Samsung certainly surprised me with the release of its first triple-camera smartphone, the Galaxy A7 (although the device was later surpassed by the four cameras on the A9). Is it just all for the sake of marketing? Or is this a test run for the future camera setup we'll see on the S10? Let's see what this device is capable of!
- AMOLED screen
- Ultra-wide angle camera lens
- Impressive design
- More than enough battery
- No USB Type-C
- No image stabilization
- Android 8.0
- Performance is somewhat slow
A price that challenges Honor and Nokia
The Samsung Galaxy A7 is hitting the market at an aggressive price of 349 euros (that’s around 400 dollars) and the prices of smartphones from the Korean brand usually fall quite quickly. This means that the price is comparable to the Honor Play, Nokia 7.1 and other brands. The smartphone is now available in stores.
The device comes in three colors: black (which we tested), blue and gold.
Glass and metal
The device follows the trends from the Galaxy A family: it doesn't attract too much attention, but has an impressive design and some nice features . Although the sides of the device are made of plastic, they fit perfectly with the front and back of the device. It's the backside that really stands out the most because it's made of glass. Yes, we all know what happens with fingerprints on glass, but our model didn't seem to accumulate too many fingerprints. And of course, what really makes an impression is the triple camera, but we'll talk about that later.
There are a few negative points: sometimes when I'm looking at the device, I'm accidentally covering the speaker. This is especially annoying when you're listening to a voice message in WhatsApp, because you might not realize why the sound is muffled. It's also a shame that the device doesn't include IP67 or IP68 certification, which means it isn't resistant to water or dust.
OLED display with crazy colors
At 6.0-inches, the display is spacious… and there’s no notch ! That's one of the biggest reasons to purchase this device. In my view, this is the perfect size for a smartphone, since it fits both in your hand and in your pocket. Samsung has also resisted this year's trend and hasn't included the notch in the model. Without the notch you'll lose a bit of space in the display, but not very much. Thank you, Samsung!
AMOLED technology is still a safe bet for Samsung, and it provides vivid colors that stand out especially when you're viewing multimedia content. If you enjoy watching television series on your smartphone, the device is a great option to keep in mind. And if you're not in love with the configuration of the screen, you can adapt it your liking.
With a resolution of 2,220 x 1,080 pixels, the display is plenty sharp. So if you're a VR freak, you might need a device with more pixels. As expected, the AMOLED panel offers quite bright colors that look great.
Fingerprint sensor in the power button
The first time I held the Samsung Galaxy A7 I thought: where's the fingerprint reader? There isn't one in the front or on the back, and there isn't one in the display, right? Samsung, just like Sony did in the past, has opted for a strategic location for its fingerprint reader: the on/off button right under the volume keys. This is convenient in some ways, since you can use either your thumb or index finger to unlock the device. But this isn't an entirely perfect solution, since the reader is much thinner than a classic front or rear sensor, so sometimes it doesn't detect your fingerprint correctly and it's not very fast. To be honest, I'd prefer a rear fingerprint sensor.
The device also comes with facial recognition. This feature isn't very fast or effective, and sometimes it doesn't work... so if you're not 100% convinced with either of these two biometric methods, you'll be unlocking the device with a PIN.
Old Android and Bixby on board
Unfortunately, this smartphone comes with Android Oreo 8.0 . 3 months after the launch of Android Pie, it's about time that it reached more and more smartphones, but we know already that Samsung has some issues with updates. Let's hope that the latest version of Android reaches the A7 in the first couple of months of 2019.
There are no surprises when it comes to the Samsung Experience interface: it's designed in the same way as other devices from the Samsung brand. The always-on display is an especially notable option, as it allows you to see the time and your notifications when the screen is locked.
The Galaxy A7 also comes with Bixby, but in contrast to the Galaxy A9, Samsung hasn’t dedicated a button to it. To activate it, you'll need to swipe left from the main screen.
Comes with an Exynos SoC
The device comes with an Exynos 7885 processor with eight cores (six A53 and two A73 cores) with up to 2.2 GHz. This is the same processor you'll find on the Galaxy A8 and A8+. This is the best processor we've seen from Exynos' 7 series, but it's not the best available, which is reserved for Samsung's S and Note models. Of course, there are obvious differences when it comes to the speed and smoothness of the device's interface if you compare it to a flagship with Android Pie.
