Like Samsung’s super S7, the A7 has an upmarket look and feel, which gives it the aroma of a $1300 phone rather than a wallet pleasing $745 that’s the asking price for this mid-range device. That said, Samsung have taken a leaf out of Sony’s brand confusion playbook, and they’ve given this device the same model number as last year’s effort (with 2017 in front of it).
The 2017 A7 sports a generous 5.5-inch screen, and where most phones at this price point tend to sport smaller displays, the extra millimetres are a nice surprise. Coming from one of the world’s largest display makers, it’s a looker too, with a super AMOLED display, which means deep blacks/vivid colours and great contrast levels. Its 1080p resolution (at 401ppi) also makes it ideal for media consumers and gamers.
While some may complain that the 2017 A7 isn’t QHD, the logic behind Samsung’s choice of 1080p is hard to fault. Most phone users will struggle to tell the difference between QHD and HD with normal use. Additionally, a 1080p display is far more battery-friendly.
Things are further helped along by the alloy/Gorilla Glass 4 chassis. Even though you’re paying under a grand, there’s no Tupperware in sight. Samsung has also made the A7 one of its skinniest yet – at 6.3mm, it is also pocketable. Even though the A7’s screen sits in phablet territory, it’s thin enough to be easy to use with one hand.
The phone offers some serious bang-for-buck value, with a design and build that seem at odds with its price. The real bonus is that it’s also IP68 water-resistant, and has a USB data/charging port. Then there’s NFC and a front fingerprint scanner. These are things not often see at this price point.
Samsung have kitted out the 2017 A7 with a big 3600mAh battery. It also has an octa-core Samsung Exynos 7880 CPU, along with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. If 32GB seems small, it’s expandable thanks to a microSD card slot that’ll take up to 256GB.
The Exynos 7880 octa-core processor is a mid-range CPU. This was evident with demanding game titles, but the 2017 A7 worked fine with all other tasks I threw at it. Another benefit of using the Exynos 7880 is battery life. I wrung a full two full days of use out of the A7 before it pleaded for quality time with the supplied charger.
The front and rear shooters on the 2017 A7 are good. The rear camera uses a 16-megapixel sensor and has a 27mm wide-angle f/1.9 lens. It was quick and took decent snaps in daylight conditions. Shooting in low light settings did see some pixel noise but it still took usable photos. Its front camera is a big bonus for the selfie crowd. It packs a 16MP sensor and captured crisp, vivid and wide selfies.
The Samsung Galaxy 2017 A7 boxes well above its weight, where most mid-range smartphones are an exercise in compromise. It has a premium look/feel (and functionality). Samsung have made some smart choices about where to economise, and the end result is a smartphone with plenty of bells and whistles at a reasonable price. For sheer bang for buck value, the 2017 A7 is a great pick.