The Samsung Galaxy A7 measures 151 x 76.2 x 6.3mm and weighs 141g. Not small, but impressively thin and quite light for its size. In comparison, the Galaxy Note 4 is 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5mm, 176g and the LG G3 (with a 5.5" screen like the A7) is 146.3 x 74.5 x 8.9mm and 149g. The later has no hardware keys (so it's shorter) and has an all-plastic build (making it lighter).
Despite its premium posture, the Samsung Galaxy A7's retail box is nothing out of the ordinary. It comes with a charger (1.55A, not enough for Quick Charge), a microUSB cable and a single-piece headset with a three button remote control and ear plugs (with replacement caps).
That's what most phones get these days, even at the high end, but some special treatment (say, a protective case) would have been a very pleasant touch).
If Samsung was a person, it would've been an engineer rather than an artist. The Galaxy A7 features a rigid metal frame and the entire body (except for the camera bump) is just 6.3mm thick. The low weight doesn't make the phone feel any less solid.
The difference is mostly tactile though, looks-wise we're pretty much at the Galaxy S III, as the camera/LED/loudspeaker arrangement is a direct copy of the 2012 flagship. The hardware keys below the screen, the earpiece above it, all came out of the Galaxy parts bin.
Even the color selection - Pearl White, Midnight Black and Champagne Gold - is the industry standard color selection that the iPhone 5s debuted in 2013. At least the metal frame and the plastic elements are painted a consistent color (we have the Champagne Gold option).
The metal frame goes around the sides of the Galaxy A7. The Gorilla Glass 4 that covers the screen is slightly sunken so it catches your finger every time you have to do an edge swipe. This part of the frame is chamfered and there are no sharp corners poking at your thumb, but we still would have preferred it to be flush with the screen.
Anyway, below the screen is a hardware Home key. There is no fingerprint sensor beneath it - the Galaxy Alpha had it and the Galaxy Note 4 had it, but not the A7. That's a negative in our mind, since people who buy a premium product like the Galaxy A7 are all the more likely to use online payments or will at least compare it to an iPhone 6 Plus.
On each side of the Home key is one capacitive key, App switcher on the left and Back button on the right.
Above the screen is a 5MP selfie camera with a wide-angle, 106° camera. Wide selfie mode works like a panorama to make even wider photos. You can also create animated GIFs of your mug. The camera can detect a raised, open palm and will start a 2-second timer or you could tap the screen to take a photo.
The metal trim on the Samsung Galaxy A7 is where all the ports and slots are. The right side is quite busy with a Power key and two card slots. On our dual-SIM device, the one nearer the bottom holds SIM1, while the one above it has a combo tray that can hold either another SIM or a microSD card. Both slots use nanoSIMs and require an ejector tool to open.
At the bottom is a microUSB port for data and charging, the 3.5mm audio jack and the mouthpiece. Its companion noise cancellation mic is on top. Finally, the left side holds the volume rocker.
At the back is the 13MP main camera. It sticks out - by a lot. While that doesn't impact the overall volume of the device, it makes the phone very wobbly and puts the camera at risk of getting scratched. On its left is a single LED while on the right is the loudspeaker grille.
The back panel is made of matte plastic that fits so tightly in place - nothing sinks or bends - that we spent a long while trying to figure out if its metal or plastic. In terms of feel, it's a lot like painted metal rather than the exposed anodized aluminum that most metal unibody phones use. What gives it away is very low heat conductivity, but that's not exactly a negative.
The Samsung Galaxy A7 is not a small device, roughly the size of a Galaxy Note 4. If you're used to big phones you won't have any issues, while people coming from smaller screens will need some time to get comfortable.
The 6.3mm of thickness and relatively low weight mean that the device doesn't feel bulky despite its actual size. It's still quite a stretch to reach the top part of the display, but the Galaxy A7 packs all the one-hand use features of the Note 4.