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Samsung Galaxy J7 2017 (AT&T) Review

Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) AT&T

Posted: , by Corey Gaskin Corey Gaskin




Poor low-light performance which also struggles with dynamic range. Slow HDR without an auto setting is also annoying, but well-lit photos come out OK

Samsung Galaxy J7 2017 (AT&T) Review

The Galaxy J7 is equipped with an 8 MP rear sensor and a relatively large ƒ/1.9 aperture. Known for the plentitude of features bundled in their camera app, Samsung has one of the best performers in the Galaxy S8. In the J7 2017, though, you won’t be seeing any of the higher-end options like selective focus, slow-mo, or hyperlapse. Instead, you have only more essential features, like pro mode, HDR, and night mode.

Images taken with the J7 are nice to look at. Colors are reproduced well and details are quite sufficient in well-lit scenes. We did notice a significant loss of oranges in landscape scenes, and generally less ability in picking up similar components of depth. This can mostly be attributed to the sensor's noticeable, but usually not crippling tendency to overexpose. Using the HDR mode certainly helps, but it’s helpless to bring back those lost oranges. The sensor can sometimes over-sharpen objects and in doing so actually lose some detail by creating artifacts, we’d say instances where this is a major problem are rare.

UI of the camera app - Samsung Galaxy J7 2017 (AT&T) Review

Enabling HDR is a must for most scenes. It does a pretty good job of evening out the shot and adding back a bunch of lost details and colors. HDR does have its limits though, when it comes to low-light situations, which we’ll touch on in a bit. No matter what light you’re in, though, HDR makes snapping a picture at least a half-second longer – a trade-off you shouldn’t have to make just to get a decently exposed picture. We were unable to properly test the time on HDR as the camera cannot open directly into that mode, but comparing the two shows the difference can be almost one full second in some situations.

A low-light performer this is not. The relatively large aperture does little to help this sensor with its lack of detail and ever-present grain in such situations. Because of its tendency to over-expose, low-light images can seem to reproduce more details in dark spots where properly exposed lenses would otherwise not find light. This is little consolation though, as wherever light exists in the shot, over-exposure engulfs the outlines of anything it borders, washing out details and completely erasing smaller objects, like leaves and branches. Turning on the HDR mode (which is not automatic) takes care of this issue, but presents another. Colors and separation come back (at least to the extent that they’re able) but the entire shot becomes much less sharp, softened to the point of seeming airbrushed or painted.

If you want to take consistently good pictures on this phone, especially in low light, you’ll have to get familiar with pro mode. This is Samsung’s “full featured” camera suite, which offers settings or ISO, white balance, brightness control, and light metering modes. We found that lowering the ISO, for instance, did wonders for the overexposure to which the auto mode is so prone, and in some instances helped capture more detail as a result. Of course, this issue isn’t eradicated totally, and no setting here will help with its mediocre color capture, but at least pro mode is useful enough to produce better results than the auto mode.

Still, though, we would like to see auto-HDR and other tweaks to auto-mode in hopes of making this a more competent “point-and-shooter,” since realistically, that’s what most people will do.

The 5 MP front-facing camera offers a couple useful features and sufficient quality in well-lit scenarios. The beauty mode has three sliders that apply Snapchat-like filters to the face it sees. While not as cartoon-like or fun-oriented as Snapchat, the J7 2017’s front facer provides sliders for skin tone, slimmer face, and enlarged eyes, all set on a scale of zero to eight. At lower settings, these proved effective to airbrush skin tone imperfections, slim down the face and, if you want, enlarge your eyes. Putting the sliders all the way to the max, though, will produce almost alien-like results, which may be fun for some. More useful to us was the wide-angle selfie, which contains a panorama-like selfie mode for squeezing in more subjects..er, friends. Unfortunately, the capture mode is temperamental, and requires a steady hand to tilt the phone properly, or the shot will error out – a result we received more times than not, in initial testing. When it works though, it can be quite useful.


Good color reproduction, but shaky and has a very hard time changing the focus

Video recording on the J7 tops out at 1920x1080px (1080p) and looks pretty good in terms of image quality and color reproduction. Movement, on the other hand, begins to reveal some issues. Lacking any sort of stabilization, movements present shakiness, and any little bump will be seen. Autofocus was also spotty, seeming only to be able to focus at certain lengths and taking its sweet time when actually doing so.

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PhoneArena rating:
Display5.5 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (267 ppi) TFT
Camera8 megapixels
Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 1600 MHz, ARM Cortex-A53 processor
Size5.96 x 3.01 x 0.34 inches
(151.5 x 76.4 x 8.6 mm)
5.6 oz  (159 g)
Battery3300 mAh, 40 hours talk time

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