The Samsung Galaxy A series has become the flagship midrange series for the South Korean company. Over past few years, the company has used the series to bring more flagship level technology to the hydrangea. This year, the company looked to the Samsung Galaxy A7 and A9 to bring what DJ Koh referred to as “cutting edge technology” to a more affordable price point.
The focus this year: the cameras. The Samsung Galaxy A7 is the first mid-range flagship come with a triple camera setup. However, to bring that piece of cutting edge technology, the company had to made some concessions. The big question: Was the trade-off worth it?
The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) sheds the design queues we’re so used to seeing in Samsung’s mid-range flagships. The curves and cut of the flagship S series don’t make its mark on the its mid-range this year. Instead, the A series steps into the light with its own signature look and physicality.
While some people may say that the angular, squared design of the new Galaxy A7 is a step back in ergonomics, they’d be hard pressed to say that the new design language of the Galaxy A7 (2018) isn’t sexy or sleek. The new design language belies the company’s more refined approach mid-range device design. From the get go, you would realise that most of the new design language is meant to make production more cost effective while keeping the flair and gusto that is quintessential Samsung.
The first impression that you’d get from the Samsung Galaxy A7 is that the phone is loud – and not in a bad way. The new colour choices paired with the new design language makes the device stand out. The reflective finish gives the A7 a premium outlook and that triple camera setup that emblazons makes the phone look a lot more modern than many of the devices out there.
That said, you’ll be wondering where the fingerprint sensor for the Galaxy A7 (2018) is as the sensor isn’t where you’d expect it to be in a Samsung device. The A7 has Samsung’s first side-mounted fingerprint scanners. No, it’s not it’s own module on the side; it’s integrated into the power button. That’s one of the things you’d notice on the Galaxy A7 (2018) – a large silver power button.
The screen covers nearly the whole front panel and you won’t be finding any notches here. Samsung’s infinity display gives just enough bezels and screen real estate that it’s compliments almost every design. The infinity display allows you enough space to hold the phone comfortably in landscape without triggering something you didn’t mean to – which is a plus in the age of the notch. The bezels also give Samsung enough space to place the sensors, ear piece and camera module without the need to make engineering magic.
Overall, the design of the phone, while not something revolutionary, allows the A7 to shine. However, the biggest problem that could be facing the device is its unwieldy, less than ergonomic impression. Impression being the keyword here. Since once you actually start using the smartphone, you’ll realise the small design cues that Samsung has used to make the device more ergonomic that it looks. But a definite kudos to Samsung for bringing a more premium outlook to their midrange.
The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) has quite the combination of hardware: from an Super AMOLED screen to a triple camera setup to a side mounted fingerprint sensor. All of these are hallmark features of the A7, but is the hardware combination a winning one or are we looking at another dud?
To be frank, the hardware of the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) is a powerful, feature packed combination. But hardware isn’t the only defining point when it comes to the overall performance of any given smartphone.
The Exynos 7885 Octa processor paired with the 4GB/6GB of RAM which comes with a Galaxy A7 (2018) is more than enough for any user – even power users. However, we have to keep in mind that the A7 is still a mid tier device. While we can’t say that it can out perform the likes of the S9 or Note9, it does well in its own class. The hardware is able to handle quite the battering – at least on paper (we’ll go further into details in the performance section).
The processor paired with the 6.0-inch, Full HD+, Super AMOLED panel for the display bring a compelling package which is not only able to perform but also has a enough screen real estate for bingeing your Netflix series or even run games beautifully.
The one let down when it comes to the hardware of the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) is the lack of a dual speaker setup. Yes, the A7 doesn’t have dual front firing speakers. What this also means is that the smartphone’s Dolby Atmos feature is only accessible if you’re using stereo headsets – which is a bummer. That said, the speaker is still loud and should be good for navigation and the like.
However, because the speaker is a single bottom firing speaker, I found myself missing quite a few calls and messages cause I couldn’t hear the smartphone ringing – even with the ring and vibrate on. Yep, that’s right, even the vibration of the A7 was too light for me which left me missing important notifications.
The biggest omission from the A7 for 2018 is the lack of IP certification. If you remember the Galaxy A7 (2017), the phone was water resistant with a IP67 certification. We don’t see that with the new A7 instead, we’ve been presented with a triple camera set up instead and a lower price point.
|Processor||Exynos 7885 Octa (8 Cores)Octa-Core|
|Memory||128GBExpandable with MicroSD (Up to 512GB)|
|Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)||Mali-G71|
|Display||Super AMOLED panel6.0-inch (~411 ppi)|
Full HD+, 18.5:9 ratio (1,080 x 2,220pixels)
|Operating System||Android 8.0 Oreo with ZenUI 5.0|
|Battery||Non-Removable 3,300mAh Li-IonFast Charging|
|Connectivity||Dual SIM (Hybrid Slot)Wi-Fi IEEE802.11 b/g/n/ac|
Bluetooth 5.0 LE
24-Megapixel (f/1.7, 27mm)
8 Megapixel (f/2.4, 18mm)
5-Megapixel (f/2.2, depth sensor)
Phase Detection Autofocus
Gyro Electronic Image Stabilisation
1080p Video recording (30fps)
26mm focus length
Full HD video recording (30fps)
The user interface on the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) carries forward what we’ve seen in many Samsung flagships. The familiarity of the Grace UX on the device should be a welcome touch to Samsung users who are upgrading from their current device.
