Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review


Competition in the affordable phone market these days is not merely intense, it’s almost impossible to compete with aggressively priced phones out of China with top-tier specs at prices of around just $300.

And Samsung should know. It’s been losing ground to the likes of Huawei, Xiaomi and OnePlus quicker than all other Android phone makers.

So is its newest mid-range Galaxy A7 2018 the transformative device that would bring it back on the success track?

On the surface, the Galaxy A7 looks… a bit boring. It’s a pretty big rectangular slab with slightly sloppy-looking bezels. There are no top-tier chips on board and the interface is the same old Samsung Experience with no modern gesture navigation. And no, there’s no 4K video on board either. What was Samsung even thinking?

Well, there are three cameras on the back, more than on any other mid-range phone, and a few surprises on the inside and we can’t wait to tell you all about them. Read on.

What’s in the box:

  • Galaxy A7 (2018)
  • MicroUSB cable :(
  • 7.75-watt Wall Charger
  • Headphones with 3.5mm jack
  • SIM tool
  • User manual

Design

Slippery phone + glass back = you know what

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review

The Galaxy A7 2018 is made of glass and feels surprisingly light-weight, but it’s still a massive phone almost as big as an iPhone XS Max, but weighing nearly 25% less. This is definitely not a device you can easily operate with a single hand.

We’ve gotten pretty used to glass phones by now, but the A7 surprised us with just how slippery it was. It's one of those phones that slip and fall on their own unless it's resting on a perfectly flat surface. This happened a few times and we feel so lucky that the phone is not broken yet! So a case with this phone is not only strongly recommended, it’s mandatory in our opinion.

The A7 comes in a selection of three colors: we have the blue model up for review, but there are black and gold models as well. One element that makes this phone look a bit on the cheap side are the plastic sides with a very reflective polished finish (but we do like that the sides have a matching color with the back cover).

Buttons are all on the right side, the volume keys way up at the top and a recessed power button that you cannot easily find without looking and always feels a little weird to press.


The big disappointment is on the bottom. Nope, it’s not the 3.5mm headphone jack, which Samsung has kept on this phone, but the age-old microUSB port. Is it really that expensive to include a USB-C port on a mid-range phone in late 2018, Samsung? We wonder. On the bottom, you’d also find the single loudspeaker.

On the back, you have the star of the show: the triple camera system. We’ll take a closer look at it below, so stick with us.

One more thing: there is no special water-proofing on this phone, so be careful not to get it wet.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)

Dimensions

6.29 x 3.02 x 0.3 inches

159.8 x 76.8 x 7.5 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

Xiaomi Pocophone F1

Xiaomi Pocophone F1

Dimensions

6.12 x 2.96 x 0.35 inches

155.5 x 75.3 x 8.8 mm

Weight

6.35 oz (180 g)

Nokia 7.1

Nokia 7.1

Dimensions

5.89 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches

149.7 x 71.18 x 7.99 mm

Weight

5.64 oz (160 g)

Motorola Moto G6

Motorola Moto G6

Dimensions

6.06 x 2.85 x 0.33 inches

153.8 x 72.3 x 8.3 mm

Weight

5.89 oz (167 g)

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)

Dimensions

6.29 x 3.02 x 0.3 inches

159.8 x 76.8 x 7.5 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

Xiaomi Pocophone F1

Xiaomi Pocophone F1

Dimensions

6.12 x 2.96 x 0.35 inches

155.5 x 75.3 x 8.8 mm

Weight

6.35 oz (180 g)

Nokia 7.1

Nokia 7.1

Dimensions

5.89 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches

149.7 x 71.18 x 7.99 mm

Weight

5.64 oz (160 g)

Motorola Moto G6

Motorola Moto G6

Dimensions

6.06 x 2.85 x 0.33 inches

153.8 x 72.3 x 8.3 mm

Weight

5.89 oz (167 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page


Fingerprint Scanner


By now you are probably wondering: where’s the fingerprint scanner?

It’s here, but this time Samsung has built it right in the power button on the side.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review
After using the Galaxy A7 for nearly two weeks, we find this to be a bigger inconvenience than we suspected. Sure, it’s not a dealbreaker, but it just doesn’t feel very comfortable to reach to the side and than have to reposition your hand to actually unlock your phone every time you want to check something quickly. Speaking of speed, this is definitely not the fastest fingerprint reader around, always taking a slight, but noticeable moment to unlock the phone.

