Samsung unveils water-resistant Galaxy A phones with USB-C

The mid-range lineup also gets better cameras, longer battery life and MicroSD support.

After the Galaxy Note 7 debacle, Samsung can't afford a product misstep this year, and it seems to have gotten off to a good start with the 2017 Galaxy A smartphones. The 5.2-inch A5 and 4.7-inch A3 are packed with new features for folks who don't want to spend $800 on a phone, most notably fast-charging USB-C tech and a water-resistant metal body. As is becoming typical in this segment, both have better front and back cameras with faster autofocus and better low-light capabilities, giving them more appeal for the social media and selfie set.

The 2017 Galaxy A5 now has 16-megapixel f/1.9 front and rear cameras, 3GB of RAM compared to 2GB last year, a faster 1.9GHz octa-core processor and a slightly larger 3,000 mAh battery with fast USB-C charging. As before, it packs a metal, glass-backed body, but it now has IP68 water and dust resistance, meaning it'll stand up to rain and dust, even though you can't swim with it.

The new 720p Galaxy A3, meanwhile, has a 13-megapixel rear camera, as before, but now packs a larger front 8-megapixel selfie camera. RAM goes up from 1.5GB to 2.0GB and the battery is a slightly larger 2,350 mAh and fast-charging, again thanks to USB-C. Both devices now have "enhanced" MicroSD, letting you add up to 256GB of storage, along with Android 6, an always-on display and Samsung Pay support. You can get them in four colors: Black Sky, Gold Sand, Blue Mist and Peach Cloud.

The premium materials and new features should help them better fulfill their intended missions as camera and social-media platforms, but there's a lot of competition in that price range: The Galaxy A3 runs €329 and the A5 is priced at €429 (around $350 and $450, respectively). For a bit more than the latter price, for instance, you could get a much faster OnePlus 3T, although that model doesn't have MicroSD storage. Samsung didn't specify UK pricing yet, but pre-orders open on January 20th. There's no word on US availability.