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There’s plenty of reviews about the Samsung Galaxy A7 out there, describing its various features, processor speed, build and storage. This isn’t one of them. Neither is it a comparison between phones or cameras. As a travel blogger, I’ve realized that pretty much the most important thing for me in a phone is the camera, and related stuff like storage space. So, this review is about those things. And while there are phones out there with better cameras, they’re also more expensive.
Disclaimer: I’ve taken all photos (except ones of the phone itself) with the Samsung Galaxy A7. The only editing I’ve done is to resize and crop them, and add my logo. Note that the colours might look a little different depending on whether you’re reading this on a computer screen or a phone.
Also read: Review: Tamron 18-400 mm f/3.5-6.3 zoom lens
Major pros and cons of the Samsung Galaxy A7 (from a travel blogger’s point of view)
The phone’s triple-lens camera system delivers some great results in most conditions. Here’s how the camera, and some other things about the phone, have measured up to my expectations.
- Great colour depth, clarity and contrast in good light
- Great clarity and brightness in most low light conditions
- The high dynamic range (HDR) option reduces contrast between dark and bright areas of the frame quite nicely
- The 24 MP rear lens delivers a large, high-quality image that can be used for pretty much anything (except maybe billboards)
- The rear camera can switch between regular and wide-angle shots in both photo and video modes.
The camera delivers great colour, clarity and contrast in good light, and good clarity and brightness in low light.
- The front camera has a panorama mode, called ‘wide selfie’, for group selfies.
- There’s a ‘live focus’ mode, which blurs the background a bit like a professional camera. The best bit? You can adjust the blur later.
- There’s a ‘food’ mode, which automatically uses effects like blur and colour tone for great food photos. This mode becomes available only once you auto-upgrade to Android 9, though.
- Even the default mode gives you a nice background blur while taking close-ups. No more endless depth of field.
You can take slow-motion, super slow-motion and timelapse videos. Super slow-mo even adds background music according to the scene.
- You can take slow- and super slow-motion video, and change which bits are slowed down later.
- The super slow-mo mode also adds background music to the final video (which you can change or turn off).
- There’s even a timelapse mode called ‘hyperlapse’ that takes pictures at intervals and stitches them together into a fast-forward video.
- In-built video stabilization makes your video steadier, especially if you’re on the move.
- It’s good value for money (especially the 64 GB version), considering all the features it’s loaded with.
- It’s definitely durable. I know, because it’s fallen off my bedside table a few times without any damage at all.
- The automatic noise reduction on pictures taken in very low light makes them look a bit like water colour paintings, especially when you zoom in.
- The HDR feature sometimes gives darker parts of the photograph a glow or halo around them, especially when the background is bright.
- You can’t change the default camera mode from auto to things like ‘live view’ or ‘slow-mo’. But auto-updating the software to Android 9 allows you to start the camera in the mode you previously used, so that’s a workaround.
Colours sometimes look faded in very bright light, and the HDR features can give dark objects a halo, at times.
- Colours sometimes look a little faded in very bright light, though that’s an issue some professional cameras have too.
- I would have loved a shutter speed control in the ‘pro’ mode, like some other phones have.
- If you want slow-motion videos, you need to switch to that mode and then take the video. You can’t apply slow motion to other videos.
- The glass finish on the back of the phone is super slippery. My phone slid off my bedside table thrice before I got a protective case for it.
- The phone’s a little too big for my liking, especially with a case on top.
Basic features of the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)
Just for some information, here are the basic features of this phone.
- 6-inch display
- 1080×2220 px resolution
- 2.2 GHz octa-core processor
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB/128GB storage, expandable up to 512 GB
- 3300 mAh battery
- Dual nano-SIM slots, with 4G and VoLTE support
- Android 8.0 Oreo OS with Samsung Experience UI
- Face and fingerprint recognition
- Triple-lens rear camera with single interface
- 24 MP (f/1.7), 8 MP (f/2.4) and 5 MP (f/2.2) lens array
- 24 MP (f/2.0) front camera
While looking out for a good camera phone to go with my travel blogging lifestyle, I figured that most phones nowadays have great processors and sharp displays (unless they’re really bottom-end). So I decided to spare myself the headache, and just look at what was important to me: picture quality, and storage space (because great picture quality + crap storage space = major frustration).
