Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018): Finally, a game-changing midrange smartphone

South Korean electronics giant Samsung usually keeps some surprise elements reserved for its flagship smartphones. Its midrange and budget smartphones, on the other hand, are mostly run-of-the-mill offerings inspired from premium series. However, the recently launched Galaxy A7 (2018), with a triple-camera module on the back, in a first, seems to be a game-changer in the company’s midrange portfolio.

The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) is primarily a camera phone. A successor to last year’s A7, the 2018 edition has grown in dimensions and comes with several new upgrades, apart from the triple-camera module on the back.

Business Standard reviewed the Galaxy A7 (2018) on several parameters to test its overall capabilities. Here are our observations:

Design and display

The Galaxy A7 (2018) has a light-weight design and a modern appearance, thanks to its glass-metal-glass build. The phone looks sleek and has a premium feel. The back looks uniform with no obstruction other than the vertically aligned triple-camera module sitting on the top-left corner. The camera module bulges out a little from the frame, but not so much as to make the phone unstable on flat surfaces.

The front is dominated by a 6-inch screen of the fullHD+ resolution, covering a tall 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Though the company calls it an infinity screen, it does not have curved edges like the Galaxy S-series or Note-series. The screen has limited bezels on the sides, but huge ones on the top and bottom do not go well with the phone’s otherwise premium look. Covering the back and the front is a curved glass, which seamlessly blends into the metallic chassis.

On the chassis, the right side has volume rocker keys and a power key that also doubles up as a fingerprint sensor. Though the fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate and unlocks the phone in no time, its placement is not ideal. The ejectable dualSIM slot is placed on the left side and the top has a secondary microphone. The bottom side has a 3.5mm audio output jack, micro-USB port, microphone and a speaker.

Aesthetics aside, the super AMOLED screen looks vivid and has a good sunlight legibility. AMOLED units are known for their deep blacks and good contrast ratios and the screen on the Galaxy A7 (2018) is no different. The touch response is accurate and the tall aspect ratio allows more content to appear on screen. The screen supports the always-on mode, which shows relevant information and notifications icons on locked screen. The always-on screen also shows a software-based home button, which wakes the screen on double tap. This button comes handy to unlock the phone through face recognition which is not as fast or accurate as that in other smartphones, but it still does the job of unlocking the phone in most cases.

Camera

The Galaxy A7 (2018) has three cameras on the back – a 24-megapixel primary lens of an f/1.7 aperture, an 8MP ultra wide-angle lens of an f/2.4 aperture and a 5MP lens of an f/2.2 aperture to capture depth information. There is a 24MP shooter on the front with an f/2.0 aperture. The 24MP primary lens on the back supports phase-detection auto-focus, which takes no time to set the focus on an object in day light. However, the focus speed slows down a bit during low-light conditions. The 8MP lens has a fixed focus that makes it less ideal for anything else but landscape shots. The 5MP depth lens comes handy to capture bokeh shots with an enhanced blur effect. 

Specifications aside, though the triple camera module might seem fascinating on paper, it is nothing extraordinary and does not make much difference in real-life scenarios. The addition of a scene optimiser mode to automatically detect scene and adjust settings best suited for the frame, on the other hand, is a welcome addition. As far as photo quality is concerned, the phone takes detailed shots in good light but shows weaknesses in low light. The primary 24MP shooter works optimally in all light conditions, bright or low. However, the ultra-wide-angle lens takes good shots only in daylight conditions. Low-light photos show lack of details and a lot of noise. The front camera, on the other hand, delivers consistent results in all light conditions. The addition of a front-facing selfie flash also helps improve the phone’s low-light selfie shots.

The triple-camera module in the Galaxy A7 (2018) has its strength and weaknesses. Although it gives more control to the user by throwing in more lens options to choose from, based on the requirements of shots, the overall sub-optimal output makes it less functional.

Performance

The Galaxy A7 (2018) is powered by Exynos 7885 octacore system-on-chip (SoC), paired with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of internal storage, respectively. The phone boots an Android Oreo-based operating system covered under the Samsung Experience user interface version 9. The OS comes pre-loaded with a lot of bloatware. Though the phone feels smooth in day-to-day operations, it shows processor inefficiency when tested with graphic-intensive games, such as PUBG and Asphalt 9: Legends. However, the phone shows no lag or inconsistency while operating multiple apps in background or doing multitasking. Powering the device is a 3,300 mAh battery, which keeps it going for almost a day. Charging time is also quick; the phone takes around two hours to charge the battery from zero to 100 per cent.

Verdict

Priced at Rs 23,990 for the base model with 64GB of internal storage, the phone has something in store for everyone. Though there is no specific area where the phone excels or delivers class-leading results, it also does not have any weak area or where the phone lacks on performance completely. It is a mixed package of design, performance, imaging and battery life – something that is hard to find in any other midrange smartphone.

 


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