Samsung Galaxy A7 review: Connectivity and extra features

Samsung Galaxy A7 2016

One of the best things about the Galaxy A7, aside from its design, is its dual-SIM functionality. This is almost unheard of with UK phones, but there’s no reason why us Brits are any less likely to want to separate calls for work and leisure or take advantage of cheaper local plans when abroad. For many people who won’t want to take their chances with a Chinese dual-SIM phone, the Galaxy A7 will be attractive. (Note that a single-SIM version of the Galaxy A7 is also available.) Also see: Best dual-SIM phones 2016.

We mentioned earlier that the new Galaxy A7 has a fingerprint scanner built into the home button, and this is quick to recognise input. You’ll also find standard connectivity features including dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, GPS and GLONASS. You won’t find the Galaxy S6’s extra features such as a heart-rate scanner here, but we don’t suppose the loss of that gimmicky feature would put off too many customers.

Samsung Galaxy A7 review: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy A7 review: Cameras

The Samsung Galaxy A7 is fitted with the same cameras as the Galaxy A5, which means there’s a 13Mp, f/1.9 camera with a single-LED flash at the rear, and a 5Mp, f/1.9 selfie camera at the front. As it did when it upgraded the Galaxy S5 to the Galaxy S6, Samsung has added optical image stabilisation. Everything else is the same. Also see: Best phone camera 2016.

Unsurprisingly, we found the same photography performance as we did from the Galaxy A5: The camera isn’t as good as the 16Mp model found in the Galaxy S6, but it does capture a fair amount of detail (you can make out the Midland Road street sign in a photo captured from our 7th floor roof terrace, for example), with accurate exposure and the lens is sharp right to the corners.

The camera app features various modes including HDR, Pro, Continuous Shot and Panorama, or you can shoot full-HD video at 30fps.

Check out our test shots of St Pancras Renaissance Hotel below (first with auto settings and second with HDR).

Galaxy A7 2016 Auto

Galaxy A7 2016 HDR

Samsung Galaxy A7 review: Software

Samsung Galaxy A7 review: Software

As we prepare for the launch of Android Nougat, it’s disappointing to find the now two-year-old Android Lollipop 5.1.1 OS preinstalled on the Galaxy A7. We hope it will be updated to Android Marshmallow, which can now be found on its flagship S series, although we wouldn’t necessarily hold out for a future upgrade to Nougat.

The TouchWiz UI is overlaid, but with few of the features found further up the range. For example, there’s no Smart Stay, no Pop-up view and no Multi-View Window, nor the new screenshot functionalities seen in the S6 and S7. You might like the Galaxy A7’s dumbed-down Easy mode for novice users, and Smart alert, Easy mute and Palm swipe to capture gestures.

TouchWiz differs from standard Android most noticeably in the drop-down notification bar, with a row of circular quick-acess toggles and shortcuts to S Finder and Quick connect, the layout of the Settings menu, and the extra apps installed by Samsung. And there are rather a lot of these, from Samsung’s own apps for browsing the web and playing media to Microsoft apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, and the likes of S Health and the Galaxy Apps store. Of that 16GB of internal storage you can expect to have around 9GB available to you.

Read next: Best new phones coming in 2016.

Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy A7 2016: Specs

  • 5.5in full-HD (1920x1080) SuperAMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 4
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop with TouchWiz
  • 1.6GHz Exynos 7850 64-bit octa-core processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • Mali-T720 MP2 GPU
  • 16GB storage
  • microSD support up to 128GB
  • 4G LTE Cat 6
  • dual-SIM dual-standby
  • fingerprint scanner
  • dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • GPS, GLONASS
  • NFC
  • 13Mp, f/1.9 rear camera with single-LED flash and OIS, full-HD video at 30fps
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 3300mAh non-removable battery with Adaptive Fast Charging
  • 151.5x74.1x7.3mm
  • 172g
  • Geekbench 3: 3718
  • AnTuTu: 39,463
  • GFXBench 3: 14fps (T-Rex), 5fps (Manhattan)
  • JetStream: 22.031
  • Geekbench 3 battery life: 11:49 (4733)

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