The Galaxy J7 (2017) is the latest annual edition of an already popular phone. The J series has already shaped up as a home to some solid midrange propositions, and the Galaxy J7 (2017) is meant to spice things up even further. The newcomer is blurring the lines between the J series and the A series- just as we thought we had Samsung's portfolio segmentation all figured out.
The J phones have been enjoying a killer key-selling feature, and that's Samsung's Super AMOLED screens. The Galaxy J7 (2017) is no different; this time around it's a high-tier screen with 1080p resolution, but Samsung didn't stop the upgrades there. The new model builds on the 2016 model with a premium-looking unibody a high-res selfie camera with a flash, more RAM, and a newer Android.
The Exynos 7870 chip was the only part which was passed up for promotion, still stuck in 2016. It's still a nicely power-efficient 14nm chipset, so it should surely provide great battery life. Either Samsung built a great chip ahead of its time, or they just felt confident that the rest of the value-adding upgrades would make up for this omission. And with these attractive specs, we are not sure we can blame them.
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) key features:
- Body: Aluminum unibody
- Screen: 5.5" 1080p Super AMOLED screen (401ppi); Always On Display
- OS: Android 7.0 Nougat; Bixby virtual assistant.
- Chipset: 14nm octa-core Exynos 7870 (8 x 1.6 GHz Cortex-A53 cores)
- Memory: 3GB of RAM; 16/32GB storage, dedicated microSD slot for expansion
- Camera: Primary 13MP, f/1.7, LED flash; Secondary 13MP, f/1.9, LED flash
- Video: 1080p at 30fps
- Connectivity: nano SIM (dual SIM version available); LTE (Cat. 6); dual-band Wi-Fi ac; Bluetooth 4.2; FM Radio; microUSB; 3.5mm jack
- Battery: 3,600mAh
- Misc: Fingerprint reader, Samsung Pay
- Same GPU as the J7 (2016), yet twice as many pixels on the screen
- No water resistance
- microUSB port is getting outdated
- No quick charging
Having an old-gen chipset takes its toll - the Galaxy J7 (2017) lacks 4K video capture, for starters. But our major concern is with the graphic performance, as the processing power hasn't increased, yet the J7 must handle twice as many pixels.
But then again there are so many improvements which will probably make the old chipset easier to swallow. And while we are wondering whether the Galaxy J7 (2017) can deliver adequate performance or not, it's time we get this review started and find out what's hot and what's not.
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) unboxing
The Galaxy J7 (2017) comes packed within a paper box accompanied by a cheap-looking pair of headphones, a regular microUSB cable, and a 5V/1.55A wall plug.
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) 360-degree spin
The Galaxy J7 (2017) measures 152.5 x 74.8 x 8 mm - close to the Galaxy J7 (2016) footprint but slightly narrower thanks to the impressively narrow bezels. The new J7 has gained 11g of extra weight though, attributed to the solid aluminum unibody.
Samsung has been trying out the premium metal build across different segments of its portfolio. The J series finally gets a taste, and hopefully we'll see it in even more of Samsung's midrange devices.
The Galaxy J7 (2017) is a well-built device with a sturdy 2.5D glass at the front and metal all across the rest of the body. The seamless aluminum unibody is an instant eyecatcher, along with the signature antenna strip design which Samsung has gone for. Instead of trying to hide those as most manufacturers do, the designers here have decided to turn them into a prominent design feature for the back.
For this to work, the designers even chose contrasting colors for the antenna lines on some of the color versions of the phone. Only on the black model are the lines black too, so they are less noticeable.
The display glass on the front gets easily smudged with fingerprints and is tough to clean, so there is no oleophobic coating there for sure. The back, however, is not only fingerprint resistant, but its smooth matte surface actually makes for a secure grip.
A curious fact is that this "black" version we have here for review actually looks indigo or navy blue under certain light conditions.
Handling the Galaxy J7 (2017) is a fine experience - the phone feels sturdy, fits well in hand, and won't slip in spite of its round edges. Sure, the J7 may not be the best device for single-handed use, but it's a very reasonably-sized phablet with a solid claim for a premium build.
