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[Review] Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) – Staying “A”head Of The Game

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We are no strangers to the Samsung Galaxy A Series anymore. The mid-range series which debuted in Malaysia two years ago has been the go-to choices for those who want a premium Samsung phone but without the premium price tags. Simply put, it is a rung below the top-tier flagships like the Galaxy S Series and Galaxy Note Series.

That said however, the Galaxy A Series keeps getting better and better year after year as new features are added to it as well as improvements in the hardware department in general. This year, we have the Galaxy A5 (2017) and Galaxy A7 (2017) and they are no doubt the best Galaxy A Series smartphones yet. What’s interesting about this year’s models is that they are equipped with a number of flagship features rivaling that of flagship smartphones.

We got the Galaxy A7 (2017) in the house and in we dive to see what the hype is all about.

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The Galaxy A7 (2017) is a huge device, and a very eye-catching one at that. As with Samsung’s all-glass design philosophy of recent years, the device is wrapped in glass from head-to-toe in except for the metal sides. Fingerprints magnate aside, the Black Sky variant we have here looks absolutely sleek and stunning.

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Dual-curved display it may not have but the Galaxy A7 (2017) does have a curved-sides design on its back which helps increases the comfort level while the device is on hand. With a huge 5.7-inch display (same as the Galaxy Note7), the device is perhaps not ideal to be used single-handedly but if you like your phone screen large, then the Galaxy A7 (2017) will not disappoint. We just love staring at its gorgeous Super AMOLED display for things like web-surfing, video-watching and game-playing with vivid and punchy colors. You’ll know exactly what we mean if you’ve seen Samsung smartphones’ display.

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Below the display lies the physical home button that doubles up as the fingerprint reader, which is an improvement to the ones even on the flagship S7 edge in terms of usability. We really like the fact that it is now able to unlock the phone while the screen is off without first having the need to press it. Besides the ease of unlocking, it also means we can get right into the phone faster than ever and that’s certainly a plus for every user.

Samsung touted the IP68 dust-and-water-resistance feature as the highlight feature of the Galaxy A Series (2017) and there’s nothing really to say about its benefits that you don’t already know. And yes, we placed it under a running tap, dunked it into a pile of water and take it into our shower among others, subjecting it to all kinds of watery test and as expected; it lived to tell the tale.

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Then there are the features that are trickled down from the flagship models such as Always-On Display and Secure Folder. Both are welcome additions that add more usability to the phone experience. While Always-On Display is super useful and convenient in giving us information update at a quick glance without needing to activate the device, Secure Folder (powered by Samsung Knox) provides a sense of security and a peace of mind knowing that we are in total control of what we want and don’t want people to see on our personal device. Besides keeping photos, videos and documents away from prying eyes, you even have the option to lock access to apps that you do not want others to go into. Think parents, toddlers, pre-schoolers and the app store for example. Adding contents to Secure Folder is quick easy and it can be accessed with a selection of security measures such as fingerprint, pattern and good-ol’ fashioned PIN.

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If there’s one thing that we do not like about the Galaxy A7 (2017), it is its speaker. Samsung has never been known for putting exceptional speakers on their smartphones and this one, sadly, falls into the line. In addition to the average-sounding speaker, its position on the upper right side above the power/lock button leaves one scratching their head. Its fine for casual listening but for serious music/gaming/movie sessions, a pair of headphones will be needed. Another little disappointment we have is that the phone does not ship with Android 7.0 Nougat which makes it seem a little outdated. Here’s hoping that it will be updated the soonest as the first glimpse of the next Android OS (Android “O”) isn’t that far away…

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The phone comes preloaded with Samsung Pay and unfortunately we weren’t able to test it out during the beta test period (at the time of writing). However, having seen its capability first hand on an older Samsung phone, we have no doubt that it will work as advertised. Samsung Galaxy A Series (2017 & 2016 editions) is currently the only mid-range devices that support Samsung Pay with the other being flagship models (Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 edge, S6 edge+ and Samsung Galaxy Note5).

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As far as camera performances go, the Galaxy A7 (2017) is a pretty decent shooter. But first let’s talk about the camera settings. Swipe to the right on the main camera interface and you will be presented by a set of the usual camera modes such as HDR, night mode, panorama but also some extras such as a ”pro” mode, hyperlapse and even a food mode that takes enhanced shots of the edible stuffs. Swipe left and you will find numerous filters to zest up your shots. The cool thing is you can download more camera modes and filters right in the camera app to add to the collection.

Here are some of the shots taken by the Galaxy A7 (2017)

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And food mode in action (right pic)

Galaxy A7 (2017) Food Mode

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In terms of battery life, the Galaxy A7 (2017) with its generous 3,600mAh pack is pretty darn good. Of course, how fast are you going to drain it off all its juice largely depends on your use pattern but it can easily last more than a day on a single charge with non-excessive usage. When the battery is running low, there’s always the power saving mode (with mid and max levels) to save the day.

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All in all, there is much to like about the Galaxy A7 (2017). The addition of IP68 dust-and-water resistance alone is a big plus point. There aren’t a lot of mid-range smartphones out there in the market with this increasingly sought-after feature. For those who can’t afford the prices the flagship models demand, the Galaxy A7 (2017) is probably the next best thing you can get with your money’s worth with its handful of flagship features and Samsung Pay capability, not to mention the overall package of great hardware and software that are expected from Samsung.

The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) retails at RM1,899.

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