Hands on: Samsung Galaxy A7 review

The A7 is Samsung's thinnest smartphone yet

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

One of the best designed handsets that Samsung has released - not to mention the thinnest.

For

  • Great look and feel
  • Decent AMOLED screen
  • Really thin

Against

  • In-built storage just 16GB
  • Set to be expensive

Samsung has made something of a shift in its design ethos with its Alpha and A range of smartphones. Instead of the plastic chassis of the Samsung Galaxy S5, an all-metal unibody design has been used. This design is a major hint at what to expect when the Samsung Galaxy S6 eventually arrives.

The A range is sleeker and a whole lot more stylish than the S5 - and suits phablets too, as the Samsung Galaxy A7 proves.

For some unknown reason, the Samsung Galaxy A7 wasn't shown off at CES 2015. But TechRadar managed to get hands on with the device at the company's European Forum in Monaco this week.

It will come as no surprise the Samsung Galaxy A7 offers many of the same specs as the Samsung Galaxy A3 and the Samsung Galaxy A5, albeit in a larger frame. But it does improve somewhat on both screen quality and chipset power.

The A7's screen measures 5.5 inches, just shy of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4's 5.7 inches. In contrast the A5's screen measures 5 inches and the A3's 4.5 inches. It's not hard to spot the pattern here.

Samsung Galaxy A7 review

There's a big reason the Galaxy Alpha A7 has a 5.5 inch screen, and that is the iPhone 6 Plus fanciers. This phone seems to be strutting its stuff to entice those that like the idea of the larger screen but don't want to pay out the dollar that Apple is asking for.

Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, a phone which sparked off Samsung's new all-metal look but came with no expandable memory, you will be pleased to know that the A7 has a microSD card slot. This is situated on the right side of the device, next to the SIM card slot. Both of these can be opened with a special pin.

Samsung Galaxy A7 review

Samsung has made sure that its A range of smartphones are the skinniest yet - the chassis measures a mere 6.3mm. It's beautifully slim, which means it sits well in the hand - despite the large screen size - and it is Samsung's thinnest handset to date.

Another way the Samsung Galaxy A7 differs from the others in the range is screen quality. While the A5 and A3 were given 720p and qHD screens respectively, this one comes with a 1080p Super AMOLED.

Samsung Galaxy A7 review

The European Forum was ablaze with light when I tried out the A7 but it still managed to look bright, with colours both vivid and crisp. The 401ppi pixel density made sure that I was impressed with the look of the screen.

To make sure there is sufficient power in the A7, Samsung is using the Snapdragon 615 chipset. This is definitely a marked improvement on the Snapdragon 410 chip that's found in the A5.

Samsung Galaxy A7 review

Also inside is 2GB of memory and a rather paltry 16GB of built-in storage. Thankfully this can also be expanded by 64GB, courtesy of the SD slot.

In the hand, the phone feels perfectly premium. The metal chassis doesn't extend to the back of the device, though, but I have a feeling that this is something that Samsung is holding back for the Galaxy S6.

Samsung Galaxy A7 review

Camera-wise, Samsung has decided that 13MP should be the norm for this series but that's not something you can argue with. It means there's plenty of megapixel power to make sure the shots you take on the A7 match that of a compact camera.

Granted it's not the 20.7MP sensor that is found in the Sony Xperia Z3, but you won't have too much to complain about here.

Samsung Galaxy A7 review

If you are into the dreaded selfie, then this will also come out crisp and clear as there is a 5MP sensor on the front of the Galaxy A7. To help you with your picture-taking narcissism, there's two selfie-infused features on board: ultra wide shot and auto selfie.

Other camera functions include, touch to focus, face detection and geo tagging. The back camera is one thing that let's the design of the phone down - it does protrude, much like the camera on the Galaxy S5 but it is flanked by the LED flash and the speaker grill.

Early Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy A7 is a great-looking device but I will have to wait until our full review to see if it has the chipset power to help raise it above its mid-range leanings.

If you don't fancy wielding an S Pen, however, and want a big-screen phone then the A7 does fit this category.

While it doesn't match Samsung's current flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S5, on specs - except for a better front-facing camera - this design will no doubt carry on in the Samsung Galaxy S6. And that is definitely something to get excited about.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.