Samsung Galaxy A7 review: Not afraid of a dunking
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.
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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|
|ZTE Axon 7||7:56:20||4763|
|Apple iPhone 7||7:50:10||4701|
|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.
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|
|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|
|Apple iPhone SE||29276|
|Samsung Galaxy S7||28903|
|Huawei Mate 9||28457|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge||28402|
|Apple iPhone 6s||28171|
|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|
|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.
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|
|Processor||Octa Core Exynos 7880|
Latest Galaxy A7 news
Samsung's mid-range Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 will go on sale next week. Read more…