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Samsung Galaxy A7 Smartphone Review

Florian Wimmer, Tanja Hinum (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 04/18/2015

3, 5, 7. Samsung's Galaxy A lineup is tailored more for the normal wallet than the wickedly expensive Galaxy S models. Now a small phablet is available in the series called Galaxy A7. We took a closer look at the classy smartphone.

In review: Samsung Galaxy 7. Review sample courtesy of www.cyberport.de

For the original German review, see here.

The Galaxy A lineup has convinced many buyers with its unibody casings, and its plain yet very elegant design. However, it also slapped Galaxy purists with things like the non-removable battery. Nevertheless, the smaller Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5 also did well in our tests. Now an even bigger device from the lineup is coming to the market: the Galaxy A7 that can be called a phablet with a size of 5.5 inches.

The buyer will again find the metal unibody casing, high-quality camera, and slim design. The device is tagged with a recommended price of 499 Euros (~$539), just like HTC's Desire EyeHuawei's Ascend Mate 7Sony's Xperia Z3 Compact or Motorola's Moto XGoogle's Nexus 6 is more expensive, but Nokia's Lumia 930 premium-range Windows Phone is considerably less pricey in some shops.

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Samsung Galaxy A7 (Galaxy Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
2048 MB 
Display
5.5 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel, capacitive touchscreen, S-AMOLED
Storage
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB 
, , 11.2 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm combo audio jack, Card Reader: micro-SD max. 64 GB, Sensors: motion sensor, light sensor, proximity sensor, compass, A-GPS, GlONASS, NFC
Networking
802.11a/b/g/n (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4), Bluetooth 4.0, GSM quad-band (850/900/1800/1900), UMTS quad-band (850/900/1900/2100), FDD-LTE-hexa-band (800/850/900/1800/2100/2600); SAR rate: 0.41W/kg (head), 0.55W/kg (body)
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 6.3 x 151 x 76 ( = 0.25 x 5.94 x 2.99 in)
Battery
10 Wh Lithium-Ion, 2600 mAh, 3.8 Volt, non-removable, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 49 h
Operating System
Android 4.4 KitKat
Camera
Webcam: 5.0MP (front); 13.0 MP, AF, LED flash, videos @1080p/30 fps (back)
Additional features
Speakers: rear-sided speaker, Keyboard: virtual keyboard, headset, S Voice, Flipboard, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
141 g ( = 4.97 oz / 0.31 pounds), Power Supply: 47 g ( = 1.66 oz / 0.1 pounds)
Price
500 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

One of the Galaxy A lineup's identifying features is the metal unibody casing. Although the back suggests high-quality plastic, it is metal, namely magnesium. The bezel is aluminum and contributes to the casing's stiffness. However, the casing's slim build with a height of just 6.3 millimeters (~0.25 inches) involves waiving features like the removable back cover or exchangeable battery, which used to be sure signs that the user was holding a Galaxy smartphone in his hands.

The rigidness of the biggest device (so far) of the Galaxy A lineup is also impressive. Pressure has absolutely no effect on the casing, and very strong pressure has to be applied before triggering a noise. The micro-SD card and nano-SIM are inserted in removable trays on the sides.

The rear-facing camera clearly juts out, and it could thus be susceptible to scratches. Furthermore, it causes the smartphone to teeter back and forth during use on a table. The front features Samsung’s familiar "Home" hardware button and two touch buttons for back and an overview of recently opened apps.

159 mm / 6.26 inch 83 mm / 3.27 inch 10 mm / 0.3937 inch 184 g0.4057 lbs157 mm / 6.18 inch 81 mm / 3.19 inch 7.9 mm / 0.311 inch 185 g0.4079 lbs151.7 mm / 5.97 inch 73.8 mm / 2.91 inch 8.5 mm / 0.3346 inch 152 g0.3351 lbs151 mm / 5.94 inch 76 mm / 2.99 inch 6.3 mm / 0.248 inch 141 g0.3109 lbs140.8 mm / 5.54 inch 72.4 mm / 2.85 inch 9.9 mm / 0.3898 inch 145 g0.3197 lbs137 mm / 5.39 inch 71 mm / 2.8 inch 9.8 mm / 0.3858 inch 170 g0.3748 lbs139.3 mm / 5.48 inch 69.7 mm / 2.74 inch 6.7 mm / 0.2638 inch 123 g0.2712 lbs127.3 mm / 5.01 inch 64.9 mm / 2.56 inch 8.64 mm / 0.3402 inch 129 g0.2844 lbs

Connectivity

Our Samsung Galaxy A7 only has one SIM slot, but models with dual-SIM support are also available. The Galaxy A7 is neither good nor bad with its storage capacity of 16 GB. The working memory of 2 GB is also standard in this category now.

