A flagship for the masses is what we characterize the A series from Samsung. The largest of the lineup, Galaxy A7 2017, is with us and we will be discussing about it in detail right below. A brief history of the A series would be that it was launched as an experiment 3 years back and thanks to the success of the original, we now have the third iteration of it. The Galaxy A7 (2017), in particular, is a very interesting package. Fitting a larger screen, newly introduced water resistance and appreciable internal hardware, it presents as a very good deal. Lets talk more about the Galaxy A7 (2017) and see more facts about it.
The variation we have with us for review is the Black Mist color with Dual-SIM functionality. We have already done an unboxing post for this phone, if you missed it, read: Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) Unboxing. This post will be dedicated towards critically analyzing the Galaxy A7 (2017) and stacking it up against its predecessor, the Galaxy A7 (2016).
Right before we share our opinion on the Galaxy A7 2017, lets get the facts and specifications out of the way first.
Galaxy A7 (2017): Technical Specifications
- Network: LTE – Cat 6 in applicable regions.
- Display: 5.7 inches FHD (1920×1080) Super AMOLED
- Processor: 1.9GHz Octa Core
- OS: Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
- Camera: 16 MP, f/1.9 (Rear) – 16 MP, f/1.9 (front)
- Additional features: Fast battery charging, IP68 certified – dust/water proof over 1.5 meter and 30 minutes
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth® v 4.2, ANT+, USB 2.0 Type-C, NFC
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Proximity, Geomagnetic, RGB Light, Hall Fingerprint scanner
- Memory: 2GB RAM + 16GB Storage and Micro SD slot (up to 128GB)
- Dimension: 156.8 x 77.6 x 7.9 mm , 186g
- Battery: 3,600mAh, Fast Charging
Galaxy A7 (2017): Design and Hardware
The Galaxy A7 (2017) from Samsung carries a very sleek style with itself. It shouts premium from all sides thanks to the glass back and front which have been coupled with a color matched metal ring. As the A7 (2017) is the largest of the pack, the phone boasts a 5.7 inch screen which is perfect for productivity and enjoying content. This time around, the edges of the phone dive in to meet with the metal boundary and when they meet, there is no protruding edge which is a huge plus. Also, these subtle curves help you to confidently hold the phone without having to worry of it slipping through.
Starting with the large 5.7 inch Super AMOLED panel, it comes with a sharp 1920×1080 resolution. By today’s standards, the flagships are starting to carry 2k and even 4K screens but 1080p is the sweet spot. It is not only amazing for viewing content but the text is sharp and clear. Coupling with SuperAMOLED vividness, the whole package is something the A7 (2017) carries as a great positive. Furthermore, as it is an AMOLED panel, the phone has Always-On Display functionality which debuted in the Galaxy S7 last year. Moreover, TouchWiz allows you to further customize and switch through multiple viewing modes and also, you can turn on the built-in Blue Light filter. The glass panels, as with all phones now, do pick up fingerprints very easily.
As discussed, the metal ring has been rounded off this time. Rather than having sharp edges, the metal ring is outward curving allowing for a pleasant experience. The panels on both sides curve equally at the edges. This gives your fingers a very smooth transition when doing edge-to-edge gestures. The bezels around the phone have also been shortened making such a large phone easily manageable now.
On the front, you will notice the rather large physical home button. Thanks to this, the fingerprint sensor beneath works exceptionally. Form our usage, it didn’t fail once and responded quite fast. It’s great to see technology from Samsung’s flagships trickling down to other series smartphones. Flagging the single button are the two capacitive touch buttons. On the left we have the “Recents” button while on the right we have the “Back” button. This tradition of buttons is being carried out by Samsung for all of its Galaxy smartphones and anyone similar to any Samsung phone will feel home with this.
On the left side of the phone, we find the power button. To our surprise, this time around, Samsung has shifted the speaker parallel to the button. The placement doesn’t really change the sound quality but it definitely makes it more practical when in portrait mode.
Quickly jumping to the right side, there are your individual buttons for volume up and down. We find a SIM tray here as well. As our variant of the Galaxy A7 (2017) supports Dual-SIM functionality, we have this extra tray otherwise this side of the phone should be plain in single SIM variants.
Bottom is where you find the USB type-C slot. Jumping from microUSB to Type-C does bring its benefits. The obvious one being that there isn’t a correct side up so you can vertically put the connector in whichever horizontal orientation. Apart from that, the Galaxy A7 (2017) does support Fast Charging which is quite helpful and charges your phone quickly when needed– for that, you will need to carry around your Adaptive Fast Charger adapter with you.
As with all glass back phones, the battery is not user accessible. However, the phone carries expandable storage which was getting rarer in recent times. Moreover, the back features a 16MP sensor which has no protrusion. You can place your phone on any flat surface and it wont wobble. Furthermore, the camera, this way, is less prone to scratches. Flagging the sensor, is your standard flash light.
Internally, the phone is featuring Samsung’s own silicon, the Exynos 7780 Octa. The performance is adequate, neither is it overkill nor is it under-powered. Coupling that with 3GB RAM makes the phone quite snappy and very fluid. As with the A7 (2017), this series is to provide a flagship experience with practicality and budget in mind. Performance benchmarks aren’t the highlight but that’s just one factor, the whole package truly makes the A7 (2017) stand out in its category.
