Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) Review
A couple of months back, Samsung launched in the country the Galaxy J7 (2016). As the date suggests, it’s a newer version of the said smartphone packing upgraded internals, metal chassis, and a 5MP selfie camera with flash. Samsung is also boasting this model to be “Designed for the Philippines” aimed at those who prefer a smartphone with a local touch. So is it good? Let’s find out.
Design and Construction
Right off the bat, what we have here is a smartphone with a 5.5-inch screen which can still be considered as larger than average. The display is Super AMOLED but no mention of any special glass protection so our best guess is a standard scratch-resistant glass.
Above it is the earpiece with the 5-megapixel camera on its left, and flash and sensors on its right. Down below are the physical home button with Recent and Back unlit capacitive keys on its left and right.
To the left are plastic volume keys, while on the right is the power/ lock button.
The top part is barren but there are a couple of visible antenna bands. Looking at the bottom and you’ll see the microUSB port, microphone, headset jack, and a couple of antenna bands.
Turn it on its back and you’ll be greeted by the 13-megapixel shooter along with its LED flash and the loudspeaker. The plastic back panel is removable to give you access to the replaceable battery, as well as slots for two micro-sized SIM cards and dedicated microSD card slot.
On the hand, the Galaxy J7 (2016) feels premium and sturdy thanks to its aluminum frame with polished edges. The backside, although plastic, also looks and feels attractive because of the bamboo-like finish and pearl-like sheen. It’s also cold to the touch while the flat sides make it easy to grip. Button placements are also good and easy to reach. It’s relatively thin at 7.8mm and got some comfortable heft to it at 170g.
Display and Multimedia
A 5.5-inch screen is starting to become a normal size for smartphones nowadays which is fine considering that most users prefer a larger screen for viewing videos, photos, and playing games. That said, the Galaxy J7 (2016) doesn’t disappoint in this department even with an HD resolution which equates to 267ppi.
It’s not pixel-packed but it will suffice for most uses. Factor in the Super AMOLED displays which churns out well-saturated colors. You can further adjust its quality inside settings and choose different modes — Adaptive display, AMOLED cinema, AMOLED photo, Basic.
Outdoor usability shouldn’t be a problem as it is bright enough to handle sunlight. There’s even an outdoor mode which increases brightness for 15 minutes if you think it needs more. Despite all of those features, it doesn’t seem to have auto-brightness built in which is disappointing.
When it comes to audio, the small speaker at the back and can produce very audible sounds although the quality is inclined towards vocals. That said it is more than enough for watching videos and hands-free calls. It will also suffice for listening to your tunes granted that you’re listening at the solitude of your own room.
OS, UI, and Apps
Running the software department is Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with TouchWiz. This also the part where it received some local flavor thanks to its “Pinoy Spots” theme which changes the wallpaper and icons. If you’re not fond of it, you can switch to its default theme or just download your favorite launcher from the Play Store.
When it comes to apps there’s the usual Google goodies as well as Samsung’s like S Health, S Planner, and its own app store called Galaxy Apps. There’s Opera Max to help you manage your bandwidth consumption and Samsung 321 app which helps you connect to local emergency services. Due to Samsung’s partnership with Microsoft, the Galaxy J7 (2016) is also bundled with Microsoft productivity apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, OneNote, and Skype. You can’t uninstall these though but can be disabled.
Storage-wise, you have 16GB of internal storage with 10.82GB as usable. It’s limited but you can install a microSD card in its dedicated slot. USB OTG is supported as well.
The Galaxy J7 (2016) boasts a 13-megapixel rear camera with a bright f/1.9 aperture. The images produced are of good quality with vibrant colors and plenty of details even in dim environments. Autofocus, on the other hand, is relatively fast, but you might find yourself using the tap-to-focus feature when shooting in macro or in low-light situations.
If you’re fond of selfies, this phone has a 5-megapixel shooter which is not that much but compensates with a front-facing LED flash. That said, you won’t have problems with those self-portraits even in the dark. See sample images below.
As for videos, you’re limited to shooting 1080p clips at 30fps. Like the photos, quality is good with plenty of details and accurate colors. Watch the sample below.
Performance and Benchmarks
The Galaxy J7 (2016) is powered by a Samsung Exynos 7870 octa-core CPU clocked at 1.6GHz, Mali-T830 GPU, and 2GB RAM. Performance is smooth regardless of the task. Animations are smooth and switching between apps are fluid. Gaming is not an issue as it can handle graphic intensive games such as Asphalt 8. Check out the scores below.
* AnTuTu – 48,271
* Quadrant Standard – 22,925
* Vellamo – 1,668 (Multicore), 1,070 (Metal), 2,869 (Chrome Browser)
* 3D Mark – 292 (Sling Shot using ES 3.1)
Connectivity and Call Quality
When it comes to connectivity, the Galaxy J7 (2016) features dual-SIM (micro) and 4G LTE. It also boasts a feature called Signal Max which claims to help the device get a wider signal coverage. So far we didn’t have problems with this part as we never lost a signal but still depends on your location especially if we’re talking 4G LTE coverage. Call quality is not an issue as well as voices are loud and clear.
At 3,300mAh capacity, the removable battery looks pretty good on paper considering the specs. True enough, it can get us through the whole day (light calls and texts, heavy WiFi usage with social media apps, and some gaming) with a little a bit left in the next morning.
On our battery loop test, which involves playing a 1080p video on loop in Airplane mode at 50% brightness and volume with headset plugged in, it was able to last for 23 hours and 43 minutes which is really impressive.
Author’s note: PC Mark results are not available due to compatibility issues.
The Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) packs specs and features that most people are looking for – a premium look and feel, large, vibrant display, a decent rear and front cameras with LED flash for selfies, good performance for its class, and long battery life.
There are some disadvantages though like the lack of auto-brightness and the price. Although the Php14,990 SRP is not that bad, we can’t help but look at other options like the Xiaomi Redmi Pro (Php13,500 from online stores w/o manufacturer’s warranty) or the OPPO F1s for Php12,990.
That said, the Galaxy J7 (2016) is a good phone, but the price is not competitive enough considering the specs it offers.
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) specs:
5.5-inch HD Super AMOLED display, 267ppi
1.6GHz Samsung Exynos 7870 octa-core CPU
16GB internal storage
MicroSD card up to 128GB
13MP rear camera, f/1.9 aperture, LED flash
5MP front camera, f/1.9 aperture, LED flash
Signal Max (for wider signal coverage)
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
151.7 x 76 x 7.8mm
What we liked:
* Good build and design
* Good performance
* Long battery life
What we disliked:
* A little more expensive compared to competitor offerings.
* No display auto-brightness