Right: Standby button, micro-SD slot, nano-SIM slot
Right: Standby button, micro-SD slot, nano-SIM slot
Left: Volume rocker
Left: Volume rocker
Upper edge: Microphone
Upper edge: Microphone
Lower edge: Microphone, micro-USB 2.0, 3.5 mm combo audio port
Lower edge: Microphone, micro-USB 2.0, 3.5 mm combo audio port

Software

Samsung's TouchWiz UI in the Galaxy A7 is also based on Android 4.4.4. However, an update to Android 5 for the Galaxy A lineup is in the works according to media reports. Samsung's user interface has become very smooth in use, which was not always the case. Android veterans will notice a few modifications compared with vanilla Android, but its use is largely very similar. Newcomers will also quickly become familiar especially since there is an "Easy mode" where only a minimum is displayed on the home screen.

At the same time, TouchWiz is very rich in features: there is "Safety Assistance" that minimizes power consumption and sends emergency messages, images and audio information to important contacts. Besides that, a blocking mode for defining "do not disturb" times, there are dozens of input aids for the physically impaired, a multi-window mode that enables opening specified applications in a window, and which leaves part of the home screen visible.

Samsung additionally preloads some software, such as the nicely designed "S Planner" calendar app, or "S Voice" voice control. However, the user will also have to live with adware.

GPS indoors
GPS indoors
GPS outdoors
GPS outdoors

Communication & GPS 

Mobile telecommunication networks are just as accessible with the Galaxy A7 as with the smaller Galaxy A5: the quad-band GSM and UMTS net as well as five LTE frequencies are available. This configuration is satisfactory, but Sony's Xperia Z3 Compact and Huawei's Ascend Mate 7, for example clearly outshine that. Our review sample's signal quality was impeccable in an urban area using the rather poorly developed German E-Plus net. We consistently had the full LTE reception even indoors making speeds of up to 150 MBps down and 50 MBps up possible.

NFC for near field communication is also installed, and Wi-Fi standard 802.11 a/b/g/n is also incorporated. Thus, the 5 GHz band is supported but the even faster ac standard is not available. Some comparison devices also have a wider bandwidth here. Wi-Fi reception was below average: Only a quarter of the signal was displayed at a distance of ten meters (~33 feet) and through three walls, and websites opened considerably slower.

The GPS module also supports the Russian GLONASS system, but it could only locate us roughly when standing close to a window indoors. However, it instantaneously linked to a satellite outdoors; it was then stable and tracked us with an accuracy of 7 meters (~23 feet).

Compared with the Garmin Edge 500 navigation system, our review sample measured approximately 250 meters (~273 yards) less on our bike route. That is not surprising because the GPS tends to take shortcuts and lets us "fly" over houses or trees rather than staying on the street. Although this behavior was not consistently observed, it happens.

Samsung Galaxy A7 GPS – total
Samsung Galaxy A7 GPS – total
Samsung Galaxy A7 GPS – woods
Samsung Galaxy A7 GPS – woods
Samsung Galaxy A7 GPS – bridge
Samsung Galaxy A7 GPS – bridge
Garmin Edge 500 GPS – total
Garmin Edge 500 GPS – total
Garmin Edge 500 GPS – woods
Garmin Edge 500 GPS – woods
Garmin Edge 500 GPS – bridge
Garmin Edge 500 GPS – bridge

Telephone & Voice Quality

The voice quality of the smaller Galaxy A models did not really convince us. The microphones were rather mediocre, and the speaker's quality did not knock our socks off, either. That looks pretty much the same in the Galaxy A7. Our review sample's speaker had problems primarily with sibilants like "s" or "z" so that our contact sounded like he lisps. Furthermore, our contact complained that our voice was accompanied by static noise.

