Samsung Galaxy J5 2016 Review - An Enough Improvement?

Previously, we stated that we liked the improvement that we saw from the Galaxy J5 2016 coming from the ageing J5 of last year. It now has a better build, larger screen size, and more capable specs than ever.
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016 review

The question is, is that enough for Samsung to lead the pack once more in this certain midrange segment? Find out in this full review.

Display Quality

The nice 5.2 inch AMOLED screen
The nice 5.2 inch AMOLED screen
Samsung's J5 2016 is equipped with a 5.2 inch HD Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels with 282 ppi. At 5.2 inch, the size is in between and regular phone and a phablet. The result is it is just right in the eyes even with the use of just an HD screen.
10 points of multitouch! :)
10 points of multitouch! :)

It's still pretty sharp, detailed, and decent viewing angles. Due to its Super AMOLED panel, the colors were vibrant and punchy. It just has more saturation than my liking, but this should still be more than acceptable for most.

Lastly, it has great 10 points of multitouch to give you the best possible typing and navigation experience.

Audio Quality

The J5 2016 is equipped with a oddly placed back single speaker on the left side the camera. That'll will cover the tunes coming out of the speaker when you lay it down on a flat surface.

In terms of quality, it's a setup that has decent audio out. It isn't the most articulate sounding out there, but it is also far from being below-average. In short, the SQ it can deliver is enough to please non-picky listeners out there.
The speaker-out is just fine, but it is just weaker than expected.
However, it has below average loudness, plus that back speaker placement only made the output weaker when placed on flat surfaces. This is something that Samsung should note for further improvement as we've seen other midrange handset with more powerful speaker/s setup.

Going to the output for your favorite headphones / earphones it is quite surprising. This goes with decently clean frequencies all over. The lows (bass) were present and can go deep at times, the mids are very clear, and has sparkly detailed highs. Separation of details isn't the best, but more than decent for the price. Soundstage is wide for a midrange phone too.
Audio output thru headphones is on par with most midrange phones!
The best part here is it can go loud. It has more than enough driving power for your low powered headphones and earphones. To my liking, it can even drive even some of my big cans.

However, once you go super loud, minor distortion will be hearable. It's not a major thing though.

Battery Life

Great battery benchmark results
Great battery benchmark results

Donning a real 3,100 mAh battery capacity on an averagely sized AMOLED screen and not that power hungry chip, the battery performance of this smartphone did just fine. On our PC Mark battery bench test, it was able to last for almost 9 hours and 30 mins. That's something a lot better than the usual 6 hours performance of other similarly priced handsets.
This device features one of the better battery performance out there.
Note: There's also the usual ultra saving mode which turns your the screen of your phone into black and white to make your battery last longer.

Charging time is average though. It can go for 50% in 1 hour, 70% in 1 hour and 25 minds, and 100% 2 hours and 20 mins.

Camera

The 13 MP shooter at the back
The 13 MP shooter at the back

The J5 2016 loads with a 13 MP main camera sensor w/ AF and a 5 MP selfie camera w/ LED flash. What's special in those numbers is both phones packed a large f/1.9 aperture size that should make it perform better in the dark against its usual f/2.2 aperture equipped competitors.
The camera interface of J5 2016

It goes with the basic Samsung camera app that's simple to use. It goes with a Pro mode (limited manual controls), panorama, continuous shots, beauty mode, sound and shot, and sports mode. The J5 2016 also comes with grid lines, timer, and filters. What's missing here is an HDR mode which could be useful when salvaging against the light shots.

In terms of picture quality, its 13 MP f/1.9 cam did a fine job. As long as you are in well lit places. We like that it can take photos with crisp detail, sharpness, and punchy colors. There are just some inconsistencies in color tone where it tends to be yellowish and washed in some shots. It's forgiveable for the price though.
The picture quality from its main camera is acceptable!
In lowlight, that's where its large f/1.9 aperture lens can do better than the competition sometimes. For night shots in auto mode in skies and structures it won't be that detailed, but for places with artificial yellow light in the evening there's plenty of detail.

It's also decent for macros (minimum of 3 inches), comes with decent autofocus speed, and less than a second shutter speed. As expected from a Samsung device, the image saving speed is nice too.

