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Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro Review - Affordable Lowlight Photography King?

Recently, Samsung has just made the Galaxy J7 Pro official in the country, a more premium and capable follow-up to the successful Galaxy J7 Prime last year.
Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro Review
Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro review

It's a midranger marketed as the device that can shoot more than just pretty selfies. Why and how? Samsung equipped with the Galaxy J7 Pro with interesting back and front cameras for lowlight photography.

In particular, it has a 13 MP shooter behind with f/1.7 aperture lens, the brightest and widest on a smartphone yet. In front, there's a 13 MP shooter with screen flash and LED flash.

Moreover, we were initially impressed with its level of craftsmanship. The specs are also decent all over.

Exciting right? So, after more than a week of using it, here's our full review!

For our review part 1: Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro Unboxing And First Impressions

Display Quality

Display options
Display options

Coming from the Galaxy J7 Prime, the Galaxy J7 Pro still has a 5.5 inch screen size with full HD resolution at 401 pixels per inch. The difference? Samsung has upgraded the TFT panel to their signature Super AMOLED display tech.


The best screen for the price yet!
The result, stellar! This handset arguably has the best screen for the price. Colors are great with nice and warm saturation level with good dynamic range. As expected, blacks are also very deep. Viewing angles and sunlight legiblity are nice as well.

In addition, Samsung has finally added a light sensor for auto brightness adjustment on a midranger. Also, there's a blue light filter (reduce eye strain) and color balance adjustment present.

Moreover, Samsung has added the Always On Display tech to show calendar and clock on your lock screen. It also has 10 points of multitouch to complete the great screen experience.

Audio Quality

Speaker at right
Speaker at right

The speaker of the Galaxy J7 Pro is located at the right side of the phone just above the power button. It prevents users from blocking the sound accidentally compared with other speaker placements.

The sound quality is fun. It isn't full sounding yet (like most phone speakers), but the level of detail of pretty good and it is crispy enough. In particular, we find its mids quite clear for a small phone speaker.

On max loudness, it has some minor distortion and airiness, but it is still not that muddy overall. Speaking of loudness, it is good enough to fill a small room 30 x 30 sqm room with acceptable sound.

For headphones, we liked the sound signature produced by this device. It has a warm sound signature with good tonal balance. Like most Samsung devices, it is slightly bass boosted, but not to the point where it'll overpower the rest of the frequencies.

As expected, mids are clean, full and well separated. Highs has the sparkle, though there are hissing at times. Driving power is pretty loud.


It has a single mic below for calls and casual recordings. Quality is good enough for calls and just fine for recordings on quiet places. It would have been better if Samsung placed an extra noise cancelling mic though.

Battery Life

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Often battery life is a problem of phones with big screen and large resolution. Samsung know it and they have a solution. Together with Android's latest OS a power efficient chip, Samsung equipped the Galaxy J7 Pro with a bigger than usual 3,600 mAh of juice.

Longer battery life than most!

As a result, battery life is stellar. In our benchmark test, it lasted for 13 hours and 34 mins. That's roughly around 2 hours longer vs most phones in its price range. In real life usage, we were able to heavily use the handset from 8 am to 10 pm on a single charge.

Speaking of charging time, it is a tad slower than expected. We needed a little over 2 hours and 30 mins to fully charge the phone from 0 to 100 percent.

Camera

A lowlight photography beast on a budget

Samsung loaded the Galaxy J7 Pro with a very special single camera setup that's designed for lowlight photography. It rocks a 13 MP sensor with an f/1.7 aperture lens, the widest and brightest on its class today. It is also complete with a quick autofocus and a bright type of LED flash.
The camera modes present
The camera modes present

Going to the camera modes, it has the usual auto, HDR, panorama, continuous shot, sports, sound & shot and pro mode. However, the pro mode is incomplete. It would have been better if Samsung added shutter speed adjustment to maximize the lowlight photography performance of the camera phone.

To compensate for the lack of shutter speed adjustment, Samsung highlighted the night mode. It's an easy point and shoot mode that capture multiple photos to stitch it into one for better and brighter lowlight performance.

Shutter speed is very fast even in lowlight. It'll only get a tad slower if you are in HDR or night mode. Focus even in indoor is also fast. For close-ups, it can focus up ton 2.5 inch near.

Camera quality is great for the price. Most of our still has plenty of details and has less grains, thanks to its f/1.7 aperture lens. Colors are also fine and eye-catchy. It is warmer than usual and has more saturation as well.