Everyone who has ever used a Samsung smartphone will recognize the phone app, but it will not puzzle Android-mavens much, either. Newcomers should also soon be familiar with the app, which is divided in four categories: "Keypad", "Logs", "Favorites", and "Contacts". Beyond that, contacts can be selected for speed dial, extensive information about previous communication with a caller can be displayed, and there are multiple options for accepting or declining calls.

Cameras & Multimedia

The camera configuration corresponds with that of the smaller Galaxy A5. A 13-megapixel camera with LED flash and auto-focus is on the rear, and a 5-megapixel lens for shooting decent selfies is on the front. These specs place the Galaxy A7 on category standard, but higher-quality camera configurations are also available in this price range, for example in Nokia's Lumia 930 or HTC's Desire Eye.

The colors of the rear-facing camera are again good although the pictures are not quite as sharp as, for example, from the iPhone 6. The "main camera selfie" mode enables taking selfies without the viewfinder; the camera automatically focuses on the face. That functions quite well even if the sharpness is not always 100% accurate, and you see only in hindsight if your finger was covering the lens. However, the pictures exhibit visible pixels especially in slightly lower light.

The 5-megapixel front-facing camera also takes decent pictures, but the images look quite grainy in total.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images

Accessories

The Galaxy A7 is shipped with a headset. Otherwise, the box contains the standards in form of a charger and USB cable. A protective silicon cover that protects the smartphone against shocks (20 Euros/~$22) or an S View cover with window (40 Euro/~$43) is available in Samsung's shop.

Warranty

Samsung includes a 24-month warranty on the smartphone. Expendable parts, such as the battery, are only covered for six months.

Input Devices & Handling

We liked Samsung's on-screen keyboard for its lack of bells and whistles, and the unambiguous lettering without confusing double-assignment. The keys look a bit small on the Galaxy A7's 5.5-inch screen at first, but they can be used accurately owing to their larger spacing.

Inputting via handwriting, voice dictation, swiping to enter words, swiftly changing the input language and word suggestions is possible. Beyond that, there are multiple setting options and a number row above the letters. Generally, a very good on-screen keyboard.

The touchscreen is sensitive up to its corners, and it responded quickly and reliably to our inputs. There is also a glove mode that enables using the smartphone with thin gloves in the winter.

Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard landscape mode

Display

Samsung initially issued a press release that the Galaxy A7 would only be equipped with a 720p screen. However, it would have lagged far behind comparable smartphones with that. In any case, Samsung announced that it was a mistake shortly afterward, and our reviewed 5.5-inch Galaxy A7 has a Full HD screen.

The screen is again based on the Super AMOLED technology, and thus Samsung uses organic light-emitting diodes that light up autonomously, but they were not very bright in the past. The Galaxy A7's average brightness of 337.3 cd/m² is satisfactory. Comparable smartphones have significantly brighter screens, and even the smaller Galaxy A5 has more to offer here. The illumination of our review sample is very good with a homogeneity of 91%, and brightness differences in large areas are not visible.

348
cd/m²
336
cd/m²
326
cd/m²
350
cd/m²
338
cd/m²
325
cd/m²
352
cd/m²
339
cd/m²
322
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 352 cd/m² Average: 337.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 91 %
Center on Battery: 338 cd/m²
ΔE Color 2.28 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6
ΔE Greyscale 2.24 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
Gamma: 2.47
Samsung Galaxy A7
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy A5
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Google Nexus 6
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
HTC Desire EYE
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AB, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
Mali-T628 MP6, Kirin 925, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Nokia Lumia 930
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Screen
18%
-66%
1%
-53%
-103%
6%
-138%
Brightness middle
338
482
43%
274
-19%
635
88%
259
-23%
513
52%
451
33%
275
-19%
Brightness
337
432
28%
264
-22%
631
87%
263
-22%
500
48%
455
35%
278
-18%
Brightness Distribution
91
85
-7%
89
-2%
92
1%
91
0%
94
3%
93
2%
89
-2%
Black Level *
0.54
0.41
0.46
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
2.28
2.15
6%
6.99
-207%
4.11
-80%
6.52
-186%
8.54
-275%
2.49
-9%
10.99
-382%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
2.24
1.81
19%
4.01
-79%
4.29
-92%
3.05
-36%
9.88
-341%
2.88
-29%
8.29
-270%
Gamma
2.47 89%
2.42 91%
2.03 108%
2.59 85%
2.31 95%
3.03 73%
2.16 102%
CCT
6367 102%
6626 98%
6329 103%
6956 93%
6226 104%
8659 75%
6731 97%
Contrast
1176
1251
980

