Samsung J7 2017 review: Great battery life on a budget

Available now from AT&T

Samsung gets a lot of attention for its two biggest flagship phones every year. Most people probably don’t pay much attention but Samsung makes a lot more than just those two phones. They make a wide range of phones from low entry to midrange as well. The Samsung J7 is one of those phones. The J7 doesn’t have the flash and panache of Samsung’s flagships but it also doesn’t carry the high price.

Design

The Samsung J7 features a plastic body with a 5.5-inch 720p Gorilla Glass 4 screen. While metal gives a more premium feel, it is largely unnecessary and plastic feels plenty durable. The screen itself is low resolution by today’s standards. It was bright enough to use outdoors but was lacking saturation and sharpness due to the resolution.

There also seemed to be a lack of an ambient light sensor requiring you to adjust brightness manually. Overall, I was not a fan of the screen, especially from a manufacturer who is known for fantastic displays.



The power button is found on the right side and so is the speaker which is a bit of an odd placement. Yet it works well there making it more difficult to cover with your hand, unlike with bottom mounted speakers.

The left side features the volume buttons while the bottom houses the headphone jack and microUSB port. It is disappointing to see the microUSB port still being used in 2017 regardless of the price. Decisions like this are holding us back from moving forward with the new USB-C standard.

Like many of Samsung’s previous phones, the J7 uses capacitive keys on the front along with a physical home button. Unfortunately, the capacitive keys do not light up and the home button does not include a fingerprint scanner. This made using the phone in darker rooms a little more challenging when trying to find the navigation keys. Not to mention the lack of a fingerprint scanner, I’ve become spoiled using one for the past few years.

The back of the phone keeps everything simple with only an accent stripe where the camera and flash are found. One of the biggest advantages of the J7 is the fact that the back can be removed. Inside you will find a large replaceable 3300mAh battery, along with slots for a nanoSIM and microSD card that accepts cards up to 256GB.

Software

The Samsung J7 is running Android 7.0 Nougat with Samsung’s skin overlayed on top. This strays from the look of stock Android and won’t please everyone, but some of the extra features help make up for it such as themes, one handed mode, and secure folder. This provides you with a few extras to enhance the experience that won’t be found on stock Android.

Performance

The Exynos 7870 and 2GB of RAM in the Samsung J7 are not powerhouse specs. Performance was decent and games played fine, but during multitasking you will notice many apps having to reload. In the end, the J7 will allow you to do everything you want to do with your phone. You will just have to be a bit more patient when opening games or switching apps.

Camera

The Samsung J7 features an 8MP rear facing camera with an f/1.9 aperture without optical image stabilization. While the front facing camera is a 5MP shooter with an aperture of f/2.2. Both are using the 4:3 crop by default so if you prefer 16:9 photos the megapixel count will lower even further to 6MP for the rear facing camera and 3.7MP for the front facing camera.

The photos can come out a little blurry in low light due to the lack of image stabilization, make sure to be very steady when taking photos in low light. Low light images will also have plenty of noise or artifacts due to noise reduction. Beyond that, the photos are pretty good for this price range. The saturation looks good, they are sharp enough, and HDR photos come out well.

It does lack a little in dynamic range causing highlights to blow out, but for the price, I found it plenty acceptable. It’s not a top of the line camera, but it will get the job done for sharing with friends and family.

Battery

Battery life is one area where the Samsung J7 truly shines. Thanks to the huge 3300mAh battery and the use of a 720p screen. The J7 was able to last for days on a single charge. During my usage, I was able to go 3-4 days at a time without ever plugging the J7 in. I was also easily seeing over 6 hours screen on time. This is one area the J7 truly excels and will make everyone happy.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to buying a phone some users crave the latest and greatest hardware every year. Others users are simply looking for a phone that doesn’t break the bank and gets the job done. The Samsung J7 is made for this second set of users, and if battery life is what is most important to you, then you’ll be very pleased. If you’re looking for something with a few more bells and whistles such as a fingerprint scanner and faster performance then this is not the device for you.

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