In lowlight, results are wonderful even on auto mode. As a matter of fact, I tend to use auto mode more than HDR and night mode in lowlight. Yes, both HDR and night mode will produce brighter stills, but auto mode shoots with sharper detail with better dynamic range.

It's a great point and shoot mobile photography buddy on a budget overall!

In some occasions, the use of night mode would be more useful though. The quality of flash is decent as well.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight shot
Daylight shot
Warm colors
Warm colors
Indoor dim light, still impressive
Indoor dim light, still impressive
Good details!
Good details!
Auto lowlight
Auto lowlight
HDR mode in lowlight
HDR mode in lowlight
Night mode, brighter but grainier
Night mode, brighter but grainier
Flash test
Flash test

In front, it has a 13 MP f/1.9 lens with LED flash. It has beautify mode in different levels, slim face and large eyes adjustment. It even has filters and wide selfie (panorama) mode. It only has face detection and there's no AF and tap to focus.
13 MP f/1.9 selfie cam w/ selfie flash
13 MP f/1.9 selfie cam w/ selfie flash

The quality of the selfie camera is also good. It can take well detailed shot with good color punch in daylight or other well lit places. There are just times that the camera will produce shots with blurry background automatically. It could be a hit or miss.

In lowlight, grains are more evident, but it is still better than most front facing cameras. Yes, even if it lacks OIS. Moreover, in conditions where there's almost no light, you may use the flash. It'll use the screen and the dedicated softlight like LED flash to give you great results in lowlight.

Selfie Camera Samples

Groufie daylight
Groufie daylight
Beautify level 3
Beautify level 3
Beautify level 3 in dim light (Jaja left, Laura right)
Selfie at night with screen flash and dedicated softlight like flash
Selfie at night with screen flash and dedicated softlight like flash

For videos, this handset can record in 1080p at 30 fps at the back and in front. The quality of shots are just better on the rear camera as it has autofocus and a wider aperture lens that will let more light in. Don't get us wrong, selfie video quality is also decent.

Both cameras lacks OIS for better stabilization though.

Video Samples


Performance

Slightly better benchmark scores coming from J7 Prime
Slightly better benchmark scores coming from J7 Prime

With the use of the same 1.6 GHz 64 Bit Exynos 7870 octa core processor, Mali T830 GPU and 3 GB of RAM, we know what to expect. The speed of performance and multitasking just a tad better than the lower-end Galaxy J7 Prime.


General performance in multitasking, social media, watching movies and gaming are identical. It would have been better if Samsung used a more modern chipset here. Maybe even just Helio P20 with better GPU and speed. Heating is minimal though.
Android Nougat w/ the improved TouchWiz UI
Android Nougat w/ the improved TouchWiz UI

Fortunately, Samsung loaded the Galaxy J7 Pro with the newer Android Nougat OS with much improved TouchWiz UI. It's the same skin found with the high-end Galaxy S8 series.
Device maintenance and Samsung Health app
Device maintenance and Samsung Health app

As a result, there are less bloats, the icons looks better and it is easier to navigate. It also feels a tad smoother compared with its predecessor and most competing smartphones in the same price range.

It is also equipped with good features like the device manager (for optimization) and Samsung health (for fitness and health tracking).

For added security, you may register several fingers. It's a fingerprint scanner that's very speedy and accurate most of the time.

For telephony and connectivity, this handset is great. GSM signal is pretty strong (maybe because of the new antenna band design), LTE connection is stable, Bluetooth works and GPS is decent.

Bonus, this device also has OTG support, and gyroscope sensor for VR and AR.

Pros - Close to high-end build, best in class display, decent audio quality, revamped TouchWiz skin on Nougat OS, best point and shoot lowlight cameras for the price
Cons - Processor is decent but ageing, charging time could be faster, no shutter speed control selfie cam has no AF

Verdict

Samsung is right, the Galaxy J7 Pro is the handset that can shoot more than just pretty selfies. It is the best point and shoot handset for lowlight photography in the market yetMoreover, the design, build, display and battery performance are top-notch.

It has few noticeable shortcomings, but for the purpose and price, the Galaxy J7 Pro did a very good job. Clearly, it's one of the best phones for the price.

Build / Design - 4.5
Display - 4.5
Audio - 4
Battery - 4.25
Camera - 4.5
Performance - 4
Average - 4.29/5
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