Rear Camera Samples

Random daylight shot
Random daylight shot
Macro test (a little over exposed)
Macro test (a little over exposed)
Indoor shot
Indoor shot
Night skyscraper shot
Night skyscraper shot
Lowlight with yellow evening light
Lowlight with yellow evening light
Flash test
Flash test

In front, it has a wide selfie mode, interval shot, and shot & shot. It also has a face beauty mode, several filters and bright single LED flash. Again, it doesn't have an HDR function.
Selfie camera options
Selfie camera options

For selfies, even if its pixel size is lower at 5 MP and it has the same f/1.9 aperture, we find out shots be a brighter than its main camera. Of course, it won't be as detailed, but something that lets more light in is always a welcome sight. If I may add, the J5 comes with one of the widest angle found on a midrange smartphone selfie cam.
Remember to use the flash in lowlight for better pictures.
In the dark, selfies are just fine, but there will still be plenty of grains. Using its bright flash is acceptable to help you rescue your selfies.

Selfie Camera Samples

Selfie test in daylight
Selfie test in daylight
Can fit more people with its wide angle lens
Featuring Anjie of Teknogadyet and Irwin of Swirlingovercoffee
Without flash and with flash at night
Without flash and with flash at night

For videos both 13 MP and 5 MP cameras can the up to 1080p videos. It comes with decent focusing speed. However, due to its lack of OIS and EIS, using this without steady hands or tripod will make your shoots shaky. It isn't also that great in the dark.

Video Samples


Performance

Benchmark scores
Benchmark scores

Samsung's 2016 edition of the J5 smartphone is still equipped with the same 64 Bit Snapdragon quad core chip paired with Adreno 306 GPU which is sadly disappointing for a 2016 sub-12K Pesos phone. Something like the MT6753 or Snapdragon 615 or even 415 would have made this a speedier phone. Fortunately, Samsung increased its RAM to 2 GB for better multitasking experience and doubled the internal storage to store more files.
This phone isn't the speediest around for the price, but it can get most of the light and casual task done most of the time.
Based on actual usage, the phone is snappy enough if you are a light and casual users who only uses the phone for social media, light games, playing videos, and listening to music. However, you'll definitely feel hiccups on heavier task and playing graphic intensive 3D games on high settings.


Some 3D games such as Asphalt 8 and Modern Combat 5 is playable on either low or medium settings though. Plus, Samsung placed some nice type of thermal management here that doesn't make the phone heat-up that quick.
Samsung's colorful Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS with TouchWiz UI made for the Philippines
Samsung's colorful Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS with TouchWiz UI made for the Philippines

In terms of software used, this handset is using a modern Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS w/ TouchWiz UI with "made for the Philippines" feature. It carries locally designed wallpapers and themes.

It is vibrantly colorful which is engaging for the eyes of the young. This heavily skinned OS is also snappy, familiar to use, and feature packed just like the rest of the modern TouchWiz UI as well. However, it may look a little bit too cartoonish for some (preference game). In addition, there are still some bloats that could not be useful for most.

One of the highlights of the "Made for the Philippines" approach of this phone is its improvements in signals. Dubbed as the Signal Max it uses a dual antenna design consist of enhanced diversity antenna and antenna designed on grip pattern same with the Galaxy S7.

The result, you'll get better GSM, 3G, and 4G LTE signals better than some midrange phones. That is crucial if you are the type of person who needs to stay connected all the time.

Pros - Beautiful build and design, great ergonomics, slim screen bezels, long battery life, average audio headphone out, bright selfie flash, strong signals
Cons - Snapdragon 410 chip is dated, weak speaker output, no HDR mode, no fingerprint scanner, no gyroscope

Verdict

I liked Samsung's Galaxy J5 2016 in terms of premium metal build, aesthetics, and ergonomics. It also has long battery life, decent selfie camera with flash, boosted signal quality, and modern operating system.

Compared with the older J5, the improvements are evident and this has better value for money against that deviceIt's snappy on light to moderate usage and will only struggle on opening heavy applications or too many apps.

The question is, is that enough to put Samsung on top of the price range? The answer is yes if you need a device with premium looks, decent performance, long battery life, and strong signal reception.

However, it'll be a no if you're the type of person who plays heavy games, does a lot of heavy task on your phone, multitask a lot, and needs modern security features.

GIZ Rating: 4/5 Stars
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