Samsung's new Galaxy A7 for 2016: Big phone, middling price (hands-on)

If you like your phone big, then the new A7 with its 5.5-inch display probably won't disappoint.

Aloysius Low Senior Editor
Aloysius Low is a Senior Editor at CNET covering mobile and Asia. Based in Singapore, he loves playing Dota 2 when he can spare the time and is also the owner-minion of two adorable cats.
Aloysius Low
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Editors' note: This hands-on first take shares some text with those of the new Samsung Galaxy A3 and A5.

Samsung's Galaxy A range of smartphones is designed for a younger, trendier crowd who can't afford its higher end flagships, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. Announced late last year, the updated 2016 versions of these phones sport metal bodies similar to the S6 Edge, with shared design cues such as rounded edges and shiny glass rears.

While the specs can't quite compare with the Edge, the new Galaxy A phones will pretty much knock your socks off in the looks department, and really only vary depending on the screen sizes of the phone. The Galaxy A7 is the biggest of the lot at 5.5 inches, and packs the best specs. While I say best, bear in mind it's still more of a midrange device, though it will give top-end phones a run for their money with its octa-core processor and 13-megapixel camera.

The phone first made its debut in China alongside the Galaxy A3 and A5, and is set for global markets in the new few months. Alongside the other two phones, the A7 will also be sold in Southeast Asia. In Singapore, the A7 won't be cheap when sold without a contract, as it will retail for S$698, which converts to approximately $485, £335 and AU$690. Do check with your local retailer for exact pricing and availability.

The A7 will likely do well when sold subsidized with a two-year contract, which should help defray the phone's more expensive standalone cost. Given that it also looks similar to the iPhone 6S Plus and shares the same display size, it could offer a viable alternative to those who want the iPhone looks but Android software.

Meet Samsung's updated Galaxy A smartphones (pictures)

See all photos

Big on features

Besides a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display running at full-HD resolution, the phone also sports a 13-megapixel rear camera, like the A3 and A5. What sets it apart from the other two phones, however, is a bigger built-in 3,3000mAh battery and 3GB of RAM.

Like the A5, the A7 also comes with a fingerprint sensor located on the home button and has dual-SIM 4G LTE connectivity. Unlike the A3, which uses one of the dual-SIM slots for the microSD card slot, the A5 and A7 come with a separate microSD card slot that supports up to 128GB of extra storage.

What else you'll need to know

The phone feels premium and luxurious, easily comparable to the company's higher-end phones. The specs of the A7 are certainly respectable, though I daresay phones from China will be the A7's main competitor, given their overall cheaper pricing. Check out the key specs below.

  • 5.5-inch screen with 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution
  • 1.6GHz octa-core processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 16GB of internal storage
  • 128GB microSD card slot for external storage
  • 3,300mAh battery
  • 13-megapixel camera
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Android 5.1.1
  • 5.96 by 2.92 by 0.29 inches (151.5 by 74.1 by 7.3mm)
  • 6.07 ounces (172 grams)