Some smartphones like to offer “credible” USPs such as waterproofing, which genuinely seem like a good idea. Others turn their focus towards things like the “selfie” generation, which like it or not appears to be a burgeoning market. The fact that it’s a big hit in China is guaranteed to make phone manufacturers sit up and take notice, so it’s not really a surprise to see “dedicated” devices being drip-fed into the mix.
It’s also not surprising to see Samsung getting involved – its figures have been hit in recent times by cheap and cheerful smartphones from China so the release of (what certainly should be) budget-priced models in the A3 and A5 seems like a clear strategy to try to counter the threat.
They are essentially quite similar aside from form factor – both have a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, run Android 4.4 (KitKat), offer 4G and have 16GB of storage with microSD. The A5 has a bigger screen at 5” compared to the A3’s 4.5”, though both offer 720p resolutions (1280×720), with the larger device also offering a higher 13MP camera compared to 8MP.
Interestingly Samsung claims that the A3 and A5 are optimised for social networking, though we’re not entirely sure why aside from the presence of “selfie” functionality and the fact that they are 4G phones that can upload your media pretty quick. Perhaps it’s the fact that those who frequent social networks are also quite likely to take quite a lot of these sorts of photos, so to this end both have a 5MP front-facing camera with a range of custom tools like Wide Selfie, Palm Selfie, Animated GIF and Beauty Face features. Your guess is as good as ours.
One thing we are pleased about is that Samsung has also placed a strong focus on design, so if these models are priced well they could offer a serious advantage over the functional but ultimately uninspiring design of many Chinese counterparts. The A3 an A5 are the slimmest Samsung smartphones yet at just 6.9mm and 6.7mm thick respectively (though technically this is a joint record with the 6.7mm Galaxy Alpha) and are importantly based on the Alpha’s design, which is to say they have full metal unibodies and come in a wide range of colours from Midnight Black to Champagne Gold.
This seems like a strategic move from Samsung but also an entirely sensible one given that the Alpha represented a swanky design change for the company – it’s something we’ve seen before with HTC doing pretty well out of aping the One’s design with lower-priced Desires, so was always really a case of “when” rather than “if”. Whether or not the selfie focus will be a significant factor in driving sales is yet to be seen, but one thing that Samsung will certainly have to get right is the price.
Unfortunately there are no price details available yet, or indeed a release date for the UK. What we do know is that they’ll certainly be doing the rounds in China from November, and will be hitting other markets shortly afterwards.