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SmartphoneReview 1415

Samsung Galaxy A7: highlights but not where you expect them

The Galaxy A7’s three cameras didn’t blow my socks off – after all, there’s already a smartphone with five lenses. But the Galaxy A7 (2018) still comes recommended as a well-kept secret.

As it happens, the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) is old news. The Galaxy A9 and its four cameras have already been presented, making the Galaxy A7 a kind of inbetween phone.

Since I already promised you a test of the Galaxy A7 in my last article and some users sent in e-mail requests for the very same thing, I decided to road-test the phone for a week.

And what did I think of the Galaxy? I liked it a lot… but not because of its three cameras. They’re OK but they’re not the highlight. That’s something completely different. But all in good time, kids. Let’s start at the beginning.

This is the third time a phone gets christened the Galaxy A7. As with the other mobiles in the A series, the A7 features the model name. It’s somewhat confusing. That’s probably why Samsung has put the year at the end of the title. In other words, the phone’s full name is the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018).

  • Galaxy A7 (6", 64GB, Dual SIM, 24MP, Blue)
  • Galaxy A7 (6", 64GB, Dual SIM, 24MP, Blue)
  • Galaxy A7 (6", 64GB, Dual SIM, 24MP, Blue)
CHF 249.–was 299.–1
Samsung Galaxy A7 (6", 64GB, Dual SIM, 24MP, Blue)
Triple camera at a fair price
26

Availability

Mail delivery

  • More than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

Collection

  • Basel: Only 3 piece(s)
  • Bern: Only 2 piece(s)
  • Dietikon: today at 17:15
  • Geneva: tomorrow at 14:00
  • Kriens: tomorrow at 13:00
  • Lausanne: tomorrow at 12:30
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 13:00
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Wohlen: Only 3 piece(s)
  • Zurich: today at 17:30

PickMup

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

  • Galaxy A7 (6", 64GB, Dual SIM, 24MP, Gold)
  • Galaxy A7 (6", 64GB, Dual SIM, 24MP, Gold)
  • Galaxy A7 (6", 64GB, Dual SIM, 24MP, Gold)
CHF 268.–was 299.–1
Samsung Galaxy A7 (6", 64GB, Dual SIM, 24MP, Gold)
Triple camera at a fair price
26

Availability

Mail delivery

  • More than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 12:30
  • Bern: today at 17:00
  • Dietikon: today at 17:15
  • Geneva: tomorrow at 14:00
  • Kriens: tomorrow at 13:00
  • Lausanne: tomorrow at 12:30
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 13:00
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Wohlen: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Zurich: today at 17:30

PickMup

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

  • Galaxy A7 (6", 64GB, Dual SIM, 24MP, Black)
  • Galaxy A7 (6", 64GB, Dual SIM, 24MP, Black)
  • Galaxy A7 (6", 64GB, Dual SIM, 24MP, Black)
CHF 260.–
Samsung Galaxy A7 (6", 64GB, Dual SIM, 24MP, Black)
Triple camera at a fair price
26

Availability

Mail delivery

  • More than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

Collection

  • Basel: Only 3 piece(s)
  • Bern: Only 3 piece(s)
  • Dietikon: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Geneva: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Kriens: Only 3 piece(s)
  • Lausanne: Only 3 piece(s)
  • St Gallen: Only 2 piece(s)
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Wohlen: Only 3 piece(s)
  • Zurich: Only 3 piece(s)

PickMup

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

Coming in at six inches, the A7 is really quite big. It also has rather thick edges – they’re particularly noticeable on the top and bottom. However, like all Samsung phones, the A7 doesn’t have a notch. In spite of the phone’s size, it’s rather light and only weighs 166 grammes. To put that into perspective, the smaller iPhone XS is 11 grammes heavier. A combination of the A7’s weight and size means the phone sits comfortably in my hand.

The A7 is big and thin

The port story

I’m pleased to say the A7 boasts a headphone jack, as these have become something of a rarity. Another now uncommon sight, but one that is definitely not good, is the micro USB charging connection the A7 comes with. You can forget fast charging. And at 3300 mAh, the battery isn’t particularly big.

In short: if you’re a heavy-duty user, you’re unlikely to be thrilled with this battery. If, on the other hand, you’re only a moderate user or you can charge it up at the office like I can, the battery won’t cause you any problems.

