The Galaxy A7 (2017) comes in a standard package, not deviating from the Samsung norm in terms of presentation. You get a simple two-piece box with only gray writing, no colors to be found.
The phone cradle on the inside is made of plastic and has a pair of deep compartments to house the additional accessories. Samsung has packaged in one of its Adaptive Fast chargers, rated at 5V at 2A or 9V at 1.67A. Pretty standard so far.
What is less standard, however, is the included USB cable or at least now how you expect it to be. Most markets seem to be getting an old-school micro USB one, which is why there is also a micro USB to Type-C adapter in the box. Our unit did, however, come with a native Type-C cable as standard.
There is also a pair of Samsung-made 3.5mm earbuds in the box. Nothing too fancy, but they do have a microphone and get the job done.
Samsung cut no corners when it comes to the aluminum and glass shell of the Galaxy A7 (2017). You can actually mistake it quite easily for the Galaxy S7 flagship, and the resemblance isn't just skin-deep.
The list of materials appears to be identical between the pair - aluminum around the frame, softly sloping back and a mostly flat front side, complete with Gorilla Glass 4 protection. Even the shapes appear to be identical.
Aside from a few differently shaped or placed controls, the only difference seems to be in scale. This year, the Galaxy A7 has grown in size and now houses a 5.7-inch display inside its 156.8 x 77.6 x 7.9 mm body, weighing in at 186 grams. This puts it squarely in phablet territory - probably not a bad thing, considering the recent dismay within the Galaxy Note ranks.
It's no wonder Samsung went with the S7 look for the A7 (2017) - the style simply works, the shapes and proportions are well thought out and when executed with top-shelf materials, it really makes for a no-compromise experience.
Starting from the front of the A7 (2017), we find, well, the S7 really - that somehow unmistakable Samsung look, comprising of a screen, distinctly rounded home button, with a fingerprint reader and a pair of capacitive controls in a somewhat retro arrangement. Enjoy it while it lasts, since the S8 will probably bring about the retirement of this design language.
Speaking of the fingerprint reader, it works just as on the Galaxy S7, which is another way of saying - it's good but it's not the fastest one around. One thing that is missing from the clean front panel is a notification LED. The A7 (2017) does, however, have an always-on display feature, which kind of fills the void.
Still, this is admittedly a small omission. The A7 (2016) has at least a few other flagship-grade features to make up for it. The IP68 rating is definitely one of them. This is the first time it appears as part of the A-series formula and we really hope it sticks around.
Continuing our hardware tour with the sides and the rest of the device's controls, one thing instantly stands out - the speaker grill. It sits right above the power button. For ringtones that's as good as any other position and in a way it's better for video viewing when holding the display in landscape orientation than the prevalent bottom placement. There are no stereo speakers, but there aren't any on Samsung flagships either. Not yet, at least.
On the opposite bezel, we find a pair of volume controls and a SIM tray. Yes, you read that right, the tray houses a single card and nothing else. And in case you are wondering where the microSD card goes or the second SIM, provided you have the dual version - that would be on the top side of the phone.
That is something you don't see every day. And just like its smaller sibling the A5 (2017) which we recently reviewed, it has a dedicated second tray. It houses the other potential SIM slot and also has a dedicated space for the microSD card. It's a dedicated solution and not a hybrid one and we can't stress enough just how much we prefer it this way. Only like this can you enjoy both Dual SIM functionality and have a microSD card inside the phone simultaneously.
The only other hardware on the top side seems to be a secondary microphone.
The bottom of the A7 (2017) houses two connectors with a very different story - one still pretty new, while the other potentially headed towards retirement. The former is the USB Type-C port. Since the Galaxy S7 still relies on the traditional microUSB connector, the new A line is currently a bit ahead of the curve in Samsung terms. This will likely change with the S8, but besides updating the connector, the flagship might also use the opportunity to drop the older 3.5mm audio connector. If you are among the many who don't exactly fancy this new trend, you will be happy to learn that it is still present on the A7 (2017).
Moving on to the back, there isn't much in the way of hardware here either. A camera and a single LED flash. That's it. No fancy collection of sensors, like on the Galaxy S models.
We already mentioned the round slope on the back on the A7 (2017), which does make it a joy to hold. Still, the glass finish does have its shortcomings. For one, it is a fingerprint magnet. Then there is the question of traction. However, this seems to vary from person to person and we have handled more slippery aluminum-finished phones as well.