Gadget Enthusiast

Show Me A Phone Under RM1.5k That Takes Better Wide-Angle Shots Than The Samsung A7

  • Samsung launched the new triple-rear camera Galaxy A7 along with the A9 on October 11, 2018.
  • Priced at RM1,299, the mid-range smartphone is competing in a very competitive segment.

Imagine you have RM1,500 sitting in your pocket, and you want to pick up a new smartphone.

Take a look through some online reviews (or offline, if that’s your preferred medium). You’ll notice how many options there are out there. You can’t really pick one, because every article proclaims that “This Is The New Flagship-Killer”.

I’m going to take a different route while discussing this next phone—the Samsung Galaxy A7. It isn’t so much about comparing it against its more expensive counterparts (which is what people have arguably done with previous Samsung Galaxy devices), but examining what it can do against its peers.

So let’s begin.

The Specs: Impressed?

The A7 is powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 7885, roughly equivalent in power to the Snapdragon 6xx series. Along with 4GB of RAM, the unit I received had 128GB of onboard storage as well.

In real world use, the A7 felt reasonably snappy, with the 4GBs worth of memory sufficient for multi-tasking throughout the day. That said, the Samsung Experience UI layered on top of Android Oreo did noticeably slow the User Experience (UX) down. The phone even handles a few rounds of PUBG alright, although it did start to warm up slightly in my palm.

Pro Tip: If you want to try 3rd party launchers, there are a whole hosts of options—notable ones include the Nova and Microsoft Launchers, that allow for more customisation.

3,300 mAh doesn’t sound all that impressive in this day and age, but the default Samsung Experience launcher optimises power efficiency particularly well—I manage to get a full day of regular usage, with a couple of PUBG games thrown in throughout a regular workday.

That said, the A7 is a phone that definitely needs to be charged overnight due to the lack of any sort of fast-charging capability. In my case, the phone took approximately 2 hours to be charged fully.

Micro-USB port

I have to say, I’m a tad disappointed that Samsung decided against a USB Type-C charging port for the A7. Probably something to differentiate their flagship ranges.

What Got Me Impressed? Display + Camera

For those of you that don’t already know, most smartphones displays can be broadly divided into two categories: OLED displays and IPS displays.

Dictionary Time: Generally speaking, OLED displays tend to have more vibrant colours, deeper blacks, and greater contrasts. IPS displays tend to be more battery-consuming.

Most smartphones that cost north of RM2,000 (with a few exceptions) utilise OLED displays, while the IPS display is the go-to tech for mid-range priced smartphones.

I actually unboxed the Galaxy A7 with no preconceptions in mind (intentionally), and resisted the urge to pull out and immerse myself in the spec-list. The first thing I noticed? How vibrant and vivid the Infinity display was on the phone, which was unexpected.

With most of Samsung’s marketing efforts focused on the A7’s triple camera setup, the 6-inch FHD+ display is one of the more understated pulling factors for the mid-ranger.

Why? The phone, priced at RM1,299, is one of the only phones in this price bracket to use Samsung’s Super AMOLED display. Visibility under direct sunlight was good, and watching videos (Netflix, Youtube, etc) on the go was an entirely impressive experience.

Samsung’s Super AMOLED display

The Korean tech-giant is also breaking a trend with the notch-less display—yes, that trend.
As a result, the upper lip is particularly noticeable when you set it alongside one of the millions of notched phones now.

The upside of the conventional display, however, is that the specified 6” of screen real-estate is the actual amount of screen you get. Personally, I prefer displays that are at least 6 inches in size, but the A7 was sufficiently large for me thanks to the aforementioned reason.

The triple-camera setup

Samsung released the A7 alongside the A9, with the stated focus of both being camera-centric phones. Despite lacking the additional lens of its bigger sibling, the Galaxy A7 comes with an impressive 24MP rear-facing camera and a a 5MP depth-sensing lens.

And yes, you’ve counted correctly, there is a third lens—an 8MP ultra wide-angle lens. Coupled with a 24MP front-shooter for selfies, the A7’s camera setup is pretty much monstrous.

Having played around with some photos in different scenarios, I was reasonably impressed. In brightly lit daytime settings, the images captured were vivid, vibrant, and had tonnes of detail and range to them.

A shot in our well-lit studio.

The ultra wide-angle lens also came in handy, especially for landscape shots outdoors, or for group shots.

Ultra wide-angle.

That said, low-light photos did not flatter the A7, with quite a bit of noise present in most photos at night. This was only made worse when switching to the wide-angle lens for low-light settings, so I wouldn’t recommend taking wide-angle photos unless it’s a well-lit situation.

Check out the gallery below for more sample photos taken by the A7 and for shots of the phone:

Nothing Beats A Firm Grip

The A7 feels good in the hand, thanks to the glass-back on the phone—still no wireless charging, though. The frame of the phone does feel a little flimsy at times, with the glass back framed by plastic materials. But it’s a decently premium finish, all things considered.

According to Samsung’s official website, the A7 comes in black, blue, or gold. I enjoyed the look of the blue version that we were sent, but its glossy surface does attract a large degree of fingerprints. It’d be best to put it in a case.

The fingerprint scanner is put in a slightly unorthodox location, with the power button on the side doubling up as a scanner. It works reasonably well, but if you have large pudgy fingers like I do, be prepared for a few failed attempts.

As for facial unlock, I’d describe it as functional. Slower than an IR face unlock, but still relatively consistent.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy A7 is clearly part of a concerted attempt by Samsung to gain more traction in the mid-range priced smartphone segment. Of course, they’re primarily known for their flagship range.

However, the A7 hits a sweet spot—one where not everything is about raw power, RAM, or squeezing in the best specs you possibly can. Instead, they’ve focused on making something that appeals to a certain segment, with several differentiating features that really set the phone apart.

A top-notch (pun intended) camera, a display that dominates others in its class, and a house-brand name to go along with it. Sometimes bigger is better, sometimes more is just more.

But sometimes, when the balance is done just right—less can be more.

  • You can pick up the Galaxy A7 for yourself here.
  • You can read a previous article on mid-range phones here.

VP Verdict is a series where we personally try and test out products, services, fads, and apps. Want to suggest something else for us to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion into our Facebook page.

 

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