Above the 5.5" AMOLED screen is the earpiece flanked by the new 13MP selfie camera and the front LED flash. A couple of sensors are also placed nearby, but those are barely visible on the black model.
Samsung brought back the good ol' clickable Home key for the Galaxy J7 (2017), while the Task Switcher and Back keys are touch only. The always-on fingerprint scanner is incorporated within the Home key surface and works quite well.
The left side of the Galaxy J7 (2017) is quite busy - there are two ejectable trays below the independent volume keys. The first one holds the primary nano-SIM card, while the one to follow has places for another nano-SIM card and a slot for expanding the storage with a microSD card. We are glad Samsung found a way to fit all three slots in to the Galaxy J7 (2017) instead of choosing the hybrid option.
The loudspeaker grille and the power/lock key are on the right side of the Galaxy J7 (2017). While the speaker placement isn't that new - the 2017 A series has the speaker at the same spot - you have to be mindful of it so that you don't muffle it accidentally, especially in landscape orientation.
There is nothing of interest on the top of the Galaxy J7 (2017). The bottom has the microUSB port, the audio jack, and the mouthpiece. We wonder why Samsung went for the older microUSB port, while it has already phased it out in the A-series and the S-series for the newer reversible USB-C port.
Finally, the new 13MP main camera with f/1.7 bright lens is on the back coupled with a single LED flash. Unfortunately, the new J7 has lost all access to the battery due to the design change towards unibody. Honestly, we don't mind the trade-off.
Just like most of the recent Samsungs, the Galaxy J7 (2017) sports a Super AMOLED panel. It upgrades over the (2016) model with higher 1080p resolution and thus offers an adequate (if not flagship-worthy, right, OnePlus?) 401ppi density. The AMOLED matrix is based on the familiar Diamond Pixel arrangement.
Just as expected from a Super AMOLED unit, the Galaxy J7 (2017)'s screen offers great contrast. The display is decently bright at 348 nits. If you rely on the auto brightness option, the screen can even light up as bright as 482 nits when the surrounding light is very bright.
Technology: GSM / HSPA / LTE
2G bands: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2
3G bands: HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
4G bands: LTE band 1(2100), 3(1800), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 20(800), 28(700), 40(2300)
Speed: HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A (2CA) Cat6 300/50 Mbps
Announced: 2017, June
Status: Available. Released 2017, July
Dimensions: 152.5 x 74.8 x 8 mm (6.00 x 2.94 x 0.31 in)
Weight: 181 g (6.38 oz)
SIM: Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
Type: Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size: 5.5 inches, 83.4 cm2 (~73.1% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution: 1080 x 1920 pixels, 16:9 ratio (~401 ppi density)
- Always-on display
OS: Android 7.0 (Nougat)
Chipset: Exynos 7870 Octa
CPU: Octa-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A53
GPU: Mali-T830 MP1
Card slot: microSD, up to 256 GB (dedicated slot)
Internal: 16 GB, 3 GB RAM
Primary: 13 MP, f/1.7, autofocus, LED flash,
Features: Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, HDR
Video: 1080p@30fps, check quality
Secondary: 13 MP, f/1.9, LED flash, 1080p
Alert types: Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
3.5mm jack: Yes
WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth: 4.1, A2DP
GPS: Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
Radio: FM radio
USB: microUSB 2.0, USB On-The-Go
Sensors: Fingerprint (front-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging: SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Mail, IM
- ANT+ support
- MP4/WMV/H.264 player
- MP3/WAV/WMA/eAAC+/FLAC player
- Photo/video editor
- Document viewer
Non-removable Li-Ion 3600 mAh battery
Talk time: Up to 24 h (3G)
Music play: Up to 91 h
Colors: Silver, Pink, Black, Gold
SAR EU: 0.57 W/kg (head) 1.33 W/kg (body)
Performance: Basemark OS II: 1171 / Basemark X: 5489
Display: Contrast ratio: Infinite (nominal), 3.812 (sunlight)
Camera: Photo / Video
Loudspeaker: Voice 67dB / Noise 71dB / Ring 83dB
Audio quality: Noise -92.8dB / Crosstalk -92.3dB
Battery life: Endurance rating 108h