I hit on some pictures that a professional had taken with the A7, and I was pretty much sold!
I finally hit on some pictures that a professional photographer had taken with the A7 in low light, and I was sold! But just to be on the safe side, I went to a shop to do some first-hand testing of my own. Nothing I saw changed my mind, so I went home the proud owner of a brand-new Samsung Galaxy A7.
Now, a few months later, I’ve gotten to know my phone a little better. So here’s my take the Samsung Galaxy A7’s camera and related features.
My first thought when I saw the phone was, “Hmmm, it’s a bit big.” That’s something that I still consider one of its drawbacks. It doesn’t sit very comfortably in my pocket, especially in situations when I need to raise my knees above waist level (think climbing, squatting etc.). But one can get used to anything, I guess. I still bought it, though, because I really liked the results of the test shots I took at the showroom. And I haven’t changed my mind about that either.
The next thing I noticed (when I got home and unpacked it) was the smooth finish. It definitely looked and felt very cool. But it was slippery as heck, even while pocketing it. And that showed up in other ways, too. The first time it fell off my bedside table, I thought I’d knocked it off. Then I realized that it slid around on smooth surfaces as if it was a hovercraft! I quickly bought a case. Which made it even bigger.
Shooting with the Samsung Galaxy A7
But all my misgivings disappeared when I started using the camera. Nice crisp contrast, with good definition and nice background blur. The colours are also quite true-to-life, though you can play with the settings if you want them more vibrant. And the HDR (high dynamic range) feature does a great job of evening out contrast between light and dark parts of the shot. It sometimes adds a ‘glow’ around objects when the contrast is too high, though.
The HDR feature does a great job of evening out extreme contrasts.
I’m also quite impressed with the camera’s ability to deliver good quality shots in reasonably low light, too. But if the light is too dim, there’s a slight ‘watercolour painting’ effect, because the phone tries to brighten each pixel and then smooth out the contrast between each. The ‘live focus’ and ‘food’ modes are pretty cool too, if you want to take nice close-ups with professional-type background blur. The camera does that with close-ups anyway, but these modes make the blur more pronounced.
With video, the slow-mo and super slow-mo video modes are quite nice, especially if you’re into posting videos on social media. They even let you adjust the time and settings after you’ve taken the video. And the auto-upgrade to Android 9 makes the super slow-mo mode automatically add dramatic background music (which you can change or mute). I wish I could apply slow-motion to videos taken in other modes, though. The automatic video stabilisation is also a nice touch.
Selfies, and other stuff
I’m not big on selfies, but the front camera on this phone takes some nice shots, too. With the ‘wide selfie’ mode, no group is too big to fit. And the Android 9 upgrade adds the ‘live focus’ mode to the front camera for some nice background blur.
One of the things that bothered me with the camera was that I couldn’t change the default mode, and had to switch to my favourite mode manually every time. The auto-upgrade to Android 9 has added a workaround: you can set the camera to open in the last mode you used. It’s not the same, but saves time if you use one mode a lot.
Lastly, the storage space (especially on the 128 GB version) is brilliant for someone who clicks first and asks questions later.
The bottom line
With crisp definition, nice colour depth, good contrast adjustment and lots of specialized modes, the Samsung Galaxy A7 takes some very nice pictures. Its video capabilities are good too, with auto-stabilization, and interesting slow-motion capabilities. Of course, the camera isn’t perfect. The HDR feature overcompensates sometimes, and colours might get a little washed out in very bright light. A little more control over the slow-motion video features would’ve been nice, as would better low-light video performance.
No doubt, there’s better phone cameras out there, but very few (if any) at this price. So if you’re looking for a phone with a great camera and with lots of bells and whistles, all at a decent price, you can’t go wrong with the Samsung Galaxy A7.
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