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Samsung Galaxy A7 review - hands on

Richard Easton
6 Feb 2015
Samsung Galaxy A7 white front
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We go hands on with the Samsung Galaxy A7, a smartphone for the younger market with 5MP front-facing camera

Samsung's Galaxy A7 arrives hot on the heels of the Galaxy A3 and A5. The Alpha or A-range is the company's mid-range smartphone line-up for anyone looking to drop less cash on a smartphone, but not lose out on style and high-end construction. We got the chance to put the A7 through its paces at Samsung's European forum yesterday, in order to bring you some first impressions.

The all-metal unibody design certainly makes the A7 feel more premium than a budget smartphone, however. It feels firm in your hand and at just 6.3mm it’s also very svelte. It’s even thinner than the A3 (6.9mm) and A5 (6.7mm), which are both thinner than Apple's iPhone 6. We tried the white model, but the Galaxy A7 will also be launching in black and champagne gold colours. All three models looked stylish for a mid-range device. The silver strip around the outer bezel could be prone to scratching, but the back material at least had enough grip that we weren’t immediately worried about dropping it.

The A7’s big, 5.5in Super AMOLED screen looked vibrant and bright, and while it looked good to our eyes under the lights of the exhibition centre we'll need to see how it performs in outdoor conditions - and get it into the lab to run it through our color meter to pass final judgment on image quality. The 1,920x1,080 Full HD resolution is certainly an improvement over the A3 and A5's 540x960 and 720p displays, although at 5.5in any less would have made images and text rather blocky.

A front-facing 5-megapixel camera not only provides higher resolution stills for selfies compared to the A7's rivals, but includes several selfie-centric shooting modes such as animated GIF creation, a wide angle selfle mode, palm and voice triggered shutter and rear camera self-shooting too. It’s a selfie spectacular, albeit not the first smartphone to go after the selfie-market; HTC's Desire Eye includes a whopping 13-megapixel front facing camera but will likely cost more than the A7 at launch.

The various selfie modes worked well during our brief hands on with the A7, and seem as thouh they will please anyone addicted to snapping themselves and their friends at arm's length. The 13-megapixel sensor on the rear of the camera has an LED flash for low-light shooting; it's unclear if it's the same sensor as the one found in last year's Galaxy S4, and until we get a final retail handset we can't comment on picture quality, but you can expect all of Samsung's familiar shooting modes including HDR and panorama.

Performance is no slouch for an entry-level handset, with an octa-core 1.5GHz processor and 2GB of RAM providing plenty of power. We weren’t able to run any of our usual benchmarks, but navigating around Android felt suitably responsive and apps fired up in decent time. The A7 will launch with Android 4.4 KitKat but there hasn’t been any word yet about a Lollipop update. Because of the unibody design, the A7’s 2,600mAH battery is not removable, which is a shame. The A7 also has 16GB of built-in storage, which can be expanded by 64GB via the microSD card slot.

At the moment pricing or release date haven’t been confirmed for the UK, but we’ll get a full review as soon as it’s available. 

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