And risking to sound too petty, you do get a nice click with the power key, but the recessed position makes it even stranger as you cannot easily feel it by hand.

Face Recognition


You also have face recognition on board.

Enrolling your face is a fast and easy process, and using face recognition to unlock the A7 works most of the time. We also tried using it while wearing glasses and without them, as well as in a well-lit room and in darker environments, and it recognized us fine if (and this is important) you place your phone at the right angle and without moving too much. If you kind of just glance at the screen at an angle it often fails to recognize you and also while you are moving and on the go, it seems to have a tougher time. There is again a slight delay, similar to the one you get with fingerprint scans, when you use face recognition to actually unlock your phone, so keep that in mind.

Display

Excellent AMOLED screen.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review

While we’ve been criticizing the A7 2018 for its looks and slightly slow secure unlock systems, there’s nothing to criticize about the big and beautiful Super AMOLED screen that you get with this phone.

It is a 6-inch display with a Full HD (1080 x 2220 pixel) resolution and it looks gorgeous. Colors are impressively wide and lively, blacks are deep, viewing angles are mostly fine, and you can select between a few different color modes for more eye-popping color or a more toned-down appearance. The screen is very reflective, though, which makes it slightly more inconvenient to use outdoors.

It is the big bezel around the sides, however, that we dislike the most, as it contributes to the width of the phone and spoils the looks a bit.


This being a Samsung AMOLED screen, you also get the useful Always-on screen option so you can quickly glance at the screen to see whether you have missed notifications or calls. You also have a blue-light filter to help ease the strain on your eyes when you use the phone at night.

Interface

Samsung Experience gets the job done, but without much excitement.

The Galaxy A7 2018 is a brand new phone and it comes with the latest and greatest version of Android… oh wait, it doesn’t! It still runs on last year’s Android 8 Oreo software, which is disappointing, to say the least.

The reason for this probably lies in the heavy custom interface that is Samsung Experience and that takes a lot of time to port to newer versions of Google’s platform. Whatever the reasons, though, we find it hard to find an excuse, especially considering how cheaper Android phones rarely if ever get updates, and with this one, you are starting off with old software.

Still, if you don’t care too much about having the latest software, you will find the Samsung Experience on the A7 2018 to be a reliable interface that slowly but surely churns through tasks.

What’s missing here, however, is clearly excitement: a prime example is that you don’t have the modern gesture navigation system that even cheaper phones have these days and only have the on-screen button navigation.

Processor, Performance and Memory

Not the fastest phone around, that’s for sure

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review

Under the hood, the Galaxy A7 2018 is powered by the Samsung Exynos 7 Octa 7885 chip and if you get as easily confused by such long names as we do, you might find it useful to know that this chip compares to Snapdragon’s 6xx series in terms of performance, ranging somewhere between that of the Snapdragon 636 and Snapdragon 660 chips.

The chip features two Cortex A73 performance cores and six Cortex A53 efficiency cores for an octa-core total design and it’s built on a 14nm manufacturing process. The phone comes in three memory configurations:

  • 4GB RAM + 64GB storage (the one we have for review)
  • 4GB RAM + 128GB storage
  • 6GB RAM + 128GB storage

Storage expansion with a microSD card is supported.

Those are the technicalities, however, and what we take greater interest in is the actual performance.

And it’s not among the fastest. There is a strange paradox about this phone: its animations mostly feel smooth, yet it never feels fast, quite the opposite. Apps take an extra moment to load up, the keyboard only comes after a slight delay and combined with the quite slow unlock speeds, you never feel like you are operating a fast phone.