There is a key addition in this year’s Galaxy A7 (2017), the IP68 Water & Dust resistance. Debuting in Galaxy S7, Samsung has started complying with standards that keep your phone running even in pool accidents. For Samsung, this is a marketable feature and for users, this is a very good addition. As you are already giving up removable battery functionality, why not gain water and dust resistance? This deal, we’ll make any day!
Galaxy A7 (2017): Camera
The camera technology has progressed quite quickly in the past few years and it is evident in flagships coming from major brands. As the A series keeps budget in mind and has a certain criterion to fulfill in Samsung’s lineup, the camera is quite good. Not only does it have modes that help you get the best out of the lighting you have but the actual sensor takes some amazing photos if left in Auto Mode. For technical details, the rear main camera is 16MP with f/1.9 aperture.
The pictures out of the rear camera are quite sharp and as with all Samsung Galaxy photos, a little saturation biased. All in all, it provides a good camera experience with different modes to play with. One of the best modes is the “Pro Mode” which lets you select focus, ISO, white balance and more. In situations where light is less than ideal, I drifted towards using this mode.
Video, however, is somewhat lacking. It captures 1080p footage which is sharp and accurately colored but as 4K is the new trend, skipping it isn’t logical. The hardware is truly capable of capturing 4K video but Samsung has left this one out. Nonetheless, you can capture in 1080p which is quite adequate and isn’t as hard on storage as 4K is.
Front sensor mimics the back sensor. In fact, it is of the same specs — 16MP f/1.9 sensor. As expected, the front facing photos are exceptional and video calling is a breeze for the Galaxy A7 (2017).
Galaxy A7 (2017): Connectivity, Memory and Battery
The Galaxy A7 2017 comes equipped with latest communication technology as standard. Boasting Bluetooth v4.2, NFC and 4G LTE upto Cat-6, the Galaxy A7 (2017) doesn’t miss out on anything. The Cat 6 capability is largely region dependent but having it there is a nice addition. The Type-C port allows for better charging capabilities and faster data transfers.
Storage and memory wise, the Galaxy A7 (2017) ships with 32GB standard storage and 3GB RAM. Both of these are adequate and if you need more, the storage can be expanded via a microSD card. As for RAM, 3GB is a good midway between overkill and actual practical usage. Unique to Galaxy A7 (2017) dual SIM is the fact that you can use both SIMs and a microSD card all at the same time without having to sacrfice one thing for the other like in other smartphones.
The Galaxy A7 (2017) has some serious stamina, the battery lasted for us a whole day and some. Under heavy usage, you can easily last it a whole day thanks to its large 3,600mAh battery and 1080p AMOLED screen. Moreover, the Fast Charger provided in the box, easily charges the phone in an hour which is quite good. You can have hours of usage for few minutes of charging.
Galaxy A7 (2017): Software
The software on the Galaxy A7 (2017) is a killer feature on its on. As Android is pretty much similar over all smartphones, Samsung tries to add in proprietary features you cant find anywhere else. Also, Samsung has some serious experience in developing software for Android smartphones. The TouchWiz skin it produces is classed as the top manufacturer skin to be provided for an Android phone. Features like Always On Display, Multi Window functionality, Settings search and more are very unique to TouchWiz and they all make it to the Galaxy A7 (2017).
Consider this as a benefit or drawback but as the brand produces TouchWiz regardless of Android version, you can experience all the latest on older revisions. At the time of writing, the Galaxy A7 (2017) ships with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. This iteration is almost a year old but with TouchWiz it doesn’t feel so. The features which were debuted in Note 7 running Nougat have been added to Galaxy A7 (2017).
Even further, the proprietary Samsung apps are some of the best and most users in the Samsung eco-system can’t live without. For example, the S Note app can be downloaded and synced easily even though this isn’t a S-Pen supporting phone. The file manager, calendar and S Health are also some apps that enhance the overall experience and are quite optimized.
One thing we did note with the A7 (2017) is the fact that you cant change the backlit settings of the buttons. It can be overcome with root apps but deafult, there aren’t any options. We hope Samsung addresses this in the Android Nougat update release.
Default bundled Samsung Apps & Features:
File Manager is a simple but mandatory app available in the Galaxy A5 (2016). It functions to provide you access to all of your stored media and data. OTG connections also show up in this app.
Galaxy Apps lets you install proprietary Samsung apps which aren’t listed or available on the Play Store like S Note.
S Voice is a personal voice-powered assistant. You can control your phone hands free through S Voice and perform different actions otherwise not available in Google Now.
Ultra-Power Saving mode if you are running on low battery and cannot charge your phone, you can access this mode. It cuts down on all of the different features while still letting you access the basic ones.
Private Mode works with the fingerprint scanner in locking different sorts of data and encrypting it. Once locked, no one will have access to it except when you authenticate with your fingerprint.
S Bike Mode For bike riders, this mode provides hands free access to your phone. Not only that, there are options to record trips, mileage and monitor traffic situations. You can also set custom notifications to be forwarded once you are in this mode.