Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime review: A midrange phone with flagship dreams
Forgoing the benchmark and battery tests, we place the Samsung J7 Prime against its worst foe – the everyday. Beyond the technical mumbo jumbo, we see if this mid-ranger can hold its own in the jungle we call Metro Manila.
Let me start by saying that the J7 Prime didn't look like a midrange device in the slightest, with its curved glass front and slightly textured metal back. In fact, most of my colleagues thought it was a Galaxy S7 until they examined it closely. They had this surprised look on their faces when I told them how much it would cost to buy one; SRP is P13,990, but they thought it was somewhere upward of P20,000. I guess you could say, the J7 Prime leaves a great impression by its looks alone.
Adding to this premium feel is its added security features, such as the fingerprint scanner and the My Knox security software, which will be familiar to previous Samsung flagship users. The fingerprint scanner could be faster, though, and I found myself at times having to tap it twice or three times so it could register my fingerprint.
The review unit didn't come with a box, unfortunately, so I didn't have the pleasure of unboxing the J7 Prime. On its own, however, it had premium appeal. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't impressed when I first held the device in my hand.
Possessing a 5.5-inch screen, I was apprehensive of the handset's portability and ergonomics. When I saw and held it first-hand, though, I was surprised that it didn't exude that phablet look and feel. It's a challenge to use it one-handed – as with any other phone with a screen larger than 4.3 inches – but it's not too gargantuan as to make it difficult to hold or put in your jeans's pockets.
The front glass panel is glossy and looks elegant, but the whole thing is a fingerprint magnet, even the metal back. It can also be quite slippery, especially in cold environments, so an ounce of care is recommended when handling the device. Looking closely, I saw that the back is not "pure black," but a slightly darker shade of navy blue, which actually gives the device an elegant touch.
The speaker is loud but lacks a bit of depth so headphones are recommended, but really, who actually uses phone speakers to listen to music? My review unit didn't come with earphones so I used my own set of Sony headphones for testing (a Sony MDR-ZX100A) and the results were better than I expected, especially for a phone in this price segment. Speaker placement is unusual but somewhat practical; when placed at the bottom, speaker can be covered by the hand when held in landscape mode and when placed at the back, it's covered when laying the device on its back.
The J7 Prime has its speaker grill on its right side, above the power button. One gripe I have with Samsung is their decision to forgo their stock music player for the J series. It's even more puzzling with the J7 Prime, it being their, well, "prime" model. Should stock music players be reserved for flagships? I don't think so.
The J7 Prime's camera is hit or miss, unfortunately; it takes great photos in great lighting but becomes unreliable as it gets darker. It's not entirely bad by any means, but color becomes inaccurate. Surprisingly, when the lighting is too strong, the J7 Prime also struggles, producing images with a greenish tint. Exposure-wise, the handset errs on the side of caution and tends to avoid overexposure. Generally, the camera is fast and produces sharp photos, but it's nothing to write home about.
One area where the J7 Prime shines is battery life. Let me tell you how its battery withstands a normal day, or at least a writer's normal day. I unplugged the phone at 5:30 am with the battery at 95%. When I got home at 9 pm, it still had 45% battery, with all battery-saving features off. Not bad. The J7 Prime will get you through a day easily; even a day and a half with light to moderate use.
One interesting feature of the phone is S Power Planning, but it seems that it's just that – a plan. I think it merely calculates when you have to turn on Ultra Power Saving Mode to extend battery time and doesn't really save any battery at all, but that's just me.
The two other options, Reserve Battery for Calls and Fwd Calls when No Battery, are probably more useful. When my review unit's battery went down to 15%, I tried the Reserve Battery Mode, where the phone disables all features except the phone and messaging app, and it gave me a battery estimate of 19 hours and 33 minutes.
In conclusion, the Galaxy J7 Prime is a midrange device that provides a flagship experience. It's snappy performance, competent camera, and security features separate it from the slew of cheaper midrange options in the market today. Samsung loyalists looking for a backup phone or a replacement for their, er, explosive Galaxy Note 7 will delight in this “almost-flagship” device.
If you're looking to get your money's worth, the J7 Prime is quite hard to overlook. – Rappler.com
Alexis has been a professional writer and editor since 2007 and has worked with website developers, online retailers, and medical and healthcare professionals. On the side, he dabbles in photography. His photography has been published on his Facebook page and on his blogs. You have to start somewhere, right?