The Galaxy A series come in cyan box, while the J series come in orange boxes. That's a nice bit of color-coding to go with the letter codes. The box contents are fairly modest: a microUSB cable, a 5V 1.55A charger and a one-piece headset.
The charger isn't powerful enough for Quick Charge, but it's the same that the pricier A series got. The headset is clearly cheaper though, it only has one button and uses simple earbuds compared to the in-ear headset of an A series phone.
The Samsung Galaxy J7 measures 152.2 x 78.7 x 7.5mm (7.9mm on some versions), that's a good 1.2mm (1.6mm) thicker than the A7. It's also 30g heavier at 171g. This all gives it a bulkier feel and the all-plastic exterior gives away its lower position in the pecking order.
Samsung has been stepping up its design game and with the latest premium devices it has reached a level most people will call "beautiful." The Galaxy J7, however, belongs to the previous era, the one favoring practicality over looks.
The ordinary design makes it a face in the crowd - is it a J7? E7? Some sort of Note Neo maybe? Grand something? The J7 does not aspire to individuality, instead it's content with helping the Galaxy line solidify the ranks in the midrange.
The hardware does have some standout features making this the smartphone equivalent of a sleeper car - you won't think much of it at the stoplight until it drives off with screeching tires. Well, okay with Cortex-A53 cores and 13MP camera it will only provide moderate amounts of squeal but you get the point - the Galaxy J7 performs better than it looks, it's the opposite of flame decals.
On the plus side, Samsung got ergonomics right haven't made major changes to the formula since. This will make upgrades from older Galaxys seamless while newcomers will adjust quickly.
The phone's side and back are smoothly rounded so there's nothing poking at your hand while you're holding it. Having handled the slender Galaxy A8, the J7 feels a little chunky though its weight contributes more to that than its thickness. 7.5mm is still very good, though note that some versions of the phone are slightly thicker (7.9mm).
The back panel is made of matte plastic, which offers good grip. It's not the best hand feel we've experienced but it wards off fingerprints with ease. It comes in a choice of White, Black and Gold paintjob.
The top and bottom side of the phone are indented so that the four corners rise slightly. This offers extra grip for your fingers as you hold the phone horizontally to take a photo. Otherwise the smooth chrome-finish sides can be quite slippery.
In portrait orientation your thumb has the hardware Home key and capacitive App switcher and Back keys to play with below the screen. There's no fingerprint reader on this Home key, that's still a premium feature.
Above the screen is a much more interesting setup. The 5MP selfie camera is on the right, while its LED flash is on the left. In the dark, one side of your face is illuminated a bit more, which gives better definition than if flash and camera were closer together.
Of course, the usual suspects are all there as well: earpiece, proximity and ambient light sensors.
The sides of the phone accommodate the Power key and the Volume rocker. The keys are a bit thin but solid to press.
The top side of the Samsung Galaxy J7 is bare, the interesting bits are all on the bottom - microUSB 2.0 port, audio jack and mouthpiece. The USB port does not support MHL TV out (leaving you with only wireless methods), but it does have USB On-The-Go.
The back panel is removable, giving you access to the three card slots and the battery. The SIM1 and microSD slots are stacked vertically (SIM on the bottom), while SIM2 is off to the side, this makes it easier to swap out. Both cards are microSIM by the way.
The battery packs 3,000mAh, putting it on par with the Galaxy Note5. Of course, its chipset isn't as efficient though it has the easy job of driving a 720p display so we'll see how the J7 does at that.
The back has the time-tested Galaxy S III arrangement of a slightly protruding camera (13MP), an LED flash on one side and loudspeaker grille on the other.