness set to our standard measurement of 170cd/m2, the J5 lasted an incredible 17h 50m in our continuous video playback test, just edging out the S7 as the second-longest-lasting smartphone I’ve ever tested (behind the Amazing, but explosive, Samsung Galaxy Note 7). That’s amazing for a smartphone that only costs £160 SIM-free or £13.50-per-month contract, and it blows other budget smartphones like the 3rd Gen Moto G right out of the water.
Samsung Galaxy J5 review: Design
Galaxy S7 owners needn’t be too worried, though, since the J5 makes compromises in other areas, such as performance and overall build quality, in order to help keep the price as low as possible. Its plastic frame, for example, doesn’t protect against water damage, and its glossy finish can’t help but look and feel a little tacky after the beautifully sculpted metal frames on Samsung’s mid-range A series. Still, when the latest version of the A5 is almost double the price of the J5, a plastic chassis is fairly forgivable.
The most important thing is that it feels well-made, and the J5 delivers on this in spades. Its matt cover is rather plain compared to the grooved finish on the 3rd Gen Moto G, but both phones feel like they could survive the odd knock. The J5′s slim dimensions also make it very easy to hold, and its curved sides are grippy rather than slippery.
Samsung Galaxy J5 review: Display
Where the J5 leaps ahead of the 3rd Gen Moto G is its 5in, 1,280 x 720 Super AMOLED display. This is the cheapest Samsung phone I’ve ever seen to come with one of its Super AMOLED panels, and it makes other budget LCD-based displays look positively insipid by comparison. The screen on the Moto G, for instance, is pretty good, but it can’t match the sheer vibrancy of the J5′s display. With its 100% sRGB colour gamut coverage, perfect black and contrast ratio, images on the J5 look absolutely stunning, and I’ve yet to see an LCD-based screen at this kind of price that can best it.
Of course, the one downside of AMOLED screens is that they’re nowhere near as bright as LCD. However, the J5′s peak brightness of 358cd/m2 is still pretty respectable, and should be more than enough for most lighting conditions. Only in bright sunshine will you need to have it on max.
Samsung Galaxy J5 review: Performance
Admittedly, it’s not the fastest handset around, as its quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor and 1.5GB of RAM put its day-to-day performance on par with almost every other budget smartphone. In Geekbench 3, the J5 scored 459 in the single core test and 1,343 in the multicore test, putting it just behind the Moto G on our budget leaderboard.
That said, Samsung’s Android 5.1.1-based TouchWiz interface still feels relatively smooth and responsive, and apps don’t take an age to open either. The Moto G proved quicker at loading games, but web browsing was more or less a level playing field, as evidenced by the J5′s Peacekeeper score of 634, which is only around 100 points short of the Moto G. Scrolling was a little jerky in places, and browsing could be rather stop-start when pages were still loading, but otherwise surfing the web was pretty hassle free.
The J5 isn’t really capable of playing the latest games, as it only managed 113 frames (or 1.8fps) in the offscreen Manhattan 3.0 test in GFX Bench GL. This is to be expected on a budget smartphone, so Hearthstone fanatics should probably look elsewhere. However, I was able to play simple games such as Threes! absolutely fine, so you should still be able to get your Candy Crush fix on the J5 without too much trouble. Continues on Page 2