Samsung Galaxy J7 Mini Review : Large, Vibrant Screen for Under $250

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The Samsung Galaxy J7 is a mid-range Android handset designed for price-conscious consumers, that promises excellent battery life, deep Android customization, a mid-premium design, and Samsung’s gorgeous AMOLED display for well under $300. We haven’t tested the J7 ourselves, but we can draw a number of conclusions about this phone based on its specs, user reviews and evaluations from other leading tech publications.

Who Is It For?

The Galaxy J7 is for consumers who want strong battery life, a large display with bold, bright colors, the ability to customize their phone with Samsung’s themes and overall functionality that rivals more expensive smartphones. The Galaxy J7 is available on Boost Mobile, Straight Talk, Virgin Mobile, MetroPCS, T-Mobile, and at online retailers such as Best Buy, WalMart, and Amazon at prices ranging from $240 (T-Mobile) to $179 (Boost).

Samsung Galaxy J7

Key Specs and Features

The Samsung Galaxy J7 features a 5.5-inch, Super AMOLED display with an HD resolution (1280 x 720). Though you can find other low-cost phones  with full 1080p resolutions — , the Huawei Honor 5x for example — they don’t have the rich colors you get with AMOLED and most don’t have panels this large.

The J7’s screen size gives it something of a match with Samsung’s 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 edge and positions it well in the J series where it has an edge over the J5 (2016) with its 5.2-inch screen and the J3 (2016) with its 5-inch display.

Samsung Galaxy J7

The Galaxy J7’s octa-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor is sufficient for multitasking and should even accommodate some high-end games such as GTA San Andreas and Asphalt 8. Its 2GB of RAM is more than adequate for using multiple apps at once. Some international models of the Galaxy J7 have Samsung’s homegrown Exynos 7870 SoC in them, though, but Qualcomm SoCs are more compatible with American cellular networks.

The 5-MP front camera matches Samsung’s cameras in its high-end Galaxy S7, S7 edge, S7 Active, and Galaxy Note 7, at least in terms of megapixel count. The 13MP back camera is slightly higher-res than that of Samsung’s high-end flagships for 2016, though megapixels aren’t everything.

One advantage for the Galaxy J7 is its 3,300mAh battery, which should last well over a day considering the device’s HD resolution. The J7’s battery is higher capacity than the regular Galaxy S7 (3000mAh) but falls below both the Galaxy S7 edge (3,600mAh) and the Galaxy Note 7 (3,500mAh). Since those devices all feature Quad HD panels with 1440p resolution, though, the 3300mAh battery of the J7 will probably carry you further on a single charge than these.

Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow comes pre-installed with the J7, which is the still-standard Android OS version until Android 7.0 Nougat starts appearing on more devices. Samsung has its own skin atop Android Marshmallow known as “TouchWiz,” which adds a few custom features.

With TouchWiz, you can expect Samsung’s usual Power Saving Mode and Ultra Power Saving Mode battery modes, as well as Samsung’s Theme Store, Smart Manager to keep an eye on device health, Outdoors Mode, along with the usual Amazon and Facebook apps (including Instagram).

The Galaxy J7 comes with 16GB of storage, though only about 8GB is left after preloaded apps and the OS take up the rest of the space. Thankfully, the J7 also comes with a microSD card slot that allows you to expand your storage up to 200GB (yes, you can use a 200GB microSD card, though Samsung’s own product page says that the J7 will only let you use up to 128GB of expandable storage). Unfortunately, there’s no Adoptable Storage function here, so you can’t use the microSD card to store apps.

Design

The Samsung Galaxy J7 has what many would view as a Galaxy Alpha/Galaxy Note 4 design: its metallic sides show that the company is bringing a more premium design to budget handsets. Of course, Samsung retains the plastic look of its earlier Galaxy S phones such as the Galaxy S5 here, and with plastic being cheap and easy to manufacture, Samsung was able to do so and keep costs down while giving the device a firm grip and good feel in the hand.

The device itself is 6.03 ounces and 0.30 inches thick, which makes it heavier than the LG K10 (4.95 ounces, 0.34 inches thick), the Moto E (5.1 ounces, 0.48 inches), and the Huawei Honor 5X (5.4 ounces, 0.3 inches). The J7 is thinner than the K10 and Moto E but seems to match the Honor 5X in thinness.

What Owners Say About the Samsung Galaxy J7

The Galaxy J7 gets mixed reviews from consumers. A number Best Buy shoppers seem pleased with the camera and its clear photography performance. However, some criticize the phone’s audio output, lack of fast-charging capabilities, camera speed and laggy performance. Other users complained about the phone lacking the gyroscope needed to utilize features such as the AR view in Pokemon Go. Two customers mentioned the absence of an LED notification light.

Other Best Buy shoppers praise the durability of the J7 in drops and impacts, battery endurance, the camera quality (which was mentioned in nearly every review as the best part about the J7), AMOLED display with vivid colors, its thinness and lightness, and the Outdoors Mode. WalMart customers say that the Galaxy J7 produces “ghostly” videos and lacks a magnetic sensor for gaming, but love the big screen, gorgeous display, and the great camera.

Samsung Galaxy J7

What Reviewers Say About the Samsung Galaxy J7

PC Mag says that the J7 performs OK in the camera department, though the results are mixed. You can use the J7 cameras (front and back) to capture great photos for social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), but the J7 suffers terribly in lowlight photos – a trademark struggle for budget-friendly phones. While the front, 5-MP camera does well with selfies (the exception being in low light), the back camera seems to have certain colors like reds and greens that drown out other colors in daylight.

SamMobile says in its review that the Galaxy J7 (2016) doesn’t have an auto brightness setting, which it wishes Samsung would add to the budget-friendly J series, but that the 3,300 mAh battery can get you more than 7 hours of screen-on time. The aluminum metal sides are a step in the right direction in terms of design, the review says, and the camera quality is good enough for daylight and social media sharing but suffers in lowlight.

PhoneArena criticizes the J7 for having a dim screen, lacking an auto-brightness setting, and offering disappointing audio quality and a cheap-feeling plastic back cover.

GSM Arena says that the Galaxy J7 is the “same old recipe” from Samsung but in “premium dressing,” and that the good looks will appeal to those who want a budget phone with above-budget looks.

Tech Nave was impressed with the J7’s battery performance, power saving modes, and the new metal frame design for Samsung’s budget series.

Upshot

If you’re looking for a sub-$250 phone that has the look, feel and features of Samsung’s Galaxy line, the Samsung Galaxy J7 sounds like a strong choice. Price-sensitive shoppers will appreciate the large display, quality camera, promising battery life and special Samsung features. However, users who want a sharper screen should consider the Huawei Honor 5X, which packs a 1080p display for less than $200. Those who want a Samsung phone with a gyroscope, better audio quality, water resistance or a high-res screen should expand their budgets for the Galaxy S7 or consider getting a refurbished Galaxy S5.

(tomsguide.com, https://goo.gl/GvWOCR)

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