Samsung Galaxy A7 review: Not afraid of a dunking

Nick Broughall 7 March 2017

Samsung Galaxy A7 review 738

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.

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.
HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
Huawei Nova Plus13:21:208013
Samsung Galaxy A712:40:307603
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge11:55:007150
Apple iPhone 7 Plus11:11:206713
Huawei Mate 811:14:406659
Sony Xperia X10:40:406406
Samsung Galaxy S710:01:206013
LG X Power14:50:305714
Google Pixel XL9:14:205543
Huawei Mate 99:00:305330
Sony Xperia XZ8:24:205042
Huawei P98:26:304948
ZTE Axon 77:56:204763
Apple iPhone 77:50:104701
LG G57:36:104561
HTC 106:54:304145
Moto Z6:38:103981
HTC One X97:03:103971
Motorola Moto X Force9:46:503914

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.
HandsetGeekbench 4 CPU Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 4 CPU Multi Core (higher is better)
Apple iPhone 734525599
Apple iPhone 7 Plus33745649
Apple iPhone 6s24654052
Apple iPhone SE24494171
Huawei Mate 919256068
ZTE Axon 717214089
Sony Xperia XZ16363604
Google Pixel XL16294051
Motorola Moto Z14773853
Samsung Galaxy S713784718
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge13595333
Motorola Moto X Force13523581
Google Nexus 6P12933594
Sony Xperia X11222626
Oppo R9s8433119
Huawei Nova Plus8432985
Motorola Moto Z Play7992648
Samsung Galaxy A77713998
LG X Power5541482

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.

Handset3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
Apple iPhone 7 Plus37956
Apple iPhone 737717
LG G529597
Apple iPhone SE29276
Samsung Galaxy S728903
Huawei Mate 928457
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge28402
Apple iPhone 6s28171
HTC 1027392
Sony Xperia XZ26279
Sony Xperia X Performance26125
ZTE Axon 723955
Sony Xperia Z519197
HTC One X916877
Sony Xperia X16648
Huawei Nova Plus13969
Motorola Moto Z Play13958
Samsung Galaxy A713629
Sony Xperia XA11173
Oppo R911053
LG X Power4953

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

DeviceSamsung Galaxy A7
Screen size5.7in
Storage32GB
WeightTBC
ProcessorOcta Core Exynos 7880
Rear camera16MP
Front camera16MP
Battery3600mAh
Resolution1080x1920
Display density386ppi
RRP$799

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