Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review - The company's best mid-range yet?

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The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) surprised the mid-range market with its specs and PHP 17,990 price point but does it hold up? Let's find out!
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review - The company's best mid-range yet?
The best Samsung mid-range phone yet?

For PHP 17,990 you get an Exynos 7885 with 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, 3,300mAh battery, and a 6-inch Super AMOLED display.

The triple rear camera set up consists of the 24MP f/1.7, the 8MP f/2.4 120-degree wide-angle lens, and the 5MP f/2.2 depth sensor with LED flash while the selfie camera is a 24MP f/2.0 with screen flash.


Display Quality

It is bright enough to be readable in direct sunlight!
It is bright enough to be readable in direct sunlight!

In front is a large 6-inch Super AMOLED display that immediately catches your attention away from the thick bottom and top bezels. It has the signature saturated colors with good contrast and deep blacks that get bright enough to be readable even under direct sunlight.

The resolution is 2220 x 1080 with 408 ppi making it sharp to eyes when viewing up close!

The only other phone with a Super AMOLED display within the price range is the Vivo V11 and we're happy to say that this panel is still better. Not by much, but noticeable.

There is a light sensor so auto brightness is there if you enable it.

Like most Samsung phones in recent years there is an option to push the brightness even further but for a limited time of 15 minutes. In our time with the phone, it was bright enough that we didn't end up using it.

It has 10 points of multi-touch in total which makes it games or apps that take advantage of multiple simultaneous touch inputs.

Audio Quality

Single firing bottom speaker
Single firing bottom speaker

The Galaxy A7 (2018) has a single bottom firing speaker that has minimal distortion at maximum volume. The sound has decent bass, treble and mids with minimal sound stage. The clarity and separation are okay as well. The maximum volume is moderately high. We wish that it could get louder.

We received our unit without accessories. This means we did not have the stock earphones to test. 

We used our trusty RHA 450i and the sound quality improved with a good sound stage, good clarity and noticeable separation. The mids and highs are good with a slight bias to bass. 

It is using Bluetooth 5.0 meaning you can connect to two audio devices (earphones, speakers, etc) simultaneously. This allows for two single speakers to act as stereo or you can share your music with another pair of Bluetooth earphones aside from yours.

Microphone quality for calls are good It is clear and loud. It has good audio recording performance.

Battery Life

11 hours on PC Mark and more than 5 hours of on-screen time!
11 hours on PC Mark and more than 5 hours of on-screen time!

The Galaxy A7 (2018) has a massive 3,300mAh battery capacity. We did our usual PC Mark battery test twice.

The first yielded under 7 hours which seemed off for us. We figured that because we didn't use a Samsung OEM charger, it didn't give a quality charge. So when we got back to home base and charged it with our Samsung OEM charger we got a long lasting 11 hours and 3 minutes!

11 hours and 3 minutes in PCMark!

Real life usage is equally good. We would unplug the phone at 8AM and get home at 7PM with around 10 percent battery left. Which is consistent with the 11 hours in the benchmarks.

It also has the usual power saving modes from Samsung. The standard power saving mode only saves us 30 minutes to an hour of use while the ultra power saving mode turns off most smart functionalities and only lets the use of basic features will significantly extend battery life.

Charging time is around 2 hours. It is not that fast, but that's understandable for a phone with large battery capacity.

Camera

The rear triple lens set up of the A7 (2018)
The rear triple lens set up of the A7 (2018)

We are now at the main new feature: The rear triple cameras! The first being a 24MP f/1.7 normal shooter while the 8MP f/2.4 features a 120 degree wide-angle lens! The third 5MP f/2.2 serves as a depth sensor for the Live Focus feature.

It has most of the modes found on other Samsung phones like Auto, Pro, Beauty and Live Focus! It does inherit the new Scene Optimizer mode from the Galaxy Note9! 

In the auto mode, the A7 has a prompt above the shutter that allows you to switch between the standard lens and the 120-degree wide-angle lens.
The Pro mode could be more featured
The Pro mode could be more featured

The Pro mode only allows for controls of the ISO (100 to 800), white balance and exposure compensation.

Versatile but the color consistency SHOULD be improved

The autofocus is fast and snappy! It detects faces even when the subject's face is backlit. Close-up shots are possible but the minimum focusing distance could be shorter.

The daylight shots from the main camera and wide cameras are decent in sharpness and contrast but the color stands out because it looks washed out in some of our images and some have the signature Samsung colors.

In low light, the main camera performs well and is able to retain detail and contrast with some noticeably softness from noise reduction.

On the other hand, the wide lens in low light, it is significantly softer than the daylight shots because of noise reduction.

The auto HDR remedies the color and the contrast by a small margin. We advise to have it on all the time.

