Samsung Galaxy A7 review: Not afraid of a dunking

Nick Broughall 7 March 2017 NEWS

Quick Verdict
It's not the most powerful phone. But it's a perfectly capable device for anyone who just watches the odd video, browses Facebook or Twitter and sends and receives email.

Strengths

  • Premium construction
  • That IP68 rating
  • Somewhat successful selfies
  • Solid battery life
  • USB C port and fast charging

Could be better

  • Middle of the road performance
  • Only Android 6.0
  • Quiet speaker


Samsung's latest smartphone family is big on megapixels and battery life, but low on price.

While the geeks of the world anxiously await the official release of the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Korean company preceded its flagship's arrival with two new mid-range devices. The Galaxy A7 and its smaller sibling the Galaxy A5 utilise technology that was considered state of the art for Samsung's Galaxy S family just a couple of years ago. That includes features like support for Samsung Pay, as well as an IP68 water resistance rating, dual front and rear 16MP cameras and an always-on display.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy A7 32GB

Buy the Samsung Galaxy A7 32GB from Amazon AU

Samsung's more-affordable take on the premium smartphone packs all the polish of the expensive Galaxy S series without the price tag.

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The Galaxy A7 is the larger of the two devices, rocking a 5.7-inch full HD display and a 3,600mAh battery. While the octa-core processor is capable of keeping up with general tasks, it's not on par with the CPU inside the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge. That's okay though, because this phone is targeting general users.

Why you'd want the Samsung Galaxy A7

  • Premium construction. At 186 grams, the Galaxy A7 is definitely on the hefty side of the smartphone scale, but that weight lends the phone a truly solid build quality. It's not quite as sleek as the metallic Galaxy S7 from last year, but the premium metal frame with glass back gives the A7 the feeling of quality Samsung has built its brand on over the past few years. Throw in the fact the A7 is IP68 rated and it's clear the A7 is a well-designed phone.
  • That IP68 rating. Having a waterproof body isn't a new thing for today's smartphones, but it seems to come and go as design whims change. The Galaxy A7 has doubled down on the waterproof aspect, managing an IP68 rating. That means it can be submerged in up to 1.5 metres of fresh water for up to 30 minutes. While we'd never suggest you take the A7 for a swim, at least you can feel safe should something terrible happen, like dropping it in the toilet.
  • Somewhat successful selfies. It's hard to review a selfie camera if you fundamentally dislike taking them, but there are a couple of smart features Samsung has added to the 16MP front-facing camera. The first is a free-floating shutter button, which you can drag to any spot you want on screen in order to make snapping the photo easy and comfortable. There's also a wide selfie mode for those group shots and night selfie for better portraits in low light situations. The rear camera offers a full manual mode and HDR shooting, as well as panoramas and hyperlapse modes. I'm not convinced beauty mode should be a thing, artificially softening the skin and making your eyes bigger, but there seems to be a market for it. In any case, the end results from both the front and rear cameras are crisp and clear.
  • Solid battery life. I ran the Geekbench 3 battery life tests on the Galaxy A7 at the same time as the ZTE Axon 7, and it was striking at just how much longer the Samsung's battery lasted. At 3,600mAh it is a little larger than the ZTE's battery, and combined with a less demanding processor and screen it makes sense that the Samsung lasts longer, but it also manages to hold its own against some of the better phones on the market right now.
Handset Geekbench 3 Battery Test Duration Geekbench 3 Battery Score
Huawei Nova Plus 13:21:20 8013
Samsung Galaxy A7 12:40:30 7603
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 11:55:00 7150
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 11:11:20 6713
Huawei Mate 8 11:14:40 6659
Sony Xperia X 10:40:40 6406
Samsung Galaxy S7 10:01:20 6013
LG X Power 14:50:30 5714
Google Pixel XL 9:14:20 5543
Huawei Mate 9 9:00:30 5330
Sony Xperia XZ 8:24:20 5042
Huawei P9 8:26:30 4948
ZTE Axon 7 7:56:20 4763
Apple iPhone 7 7:50:10 4701
LG G5 7:36:10 4561
HTC 10 6:54:30 4145
Moto Z 6:38:10 3981
HTC One X9 7:03:10 3971
Motorola Moto X Force 9:46:50 3914

The results see the A7 receive the second best battery score we've ever seen, and the third longest test duration. That's an impressive feat, even for Samsung, which has always performed well in our tests.

