As a premium Samsung device, the Galaxy A7 gets the Super AMOLED treatment. The screen has 1080p resolution and is a bit smaller than the Galaxy Note 3's screen, 5.5" vs. 5.7". The difference in surface area is under 8%.
In terms of sharpness, the screen has just over 400ppi. Even with Super AMOLED's PenTile matrix that's more than enough. The Galaxy Note 4/Edge screens looks crisper but it's a difference noticeable mostly when you do a side-by-side comparison.
When viewed under a microscope, the diamond PenTile matrix of the Samsung Galaxy A7 can be observed. It's the same diamond layout that Samsung has been using since the Galaxy S4 and on its flagships ever since.
The screen has impressive contrast and bright colors typical of AMOLEDs and Samsung has added the Display mode setting to let you control the white balance and color saturation.
The screen shows a bit of a color shift at an angle, more than the Galaxy Note 4 screen shows. The maximum brightness is on the low side, not particularly impressive even for an AMOLED display.
|Display test||50% brightness||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
AMOLED screens typically are not very bright, but their reflectivity is low so they remain legible even in direct sunlight. The Samsung Galaxy A7 is no exception and is one of the best phones we've tested.
The screen has the option to increase touch sensitivity so you can use it with gloves. Other helpful features include Smart stay (keep the backlight on while the front camera can see your face) and Smart rotate (which orients the screen relative to your face, not the accelerometer readings).
Since 5.5" is more than some people can manage with one hand, Samsung offers three options to help them deal with it. First up is one-handed input, which squishes the on-screen keyboard to the left or right so you can reach all the keys with your thumb.
Next up is the Side key panel, which enables on-screen versions of the hardware keys. You can move this panel around to where it's most comfortable for you. It also slides out of the way, so it won't cover anything important.
Finally, the Reduce screen options shrinks the whole image into a smaller, floating window that you can move around. This mode also has on-screen buttons (it adds volume up and down too). It's triggered by a swipe-left-then-right gesture.
The optional dual-SIM is a key feature of the device. A second phone line is a must-have for some, but everyone else isn't losing anything - they can just put a microSD in the second slot and go about their business as usual. Even they will find themselves using the second SIM slot though, say a local card while on vacation abroad while the main phone number remains active for emergencies.
Anyway, you get LTE-Advanced Cat. 4 for mobile data, in other words 150Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink. You can select a preferred card for calls and which card is used for data, but only SIM1 has 4G and 3G connectivity. SIM2 is on 2G only.
The Galaxy A7 is a dual-SIM, dual-standby device so you can receive calls on one card even while talking on the other. This feature can be disabled to reduce the battery usage a bit.
Moving on, the phone supports dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n (but no 802.11ac) and Bluetooth 4.0. There's also ANT+ for use with sports sensors, if they don't support Bluetooth. Easy pairing is enabled with NFC support.
The microUSB 2.0 port on the bottom of the phone does not support MHL so there's no TV out. There's no DLNA either, so you have only the wireless screen mirroring to rely on (if you have a compatible device). The microUSB port does support USB On the Go, however.
The Samsung Galaxy A7 supports GPS, GLONASS and Beidou for positioning (regardless of which chipset you have). Beidou is the Chinese system, which is important for a country that has its own LTE standard.
The Samsung Galaxy A7 comes with a 2,600mAh battery - the same size as the battery in a 5" Galaxy S4 and practically the same as the 5.1" Galaxy S6 battery. That's not a lot to feed a 5.5" screen and an octa-core processor, but it's the price you pay for the 6.3mm thinness. Plus, the Galaxy Alpha did quite well on a tiny battery.
After running the tests our concerns subsided - the Galaxy A7 managed an impressive 83-hour rating, matching the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z3. The Galaxy Note 4 is slightly ahead at 90 hours, but even the massive 3,900mAh battery of the Motorola RAZR MAXX was not enough to pull it far ahead.
Anyway, individual tests returned excellent results - over a full day of talking and nearly 10 hours for both web browsing and video playback. If you start with a full charge, you should get two days with heavy usage or three days if you show some restraint.
Note that we tested the Galaxy A7 with a Snapdragon 615 chipset. The other option is an Exynos 5430 chipset, the one from the Galaxy Alpha. The daddy of the Galaxy A series scored a 52 hour Endurance rating on a 1,860mah battery.