Samsung’s Galaxy A7 brings triple-camera technology down to an affordable level: is this the new mid-price king of smartphones?
- Excellent photos in good light
- Lovely design
- Long-lasting battery
- Mediocre performance
- micro-USB charging
Dual cameras are now officially old hat. Following on from the Huawei P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro’s three-camera flagships, the Samsung Galaxy A7 brings a versatile triple-camera configuration down to around the £300 mark. It’s a landmark for mid-price handsets.
Of course, whether customers are actually crying out for this feature is still to be seen. But the Galaxy A7 looks good in other areas too, with an attractive design and a stunning Super AMOLED screen.
Samsung Galaxy A7 review: What you need to know
Without question, the Galaxy A7’s headline feature is its trio of rear cameras. The regular 24-megapixel sensor is accompanied by an 8-megapixel ultra-wide unit and a 5-megapixel depth sensor for fancy bokeh-effect portraits.
But Samsung’s latest mid-ranger has more than this to draw you in. There’s a lovely 6in Full HD+ 18:9 Super AMOLED screen on the front of the phone, and inside you’ll find Samsung’s latest mid-range processor, the octa-core Exynos 7885, clocked at 2.2GHz. It’s supported by 4GB of RAM, and there’s 32GB of on-board storage too, which can be expanded by a further 400GB via microSD.
Samsung Galaxy A7 review: Price and competition
Samsung’s Galaxy A7 is the cheapest triple-camera phone on the market, costing a mere £309. That’s a lot less than Huawei’s three-camera P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro models.
Samsung has several other recent budget and mid-price options, however. There’s the Galaxy A9, which has a total of four rear-facing cameras, and the J6 Plus (£249) and J4 Plus (£169) have started appearing in phone shops up and down the country too.
The Galaxy A7 also has competition from other manufacturers. Xiaomi’s terrific Pocophone F1 offers flagship internals at a wallet-friendly price, and the Moto G6 Plus is an excellent alternative if you’re looking to save even more cash.
Samsung Galaxy A7 review: Design and key features
The Galaxy A7’s most obvious point of comparison is to the Huawei P20 Pro. Its tall, skinny chassis, glossy hue and triple-rear cameras are strikingly similar – and that’s a major compliment to Samsung, since the P20 Pro costs hundreds of pounds more. The A7’s shiny rear panel looks positively lovely, shimmering nicely whenever the light catches it.
Flip the phone over and you’ll find a thankfully notch-free display. The forehead and chin bezels aren’t exactly discreet, but the display cuts ever so close to the left and right edges. As is typical with mid-range phones these days, there’s no physical home button, and the fingerprint sensor is side-mounted, situated on the right edge of the phone next to the power and volume controls. I like this arrangement, as I find it’s where my thumb naturally drifts to when I pick up a phone, and it reduces clutter on the rear of the handset. Samsung has also included a 3.5mm headphone jack.
At the bottom, there’s an old-school micro-USB port for charging and data transfer. This is fine, but it means the A7 doesn’t benefit from the fast charging speeds of its USB-C rivals.
Samsung Galaxy A7 review: Display
The A7’s display specifications are brilliant for a phone at this price. You get a Super AMOLED 2,200 x 1,080 (Full HD+) panel, wrapped in durable 2.5D Gorilla Glass 4 for protection against drops and scrapes.
Perhaps most impressively, our ColorMunki calibrator confirms that the screen is capable of reproducing 100% of the sRGB colour gamut, with an effectively infinite contrast ratio. That’s hardly surprising from Samsung’s excellent Super AMOLED technology, but it means that this £309 phone looks as good as competitors costing more than twice the price.
Samsung Galaxy A7 review: Performance and battery life
Powering the Galaxy A7 is Samsung’s self-made Exynos 7885 octa-core chipset, clocked at 2.2GHz. This is the same processor as found in the slightly more expensive Galaxy A8, and it’s served by the same 4GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage (expandable by a further 400GB via the microSD slot).
It’s unsurprising then that performance is identical. In the Geekbench 4 single- and multi-core CPU tests, the Galaxy A7 scored 1,483 and 3,935, which represents enough power to provide a smooth Android experience. It’s not a great score, though: despite costing the same price, Xiaomi’s Snapdragon 845-powered Pocophone F1 delivers more than double the performance.
It’s a similar story when it comes to gaming performance. The integrated ARM Mali-G71 MP2 GPU achieved an average frame rate of 15fps in the GFXBench Manhattan 3.0 on-screen test, which is on the low side for a modern phone. I spotted frequent frame drops in graphically intensive Android games, such as Fortnite and Asphalt 9: legends.
Where the A7 fares much better is battery life. In our video playback test, its 3,300mAh battery lasted for 17hrs 43mins before needing to recharge. That’s miles ahead of the Pocophone F1 – and the rest of its similarly priced rivals, for that matter.
Samsung Galaxy A7 review: Camera
About those cameras, then. The three lenses are stacked vertically down the left-hand side of the handset, with the flash sitting just below. It’s a neat, clean design which leaves the shimmering back panel largely unobstructed – all the better for fellow commuters to admire.
The primary camera unit has a 24-megapixel sensor with an f/1.7 lens, accompanied by an 8-megapixel sensor with an ultra-wide f/2.4 lens, and a 5-megapixel, f/2.2 depth-sensing unit. Working together, these are capable of capturing some truly stunning pictures. The A7’s shots of London’s skyline on a gloomy Wednesday morning looked superb, with crisp, well-defined details and accurate-looking colours.
Performance in low light isn’t quite as impressive, though. There’s no optical image stabilisation, so the sensitivity gets dialled up, leading to noticeable noise and unnatural processing. Even so, the relatively wide apertures allow for better-looking images than the Moto G6 Plus’ rear-facing snapper. Video looks pretty standard, with a maximum resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 at 30fps.
Samsung Galaxy A7 review: Verdict
With a long-lasting battery, a swish design and a trio of cameras that perform rather well, the Galaxy A7 should be on the fast track to greatness. Unfortunately, when it comes to performance, the A7’s thunder is very much stolen by Xiaomi’s Pocophone F1, which delivers flagship power at a very similar price. If you’ve got £300-ish burning a hole in your pocket, that’s the phone that I’d wholeheartedly recommend.
Still, if you have your heart set on a triple-camera phone then the Samsung Galaxy A7 ticks that box at a very tempting price – and it has a superb screen to boot.