Our complaints with the color consistency and the low light performance could be addressed by software updates because the hardware looks good on paper. I hope Samsung addresses this.

Rear Camera Samples

Main camera daylight
Main camera daylight
Wide daylight
Wide daylight
Reflection with main camera in Malacca Malaysia
Reflection with main camera in Malacca Malaysia
Wide camera daylight
Wide camera daylight
Good colors
Good colors
Close-up
Close-up
Dim
Dim
Wide dim
Wide dim
Low light
Low light
Wide low light
Wide low light

The selfie camera is a 24MP f/2.0 with modes like Selfie, Selfie Focus, Wide Selfie and AR Emoji. 
The selfie camera app UI!
The selfie camera app UI!

The selfie focus mode is Samsung's bokeh mode while the wide selfie is a moving pano with the selfie camera. It also features 8 levels of beautification for color and skin tones.

The daylight images from the selfie camera have good detail and contrast with better color reproduction than the rear triple cameras. It also controls backlit situations really well.

As you can see from my  selfies below, the background was bright indoors and outdoors but it still exposed my face well.

In low light the contrast, sharpness and detail soften because of the noise reduction and we also see magenta casting in some areas.

The concerns we have for the selfie camera are in low light and could be improved in software. We hope Samsung is able to remedy this.

Selfie Camera Samples

Selfie with face beauty
Selfie with face beauty
Selfie bokeh
Selfie bokeh
Selfie wide
Selfie wide
Selfie sticker
Indoor
Indoor
Low light selfie
Low light selfie

For more Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) camera samples, click here.


This is where it gets weird. The video footage from the rear main camera and the selfie camera are beautiful. It is sharp with good contrast and it has the Samsung saturated colors! It is clear that the stills images software needs to be tweaked.

This phone also inherits the slow motion from the S9/S9+ and the Note9 and the footage is sharp with good contrast and color. After taking the footage, you are prompted to pick the time period or part of the video you want to be slowed down. You can't edit this after saving the first edit.

Note: We will upload sample videos soon.

Performance

Decent scores overall!
Decent scores overall!

The SOC inside is the Exynos 7885 with Mali-G72 MP2, 4GB RAM and 64GB ROM that are pushing a 1080p display.

The Exynos 7885 is no slouch with AnTuTu scores of over 120K! Even though it isn't the best performing in its price range, the difference between it and the MediaTek Helio P60 is almost negligible given that the A7 (2018) offers a triple camera set up and better build materials.

The 4GB RAM also helps with multitasking and games that results in smooth transitions inbetween apps and when playing demanding games.

In PUBG, the A7 (2018) was automatically set to medium. This results in decent graphics and decent frame rates. The phone however gets noticeably warm after an extended gaming session.
The Samsung Experience UI
The Samsung Experience UI

The software installed is Android 8.0 Oreo with the latest Samsung Experience UI with Bixby! This means you have access to all of Samsung's services and benefits when you signup or log-in with your Samsung Account. Our favorite is that your themes, contacts, messages and pictures are saved in the cloud and will be transferred to your new Samsung phone when you log-in.

It is a heavily modified version of Android so it will take some time to get updates. It is however the lightest and fastest version of Samsung's UI though the settings menu is still hard to navigate with some settings hiding deep inside other settings.

It features a face unlock feature that is incredibly accurate but it isn't as fast as the Vivo V11's, the OPPO F9 or the Huawei Nova 3i. It takes roughly a second to unlock.

It has the power button that doubles as the fingerprint scanner on the upper right side. It is quick and accurate. Our only gripe was that because it had a smaller surface area, it was harder to set-up in the beginning because the position of our fingers had to be accurate and it required more scanning prompts.

Overall, connectivity and telephony experience is also nice with Category 12 LTE. WiFi is stable. 4G LTE signal is strong in areas with good telco coverage. GPS is quick and accurate.

It also has USB OTG support and gyroscope for apps that support it.

Pros - Beautiful design, Super AMOLED display, versatile cameras, best battery performance from a Samsung mid-range device in a while,
Cons - Colors of the main camera could be improved, single firing speaker could be louder, wide angle rear cam could be better in low light, charging time takes 2 hours

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) is the best mid-range phone Samsung has produced to date. It even competes with similarly priced competition and in our opinion the A7 (2018) is one of the more well rounded phones and offers one of the best value for the price.

The major concern we had was that the colors of the main cameras and the low light performance of the wide angle lens could be fixed by software updates. Otherwise the images are good and versatile!

It performs well in battery and processing performance with a versatile camera and a beautiful Super AMOLED display and though it has a long charging time and though the speaker could be better, it is one of the better choice for PHP 17,990!

Build/Design - 4.25
Display - 4.25
Audio - 3.75
Battery - 4.25
Camera - 4
Performance - 4
Average - 4.08/5
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