We were all perfectly happy with our smartphones and their single lens cameras until we were introduced to dual-lens cameras. We surely couldn’t get enough of them with their improved performance and the possibilities presented. Sensing our greed and lust for better pictures, manufacturers didn’t just halt at two lenses, no no, they just had to go and add another one into the mix, and we are glad they did, being the unsatisfied black holes that we are when it comes to tech.The latest smartphone to join the ranks of the triple lens movement is the Samsung Galaxy A7, but Samsung being Samsung, has taken a totally different approach to it. More on that later, for now, let’s see how the A7 does in other departments.
DESIGN & BUILD
In the top end, the build quality that Samsung has on offer has become the stuff of legends. The mid and bottom range although very versatile and utilitarian, did not offer much in terms of design flair. Happily the A7 amps it up in the looks and feel department. This time around Samsung has ditched the matte finish back in favor of a glossy back, very akin to its flagships. We particularly like the way the fingerprint sensor is integrated into the power button, giving you access to the device in an extremely natural way. The 6 inch FHD+ display makes it a large device to hold but the narrow bezels do a pretty good job of hiding the bulk visually while the rounded off corners provide a firm grip. At the bottom of the device you find the AUX port, speaker and rather disappointingly, a Micro USB charging port. The buttons are laid out in a fairly ergonomic layout with the power button perfectly placed in-line with the thumb but the volume buttons need a slight adjustment in grip to access. With the A7, Samsung has created an overall pleasing device with excellent fit and finish, a well thought out ergonomic design and premium feel to it.
Performance an OS
Under the hood, the A7 packs an Exynos 7885 2.2GHz Octa Core Processor with an option of 4 or 6GB of RAM. We tested the 4GB variant which performed day to day tasks with little to no effort. Navigation is quick and hiccup free with easy multi-tasking. People switching from other Samsung phones will feel right at home with the OS, which slightly restricts customisation and comes pre-installed with the usual bunch of apps.The 3300mAh battery on the A7 should last a day if not used intensively but a power user better top up the battery once in the day or carry a power bank.We are used to Samsung displays being absolutely astounding on their flagship phones and we are glad to see that some of that display prowess has trickled down to the mid-range segment. The SuperAMOLED display on the A7 is better than most at this price point and having an AMOLED on board really improves the media viewing experience with pitch blacks and great contrast. While the screen makes the media viewing experience impressive, with videos playing really well on Full HD without any frame drops, however gaming on the highest graphic settings can be a bit of a problem. Playing PUBG on the A7 seemed fine at first, but there were slight lags when playing for extended durations. Rest assured, turning the graphic settings down a notch improves things greatly with no drama to speak of.Gaming for a long time though will drain the battery relatively quickly, so it would be best to settle down for a long match next to a wall outlet. Performance on the A7 is at par with its competition for the most part, but you can still get better for lesser. We are looking at you Poco.
In recent years, the camera has become the main factor that affects the buying decision of the consumer that has led to the arms race, or should we say lens race among manufacturers. While most manufacturers use the double lens and triple lens features to either improve optical zoom or enhance the bokeh effect, the A7 gives you something unique. It provides the usual 24MP camera that comes equipped with a low light sensor and a 5MP Live Focus lens, but the third is an 8MP Ultra Wide lens that provides a good 120 degrees of view.
This is one of the smartphones whose shooter we thoroughly tested and enjoyed testing at that. Using the Ultra Wide angle view as much as we did, made us realise what we are missing out on with other phones. Getting a good frame is an absolute breeze, making smartphone photography a properly satisfying experience. It is to be noted that there is not much flexibility in terms of exposure or focus points in the wide angle mode making things a bit more challenging.There may not be a lot of flexibility in the wide angle mode, but when it comes to the rest of the modes, that's not much of a concern. In fact the Auto mode on the device is capable enough for most day to day scenarios. The A7 particularly excels in daytime outdoor photography with pictures being enhanced by the 19 different scenarios that are pre-installed to optimise the image. But at no point does it feel like it has been enhanced to the point where it might seem unnatural.Indoors is where the cameras struggle slightly. The absolute sharpness that made the outdoor shots so great is toned down now with a bit of noise creeping in despite the area being reasonably well lit. We only complain about this because it does not quite match the A7’s outdoor performance.The camera pointing at your mug performs as you would expect from a smartphone in this price range. What sets it apart though is the option to turn off all the beauty modes unlike other devices you find in this price bracket. The A7 makes for an incredibly versatile camera especially at this price.
There is no denying the fact that Samsung has come out with a smartphone that is pretty neat at this price point. It is at par with most of its competition in terms of performance and hardware. But what makes it stand out in the crowd is the camera, namely the wide angle one. As we mentioned earlier, having the option to shoot with the wide angle lens really shows what you are missing out on while snapping from other devices. The sheer amount of content you can get into the frame with 120 degrees of view is astounding, resulting in incredibly artistic frames.We would, of course, have loved a bigger battery and maybe a processor that's a bit more powerful. But we are nit-picking here.The only major problem with the Samsung Galaxy A7 is the price. It would have been fine if the A7 had been launched a few months ago where a smartphone with these specs and that camera would have been incredible value for money. But at the moment, competition is just too strong, providing unprecedented bang-for-buck smartphones. It should be noted that for people whose first priority is to have a device that lets them flaunt their passion for photography, this is the one to go for.