This is one of the weaknesses of the Galaxy A7. Sometimes, thanks to all the device's positive aspects, you'll feel like you're using a high range phone, but when you push it to the max you'll realize its limitations. Don't get me wrong, I didn't have any big issues in everyday use, but on occasion, I experienced unexpected crashes or overheating.
The device comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory. That's more than enough for me. If you need more space, you can expand the storage up to 256 GB with a MicroSD card. You can also choose to use two SIM cards.
Below you'll see the results that this device achieved in our benchmark tests, in comparison to two smartphones that are in the same price range (HTC U12 Life and Moto G6 Plus). We've also included another mid-range Galaxy device in the A6+ and the high power Pocophone F1.
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) benchmark comparison
|Galaxy A7 (2018)
|HTC U12 Life
|Moto G6 Plus
Sling Shot ES 3.0
Sling Shot Vulkan
Ice Storm Unlimited ES 2.0
Good volume and a mini-jack
The audio is acceptable, and reaches quite a remarkable volume without suffering from any distortion. There is, however, only one speaker at the bottom of the device. It's about time Samsung equipped its mid-range phones with stereo speakers, since this really takes a toll on the audio quality.
There's good news for lovers of classic headphones: the device has kept the 3.5 mm mini-jack port. The bad news is that the headphones included in the box are lackluster.
Good cameras, but do you need three of them?
This is the key point of our test, and Samsung created a lot of buzz with its first triple-camera smartphone. So first let's look at what each sensor does.
The ultra-wide 120-degree wide-angle lens with 8MP is especially interesting. There's also a main sensor with 24MP, an f/1.7 aperture and an auxiliary lens for the bokeh effect with 5MP and an f/2.2 aperture. It's debatable whether this last sensor is really useful, since other Samsung devices use the wide-angle sensor to calculate the depth for portrait photos. So you might not need this last sensor, but hey, three cameras sounds better than two, right? We should add that the third lens is also used to implement an optical zoom, which is also the case for the Huawei P20 Pro.
I have to point out that its front camera, with 24 MP and an f/2.0 aperture will help you take some very nice selfies. There's even an option to take panoramic selfies, even some that are out of focus. The AR Emojis will keep you entertained for a while...
In general, the Galaxy A7 is a great device for taking photos . It's not one of the best cameras of the year, but it covers practically all your needs, and yields great results in good lighting conditions. The ultra wide-angle lens is perfect for taking panoramic photos. Although the quality isn't always perfect, it's great to see this feature in a mid-range device.
The results are optimal in good lighting. You'll get quite realistic colors, but be careful when you use HDR, since it can alter the original image. It's better to have this feature deactivated. If the lighting conditions are very different from one area to another, then it's a good idea to use this feature. The Galaxy A7 can also give you a nice bokeh effect, either with the rear camera or the front camera.
If you want to take a look for yourself, here are the photos we took with the Galaxy A7:
You won't always be carrying around your charger
At 3300 mAh, the Galaxy A7 offers quite generous battery life . You can easily use it throughout the day with peace of mind knowing that you'll make it through the day. But you won't make it two consecutive days without plugging in our device. In our benchmark test carried out by PCMark, the Galaxy A7 had a result of 9 and a half hours.
Samsung hasn't done a good job when it comes to charging options. The device has a fast charging option, but there's no wireless charging available. The worst thing is that there's no USB Type-C available. Samsung has instead opted for a Micro-USB charger. What year is it, Samsung?
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) technical specifications
Samsung, have a heart!
So is having three cameras necessarily better? No, since each of them is dedicated to one thing in particular. However, this setup will give you more options than any other mid-range mobile device. And sure, the Galaxy A7 won't be on the list of the best smartphone cameras this year, but it covers practically every photographic need you'll have.
If you're looking for a phone with powerful performance, the Galaxy A7 shouldn't be your first choice. Samsung hasn't done nearly as much as Xiaomi did with the Pocophone F1, which costs more or less the same.
If you're a Samsung fan but don't really care that much about the camera's capabilities, you should opt for the Galaxy A8, which only has one camera but has the same processor and memory and is a bit smaller. It has all the features that we were missing on the A7, like IP68 certification or a Type-C USB.
In every other respect, the Galaxy A7 has impressed me. It has an elegant design, it's pleasant to look at with a large screen and clear colors, more than sufficient battery life, and a great camera.
What do you think of the Galaxy A7? What's your favorite mid-range device?