Samsung released a pretty strong entrance in the mid-range Android segment with the waterproof 2017 A-series trio, and now we have the largest of them all – Galaxy A7 – to check out. lets discuss more in the Galaxy A7 2017.
It shares specs with the A5, – 14nm Exynos chipset and two 16 MP cameras – but have a half an inch longer display diagonal and a 20% larger battery.
The design of the device, while similar to the Galaxy A7 2017, differ in shape: the Galaxy A7 2017 featuring more pronounced curves on the edges and the rear thanks to its 3D glass design. Further, the design of the Galaxy A7 2017 also affords water and dust resistance with IP68 certification and has a slightly larger display at 5.7-inches compared to 5.5-inches. Otherwise, the overall approach of the two is almost identical, with the buttons and sensors appearing in the same positions.
Design and Hardware:
The phone has a very superior finish while held in hand with the glass-and-metal frame sandwiched between two plates of glass. It’s not Gorilla Glass 5, though, and as the case is with all types of glass, it will crack if subjected to enough impact force. The A7 is a pretty big phone, too, with a 5.7″ display, so make sure you don’t drop it while getting it out first, before you have gotten used to the grip needed to secure its dimensions in your palm. The biggest downside of the handset stems precisely from its largish display, as it is not very conducive to handling in the palm only, especially if it has a case tacked on, too.
Regarding hardware components, the Galaxy A7 (2017) features improvements in almost every area. The processor, RAM, internal storage and battery all deliver some form of upgrade, but it’s the leap from 5 MP to 16 MP for the front-facing camera that may represent the most noticeable change.
The Galaxy A (2017) also benefits from USB-Type C connectivity, for faster charging and data transfer speeds, as well as an Always On display like the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge.
Last but by no means least, Samsung has provided two SIM card trays in the A7 Duo version. Given that this phone will be sold in regions where dual SIM card phones are very popular, it is going to prove a wise decision. Moreover, the A7 can function with two SIMs and a microSD card inserted at the same time, unlike many dual SIM phones that make you choose between dual SIM functionality or expandable storage.
On display, we have the traditional Super AMOLED 5.7” display with 1080×1920 pixels. We can’t scoff at the resolution as it is perfectly enough and allows for longer battery life, on the other hand, if you run the Galaxy A7’s display in Basic mode, it will exhibit credible colours with tamed saturation levels. In the default Adaptive mode, however, the phone is becoming your typical loud AMOLED with flashy, overzealous colours. The screen is bright enough, and with low reflectance ratio, so it is comfortable to view outside.
The A7 also has ‘Always-on Display’ mode that shows you the time, date and the type of missed notifications even when your screen is locked (but not the actual notifications). The letters are well contrasted and easy to see, but be warned – this will have a noticeable impact on battery life.
The A7 comes to the not so old Android Marshmallow but still supports the new Samsung UX so you can’t tell, as Nougat doesn’t bring all that much novel to the table. Samsung’s new overlay design replaces TouchWiz with much cleaner, tidier visuals, a much more coherent and well-thought out style, it roughly has the same interface as on the newly updated Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge with Nougat, which in turn borrows from the Grace UX that was shipped with Note 7.
All in all, we have to admit that Samsung has done an admirable job with this new user interface. It’s not only good looking: it’s very convenient. Samsung has polished the core apps, and they are all now a pleasure to use: the Samsung calendar is fast, shows weather information and is reliable. The Mail app looks better than ever and adds a natural Gmail set-up (unlike before), the Weather app is nothing short of great, and the list goes on and on.
The notification panel looks fantastic and comes with a few new options. Among the new features is the capability to search for apps directly from the app drawer and you have two shortcuts that allow you to take that search directly in the Play Store or Samsung’s app store. The tabbed up Settings design which was always a mess on Samsung phones is now finally clean and well arranged.
The new and demanding feature in this phone is the Secure Folder that was first introduced with the Note 7 are also here. Secure Folder is just what it sounds like: an entirely secure environment where you can have apps like your business email that you don’t want your kids accidentally messing up. Or a secret Tinder profile. Secure Folder can even run a separate Google account, which is impressive.
There’s not much to say about the performance of this phone the A7(2017) uses a new mid-range processor that is 36% more power-efficient than its predecessor. The name is Exynos 7880, an octa-core chip with eight Cortex A53 CPU cores, built with a modern, 14nm FinFET manufacturing. It uses lower clocks than, say, the top Snapdragons, and has a generic Mali graphics chip, but it is a power-sipping architecture that distributes workloads in a balanced manner.
The A7 ships with 32 GB of internal storage (24 GB available), and the Duo version has a dedicated microSD slot for expansion that is not a hybrid combined with a SIM one, so you can use two SIM cards at once, and still add oodles of memory to the phone.
Amazingly the phone’s equipped with a pair of 16-megapixel camera on both back and front of the phone. The primary camera has a single LED flash and a f/1.9 lens, but unfortunately, any form of stabilisation and 4K video support is not present.
The new camera app on the A7 is great. It supports the quick launch shortcut from other Samsung phones: just double click the home button to go directly into the camera app, fast and easy. The app itself is much cleaner. Samsung has removed all the clutter: additional options are moved out of the main screen, leaving only the shutter button, a video recording button, a shortcut to the gallery, the flash controls, settings and the switch button for the front camera.
Those who want things like ISO and white balance controls, swipe left and select the Pro camera mode, where you have all those manual controls. A swipe right also reveals an HDR mode, Panorama mode, and others that you can tinker. A swipe right brings you to different filters that change the colours and style of your pictures.
Video quality: The Galaxy A7 2017 tops up at the 1080p video, as it has a mid-range chipset fitted inside. Samsung has somehow managed to translate every little movement of your hand into a shake in the footage. It looks like as if there is not only no optical, but no software stabilisation whatsoever, so make sure you hold the phone very steady while recording video, and with both hands. The continuous autofocus works quite fast.
Samsung has done it this time with these mid-range Galaxy A-series. The Galaxy A5 (2017) scored 11 hours of screen-on time on our demanding benchmark with a 3000 mAh battery, while the Samsung Galaxy A7 2017, at 3600 mAh battery capacity, lasted about 20% longer
The Galaxy A7 2017 gives 13 hours of screen on time while looping with a battery testing script. The combination of a largish battery and a 1080p or HD display seem to be the winning combinations for battery endurance these days, as the Quad HD flagships are all clustered in the 6-9 hours range of screen-on time in a proprietary script. Samsung, however, being both the producer and the assembler of the screens, chipsets and memory of the new A-series, has managed to optimise them better regarding power consumption than other brands that don’t make everything in-house.
Thus, if you are looking for a phone that can last you a weekend away from the charger, or a day of heavy gaming, pick your favourite size among the A7, A5 or A3, and you will be good to go. On top of that, the A7 2017 tops up fast for its battery capacity, too, at 104 minutes from zero to a full charge.
Pros and Cons:
- Excellent battery life
- Good call quality
- No need to restart and choose between a SIM/microSD card in the Duo version
- Polished, functional interface
- Water-tight chassis
- Soft pictures
- Shaky video
- No 4K recording
- Vast and fragile glass chassis
- Colour temperature shifts when tilting the display