The new Samsung Galaxy A7 brings along with it a lot of the user interface optimizations that we saw in the S9. The cleaner interface also brings with it a lot of performance optimizations under the hood. However, the mainstay of the redesigned UX is the cleaner, less cartoony icons which are a welcomed change. Of course, the usual bright, white notification shade and the overall user experience is still quintessential Samsung.
There weren’t many changes specifically made to the interface when it came to the Galaxy A7 (2018). The only major change users would notice would be in the setting up of the fingerprint reader which is now side mounted. The new position requires a little bit of adaptation when it comes to triggering and unlocking. Thankfully Samsung’s built in tutorial for the setup helps familiarise the user with the new setup.
Aside from that, the major difference in user interface can be realised in the camera’s UI. This is, of course, to be expected due to the unique three camera setup that Samsung has introduced in the A7. The main difference would be the inclusion of a toggle to switch to the ultrawide angle camera sensor which would allow users to capture even more in their shot. This toggle is located where users are used to seeing the 2X toggle on Samsung’s S9+ or Note9 interface.
That aside, the rest of the user interface is more of the same; which can be a good thing for existing Samsung users but could mean that people who find the interface clunky may not give the phone a second look. Our vote is pretty simple when it comes to this: don’t change what isn’t broken. It’s true that there are a lot of interface elements which could improve, but the Samsung experience on any of their devices (entry level or flagship) is similar and works to get the best out of the device.
The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) has a lot of promise in the hardware that it brings to the table. However, as we’ve mentioned before, the performance of any given smartphone is a synergistic mix between the hardware and the software that comes on that device.
Taking only the hardware into consideration, the Galaxy A7 (2018) performed well. It was able to run big applications as well as do regular processing such as making calls, word processing and more. The hardware is very capable and is pretty power efficient when it comes down to it.
During our review period with the A7, the smartphone was a real joy to use overall. The camera performed well under the right conditions and the phone overall had some of the best performance of a mid-range smartphone of its caliber.
However, there were software issues with the A7 during the review period. The phone’s display was a little glitchy. We experienced a little bit of ghosting on the device where portions of the screen were being toggled without being touch. The first instance of this started with us being unable to type on the keyboard. That said, the issue has been confirmed to be a software issue which has already been addressed in the latest update from the manufacturer.
The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) comes with a Full HD, Super AMOLED display. The 1080p resolution of the screen is more than enough to enjoy content from YouTube, Netflix and more. I don’t think that anyone’s eyes would be able to distinguish between 1080p or any higher resolution on a screen that’s this small.
Yes, I said small. Coming in at 6.0-inches, the A7 (2018) has one of the smallest screen sizes in its category – and that’s not a bad thing. Really. The way Samsung has designed the phone allows the 6.0-inch display to fit in a body which feels like it was meant for a significantly smaller body. In addition, the best part about having the smaller display is that it fits pretty nicely into your shirt pocket for guys and you don’t have to fumble with it.
That said, using the phone with one hand can be a challenge for people with smaller hands. Even for someone like myself who has relatively large hands, the Galaxy A7 (2018) can be a little cumbersome to use with one hand.
However, the 6.0-inch display also provides some of the best picture quality when watching content from Netflix and YouTube. While some may find the colours a little bit over saturated, it gives the screen some vibrancy that other displays struggle with. It also makes pictures pop. Colour accuracy may not be 100% but once you’ve gone to AMOLED, it’s hard to go to any other display.
The camera is the mainstay of the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018). It’s the first device from Samsung with a triple camera array which brings an ultrawide angle shooter and a dedicated depth sensor. This unique setup allows users to get a more realistic shot of what they’re looking at according to Samsung. To be frank, it captures more of what you see in your field of vision which is really good. It makes the camera experience more WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get).
That said, using an ultrawide angle sensor can be an adjustment to some. If you aren’t a photo aficionado, the point and shoot experience remains one of the most intuitive experiences out there. However, when it comes to getting the perfect shot with the ultrawide sensor, it may take a little bit of getting used to.
Perfectionists aside, the Galaxy A7 (2018) brings most, if not all, of the features that we’re used to seeing in a flagship smartphone when it comes to the camera. Thanks to the dedicated depth sensor, you’re able to get pretty good bokeh in your images. Unlike some of its mid-range competition, the Galaxy A7 (2018) doesn’t have the halo around the your subject when you activate the bokeh effect. However, lighting conditions have to be pretty decent.
Therein lies one of the pain points when it comes to the Galaxy A7 (2018). The camera sensor is decent but struggles to perform under strained lighting. One would have thought that Samsung would have found a way to utilise the sensors to maximise the performance of the camera. Low light performance aside, the overall experience is pretty good.
The front camera on the A7 (2018) on the other hand, performed pretty well even under strained lighting. The camera was able to capture enough detail to keep pictures sharp and in focus.
The AI on the A7 is still one of the best I’ve used in a midrange device. It helps with capturing shots without the need to fiddle around with the settings and also keeps things simple. It’s not intrusive nor is it boasting that it’s there.
While the Galaxy A7 (2018) is one of Samsung’s cutting edge phones when it comes to the midrange, it’s also a testament to the amount of focus the segment has lacked from the manufacturer. It struggles in places you wouldn’t expect a midrange device from Samsung to. Performance and optmisations seem to be the places which Samsung needs to focus on when it comes to their mid-range device.
The A7 was let down by poorly optmised software but that’s something Samsung can fix with an update. With a package as powerful as the A7, the device should have been a home run but it fell short of third base. That said, it is a step in the right direction if Samsung is looking to differentiate their mid-range lineup.
Overall, its worth the money you spend on it. But don’t go looking for flagship class performance in this package. It’s decidedly mid-range with forgivable flaws.
Also published on Medium.