* ... smaller is better

Perhaps the biggest advantage of OLEDs is that they can be turned off completely and do not emit any light whatsoever. Consequently black is really deep, dark, and rich. That results in an infinitely high contrast ratio with saturated and brilliant colors.

The Galaxy A7 offers different screen modes that can be changed in the settings. They are called "Standard", "Photo" and "Cinema", and it is possible to set the mode to automatic when preferred. The differences are very evident: "Standard" is the most restrained mode, but also the one with the most natural color hues in pictures. The colors look somewhat brighter in "Photo" and makes pictures look more dynamic, but not quite as natural. Finally, "Cinema" reproduces the most intense colors but the high saturation gives the content a light comic-like look.

Our tests, based on the spectrophotometer and CalMAN software, back our subjective impressions. Colors are most natural in "Standard" and oversaturated in "Cinema". The screen only shifts very slightly from the sRGB reference color space in "Standard" mode.

Color Management Standard
Color Management Standard
ColorChecker Standard
ColorChecker Standard
Grayscale Standard
Grayscale Standard
Saturation Sweeps Standard
Saturation Sweeps Standard
Color Management Photo
Color Management Photo
ColorChecker Photo
ColorChecker Photo
Grayscale Photo
Grayscale Photo
Saturation Sweeps Photo
Saturation Sweeps Photo
Color Management Cinema
Color Management Cinema
ColorChecker Cinema
ColorChecker Cinema
Grayscale Cinema
Grayscale Cinema
Saturation Sweeps Cinema
Saturation Sweeps Cinema
ColorChecker Photo – AdobeRGB
ColorChecker Photo – AdobeRGB

The high contrast generally makes it possible to see something on the screen even in bright surroundings. However, that quickly changes when sunlight shines directly on the display. Besides that, reflections in the screen strain the eyes. Nevertheless, the user will be able to work well with the Galaxy A7 in slightly shadier environments.

The description of the viewing angles can be kept quite brief. No losses in contrast or color shifts were observed even from very flat angles thanks to the S-AMOLED screen.

Outdoors
Outdoors
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

The SoC in the Galaxy A7 is dubbed Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 MSM8939 and has eight processor cores that all clock with 1.7 GHz. However, octa-core SoCs frequently suffer under the lack of support in apps, and thus the full power of the eight cores often cannot be fully utilized. Thus, the Galaxy A7 also delivers quite varying scores in the benchmarks; it sometimes surpasses its rivals and it sometimes clearly lags behind them.

We never experienced speed issues with any of the apps we tested in practice, and the operating system ran smoothly throughout.

Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
3202 Points ∼4%
Samsung Galaxy A5
1437 Points ∼2% -55%
Google Nexus 6
3141 Points ∼4% -2%
HTC Desire EYE
2785 Points ∼3% -13%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
3005 Points ∼4% -6%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
2670 Points ∼3% -17%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
3178 Points ∼4% -1%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
940 Points ∼19%
Samsung Galaxy A5
479 Points ∼10% -49%
Google Nexus 6
1043 Points ∼21% +11%
HTC Desire EYE
952 Points ∼20% +1%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
1003 Points ∼21% +7%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
966 Points ∼20% +3%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
893 Points ∼18% -5%
Smartbench 2012
Gaming Index (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
4443 points ∼97%
Samsung Galaxy A5
3262 points ∼71% -27%
Google Nexus 6
2108 points ∼46% -53%
HTC Desire EYE
4515 points ∼98% +2%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
4496 points ∼98% +1%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
4413 points ∼96% -1%
Productivity Index (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
5734 points ∼30%
Samsung Galaxy A5
5826 points ∼31% +2%
Google Nexus 6
7468 points ∼40% +30%
HTC Desire EYE
9650 points ∼51% +68%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
8386 points ∼45% +46%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
9879 points ∼52% +72%
Linpack Android / IOS
Multi Thread (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
490 MFLOPS ∼17%
Samsung Galaxy A5
0 MFLOPS ∼0% -100%
HTC Desire EYE
839.138 MFLOPS ∼28% +71%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
952.919 MFLOPS ∼32% +94%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
605 MFLOPS ∼20% +23%
Nokia Lumia 930
930.16 MFLOPS ∼31% +90%
Single Thread (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
420 MFLOPS ∼41%
Samsung Galaxy A5
0 MFLOPS ∼0% -100%
HTC Desire EYE
389.922 MFLOPS ∼38% -7%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
388.117 MFLOPS ∼38% -8%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
300 MFLOPS ∼29% -29%
Nokia Lumia 930
232.54 MFLOPS ∼23% -45%
AnTuTu v5 - Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
49293 Points ∼50%
Samsung Galaxy A5
21589 Points ∼22% -56%
Google Nexus 6
51812 Points ∼52% +5%
HTC Desire EYE
38920 Points ∼39% -21%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
43985 Points ∼44% -11%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
40951 Points ∼41% -17%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
42181 Points ∼43% -14%

The Galaxy A7 was generally quite fast in Internet browsing. We achieved good results both in the browser benchmarks as well as in real life.

Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
793 ms * ∼9%
Samsung Galaxy A5
1360 ms * ∼15% -72%
Google Nexus 6
784 ms * ∼9% +1%
HTC Desire EYE
593.9 ms * ∼7% +25%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
777.3 ms * ∼9% +2%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
825.5 ms * ∼9% -4%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
666.2 ms * ∼7% +16%
Nokia Lumia 930
534 ms * ∼6% +33%
Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
7379 Points ∼38%
Samsung Galaxy A5
2813 Points ∼14% -62%
Google Nexus 6
6559 Points ∼34% -11%
HTC Desire EYE
3058 Points ∼16% -59%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
6318 Points ∼32% -14%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
6297 Points ∼32% -15%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
6999 Points ∼13%
Samsung Galaxy A5
2796 Points ∼5% -60%
Google Nexus 6
5271 Points ∼10% -25%
HTC Desire EYE
3028 Points ∼6% -57%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
5403 Points ∼10% -23%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
5294 Points ∼10% -24%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
6552 Points ∼13% -6%
Nokia Lumia 930
2737 Points ∼5% -61%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
5061 ms * ∼9%
Samsung Galaxy A5
13938 ms * ∼23% -175%
Google Nexus 6
6124 ms * ∼10% -21%
HTC Desire EYE
10424 ms * ∼18% -106%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
6243.3 ms * ∼10% -23%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
6528 ms * ∼11% -29%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
5414 ms * ∼9% -7%
Nokia Lumia 930
11108 ms * ∼19% -119%
Vellamo 3.x
Metal (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
1493 Points ∼40%
Samsung Galaxy A5
876 Points ∼23% -41%
Google Nexus 6
1579 Points ∼42% +6%
HTC Desire EYE
1530 Points ∼41% +2%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
1639 Points ∼44% +10%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
1510 Points ∼40% +1%
Multicore Beta (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
1805 Points ∼40%
Samsung Galaxy A5
1166 Points ∼26% -35%
Google Nexus 6
1701 Points ∼38% -6%
HTC Desire EYE
1931 Points ∼43% +7%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
2034 Points ∼45% +13%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
1921 Points ∼43% +6%
Browser (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
3619 Points ∼48%
Samsung Galaxy A5
2083 Points ∼28% -42%
Google Nexus 6
3740 Points ∼49% +3%
HTC Desire EYE
3015 Points ∼40% -17%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
3259 Points ∼43% -10%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
2739 Points ∼36% -24%
WebXPRT 2013
Offline Notes (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
924 ms * ∼19%
Samsung Galaxy A5
1922 ms * ∼40% -108%
Google Nexus 6
1158 ms * ∼24% -25%
HTC Desire EYE
1363.4 ms * ∼28% -48%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
1122.6 ms * ∼23% -21%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
1224 ms * ∼26% -32%
Nokia Lumia 930
1226 ms * ∼26% -33%
Stocks Dashboard (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
959 ms * ∼26%
Samsung Galaxy A5
2130 ms * ∼57% -122%
Google Nexus 6
1231 ms * ∼33% -28%
HTC Desire EYE
1023.7 ms * ∼27% -7%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
1121.9 ms * ∼30% -17%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
1248 ms * ∼33% -30%
Nokia Lumia 930
1189 ms * ∼32% -24%
Face Detection (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
1616 ms * ∼13%
Samsung Galaxy A5
2922 ms * ∼24% -81%
Google Nexus 6
1736 ms * ∼14% -7%
HTC Desire EYE
4909.7 ms * ∼41% -204%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
1771.9 ms * ∼15% -10%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
1917 ms * ∼16% -19%
Nokia Lumia 930
2515 ms * ∼21% -56%
Photo Effects (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
1308 ms * ∼15%
Samsung Galaxy A5
1468 ms * ∼16% -12%
Google Nexus 6
898 ms * ∼10% +31%
HTC Desire EYE
963.3 ms * ∼11% +26%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
988.6 ms * ∼11% +24%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
898 ms * ∼10% +31%
Nokia Lumia 930
1004 ms * ∼11% +23%
Overall Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
338 Points ∼15%
Samsung Galaxy A5
203 Points ∼9% -40%
Google Nexus 6
340 Points ∼15% +1%
HTC Desire EYE
259 Points ∼11% -23%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
341 Points ∼15% +1%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
326 Points ∼14% -4%
Nokia Lumia 930
300 Points ∼13% -11%

