Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) review: Marathoner with a punch
The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) is available in both a single-SIM and dual-SIM version. Our unit had two SIM trays. However, that only becomes apparent in apps such as the dialer or messenger when both slots are occupied.
There's native support for blocking incoming calls - you can block specific numbers and all anonymous calls.
We don't really comment on call quality anymore, since modern hardware has mostly eradicated the issue. Naturally, the Galaxy A7 (2017) gave us no trouble in this department.
This year's A-series have their loudspeakers in a novel position - on the right side of the phone. Just like its two smaller siblings, the A7 earned a Good mark in our standardized test. However, it is worth noting that bigger size seems to bring about better acoustics, which shows in the raw number scores. It's a noticeable improvement over the 2016 model, and puts the A5 (2017) on par with most of its competition. Output quality is quite good, too.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
Messaging and text input
Samsung preloaded its own Messaging app to handle SMS/MMS instead of using Google's Allo (which isn't even available out of the box). The app has a clean but powerful interface, much of its functionality hides behind a slide-out menu on the right.
This menu lets you view all photos (or even general attachments) in a conversation, sort of like a two-person gallery. You can also insert canned responses, block numbers (or just mute notifications for the contact) as well as pin the conversation thread so it's always on top.
You can insert smiles and photos, similar to popular chat apps (except that files are sent over MMS).
The Samsung Keyboard handles text input. It can be heavily customized - you can resize it (in height and width), hide the number row and add additional symbols (punctuation on long key press).
Swipe input can be tasked with one of two tasks - move the cursor or text input. A High contrast mode is available for people with poor eyesight.
Samsung's S Health is available and it can track your walks/runs and your sleep. With help from the right accessory, it can track a lot more - it works with Samsung's activity trackers, of course, but you can connect heart rate monitors, bike sensors, smart scales, even blood pressure and glucose monitors. Both Bluetooth 4.0 LE and ANT+ accessories are available. If it were a flagship, you'd have a heart rate sensor built in, but not here.
For those who need motivation, you can challenge a friend and compete to win virtual crowns. You also get a global leaderboard so you know where you stand. S Health can cooperate with a number of third-party apps (from Withings and others).
The File manager shows the most recent files by default and supports basic folder operations as well as compression.
As previously mentioned, the Galaxy A7 (2017) is fully equipped to handle contactless payments with both NFC and Samsung's own MST. Hence, it is only natural that Samsung Pay is part of the package. Adding your debit or credit card is really straight-forward. You even get the benefit of some built-in OCR for the number. However, support for the service is still pretty limited both by country and banks, so you have to double-check before you get excited for the feature.
The Samsung Members app is also part of the default package. It is part news reader, part user manual and guide for better using and utilizing your phone. However, the best part is probably the automated scans and fixes the app can apply to certain settings.
Of course, Samsung's S Voice assistant is always present and ready to help as well, if you can count it as an app. It has gotten a lot more visually appealing since the old days, but is likely on its way out with Bixby right around the corner.
Finally, there's Galaxy Apps, an alternative (or, rather, parallel) source of apps. A number of Samsung apps are available here, including ones not pre-installed on the Galaxy A7 (2017). You can also find freebies and exclusives here.