  • USB C port and fast charging. If the impressive battery life wasn't enough, The Galaxy A7 also features the newer USB C charging port, which is also able to fast-charge your device. Basically, battery life wasn't really a concern when it came to using the Galaxy A7 on a daily basis. It still needed charging at regular intervals, but it was a lot less a concern than even using last year's Galaxy S7 Edge.

samsung galaxy a7 review

Why you might not want the Galaxy A7

  • Middle of the road performance. The Octa Core Exynos 7880 that powers the Galaxy A7 was designed as a mid-range processor, and while it means the phone is capable of handling basic tasks like email and simple web browsing, don't expect high performance from the phone. In fact, the GeekBench 4 benchmarks place the Galaxy A7 as one of the worst smartphones for single-core performance, though its multi-core performance was significantly better.
Handset Geekbench 4 CPU Single Core (higher is better) Geekbench 4 CPU Multi Core (higher is better)
Apple iPhone 7 3452 5599
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 3374 5649
Apple iPhone 6s 2465 4052
Apple iPhone SE 2449 4171
Huawei Mate 9 1925 6068
ZTE Axon 7 1721 4089
Sony Xperia XZ 1636 3604
Google Pixel XL 1629 4051
Motorola Moto Z 1477 3853
Samsung Galaxy S7 1378 4718
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 1359 5333
Motorola Moto X Force 1352 3581
Google Nexus 6P 1293 3594
Sony Xperia X 1122 2626
Oppo R9s 843 3119
Huawei Nova Plus 843 2985
Motorola Moto Z Play 799 2648
Samsung Galaxy A7 771 3998
LG X Power 554 1482

When it comes to using the Galaxy A7 for gaming, it's a similar story. The 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited test came up with a comparatively low score for the mid-range phone.

Handset 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 37956
Apple iPhone 7 37717
LG G5 29597
Apple iPhone SE 29276
Samsung Galaxy S7 28903
Huawei Mate 9 28457
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 28402
Apple iPhone 6s 28171
HTC 10 27392
Sony Xperia XZ 26279
Sony Xperia X Performance 26125
ZTE Axon 7 23955
Sony Xperia Z5 19197
HTC One X9 16877
Sony Xperia X 16648
Huawei Nova Plus 13969
Motorola Moto Z Play 13958
Samsung Galaxy A7 13629
Sony Xperia XA 11173
Oppo R9 11053
LG X Power 4953

That's not to say the phone is incapable of performing. In general day to day use the phone was fine, and simple games were generally okay to enjoy. But graphically intensive games like Need for Speed: No Limits were slow to load, with the sporadic jagged frame rate drops. If you use your phone for gaming as much as social media, you might want to consider jumping up a tier at the Galaxy S family of devices.

  • Only Android 6.0. Google launched its Android 7.0 operating system, otherwise known as Nougat, back in October with the Pixel and Pixel XL. Now, months later, Samsung has launched the Galaxy A phones running the older Marshmallow OS. There is undoubtedly an update to Nougat on the way, but there's no firm date on when that will happen, which may turn some people off.
  • Quiet speaker. Samsung has shifted the audio speaker for the Galaxy A7 to the side, just above the power button. Unfortunately, it's a quiet speaker, even at full volume, with a tinny output and complete lack of bass. While you can always plug in some headphones or pair a Bluetooth speaker, those who don't have that luxury will be underwhelmed by the A7's inbuilt offering.

Samsung Galaxy A7 camera

Who is the Samsung Galaxy A7 best suited for?

Users looking for a robust handset that will get them through the day should consider the Galaxy A7. It's not the most powerful phone, so mobile gamers or video editors will be underwhelmed. But it's a perfectly capable device for anyone who just watches the odd video, browses Facebook or Twitter and sends and receives email.

Of course, for roughly the same price, you could get last year's Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge, which offers better performance at the expense of battery life. There are also flagships from cheaper brands like the ZTE Axon 7 or the Huawei Mate 9 worth considering as well.

Where can I get the Samsung Galaxy A7?

The Galaxy A7 is available for $799 RRP on Samsung's web store and at key retailers around the country.


Samsung Galaxy A7 Specifications

Device Samsung Galaxy A7
Screen size 5.7in
Storage 32GB
Weight TBC
Processor Octa Core Exynos 7880
Rear camera 16MP
Front camera 16MP
Battery 3600mAh
Resolution 1080x1920
Display density 386ppi
RRP $799

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