* ... smaller is better

The Adreno 405 is a mid-range graphics unit that is clearly defeated by, for example, the Adreno 420 in Google's Nexus 6 in our benchmarks. However, it should still be strong enough for current games.

3DMark
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
15857 Points ∼18%
Samsung Galaxy A5
8690 Points ∼10% -45%
Google Nexus 6
18113 Points ∼21% +14%
HTC Desire EYE
15872 Points ∼18% 0%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
16354 Points ∼19% +3%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
14404 Points ∼17% -9%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
11851 Points ∼14% -25%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
16545 Points ∼3%
Samsung Galaxy A5
2190 Points ∼0% -87%
Google Nexus 6
25480 Points ∼5% +54%
HTC Desire EYE
16346 Points ∼3% -1%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
20806 Points ∼4% +26%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
21034 Points ∼4% +27%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
14432 Points ∼3% -13%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
16387 Points ∼7%
Samsung Galaxy A5
2627 Points ∼1% -84%
Google Nexus 6
23368 Points ∼10% +43%
HTC Desire EYE
16238 Points ∼7% -1%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
19619 Points ∼8% +20%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
19082 Points ∼8% +16%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
13766 Points ∼6% -16%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Physics (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
5564 Points ∼7%
Samsung Galaxy A7
5564 Points ∼7% 0%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
11365 Points ∼14% +104%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Graphics (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
6932 Points ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy A7
6932 Points ∼1% 0%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
8618 Points ∼1% +24%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
6573 Points ∼3%
Samsung Galaxy A7
6573 Points ∼3% 0%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
9093 Points ∼4% +38%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Physics (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
7364 Points ∼5%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Graphics (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
10823 Points ∼1%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
9800 Points ∼1%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
23 fps ∼0%
Samsung Galaxy A5
5.3 fps ∼0% -77%
Google Nexus 6
39 fps ∼0% +70%
HTC Desire EYE
21.9 fps ∼0% -5%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
27.2 fps ∼0% +18%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
27.2 fps ∼0% +18%
Nokia Lumia 930
15 fps ∼0% -35%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
31 fps ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy A5
9.5 fps ∼0% -69%
Google Nexus 6
28 fps ∼1% -10%
HTC Desire EYE
22.9 fps ∼1% -26%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
29.3 fps ∼1% -5%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
41.1 fps ∼1% +33%
Nokia Lumia 930
20 fps ∼1% -35%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
13 fps ∼2%
Samsung Galaxy A5
1.8 fps ∼0% -86%
Google Nexus 6
19 fps ∼3% +46%
HTC Desire EYE
9.3 fps ∼2% -28%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
11 fps ∼2% -15%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
11.9 fps ∼2% -8%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
8 fps ∼1% -38%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
14 fps ∼4%
Samsung Galaxy A5
3.9 fps ∼1% -72%
Google Nexus 6
12 fps ∼3% -14%
HTC Desire EYE
10 fps ∼3% -29%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
12.6 fps ∼3% -10%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
25.5 fps ∼7% +82%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
8.5 fps ∼2% -39%

