The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) which is up for preorders now and that will arrive in stores nationwide in Malaysia is a unique offering as it is the first Samsung phone ever made to come with a triple camera array and at an affordable price tag to boot at RM1,299. Fortunately, we managed to get our hands on a production unit to get a firsthand look at Samsung’s latest offering for the masses.
For the uninitiated, the Galaxy A-series phones are intended as a midrange compromise between their premium flagship S-series and Note-series phones versus their entry level J-series devices. The A-series are essentially a blend of premium features at an affordable price tag, which is exactly what the Galaxy A7 (2018) is about.
Out of the box, the Galaxy A7 comes with a fairly modest but comprehensive assortment of accessories. It has an obligatory USB charger and a microUSB cable to go with it to charge the phone, a quick start guide and a pair of earbuds to make and take calls. While our test unit has a 2-pin charger, retail units of the Galaxy A7 in Malaysia will have local UK-style three-pin chargers.
Unlike the more premium ones seen in their Galaxy S and Note-series flagship phones, the earbuds seen bundled with the Galaxy A have slightly more rudimentary workmanship and instead of a fabric sheathed cable they have the usual plastic coated one done up in white with an inline- control to make and take calls.
Rather than being made of soft silicone, the earbuds consist of a solid single piece of plastic which automatically eschews any option of changeable earbuds. At this price point, having one is considered a major bonus so it’s not a major quibble.
Up close with the Galaxy A7 (2018)
The Samsung Galaxy A7 is certainly an interesting blend of Samsung’s latest hardware with some modest concessions to keep the cost down. In terms of colour choices, it comes in four – Black, Gold, Blue and Pink though only the first three colours will be available in Malaysia at this point in time.
The chassis is primarily a combination of aluminium sandwiched by layers of 2.5D glass on the front and back. Our test unit came in a polished shade of metallic blue that is highly reflective and almost akin to the Ocean Blue coloured Galaxy Note9 though closer inspection reveals that the A7 has a lighter, more metallic sheen to it. This metallic blue finish even extends to the sides of the phone, lending it a beautifully cohesive look.
The backplate of the Galaxy A7 is primarily done up in this shiny blue finish with the main attraction on offer being the triple camera array on the rear. The array covers most photography scenarios with a primary 24-MP f/1.7 camera with autofocus, a secondary 5-MP f/2.2 camera as a depth sensor for their Live Focus mode and a third 8-MP f/2.4 camera with a 120-degree ultra wide angle lens.
The more powerful Galaxy A9 tops this by adding in optical zoom. One particular refinement that the Galaxy A7 culls from the higher end Galaxy Note9 is its Scene Optimiser tech that intelligently sees what you’re attempting to shoot and selects the best wordpress settings to give your shots that extra aesthetic zing as well as the ability to create AR Emoji, a feature once restricted to the Galaxy S9 series phones but which has been disseminated via firmware upgrades to the S8 series and Note8 phones. Fortunately in the case of the Galaxy A7, you get AR Emoji straight out of the box.
The base of the Galaxy A7 comes with a 3.5mm audio jack, a speaker grille and, in keeping with its more value-oriented demographic, a micro USB port to charge the phone.
The left side of the phone sports a triple card slot, which is somewhat of a rarity on Samsung phones but it is a welcome surprise nonetheless as it allows you to simultaneously host two SIM card slots and a microSD card up to 512GB in size. The right side of the Galaxy A7 hosts a volume rocker and a first for a Samsung phone – a side-mounted fingerprint reader cum power button.
The front of the Galaxy A7 is primarily taken up b a full sized 6-inch Super AMOLED Infinity display with a tall 2,280 x 1080 pixel (FHD+) resolution with nary a notch in sight. Much like their flagship phones, the Galaxy A7 (2018) also has their Always On mode that lets you see the time and other notifications at a glance without having to turn the phone on.
To cater to selfie snapping narcissists, the Galaxy A7 (2018) has a front-facing 24-MP f/2.0 camera which lets it stand toe to toe even among competing phones that specialise in taking selfie snaps.
External features aside, the Galaxy A7 (2018) comes in a variety of storage configurations depending on different regions. For Malaysia, Samsung will be shipping in a configuration that has 4GB RAM and a very generous 128GB of storage that can be further augmented with the microSD card slot.
Powering the phone is a power efficient Exynos 7885 octacore processor that combines a hexa-configuration of 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 CPU cores to handle the heavy lifting while a dual-configuration 2.2GHz Cortex-A73 core handles basic grunt work. Running under the hood is Android Oreo 8.0 overlaid with their Samsung Experience user interface 9.0. Keeping it all powered is a 3,300mAh battery that is rated to offer about 14 hours of web browsing time via Wi-Fi or about 17 hours of video playback time.
At first blush, the Galaxy A7 (2018) is a phone that strikes a new path for Samsung as it offers a ton of features and innovations from their flagship phones – AR Emoji, a staggering 128GB of storage and an Infinity display among them and adds in a few unique features of its own.
The triple camera looks extremely promising as it has dedicated sensors to handle wide angle shots and Live Focus rather than having a camera multitask, which will, on paper, deliver better results. Perhaps the only quibble is that the phone lacks waterproofing unlike the Galaxy A8 phones launched earlier this year but at this price point, it’s hard to quibble. Stay tuned for our full-on review when we put it through its paces!