Right below, you’d also find some benchmarks to give you a rough idea of how the A7 2018 compares against the competition.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) 121848
Xiaomi Mi A2 129177
Motorola Moto Z3 Play 115699
Nokia 6 (2018) 90278
JetStream Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) 48.317
Xiaomi Mi A2 53.205
Motorola Moto Z3 Play 42.468
Nokia 6 (2018) 27.887
GFXBench Car Chase on-screen Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) 5.7
Xiaomi Mi A2 8.5
Motorola Moto Z3 Play 6
Nokia 6 (2018) 5.83
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) 9.4
Xiaomi Mi A2 14
Motorola Moto Z3 Play 15
Nokia 6 (2018) 10
Geekbench 4 single-core Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) 1516
Xiaomi Mi A2 1622
Motorola Moto Z3 Play 1334
Nokia 6 (2018) 876
Geekbench 4 multi-core Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) 4350
Xiaomi Mi A2 4650
Motorola Moto Z3 Play 4902
Nokia 6 (2018) 4181.5

Internet and Connectivity

Solid connectivity.

The Galaxy A7 2018 supports 4G LTE bands and it’s officially sold and compatible with GSM carriers (T-Mobile and AT&T) in the United States. You won’t find it at carrier stores at the moment, though, but you can buy the US version at retailers like B&H.

The phone that we have for review is a dual SIM device and it’s a true dual SIM phone, meaning that the microSD card does not overlap with one of the SIM card slots, and you can have two SIMs and a memory card at the same time.

In terms of other connectivity options, you also have dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC support, plus you can also use Samsung Pay here.

Camera

A triple camera sounds great, but actual image quality ranges from mediocre to downright disgusting.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review

The star of the Galaxy A7 2018 show is the new triple camera system that includes an ultra-wide angle lens that Samsung has never used on its phones before, even on the flagship models.

Having an ultra-wide angle lens allows you to fit more in the frame and shoot in tight spaces, giving you extra versatility. You don’t have a telephoto camera on board here, but you do get the Live Focus portrait effect thanks to a depth camera and you also have a selfie camera that’s capable of pulling the same Live Focus trick.

Here is a quick summary of the cameras on the Galaxy A7 2018:

  • 24-megapixel main camera, f/1.7 lens, 27mm focal length
  • 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle rear camera, f/2.4 lens, 18mm focal length
  • 5-megapixel Live Focus (depth) rear camera, f/2.2 lens
  • 24-megapixel front camera with LED flash

Image Quality


normal
Ultra-wide angle
normal Ultra-wide angle

So… how do images actually turn out?

Uhm… not great. Let’s be perfectly honest: images range from barely okay to downright disgusting, and yours truly does not recount testing a 2018 phone with a camera so bad.

When you have plentiful light and excellent shooting conditions, images turn out barely okay with decent color reproduction, fairly correct white balance, but sorely lacking detail and lost detail in the shadows that make it evident that you won’t be putting these images on a poster.


Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) 2
2.9
No data
No data
Xiaomi Mi A2 1.9
2.2
918
614
Motorola Moto Z3 Play 2.4
2.9
888
927
Nokia 6 (2018) 1.8
2.2
257
267

But the real trouble starts at low light when you lose even more detail for pictures, the lack of dynamics is even worse with badly burned highlights and lack of detail in darker areas, and the resulting photo is definitely below the average.



The ultra-wide angle camera offers an interesting perspective, but it manages to smudge detail even worse so photos from it mostly look like a blurry mess that reminds us of phones in the early 2000s, but definitely not a modern smartphone.

Selfies turn out a bit better and with good light you can get some decent self-portraits, and you also have the built-in LED flash that allows you to snap selfies even at night and in pitch dark environments.



Video quality


On the video side, you only have 1080p30 recording and no 4K video mode.

Video footage here turns out mostly okayish with a decent stabilization on board, a slightly slow but reliable continuous auto focus. But once again, let’s not forget that phones in this price range offer 4K video and compared to those devices, footage from the A7 lacks sorely in detail, has trouble dealing with highlights and is just not quite on par. You can shoot video with the wide-angle camera as well, but you cannot switch between the two while shooting.

Sound Quality


You have a single bottom-firing loudspeaker on the A7 and it blasts out sound pretty loudly. It performs decently for an affordable phone with the main issues being the somewhat tinny sound and the lack of depth.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review

As we already mentioned, the good old headphone jack is alive and well here on the A7. Samsung even ships the phone with a pair of headphones in the box, but you’d likely want to use higher quality ones as these really are very basic and don’t sound very good.