On the other hand, the speed of the storage in the Galaxy A7 is exemplary: It outperforms all comparison devices here. Too bad that only 16 GB of the swift storage is installed.

AndroBench 3-5
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
3 MB/s ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy A5
6 MB/s ∼2% +100%
Google Nexus 6
1.49 MB/s ∼1% -50%
HTC Desire EYE
1.77 MB/s ∼1% -41%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
2.43 MB/s ∼1% -19%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
1.6 MB/s ∼1% -47%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
1.05 MB/s ∼0% -65%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
19 MB/s ∼8%
Samsung Galaxy A5
12 MB/s ∼5% -37%
Google Nexus 6
7.85 MB/s ∼3% -59%
HTC Desire EYE
15.75 MB/s ∼7% -17%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
13.49 MB/s ∼6% -29%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
14.7 MB/s ∼6% -23%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
7.32 MB/s ∼3% -61%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
52 MB/s ∼9%
Samsung Galaxy A5
71 MB/s ∼12% +37%
Google Nexus 6
18.46 MB/s ∼3% -64%
HTC Desire EYE
22.67 MB/s ∼4% -56%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
27.42 MB/s ∼5% -47%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
17.5 MB/s ∼3% -66%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
10.43 MB/s ∼2% -80%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A7
200 MB/s ∼11%
Samsung Galaxy A5
130 MB/s ∼7% -35%
Google Nexus 6
25.78 MB/s ∼1% -87%
HTC Desire EYE
116.14 MB/s ∼7% -42%
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
140.73 MB/s ∼8% -30%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
133 MB/s ∼7% -33%
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
51.23 MB/s ∼3% -74%

Games

The Adreno 405 does its job quite well in terms of games considering it is only a mid-range graphics card. Even in rather demanding tracks like Asphalt 8 we only noticed stutters in the intro sequence to the race but not in the game itself. Stronger graphics units are likely more future-proof, but the Adreno 405 allows playing all games that we presently use for testing without lags.

"Asphalt 8" could still be played fairly smoothly even in high details.
"Asphalt 8" could still be played fairly smoothly even in high details.

Emissions

Temperature

The surface temperatures of the Galaxy A7 always remained within a tolerable range. Although they were noticed after longer load, they were not unpleasant. We measured a maximum temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit), but the smartphone barely surpassed the ambient temperature with a maximum of 27.6 degrees (81.7 Fahrenheit) in idle mode.

Max. Load
 34.6 °C
94 F
35 °C
95 F
33 °C
91 F
 
 35 °C
95 F
35.1 °C
95 F
32.9 °C
91 F
 
 34.2 °C
94 F
33.7 °C
93 F
32.2 °C
90 F
 
Maximum: 35.1 °C = 95 F
Average: 34 °C = 93 F
33.3 °C
92 F
37 °C
99 F
36.1 °C
97 F
33.1 °C
92 F
36.3 °C
97 F
34.8 °C
95 F
33.7 °C
93 F
35.1 °C
95 F
33.8 °C
93 F
Maximum: 37 °C = 99 F
Average: 34.8 °C = 95 F
Power Supply (max.)  34.4 °C = 94 F | Room Temperature 22 °C = 72 F | Voltcraft IR-350
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 34 °C / 93 F, compared to the average of 33.1 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 35.1 °C / 95 F, compared to the average of 35.5 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 37 °C / 99 F, compared to the average of 34 °C / 93 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 26.9 °C / 80 F, compared to the device average of 33.1 °C / 92 F.

