It seems that smartphone companies might soon get into a race to build a smartphone with more cameras (Huawei is already there and Nokia has plans to add some more), and for whatever it’s worth, Samsung wants to be on the top of this game, with the launch of the Galaxy A7, its first smartphone with a triple rear camera set up at the back.
The key feature of the phone, of course, is the trio of cameras at the back which features a 24 MP primary unit, an 8 MP sensor and a 5 MP sensor. The 8 MP sensor stands out because it is an ‘ultra-wide’ lens with a 120-degree field of view. The 5 MP sensor, on the other hand, is a Live View sensor for those who especially like bokeh in their photographs.
Whether the increase in the number of cameras really increases the camera quality remains in question. We ran our own mini-poll on Twitter, and of 56 people who voted as I write the first impressions, 54 percent people think that it might not really increase the picture quality all that much. It’s too soon to say though. Our review of the device should answer this question in better detail.
— Tech2 (@tech2eets) September 25, 2018
We attended the launch of the event in Mumbai today and got a chance to experience the device. Tech2 has not yet received a review unit, and purely based on the minutes spent with the device at the launch event, here’s my first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy A7.
Build and Design
The Samsung Galaxy A7 is a fairly good looking device. It comes in black, blue and gold – Gold being the colour, which looks rather pink (more like Rose Gold). Weighing in at 168 grams, it is not exactly a heavy smartphone either which is surprising keeping in mind the number of camera modules it packs in along with that 3,300 mAh battery.
The most striking detail about the Galaxy A7's design is the placement of the fingerprint sensor. It is not on the back below the Samsung logo or the camera, but on the right side of the smartphone. And no, it is not just a fingerprint sensor, it is also the unlock button.
Samsung understands that when users first lift their smartphones, they automatically press the unlock button, and so, the company decided to couple them both which kind of reminds us of the older Sony Xperia flagships.
This also puts the design the of the fingerprint sensor to question. Will the sensor so thin be all that efficient? I guess that question comes from us being used to seeing big — round and oval sensors. Maybe Samsung could have actually created something useful, maybe not. I did not try the feature because I only had a chance to experience the demo devices. Our full review should be able to shed more light on the details.
Fingerprints, obviously, are the best friends of most phones these days. So I wasn’t really surprised to see the rear full of greasy fingerprints. For the sake of photos I used my microfiber cloth that comes along with sunglasses, and it would be a great idea if smartphone companies started considers shipping their devices with a microfiber cloth as well. I mean, what’s the harm?
The device features a 6.0-inch Full HD Plus Super AMOLED display, and no, it doesn’t have a notch. It also features Samsung’s Infinity display, which they believe gives “a better value to the consumer.”
Of the few minutes that I spend with the device, the display did not look all that bad and looked sufficiently bright and typically saturated like a Samsung AMOLED unit. A couple of days with the review unit should better answer how the good or bad the display is.
Chipset, RAM and Storage
It was expected that the Galaxy A7 will pack a Snapdragon 660 chipset, but that’s not true. The device features Samsung’s Exynos 7885 octa-core SoC clocked at 2.2 GHz.
Samsung uses the processor for its mid-range smartphones, and yes it does compare with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 series, so it’s fair that they used it in the Galaxy A7. The Galaxy A8 and A8 Plus are other smartphones which feature the chipset.
In terms of storage, the phone comes in two variants, one with 4 GB of RAM with 64 GB internal storage and a second one with 6 GB of RAM with 128 GB of internal storage. The storage can be further expanded up to 512 GB.
What’s interesting is that you can now download and save apps in an external storage card. While this might seem like a feature that existed a couple of years ago, the difference is that unlike before you can download an entire app on the external storage card. Earlier, you could only download a part of it, according to Samsung.
OS and Software
Powering the Samsung Galaxy A7 is Android 8.0, not even Android 8.1. It is 2018, where is my Android Pie Samsung? Maybe because the device is a mid-range smartphone it doesn’t feature the Android Pie, yet, but I can’t yet think of a possible reason as to why would they not even have the 8.1 version. As for the rest of the software bits, they are typically Samsung.
The camera is, of course, the highlight of the Galaxy A7. It’s Samsung’s first smartphone with a triple camera set up at the back. The primary sensor is a 24 MP unit with an f/1.7 aperture, and it’s the sensor to aid low light photography on the phone. The second sensor is the 8 MP unit with an f/2.4 aperture which Samsung speaks of specially. Because it is an ultra-wide camera with a 120 degrees field of view. Finally, the third camera is the 5 MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture for people who like bokeh in their photos.
Up front, the phone features a 24 MP camera with an f/2.0 aperture.
Since the shooting scenarios were not ideal in the demo area, we will have to put the camera through its paces when we get our review unit.
Battery and Connectivity
The phone had a fairly big 3,300 mAh which should not fail you when you need it the most. Add to this combination of a power-efficient Exynos SoC and an Super AMOLED display, and one can expect good battery life numbers from this device.
Connectivity options include dual VoLTE support, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), VHT80, Bluetooth v 5.0 (LE up to 2Mbps), ANT+, USB Type-B, NFC, GPS and Glonass. The device also supports Samsung Pay.
Verdict and Price
Two things clearly stand out on the Galaxy A7: the triple cam setup, and the power button which doubles up as the unlock button. Just as intriguing both the features are, there are also a bunch of questions that need answering.
I cannot yet think of a place where the device scores badly, but a full review surely will. You can look forward to that in the coming week.
The Galaxy A7 is a well-priced device given that the 4 GB of RAM with 64 GB internal storage variant is priced at Rs 23,990. The more powerful 6 GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage combination is also priced competitively at Rs 28,990. At this price, the Galaxy A7 competes with the stylish Oppo F9 Pro (Rs 23,990 onwards), the Vivo V11 Pro (Rs 25,990 onwards) and the even the Poco F1 from Xiaomi that offers the most high-end chipset, the Snapdragon 845. While Samsung seems to have scored well with its design, everything depends on the software and that triple camera setup. So let's hope they all add up in our full review.
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