Call Quality


When it comes to call quality, we had no issues with the Galaxy A7 2018. Voices in call sound crisp and clear on both ends of the line and volume gets sufficiently loud. The phone also supports Voice over LTE (VoLTE), so if your network has this technology you will be able to enjoy even clearer sound quality in calls.

Battery life

Solid one-day battery performer

The Galaxy A7 2018 sports a 3,300mAh battery inside and it proved to last a decent amount of time, without breaking any records. Screen-on time averages at around 4 hours or less, but stand-by times are excellent, and of course, your mileage will vary depending on whether you use the Always-on screen option or not.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review

We’ve also run this phone through our standard battery life test where it scored 8 hours and a half, a result slightly higher than the average 2018 phone.

Turning over to the charging situation, it’s really depressing to see a microUSB port on a 2018 phone and on one that’s not among the very cheapest ones at that.

The charger that comes in the box outputs 7.75 watts of peak power, which is not as fast as many other phones, and it took us almost 2 hours and 20 minutes to fully charge up the phone with this charger. There is no wireless charging on board either.

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) 8h 29 min (Excellent)
Xiaomi Mi A2 7h 23 min (Good)
Motorola Moto Z3 Play 8h 50 min (Excellent)
Nokia 6 (2018) 8h 14 min (Excellent)
Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) 138
Xiaomi Mi A2 107
Motorola Moto Z3 Play 84
Nokia 6 (2018) 111

Price and Alternatives


We’ve been mentioning cost all throughout this review, so let’s name it now: the Galaxy A7 2018 price is set at $350 and you can find the phone unlocked at retailers like B&H in the United States. And that’s quite the steep price for it actually.

There are plenty of alternatives in this price range:

 - Xiaomi Pocophone F1 costs slightly more at $370 and offers more in terms of… everything
 - Honor 10 costs less at $340 but offers more in terms of speed, looks and refinement
 - OG Google Pixel 128GB model now retails for $370 and it’s a much faster phone with a vastly better camera, double the storage and a new version of Android on board
 - Nokia 7.1 costs the same, but again offers a more compact design, snappier and newer version of Android and more promising cameras

Conclusion


Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) Review

When you draw the proverbial line in the sand, you are really left wondering: What was Samsung even thinking with the Galaxy A7 2018?

Or rather, was it even considering the newly emerged powerful competition or is the Galaxy A7 just a moment of complete inertia?

Don’t get us wrong: it’s a phone that has that glass look and style that comes with it, and it handles basic tasks mostly okay, plus it has a beautiful Super AMOLED screen, but for demanding users its performance is lacking, its camera is downright disappointing, the fingerprint scanner is slow and in a sloppy place, you have the ancient microUSB, there’s no gesture navigation and overall this phone just lacks excitement and vigor! And that’s just unforgivable at the price that Samsung is asking for it.

Pros

  • Glass design
  • Beautiful AMOLED screen
  • Above-average battery life

Cons

  • Camera quality is bad
  • Noticeably big bezels
  • Having the fingerprint reader on the side is not very convenient
  • microUSB rather than USB-C… in 2018
  • No 4K video support
  • Charges slowly
  • Slippery

PhoneArena Rating:

4.5

FEATURED VIDEO

78 Comments

1. adecvat

Posts: 584; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Wow, what an overpriced garbage. That is why Samsung losing its market share to the Huawei.

2. sissy246

Posts: 6837; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Really PA No its not a top notch phone but its better then 4.5

19. eli577

Posts: 139; Member since: Jun 29, 2010

I'm starting to wonder whether there is a new standard in the scoring system here at PA. I mean its clearly not the greatest phone, but 4,5 points? What is so bad about it? Not the best camera on a mobile, but it has a good screen, decent internals and great battery life. So? How come it's degraded this bad?

63. cmdacos

Posts: 3663; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Hasn't changed. Every phone is rated against the highest end iPhone.

72. Alin03

Posts: 35; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

You forgot a con: Lack of Apple logo on the back

4. syntaxlord

Posts: 239; Member since: Oct 01, 2018

Ouch...

5. Nokfan1603

Posts: 49; Member since: Mar 13, 2013

Noticeably large side bezels No fingerprint reader No headphone jack Proprietary connector Slow charging No 1080p screen... in 2018 Charges slowly Slippery Ooops..... iphone XR... PhoneArena 9 points...

