While their flagship devices have gained acclaim in the past, nobody could blame you for saying Samsung has occasionally phoned it on when it comes to mid-tier. They’ve never exactly ignored that sector of the market but it sometimes feels like they’ve never exactly approached it with the same attention to detail and commitment to quality as they do the premium end off things.
The new Samsung Galaxy A7 shows what such an effort could look like, bringing all the premium design and features of devices like the Galaxy S7 and delivering them at a lower-price point.
There’s a premium feel to the design and aesthetics of the A7 that is clear from the moment you hold it in your palm. It’s a device that looks and feels like it came from the same place as the Galaxy S7 and it doesn’t feel cheaper, except in the most literal sense. It lacks the end-to-end quality of the S7 Edge but that feels like less of a shortcoming and more of a case not fixing something that isn’t broken.
In a technical sense, the big draw here is the trickle down of the features you’d usually find in Samsung more premium offering. It’s got the same IP67 water and dust resistance you’ll find in the Galaxy S7 and a surprisingly beefy pair of 16-megapixel cameras on the front and back of the device.
Spec-wise, the A7 packs a 1.9GHz Octa Core with 3GBs of RAM. In reality, it proved itself as fast and responsive as it needed to be. Battery life was also surprisingly good. The Galaxy A7 chugs through the day with 3000mAh of power, usually lasting close to 16 or 17 hours before it gave out. As always, this may vary with how heavily and what apps you use. Importantly, it does come with fast-charge capabilities.
It’s even got an NFC chip, which means it comes equipped for Samsung Pay. It’s got a 5.7-inch AMOLED display which delivers both sharpness and brightness in equal measure. The A7 packs the same Always-On display as the S7.
This feature continues to prove a strong inclusion. However, I did encounter a little bit of hassle when it came to music. The Always-On display would sometimes pause or skip songs while in my pocket. It’s not exactly a deal-breaker but it did irritate me from time to time.
If that phablet size isn’t to your liking, there’s always the 5.2-inch A5 as an alternative. The A5 comes in a little cheaper but carries more or less the same features and specs. It’s really a matter of personal preference. Same goes with the colors on offer. The A7 and A5 are available in the same Black and Gold tones as Samsung’s more expensive offerings.
In fact, the difference between photos on the Galaxy A7 and S7 is surprisingly small. It’s packing a 13MP shooter compared to the S7’s 12MP but the results are pretty similar. See below:
With every mistake comes the opportunity for reflection – and if there are any big-picture lessons to be taken from the failures of the Note 7, it’s that Samsung can’t and shouldn’t rely on the higher-end of things. In the past, the company has done a great job of forging ahead with its flagships but hardly invested the time and effort needed to compete in other brackets of the market.
Competing with Apple is something that Samsung know how to do. Competing with Alcatel and Oppo? Less so. The A7 a strong showcase for how to make a good handset but less so when it comes to the burden of pricing. Samsung have pushed the envelope for what a mid-tier phone can offer but at $799, they’re also making it tricky to recommend from a value-driven point of view. If you want the best of the S7, it might even be easier to just grab a discounted one over this.
Still, If you want to get something that’s more-or-less the latest Samsung Galaxy experience at a discount, the A7 is likely the phone for you. However, if you’re looking for a decent handset on a budget, there are definitely cheaper options out there.