The micro connector. I lost track of the number of times I plugged the cable in the wrong way round

At least I only need one charging cable, as I still have the old type of headphones that require a micro connector. But that’s probably the only advantage.

First highlight: the display

Samsung has also treated the lower-priced phones to an AMOLED display. Yay! I reckon the display is one of the highlights of the A7. Some users find the Samsung displays oversaturated or unnatural, but that’s not the experience I had with the A7. If you don’t like the display, you can alter the colours in the settings.

The resolution is 1080 × 2220 pixels, which is more than on the new iPhone XR. I watched Netflix on the A7 a fair bit when I was out and about. The display looked good and all the details displayed nicely. Thanks to the 18.5:9 aspect ratio, the edges are minimal.

The A7 also features an Always On display. This isn’t just practical, it also looks great with the white display against the black OLED.

The Always On Display is nothing to be sneezed at

The reverse of my model of the phone comes in a gorgeous, reflective blue. Unfortunately, this attracts fingerprints and makes it look like you have sweaty hands the whole time. The phone is also really slippy. My boyfriend put it on a fabric chair and it slid onto the ground all by itself.

Beautiful and slippery

New fingerprint sensor

Hot on the heels of Sony, Samsung built a fingerprint sensor into the side of the phone. It was a success for the company right off the bat. The sensor really is sensational. It’s quick and it responds reliably – even with wet or mucky fingers.

But what I like most is that Samsung managed to put the fingerprint sensor in the perfect place. I always hold the phone with my thumb on the side, which is exactly where you’ll find the sensor on the A7. Other manufacturers place it under the glass or come up with other weird and wonderful ideas. Samsung presented a much more practical solution, which works just as well.

The sensor is under the volume buttons

You only realise how important the sensor is once you’ve had a phone with one that is too slow or not reliable. For me, fingerprint readers are one of the most important elements of a phone. Because let’s face it, that’s the part you need every time you want to use your mobile.

Let’s talk cameras

The cameras are supposed to be the highlights of the A7 (2018). Now, I’m not saying they’re bad by any means – especially not when you consider the price of the phone. But I don’t think they do enough to be bestowed the lofty title of highlight.

However, credit where it’s due: this is the first Samsung phone to launch with three cameras. Here’s a low-down on what it comes with:

  1. The main module of the camera features 24 megapixels and f/1.7 light intensity.
  2. The second camera is an ultra wide-angle lens, featuring 8 megapixels and an f/2.4 aperture.
  3. The third camera boasts 5 megapixels and an f/2.2 aperture. This is for depth of field or bokeh effect.

What I kept wondering was whether an ultra wide-angle lens would work with just 8 megapixels. The answer: it does. But only when you hold your phone absolutely still. Otherwise the image is blurry, especially at the edges. And as you’d expect with wide-angle lenses, there’s a certain amount of distortion. If you snap a shot of something with straight lines, you’ll see clearly what I mean.

Photo taken with the main camera

Shot taken with the wide-angle lens

You notice the 120 degree angle. But it comes into its own much more inside than if you photograph outside. When you shoot outdoors there’s a lot more in the picture, whereas a photo shoot inside will show more of the fisheye effect. You’re almost guaranteed to get this effect when you take a picture of the room from above.

The wide-angle lens is fun to try out and it certainly has its purpose. To give you an example, the wide-angle lets you get pretty much everything into the picture when you’re taking a photo of your flat. They’re also great for Instagram-friendly panorama images or for wide-angle shenanigans.

Shot taken on the main camera
Shot taken with the wide-angle lens

But in a lot of cases, you actually want to be as close to the subject as possible so you can capture the details. Obviously, for that kind of shot a wide-angle lens isn’t your best bet.

Foto-Kurztipp: Such die Nähe, Teil 2
PhotographyKnow-how

Foto-Kurztipp: Such die Nähe, Teil 2

A zoom lens, like the fourth lens on the A9 (2018), would perhaps have made more sense.

Side note: it’s best not to photograph people with a wide-angle lens. You’ve got two other cameras on the phone for that. They’re not bad but by the same token, they don’t blow me away.

As for the third camera, this is meant for capturing photos with bokeh effect. Samsung call it live focus. Usually, shots with a shallow depth of field come out really well.

