Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) Review
The Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016 edition, aka J7 6) represents the new generation of affordable Samsung phones: with a stylish look, a sturdy metal frame, and even with a few premium features like the Quick Launch camera shortcut.
Does the Samsung brand name, the more refined TouchWiz and the performance of the Galaxy J7 6 live up to expectations? We take a look at our in-depth review.
In the box:
- Galaxy J7 2016
- Wall charger (5V - 1.55A)
- microUSB to USB cable
- White Samsung earbuds
- User manual
A metal frame is nice to have, but the design feels generic and the plastic back cover feels cheap.
The Galaxy J7 6 is an evolution over the traditional look of plastic Samsung phones from way back in the day. In fact, save for the metal frame, it looks like your generic Samsung phone with that typical back layout with a silver speaker grill introduced way back in 2012, some four years ago. Yet, the metal frame carries the modern carve-outs we know from more modern Samsung phones, so all in all the design blends together the past and the present.
From a purely practical standpoint, the J7 6 design works: it’s sturdy, with no screaky, hollow parts, and the back does not accumulate fingerprints. Yet, the plastic back cover feels decidedly cheap and the phone lacks flare.
The buttons are well-crafted, though: all are made from metal and feel very clicky and nice to press. There’s a lock key on the right and two separate volume buttons on the left, while up front there is a single physical home key, but it’s just a regular button - no fingerprint here, sadly. On the bottom of the phone is a microUSB port for charging.
In terms of size and heft, the J7 6 is well balanced for a 5.5” phone: it’s not too wide at 2.99 inches (76mm) and thickness comes in at the rather thin 7.8mm. The phone tips the scales at 169g, which is neither too heavy, nor too light for a phone this size.
The 5.5” 720 x 1280-pixel screen is not super-sharp, and its colors are a bit off, but the big shock is that there’s no ambient light sensor! Come on, Samsung!
The Galaxy J7 6 sports a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels. That works out to 267ppi, which in simple terms means that on this display you can notice some slight pixelization and the screen won’t look as sharp as on higher-end phones.
What about the colors, though? Samsung’s AMOLED displays come with the neat option for users to choose how the screen looks. The default ‘Adaptive’ display mode features unrealistically oversaturated colors and bluish whites, which combine for a very punchy, but wildly unrealistic, cartoony look to everything.
We switch all of our Samsung AMOLED displays to the ‘Basic’ mode (you do this by going into Settings - Display - Screen Mode), as this is the mode that comes closest to the sRGB color standard, the de facto standard for all images and video on the web and on Android. Sticking with Basic Mode and the sRGB standard means that you see images the way those who captured those images intended you to see them. Still, the Galaxy J7 6 does not have its colors properly balanced in this mode, and it’s a bit off: blues are mostly accurate, but reds and greens are off target. Whites are also slightly, but noticeably greenish here.
The J7 6 also does not have the brightest of screens: outdoors, on a sunny day, we found it hard to read content on the display and we had to shield it with our hand. Viewing angles are not bad, though, as brightness is retained at different angles.
We left the biggest shocker, however, for last: the J7 6 has no ambient light sensor! Preposterous? Yes! This is not the cheapest of phones, yet it lacks the essential option to have automatic brightness adjustments! Having to manually adjust brightness is not only inconvenient, but it can also lead to high brightness levels used longer, causing battery life to take an unnecessary hit. Instead of the Auto toggle we're used to having, there's a strange 'Outdoor' mode, which bumps the brightness up upon activation, and then disengages automatically after a short while. From the looks of the sensors lined up across the phone's upper bezel, it appears that there is, in fact, an ambient light sensor, but the option to activate it isn't available, and diagnostic tools like CPU-Z don't seem to detect such a component either. Weird stuff.
Another compromise comes in the oleophobic coating on the J7 6. It seems that it’s either not there, or very weak, as the phone catches fingerprints on the display very easily and often looks depressingly smudgy and dirty.