9. skips

Posts: 437; Member since: Oct 04, 2015

to be fair... face id and you repeated same point twice. but youre still right.

31. JMartin22

Posts: 2305; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

Their journalistic standards are so inconsistent. Even if they are reviewed by different people; there should be a certain degree of cohesiveness and parity in their scoring system.

6. soobak0313

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 02, 2018

First, the A7 has gesture navigation, which is available after you first hide the navigation bar in settings. Second, you can't really rate a decently working phone so low for "design" and "excitement" issues.

7. skips

Posts: 437; Member since: Oct 04, 2015

noticably big bezels. holy s**t you're reaching for the dumbest s**t nowadays

8. worldpeace

Posts: 3049; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Certainly not the best smartphone for it's price range, but still not justify that 4.5 score. And some CONS are just forced to be there. - Noticeably big bezels = Since when 75% screen to body ratio considered "Big Bezels" especially in mid-ranger. - Having the fingerprint reader on the side is not very convenient = Did you ever write that CONS on other side-mouted FPscanner Smartphone. - microUSB rather than USB-C… in 2018 = iPhone still use lightning... in 2018, and you didn't write it as CONS there. - Charges slowly = Still faster than iPhone XS, and you didn't write it as CONS there. - Slippery = That's basically every Metal+Glass smartphones out there.

10. skips

Posts: 437; Member since: Oct 04, 2015

lightning connector is still better than microusb since it's reversible.

17. Panzer

Posts: 269; Member since: May 13, 2016

You can purchase reversible micro USB charging cables if you find the process to tedious. And micro usb might be going the way of the dinosaurs on phones but lots of other device still use that standard. Still have plenty of micro usb cables laying around my office, pickup and house.

33. AmashAziz

Posts: 2867; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Reversible micro-USB cables??? Am I missing something?

38. kiko007

Posts: 7383; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

You’re not. It is LITERALLY impossible to make a reversible micro-USB (Not C) cable. Bruh is on the sauce today.

49. worldpeace

Posts: 3049; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

It's exist since 2015, one of them is called MicFlip cable. Another alternative is microUSB plug with reversible magnetic connector.

62. Phonehex

Posts: 700; Member since: Feb 16, 2016

65. cmdacos

Posts: 3663; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Thanks for educating the plebs around here. Still micro USB in this day and age is like using LCD screens.

12. sissy246

Posts: 6837; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

I would have expected the photos to have been better true, but they are not disgusting. And big bezels, lol Never said that about the iphones, lol No usb-c jee neither does apple, but that fine. Charges slow, lol and apple doesn't, lol Slippery, without a case all glass phones are slippery.

13. Panzer

Posts: 269; Member since: May 13, 2016

Phonearena splashes around wild stories of questionable software baked into low end Chinese devices. Yet pontificates on how much better those devices are. If my budget is only four hundred dollars I know which device I would choose.

50. worldpeace

Posts: 3049; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

$400? Uh, you better get iPhone 6S with that.. /s

51. luis.aag90

Posts: 267; Member since: Aug 12, 2014

Or an S8, Honor 10, OP5T, V30.... No one pays that money for a 6S nowadays, $400 gets you a refurbished 7+

14. Bolandza

Posts: 3; Member since: Oct 29, 2018

This phone is way better than xr

16. maherk

Posts: 6542; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Charges slowly is a con now?

20. Jrod99

Posts: 674; Member since: Jan 15, 2016

Ouch PA. You will call down the wrath with that review. Techie may show up.

58. mootu

Posts: 1269; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

He probably read the review and imploded with rage, creating a miniature black hole that will devour all products that are not Samsung.

22. Yousefjaber206

Posts: 98; Member since: Jan 09, 2018

Having the fingerprint reader on the side is not very convenient!! Slippery!! WTF!

24. Seanetta

Posts: 22; Member since: Oct 23, 2018

Nothing odd about it, your thumb falls just where it is

26. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

Have you ever tried one? How would you know?

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Galaxy A7 (2018)
  • Display 6.0" 1080 x 2220 pixels
  • Camera 24 MP / 24 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3300 mAh(19h 3G talk time)

Latest Stories