Samsung’s three cameras

Sometimes the camera struggles to focus. But the phone makes up for it by allowing you to edit the bokeh images afterwards. This includes altering the focus so that a different section of the image has the limelight. As with a lot of other phones, the A7 also lets you alter the strength of the effect.

The 24-megapixel main camera captures sharp images at night. Unfortunately, the phone doesn’t come with an optical image stabiliser. When you’re in bad lighting conditions, you’ll notice this feature is lacking.

This image was taken without a tripod – taking that into account, I think it’s a pretty clean image

I felt like photos taken during the day were quickly overexposed. The good news is you can go into the photo menu where it’s easy to reduce the brightness yourself. After that, the lighting settings will be correct again.

Granted, it could be quicker but…

The Galaxy A7 features an Exynos 7885 processor. This is fourth newest Samsung processor. But sadly, it’s not particularly fast, especially when it comes to multitasking. That’s something you notice when you switch between two apps. The phone always takes a moment, and when you have lots of apps open at once you can tell the phone runs slower.

I mostly used gesture navigation to operate the phone – in other words, without pressing any buttons. This type of navigation worked well and it also let me see more of the screen.

Samsung claims to have built Dolby Atmos into their A7 phone. But purely from a technical point of view, this seems hard to believe. And the speakers sound just like a cheaper phone: high notes are clipped and if you play things too loud, everything sounds tinny.

The audio quality also annoyed me sometimes when using the phone for its initial purpose: phoning. But the issue only really stood out after an hour-long call. On the plus side, it does support Wi-Fi calling, which is something you can’t take for granted.

To be honest, I don’t mind compromising the slightly slower processor and not the best sound in the world for a lower price tag. After all, the phone has other advantages.

What’s nice is that the A7 still accepts two nano sim cards and a micro SD card. That’s something you see less and less these days.

There’s space for two nano cards and a memory card

Verdict: want a cheap phone? This is the insider’s pick

The A7 isn’t a phone for heavy-duty users and it’s by no means a flagship. But it is the insider’s pick for people who don’t want to drop hundreds of francs on a phone. The mobile is sturdy and has a few great highlights you’d be searching high and low for in phones within this price segment.

What you get is a unique, beautiful phone that offers great value for money. If you’re looking for a chic phone with a good OLED display, standard camera, great fingerprint sensor but without the notch, I can highly recommend the A7.

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User

Livia Gamper, Zurich

  • Junior Editor
Testing devices and gadgets is my thing. Some experiments lead to interesting insights, others to demolished phones. I’m hooked on series and can’t imagine life without Netflix. In summer, you’ll find me soaking up the sun by the lake or at a music festival.

14 comments

3000 / 3000 characters

User JiSiN

- Ein interessantes Smartphone im 3xx CHF Bereich
+ Preis
+ Display (Super AMOLED)
+ Kamera (Weitwinkel)
+ DualSim & MicroSD
+ Headphone-Jack
Goodie: Fingerabdruckscanner (Power-button) & Atmos

- Micro USB (2.0) statt USB-C
- Lautsprecher

25.10.2018
User RealMajor

mir würde es zusagen... wenn es eine gute ecke kleiner wäre... wäre schön wenn auch so ein refresh in kompakt mit zB einem 5" fhd display erscheinen würde, quasi ein a3 einfach in viel besser und etwas teuerer... usb-c und gute frontfacing stereo speakers sind schon irgendwie MIA... aber hauptsache headfone jack =D naja mir ist es sowieso zu gross

27.10.2018
User RealMajor

ach joa und hauptsache auch keine notch =P müsste man noch in der liste ergänzen '^ ^
+ keine notch

27.10.2018
Answer
User amigafreak

Sony hat den Fingerabdruckscanner jahrelang auf der Seite im Powerknopf integriert, was meiner Meinung nach auch der richtige Ort dafür ist. Vorne macht durchaus auch Sinn, wenn man das Telefon entsperren will ohne es in die Hand zu nehmen. Allerdings ist das meistens noch mit dem Kompromiss eines hässlichen Buttons verbunden. Scanner hinter Glas wird wohl erst in den nächsten 1-2 Jahren im Massenmarkt ankommen. Am schlimmsten sind eigentlich die Scanner auf der Hinterseite. Ich würde mir kein Handy kaufen wo der Scanner auf der Rückseite ist, womöglich noch in Kameranähe. Das sind riesen Designfehler.

