Reviewed: The Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime

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It’s pretty complicated to keep up with Samsung and their plethora of naming schemes and models for their smartphones. In the beginning was the Galaxy S series which was their flagship lineup (currently in the S7 lineup of smartphones). That all changed after the smartphone manufacturer decided to introduce other letters into the series. Thus spawned a lineup of smartphones beginning from “A” and continuing down the alphabet. Our story begins with the Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime.

For starters, you will need to take a deep breath in order to read that whole thing in one go. Priced at Rs. 40,000/-, and available at Samsung showrooms islandwide, this is also the first smartphone from Samsung that we received from the local branch of the manufacturer themselves rather than the authorized distributor. Needless to say, quite a nice feather to our wreath.

Straight off the bat, the Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime has a number of interesting things going for it. Some good, some bad and some unusual. Read on and find out more.

The Packaging

As with most smartphones in this price range, there’s nothing to drool or swoon over. You get the standard stuff such as a USB to MicroUSB cable, charging dock and earphones. If you want to know more about your device, then you also get reading material in the form of a user manual and disposal measures.

The J7 Prime certainly does look like a premium device for the price. Vaguely reminiscent of phones from the likes of Huawei, Oppo and even HTC. Aluminum unibody designs seem to be the “in” thing nowadays, and Samsung does not disappoint. The device comes in either Black or Gold colors and measures 5.97 x 2.95 x 0.31 inches weighing in at 167g. Not too heavy, but also not too light either.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime
Image Credits: Mahesh de Andrado

The device sort of holds true to the statement “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”. If you look at any two Samsung devices, chances are that you may not be able to differentiate between them. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it looks like most smartphone manufactures have gotten into launching devices that essentially much look the same across the board, with only the internal specifications to differentiate them.

Located at the bottom of the device, you will find the MicroUSB port for charging and data transfer, the microphone and 3.5mm audio. Looking over at the right side, you will find the power/lock button and the loudspeaker. The placement of the speaker left me a bit confused but I guess Samsung has their own reason for doing that. Questionable? Well, I guess yes. The left side of the J7 Prime houses the volume rocker towards the top of the left side and the SIM tray is located towards the middle. Moving lower, you will find a tray that houses both the second SIM card and also the MicroSD slot.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime
Image Credits: Mahesh de Andrado

The hardware keys consisting of Back, Home, and Recents are located at the bottom with the Home Button doubling as an actual button and also housing the fingerprint sensor.

The back of the Galaxy J7 Prime completely flat which emphasizes the aluminum unibody design with nothing jutting out. This also includes the camera lens which sits flat against the body so that the phone stays completely flat when placed on any surface.

 

The Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime – The Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime comes with a 5.5” 1080P IPS display. At this size, the phone trots the fine line between being a phone and a phablet and is in fact accepted as a Phablet rather than a phone in terms of form factor. IPS means you get a crystal clear screen and the Corning Gorilla glass protection means that your smartphone’s display is protected from minor scratches and bumps made by fingernails or keys and coins during your day to day activities. You would still get significant damage if the device were to fall from a height so just because your screen has the protection, I wouldn’t recommend dropping the phone from any height.

If you, like me, have a tendency to stream content from YouTube or Netflix, then the Galaxy J7 Prime’s has what you need with dual Nano SIM support and full LTE (4G) support. As for storage, you’re looking at 16GB of internal storage and 3GB of RAM which is becoming the norm for most midrange devices in the current market. Given today’s demanding apps, and how cheap memory has become, it seems almost a no brainer for devices to ship with a bigger internal memory and RAM. If you still feel that you’re running low on space, then you can add up to another 256GB via the MicroSD card slot.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime
Image Credits: Mahesh de Andrado

The Galaxy J7 Prime is powered by a Octa-core Cortex-A53 processor clocked at 1.6GHz coupled with a equally powerful Mali-T830MP2 GPU to handle all your graphical needs. This means that the CPU is basically powerful enough to handle all your application needs and the GPU can handle pretty much any Android game you throw at it.

The Full HD screen really shines indoors and if you want to use the phone outdoors in a sunny environment, then there’s an additional Outdoor mode. This basically brightens the screen and also increases the contrast of it so content on the screen appears whiter to cope with the outdoor light. Interestingly, this feature is not present on flagships such as the Galaxy S7.

The speaker’s unusual location is not explained either. Despite its small size, it is rather loud and surprisingly clear. No heart thumping bass here, but for casual music playback and calls, it gets the job done.

The Home Button also acts as an actual hardware button which also incorporates the fingerprint sensor. All you need to do is press the home button with the finger you set up the lock with and the device is unlocked. Compared to my Oneplus 2 (Yes, I upgraded), the unlock mechanism on Samsung is a bit weird. Rather than just keeping your finger on the sensor, I had to press the Home button to wake the phone up, then keep my finger on the sensor again to unlock the phone. Compared to the other smartphones I’ve used, this mechanism feels a tad complicated and sometimes even a waste of time. That being said though, the device unlocks almost instantly. Another issue that I noticed is that because it’s of the aluminum unibody, the device tends to get slippery if you, like me suffer from a case of sweaty palms. This can lead to the device slipping out of your hands and also can be problematic when you want to unlock the device with your fingerprint. So you will have to wipe your fingers before using the scanner. If all else fails, you can simply enter the pin code or draw the pattern to unlock the device.

The Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime – The Software

The Galaxy J7 Prime ships out running Android 6.0 Marshmallow skinned by Samsung’s proprietary ROM called TouchWiz. I’ve always been a stickler for AOSP and Stock Android ROMs whenever possible but I decided to give TouchWiz a go.

Samsung Galaxy J7 PrimeIt certainly has improved with the latest iteration of Android and is less of a resource monger than before which is also good. The launcher has the basic features you would need in a launcher such as an app drawer, the ability to change wallpapers, add widgets, change grid size of the home screen and also has support for themes which you can download from the Samsung store. When applied, these change elements such as the wallpaper, icons and even the font. If you’re into that kind of thing, then it’s pretty cool. I found the stock theme sufficient.

Samsung Galaxy J7 PrimeYou can also sort your apps into folder if you so wish to do or access them via the app drawer. Samsung has also given a plethora of built in apps apart from the standard Google apps such as a weather app, inbuilt file manager, Day planner (S Planner), Health and fitness app (S Health), several Microsoft apps and many more. Some helpful, some not at all (these can be disabled if needed).,

In terms of entertainment, again nothing to fawn over. You get your standard FM radio and media player that plays pretty much any file you throw at it (if it can’t play it, then there’s another app that can play in on the Play Store).

Samsung Galaxy J7 PrimePlugging in your earphones gives you access to the equalizer where you can tune the various audio settings to make sure you hear things just right.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime

The Camera

The Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime packs a 13MP rear camera and an 8MP front facing camera. The interface is pretty much the same one you would find on any Samsung smartphone. The camera itself is a decent shooter packing quite a number of features. For example, it has a number of modes such as Auto, Pro, Panorama, Night and Sports.

Samsung Galaxy J7 PrimeSwitching to the Pro mode instantly gives the user (AKA Me) control over element such as the ISO level, Lighting, metering modes and exposure levels.

Samsung Galaxy J7 PrimeGiven below are a few photos I took using the Galaxy J7 Prime’s Camera.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime
Samples taken from the camera of the Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime
Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime
Image credits: Mahesh de Andrado

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime

I wasn’t too impressed with the camera as it offered nothing out of the ordinary for the price I would have paid. That being said, I’m not saying that the camera is bad. But it’s not mind-blowingly good either. Samsung did have a reputation for having pretty good cameras even in their low to mid-range smartphones but that seems to have dwindled over the years. There are plenty of 3rd party camera apps that have features such as manual focus, RAW image support and better ISO configuration if you’re interested.

With regard to video, you can record Full HD 1080p video at 60fps with stereo sound. Video playback is quite clear but is dependent on the lighting condition so you may want to adjust the lighting of the scene before you shoot any videos. Worst case scenario; you can use the inbuilt flash.

Benching the Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime

Antutu is the name of the game here. It’s tried, tested, repeated and is the benchmark tool of our choice. With its latest version of 6.2.0, the app stresses your phone even further to make it more challenging. A typical test takes around 5-10 minutes depending on the hardware capabilities of your device. Running the full test also means that your device tends to get heated up quite a bit and here we find a slight drawback of all aluminum unibody designs: the heat travels.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime

With a score of 36265, the device does seem to be a bit on the underperforming side, especially when compared against the Oppo F1S that was reviewed previously.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime

As far as battery life goes, the Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime clocks in at 3300mAh, which theoretically should be more than enough to get you through the day without you rushing for the nearest wall outlet to charge itIf you spend most of your time online and on LTE, then you will experience a bit of a battery drain. For best use, switch to WiFi when possible and you’re good to go.

Adding quick charge support would have been ideal for a fairly large battery but then again, I suppose Samsung thought otherwise. Perhaps I am nitpicking but that really is a feature that would make our lives a lot easier especially if you have an important function to get to and you only have a limited time to charge your device.

From a usage point, I got around 3-3½ hours of screen on time, with a dose of heavy gaming on the side and also a number of apps running such as Facebook, Messenger and Instagram running in the background. I also did my usual walk home from Bambalapitiya to Dehiwala and still had around 15% battery at the end of a 11-hour work day.

Again, actual usage though depends on factors such as screen on time, network signal quality and how much you actually use the phone and its apps.

Final Thoughts

The Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime, as I stated at the beginning, is indeed a mouthful to say. It has a decent set of features going for it in that price range. But also suffers a bit in terms of those features. For example, the Aluminum unibody, whilst also making the device feel premium to hold, also is its Achilles heel as it can get slippery for a person with sweaty palms. In terms of build quality, I found the power button to be a bit on the wobbly side and when pressed makes a rather noticeable click sound that for some (such as myself) is a bit of a turnoff. Another issue, as I explained was the fingerprint sensor/home button combo. The fact that you have to press the home button to wake the device then keep your finger on the sensor again to unlock the device seems rather absurd when you have phones in the same price range that can unlock just by keeping your finger on the sensor.

In terms of competition, the Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime competes against a number of models from competitors such as Huawei, Xiaomi, HTC, OnePlus and even Sony.

We would also like the thank Samsung Sri Lanka for giving us the opportunity to review Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime.

If you on the lookout for a new smartphone, then by all means do go ahead and tell us what you think of it as well.

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