Review of the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
A couple of years back, the flagship smartphones of Samsung were the only handset you could get your hands on if you are after a truly great smartphone experience. Lower-tier devices back then came with too many limitations making them difficult to recommend. With the introduction of the Galaxy A Series, Samsung was able to offer a premium smartphone experience in the midrange category and the 2016 Galaxy A models further raise the bar by coming with high-end specs and the same glass and metal design found in the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note flagships.
Today, we take a more discerning look at the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016), compare it a bit with its little brother the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016), and see just how it stands up.
The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) is the second largest in the 2016 Galaxy A Series with the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016) taking the top honors. The handset measures 151.5 x 74.1 x 7.3 mm and it tips the scales at 172 grams (as a side note, the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) has dimensions of 144.8 x 71 x 7.3 mm, making it slightly smaller than its big brother). It has the same metal and glass build as the Galaxy S6 series and Galaxy Note 5 but what really came off as a surprise is the fact that the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) has the same look and feel as that of the Galaxy S6 lineup.
In short, the design of the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) is pretty much perfect and we find it hard to look for something to complain about. The handset feels extremely premium in the hand, and while its glass build makes it a bit slippery to the touch, the overall design of the handset passes with flying colors.
Performance under the hood
Since Samsung manufactures its own chipset, it is not surprising to see an Exynos chipset at the heart of the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)’s operation. An octa-core 1.6 GHz processor on the other hand ensures that the handset has more than enough power to tackle any task you throw at it. Couple that with 3GB of RAM and you have a smartphone that lets you multitask at will and play even the most graphics-intensive games without skipping a beat.
The Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) on the other hand features the same chipset and processor but comes with just 2 GB of RAM. A little less powered, maybe, but the handset still delivers the same premium smartphone experience just like the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016). Both handsets by the way run Android 5.1.1 Lollipop overlaid with Samsung’s custom TouchWIZ user interface for their operating system.
Both the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) and Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) come with Super AMOLED displays that ensure you get a great viewing experience and exceptional viewing angles. Similarly, both handsets boast of Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels that make videos and images jump right at you with crisp colors and vivid details.
The display is protected with a layer of super-strong Gorilla Glass 4 that protects it from scratches and dings, giving you the opportunity to be a little more carefree in handling the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016). The only difference is that the display of the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) measures 5.5 inches with a pixel density of 401 ppi while the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)’s display measures 5.2 inches with a 424 ppi pixel density.
Imaging though is one aspect that neither the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) nor the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) score high points in. Both handsets boast of a 13-megapixel rear shooter with f/1.9 aperture and optical image stabilization but preliminary testing showed that the performance is a bit lacking. This is almost similar to the fate of the Galaxy A8 which had good camera specs on paper but failed to deliver great image quality due to poor software processing.
It could be that Samsung is intentionally limiting the camera performance of its midrange devices like the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) to ensure that their flagship devices with better cameras stand out. Or, the manufacturer might not be doing enough optimization to ensure that costs are kept at a minimum.
Up front though, we see a 5-megapixel snapper at the front panel of the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) and the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016). This secondary shooter features an aperture of f/1.9 and comes in handy in taking selfies or in video calls with family and friends.
Storage and battery life
Both the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) and Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) come with 16GB of internal storage which is pretty much the industry standard for midrange devices. This could further be expanded to as much as 128GB using the handsets’ microSD card slot. With that much storage space, you have the option of bringing a lot of your music, pictures, videos and whatnot with you anywhere you go.
In terms of battery life, the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) and the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) boast of massive batteries that can hold enough charge to power the operation of both handsets. The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) for example comes with 3,300 mAh power pack that on paper is capable of delivering up to 17 hours of 3G talk time and up to 78 hours of music play.
The Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) on the other hand features a just as massive 2,900 mAh battery that can give you up to 16 hours of 3G talk time and up to 75 hours of music play. We haven’t been able to test both handsets extensively to give you conclusive battery life numbers but the respective batteries of the two handsets are massive enough and should be able to last throughout a day of use and abuse for most users.
Once again, Samsung has come out with two mid-range devices in the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) and the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) that will further raise the bar in the mid-range category. With their sturdy construction and premium materials combined with powerful specs under the hood and a glorious display to boot, both handsets are expected to reign in the mid-range category until better options come along.