25.10.2018
User treloid

Finde ich persönlich jetzt Geschmackssache, hatte schon mehrere Phones mit dem Scanner auf der Rückseite und war eigentlich sehr glücklich damit, da man den Zeigefinger je eh ziemlich genau in der Position hat.

25.10.2018
User amigafreak

Mag sein, aber du kannst das Handy dadurch nicht entsperren wenn es auf dem Tisch liegt und musst es definitiv immer in die Hand nehmen. Ich finde das ziemlich umständlich.

25.10.2018
User jeevanandk

Das macht man ja eigentlich auch, wenn man etwa schreiben will und die Sekunde um das Telefon kurz anzuheben macht im Alltag auch keinen wirklichen Unterschied, ich merke jedenfalls keinen Unterschied zwischen dem 6+ vorher und S8 seit einem Jahr, das geht irgendwie unterbewusst.

25.10.2018
User rafnex

Was "man" nicht alles macht... ;-)
Ich sehe es wie Amigafreak. Hatte jahrelang das Honor 7 mit dem Fingerabruckscanner auf der Rückseite. War mit der Zeit echt nervig das Handy zu entsperren wenn es auf dem Tisch lag oder im Auto an der Lüftungshalterung... Seit dem Honor View 10 mit Frontscanner und zusätzlicher Gesichterkennung ist dieses Problem erledigt. Aber das ist wohl einfach Geschmackssache.

27.10.2018
Answer
User ingorau76

Wenn ich die Bilder richtig interpretiere, sind die Volume Buttons (Samsung-untypisch) auf der rechten Seite, über dem Power Button?! Und der Fingerabdrucksensor damit rechts? Damit ist das Handy ja nur für Menschen geeignet, die ihr Phone in der rechten Hand halten - Linkshalter müssen einmal rumgreifen.
Für mich absolutes No-Go, schade.
Den rückseitigen Sensor wie beim S9 finde ich hingegen klasse - wie jemand anders schon geschrieben hat: Ideale Position, da Zeigefinger sowieso dort. Und auf dem Tisch liegend benutzt man sein Phone ja nur alle paar Wochen mal - ausserdem gibt es ja auch noch einen PIN-Code.

26.10.2018
User RealMajor

sehe da kein problem... alle buttons sind rechts, den fotos nach und der fingerprintreader wird wohl auch der power button sein.. ist doch analog zu den sony xperia und dort ist linkshändige bedienung kein problem...
...und ist doch super das links wenigstens kein bixby button stört und ausser dem sim/sd-slot eine "cleane" optik bietet

27.10.2018
User ingorau76

Tja, so sind die Geschmäcker verschieden. Ich finde den Bixbybutton toll, da ich ihn in LineageOS beim S9 anders belegen kann. Habe Taskswitcher drauf gelegt, super praktisch. Fehlt mir jetzt bei jedem anderen Handy ;)
Und ich persönlich hasse Powerbutton rechts - hatte mal ein solches Handy, das habe ich immer versehentlich ausgeschaltet, da das eben meine Normalstellung des linken Zeigefingers beim festhalten ist...
So gibt's eben Handys für jeden...

27.10.2018
User RealMajor

hehe genau =D schade dass sich das die hersteller dies nicht so bewusst sind und eher zum einheitsbrei neigen... klar wenn bixby anders belegt ist dann ist der button sicher sinnvoller... genau dort finde ich es schade dass dies samsung nicht out of the box bietet.. ich mag zb einen dedicated camera button... naja am besten probiert man das handy seiner wahl sowieso rasch im showroom aus und vergleicht rasch wie es einem liegt =) ich bin zb von fhd zurück auf 720p und sehe darin eigentlich nur vorteile solange die pixeldichte und panel qualität stimmt.. zb der akku hält ewig und braucht auch weniger ram

28.10.2018
User Anonymous

@Ingorau: Etwas off topic, man verzeihe :-) Kannst du trotz LineageOS noch Banken Apps benutzen? Wenn ja, einfach so oder wie sieht dein Workaround aus?

28.10.2018
User ingorau76

Root mit Magisk statt dem bei LOS eingebauten Root, dann kann man im Magisk Hide verwenden (versteckt Magisk vor ausgewählten Apps).

29.10.2018
Answer