Speaker

An advantage of the rear-sided, protruding camera on the back is that the speaker beside it does not rest on the table. Thus, it can fully develop its sound, which is not bad at all. The sound is balanced overall and rich; its maximum volume is loud and does not hum. However, the little speaker lacks the last bit of brilliance like an HTC One M9 delivers.

Audiophile natures will likely connect a headphone or speakers via the 3.5 mm audio jack, which provides good results.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Pleasingly, the Galaxy A7's power consumption has improved overall compared with the Galaxy A5. Now no energy is consumed when the smartphone is turned off. The idle consumption rates are also significantly lower than that of its smaller brother. Although the load consumption is considerably higher, the Galaxy A7 has low consumption rates in total.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.4 / 1 / 1.4 Watt
Load midlight 3.8 / 5.7 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

The non-removable battery with a capacity of 9.9 Wh enable the Galaxy A7 to keep up with the category average in terms of battery life. However, it cannot really outpace its rivals. 9:25 hours of Internet browsing should not be a problem, and it should be possible to watch movies even longer when the networks are disabled. That is overall good performance, however, it does not stand out in the comparison field, especially since the idle runtime is a bit short.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
18h 18min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
9h 25min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
10h 23min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 39min
Samsung Galaxy A7
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy A5
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Google Nexus 6
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
HTC Desire EYE
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AB, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Motorola Moto X 2. Gen 2014
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
Mali-T628 MP6, Kirin 925, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Nokia Lumia 930
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Battery Runtime
4%
-9%
1%
-10%
85%
16%
3%
Reader / Idle
1098
1152
5%
1153
5%
1433
31%
1078
-2%
2614
138%
1387
26%
H.264
623
597
-4%
652
5%
503
-19%
604
-3%
1478
137%
WiFi v1.3
565
Load
219
242
11%
135
-38%
200
-9%
165
-25%
173
-21%
253
16%
175
-20%
WiFi
533
601
914
617
1326
687
1002

Pros

+ Very solid casing
+ Slim and stylish
+ Decent speaker
+ Everyday-suitable battery life
+ Low temperatures
+ Superb color reproduction
+ Accurate input devices

Cons

- Mediocre voice quality
- Preloaded adware
- Protruding camera could scratch...
- ...and causes the smartphone to teeter

Verdict

In Review: Samsung Galaxy A7. Review sample courtesy of cyberport.de
In Review: Samsung Galaxy A7. Review sample courtesy of cyberport.de

Samsung's Galaxy A7 is to be a mainstream smartphone, but it is also to satisfy even somewhat higher demands at the same time. Samsung masters this balancing act quite well: The high-quality casing is pleasant to hold, and its plain, classy looks let us forget the Korean manufacturer's design gaffes of the past.

Although the Galaxy A7 barely stands out exceptionally in any category, it is actually always good - and that is exactly what many people want from a smartphone: That it remains unobtrusive and functions. Samsung could still improve the voice quality: static noise in the microphone and the unclear rendering of sibilants are annoying. It is also too bad that Wi-Fi reception makes a mediocre impression, and that the GPS module does not seem very trustworthy, particularly since the speaker does a good job, the smartphone has enough power, and the camera is well equipped for everyday use.

 

Everyone who wants a solid mid-range device that supports its user in everyday life will additionally be rewarded with a certain degree of style with the Galaxy A7, but he/she will also have to make minor concessions.

Samsung Galaxy A7 - 04/14/2015 v4(old)
Florian Wimmer

Chassis
93%
Keyboard
71 / 75 → 95%
Pointing Device
92%
Connectivity
48 / 60 → 80%
Weight
93%
Battery
92%
Display
88%
Games Performance
59 / 63 → 94%
Application Performance
51 / 70 → 73%
Temperature
92%
Noise
100%
Audio
55 / 91 → 60%
Camera
77%
Average
78%
88%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Samsung Galaxy A7 Smartphone Review
Florian Wimmer, 2015-04-18 (Update: 2018-05-15)