Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro Review: Almost perfect

Detailed review Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro

Smartphones are revolutionary, powerful and life-changing, but literally no one is exploiting its full potential, both businesses and consumers. A company can only do business if it can make a profit, while consumers only buy the product that meets all their requirements. For that, companies conduct market research to determine what buyers want, and find a skew of specifications that allow maximum profit.

When you look at the Samsung Galaxy J7 Max and Galaxy J7 Pro side by side, they seem illogical. Why does the more expensive phone (J7 Pro) have less RAM and a smaller screen? The short answer is because it has more storage space, a bigger battery and a sAMOLED panel. Samsung cut the cost of one spec to offer another, and it wants to hit consumers with specific needs, rather than going for the whole bunch. The question is whether all these specifications are correct to create a sleek and balanced product.

Build and design: beautiful, soft and yet Samsung…

Step one with impressive buyers is to create a phone that is impressive to look at. You know that feeling you get when a phone just looks too good to say no to? That’s what Samsung is going for. The Galaxy J7 Pro has a metal design, but what makes it special is how the antenna bands are placed on the back. Most choose to place them in a straight line at the top and bottom or along the edges, but Samsung chose to display them in a sort of rectangular pattern.

It may look strange to some, but I must confess that I personally like it. There is also an oval camera plus flash module on the back which looks unique and beautiful. And all this in combination with the unibody metal design makes for a beautiful smartphone. It has the familiar rounded corners of Samsung phones and slightly curved back edges. The aluminum feels thick, sturdy and anodized. It can take a beating if you drop it, but it should easily protect the internal hardware. The Galaxy J7 Pro isn’t a perfectly ergonomic phone, but it’s easier to use than most of its competitors.

Finally, Samsung has trimmed the edges to some extent, although it doesn’t have the high form factor of 18:9 phones. I suspect it will be a while before Samsung brings one into the budget range. Still, the Galaxy J7 Pro is a uniquely designed, attractive and sturdy phone. If design was the only criterion, this is definitely one of my top picks.

Rendering: best in class…

When I travel by public transport, I often see people watching TV shows, movies and videos on their phones. For that you need a high-resolution screen with good viewing angles and good color reproduction. Samsung achieves all that with its 1080p sAMOLED panel here. Unless you’re a purist, the slightly oversaturated (some call it vibrant) colors look inviting, while the viewing angles suit you and a few of your friends.

If you’re streaming, Netflix and Amazon Prime content will look excellent on this screen. What’s more satisfying is that Samsung’s display is good at dealing with sunlight and regular outdoor viewing. While most budget screens pass this test these days, Samsung’s AMOLED panel is better at it than most. You don’t have to squint or even shield the screen with your hands. In my experience, that’s a hallmark of flagship-class devices. Most budget phones are categorized as “fine” when it comes to looking outside. The screen on the Galaxy J7 Pro is bright, vibrant and premium, and it’s definitely more advanced than the TFT panel on the Galaxy J7 Pro.

Samsung Pay: future-oriented, but efficient…

I’ll skip the software part here as I’m just repeating everything I wrote in the Galaxy J7 Max review. You get Samsung’s new social camera feature and the full version of Samsung Pay (the J7 Max has Samsung Pay Mini). The phone is of course NFC-enabled, so you can use Samsung Pay to pay contactless with this phone. It’s one of the few budget phones to have this feature, and while it’s barely usable at the moment, it makes the phone future-proof. I’ve been using the Galaxy S8+ and Note 8 for almost half a year now, but I’ve only had two opportunities to use Samsung Pay in my day-to-day activities.

Performance: slow, but steady…

This is where things get tricky. The Galaxy J7 Pro has 64 GB of storage, enough for almost everyone. That said, in order to provide that storage and some other specs, Samsung has compromised raw speed. The Exynos 7870 chipset on this one is an octa-core chipset with eight Cortex A53 cores, clocked at 1.6GHz. It also has 3 GB of RAM and all this does not impress, neither on paper nor practically.

The phone’s performance is adequate for the day-to-day stuff, but you can feel the laziness here. For example, the fingerprint sensor needs a noticeable moment to register, while apps also take a little longer to load. The phone does not qualify as snappy, although it will certainly do its job. Samsung uses memory with a lower bandwidth here, which makes a noticeable difference.

Overall, the Galaxy J7 Pro won’t disappoint right away, but you can expect it to slow down after a few months. To be clear, that goes for most Android phones, only it starts out slower than its competitors, hence the expected lifespan is also shorter. If you’ve read the Galaxy J7 Pro review, you’d know I said the same about the Galaxy J7 Max.

Camera: has its moments, but lacks reliability…

Performance isn’t the only similarity between the Galaxy J7 Pro and J7 Max. The phone has the same 13MP camera with Samsung’s own ISOCELL sensor and f/1.7 aperture. In fact, the image quality here is identical to what we’ve seen on the J7 Pro. Which means this phone is one of the best camera phones money can buy.

The Samsung Galaxy On Max is our favorite low-light shooter in the budget segment these days, and the J7 Pro is on par. It shoots good detail in well lit conditions and the white balance is pretty good too. Photos are clear when shooting in low light, but soft in some ways, with loss of detail. All in all, whatever the conditions, the Galaxy J7 Pro is sure to take photos suitable for social sharing.

Outside daylight

100% crop

Outside daylight

100% crop

Outside daylight

100% crop

Indoor tube lamps

100% crop

Example in low light

The camera is not always reliable

That said, the phone takes too long to focus, especially in low light. In fact, it sometimes completely failed to focus when shooting at night. That makes it difficult to rely on this camera and you may get blurry photos at times.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro

The gallery contains full size images clicked with the Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro

Battery: one of the best…

I started this review stating that there is a bigger battery on this phone. The Galaxy J7 Pro has a 3600 mAh battery that can easily last more than a day. The PC Mark battery test takes 14 hours 39 minutes to drop the battery from 80% to 20%. That’s one of the highest you’ll find among budget phones these days.

With regular use, you can easily expect 16-18 hours per charge. Current (2017) crop of mid-range or budget phones, this is certainly one of the best battery performers we’ve seen.

Bottomline: beaten by the price…

In short, the Galaxy J7 Pro has excellent battery life, an above-average camera, a beautiful display and it is well built. That would be a pretty good smartphone to buy, if it weren’t priced in the absolute top end of the budget range. The J7 Pro costs Rs. 20,990, which doesn’t make it a great value for money phone.

Had Samsung hit the mark (as it did with the Galaxy C9 Pro), it could have been the best phone at this price.

How it compares: not the best, but almost so far…

I said that the Galaxy J7 Pro is not really a good value for money device. That’s because you can spend around Rs. 4000 more to buy the OnePlus 3T (review), which is much more powerful and has a more reliable camera. If you want to stick to your budget, phones like the Moto G5 Plus (review) can give you almost everything it can.

While the Galaxy J7 Pro has a good camera, it is not particularly reliable. It’s well designed, but so is the Moto G5S Plus (review). It also looks good, but so is the LG Q6 (review). Basically what I’m saying is that while the Galaxy J7 Pro is certainly a good phone, it’s not the best value for money. If you want Samsung’s brand name, excellent battery life, a decent camera and a good display, you should definitely consider this phone.

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