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Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Great battery life
  • Gorgeous screen
  • Slick design
  • Smart cameras

The Bad

  • Rather big
  • Performance lags behind rivals
  • Old Android
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Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) Review: We test out Samsung’s mighty 5.5-inch Galaxy A7 2016, packing a 13-megapixel camera, vibrant Full HD display and loads of great features for just £350. But can the A7 compete with other mid-range Android marvels like the OnePlus 3 and Moto G4 Plus? Here’s our full Galaxy A7 2016 review.

Samsung’s Galaxy A-range handsets are excellent mid-range mobile phones, packing most of the best features that you get in flagship phones like the Galaxy S7, but at a much more wallet-friendly price. The Galaxy A7 2016 is the biggest member of the Galaxy A family at 5.5-inches, although thanks to the likes of the OnePlus 3 and Moto G4 Plus that’s actually fast becoming a ‘standard’ phone size. Sigh.

So, how does the Galaxy A7 2016 stack up against those fellow massive mid-range mobiles and is it a recommended purchase? Here’s our full in-depth Galaxy A7 2016 review.

Read next: Galaxy A3 2016 vs Galaxy A5 2016 vs Galaxy A7 2016, what’s the difference?

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) Review: Design

As with the Galaxy A3 2016 and Galaxy A5 2016 before it, Samsung has once again slapped together a great-looking phone using its trusty design combo of glass and metal.

Curved metallic edges give way to a glossy rear plate that picks up scuffs rather easily, but can be buffed up just as quick if you’re fussy about such things. And thankfully that glass surface is reassuringly tough, fending off scrapes and scratches.

Of course, the Galaxy A7 2016 is a bit of a beast at 5.5-inches. The bezels are reasonably skinny but the A7 is a bit of a struggle to slip into your pocket, unless you have reasonably baggy pants. And unlike the Galaxy S7, it isn’t water-resistant.

We’d definitely recommend two-handed use to avoid losing your grip and dropping the handset, but thankfully you do at least get a nifty one-handed mode. Tap the home button three times in quick succession and the screen shrinks towards your thumb, making operation much easier. You can also choose to squash the keyboard towards one edge, for more comfortable typing.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) Review: Screen and media

Shoot us for stating the obvious, but the Galaxy A7 2016 will be a perfect portable partner for anyone who wants to enjoy movies and TV shows on their daily commute. That spacious 5.5-inch screen makes for a comfortable viewing experience, while the Full HD 1920×1080 resolution ensures that video and photos look crisp and clean.

As this is a trademark Samsung Super AMOLED screen, you can of course expect images to be supremely vibrant, with stand-out colours. Don’t worry if you prefer more subdued visuals however, as Samsung’s display settings allows you to dial down the vibrancy for more realistic images.

You can carry around a huge media collection thanks to the Galaxy A7 2016’s microSD memory card support, which allows you to boost 16GB of on-board storage.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) Review: Features

As with the Galaxy A5 2016, the A7 packs a fingerprint sensor into the home button so you can quickly and securely unlock the phone. It’s not as fast as rival sensors such as the OnePlus 3’s scanner, but you won’t exactly be left hanging around. However, the sensor does occasionally throw up ‘no match’ errors, something we very rarely saw on the OnePlus 3 or Moto G4 Plus.

The Galaxy A7 2016 comes in a choice of two models; there’s the standard single-SIM version and another model with two SIM card slots, which is the version we reviewed. In this case, the primary SIM card tray housed on the right edge of the phone is joined by a second SIM tray up top, which holds another SIM card. In this way, you can choose between two different cards for sending messages, data usage and so on.

Android Lollipop is the OS of choice here; there’s no Marshmallow upgrade just yet, which is bad news considering Android Nougat is just around the corner. That means that you miss out on some cool features such as control over app permissions, and could also explain why the fingerprint sensor isn’t as strong as some rivals (as Android Marshmallow included built-in scanner support).

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) Review: Performance and battery life

Like the rest of the Galaxy A-range, I had no problems with the Galaxy A7 2016’s performance. The Snapdragon 615 processor stuffed inside might be more basic than the OnePlus 3’s Snapdragon 820, but it gets the job done, running Android Lollipop without issue and opening apps the instant you tap their icons. You can also play the latest games with a silky smooth frame rate.

Battery life is another highlight. Even with heavy use, I still comfortably made it through a full 24 hours between charges and closer to two days with moderate use. Battery power barely drops at all when the phone’s hibernating, even if you’re getting plenty of messages and other notifications. In fact, so far the Galaxy A7 2016 offers better battery life than the likes of the Xperia X and the OnePlus 3.

Sadly the A7 doesn’t charge up as fast as the OnePlus 3, which boasts the excellent Dash Charge tech. However, it’s reasonably fast, charging to full after roughly 90 minutes at the plug.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) Review: Cameras

Samsung is fast becoming the king of smartphone camera tech, and the Galaxy S7 is still our favourite mobile snapper of 2016 – check out our Galaxy S7 re-review if you don’t believe us.

The Galaxy A7 2016 actually packs a ‘better’ camera than the S7 on paper, with a 13-megapixel snapper positioned on the rear of the phone, compared with the S7’s 12-megapixel effort. Of course, megapixel count doesn’t determine camera quality, and while the A7 2016’s shooter is very good indeed, it’s not quite as versatile (especially in low light) as Samsung’s flagship phone.

That said, the Galaxy A7 does produce some stunning shots and is easily better than the OnePlus 3’s much maligned camera. Samsung’s auto mode handles tricky light effectively and rarely produces a dud shot, as long as conditions aren’t too dim. Essentially the camera tech is the same as that found in the Galaxy A5 2016, so check out our full A5 camera review feature to see what we thought and here’s some photo samples for you to peruse.

You can also shoot up to 1080p Full HD video footage using the Galaxy A7’s rear camera, which looks great when viewed back on a big screen. The lens only takes a second or so to switch focus when needed and handles changes in lighting quite well, although darker scenes tend to come out quite grainy. Audio is clearly picked up and there’s some basic built-in image stabilisation to cut down vertical judders when moving around.

Here’s a video sample shot with the Galaxy A7 2016.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) Review: Verdict

Yet another excellent mid-range Samsung handset, the Galaxy A7 2016 is rather big but has definite appeal to media fans who demand a gorgeous screen for enjoying their movies and shows. The camera tech is dependable and solid for the price, although performance and battery charging times lag behind rivals such as the OnePlus 3. And if you’re not fussed about an enormous screen, we’d say go for the Galaxy A5 2016 instead.

Specification

Screen size5.5-inches
Screen resolution1920x1080
OSAndroid 5.1 Lollipop
Rear Camera13-megapixel
Front camera5-megapixel
ProcessorSnapdragon 615
Memory3GB
Storage16GB + microSD
4G LTEYes
Bonus featuresDual SIM model available

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