Samsung J7 Prime

2016 September Edition

Preamble

With the onslaught of budget devices from the chinese phone makers such as Xiaomi, OPPO, Huawei, Samsung had to watch its bottom line and can no longer not have phone series that serve the middle to low end tiers. Thus at the end of 2015, they dabbled their toes into the budget smartphone categories with the launch of the A, J and C series.

Today, I am going to review the J series top device, the J7 Prime. As the pinnacle of the J series, the J7 prime shares much with its J7 (2016) phone. It has the same aluminum metal back casing, capped at both ends with plastic to allow the radio signals to permeate. The front is a 2D glass that emits class but still sticks to the streamline design that can be traced to the Galaxy S3. So in 2016–17, you can own a phone that has the design of the 2013 flagship except better in terms of the metal design. But this metal design is of course a step behind the latest fashion, which is seen in the Galaxy S series of 2017 with the glass backed casing. One up the J7, the prime also comes with more ram, 3 gig and more storage at 32 gig NAND.

The J7 prime is available in three colors: white gold, midnight black and maple gold. The last color is more elusive and is only available in some countries.

Innards

Powering the phone is the Exynos 7870 System on Chip 64bit processor. It’s a eight core parts that runs on the ARM A53 designs. The speed of each cores can run up to 1.6 GHz. This is similar but still shy of the speed for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 core speed of 1.9 GHz. But you will get similar performance from this. If you are familiar, between the two families, users usually prefers the Exynos family for its battery efficiency to the Snapdragon. The latter however is more common as Qualcomm has an agreement with Samsung hailing back to the 90s that limits the sale of the Exynos parts (which licensed the CDMA technology from Qualcomm) to anywhere but USA. Though if you look at expansys Hk, the J7 prime sold there is the Snapdragon 625 variant. And this variant supports fast charging!

In this regard, since the J7 Prime is targeted at the emerging economies, especially Southeast Asia and India, it’s no surprise that the phone shuns Qualcomm parts but runs on the in-house Exynos part. Let’s face it, if your needs are just to surf the net, check your email and some occasional gaming on the subway, the 7870 SOC will have plenty to offer in computing power. There is no need to break the bank to get the higher A series or S series if your needs are meagre. In return, you will get battery life bordering on insanity since the processor is build with the 14nm process. My unit easily can run two days before needing to recharge and the screen on time can easily hit 5–6 hours. This is a phone that after a hard day use in the office, you can still have about 40% of juice left for your leisurely use back at home. No problem to watch a full length movie on the bed and still be able to set your alarm for work.

The storage fresh out of the box also comes with about 26 gig of free space. But I would recommend that you throw in a 32 gig micro SD cards to store your music or video instead of clogging up the main storage. Like other Samsung phones, there is however no way to adopt the micro SD card as the primary storage source. This is despite this feature being the main selling point of Android Marshmellow 6.01 which the phone runs.

The 3 gig of ram is of the LPDDR3 variety that is supporting most mid-tier phones. The top tier phones in the meantime has already moved on to DDR4 at the time of writing. During daily use, about 600–800 meg of ram will be left available. Wiping the memory using the in-built smart manager will restore the free ram to about 1.2 gig. This being said, when compared to other Samsung phone, such as the A5 (2017), the memory software is still not optimised. Recent background apps at 3 to 4 level down may not be cached and would need to reload instead of resurrecting to the foreground as is. Still the 3 gig of ram means this device can accommodate most games and apps, and should be relatively future proof.

The display is of the Plane in switching type LCD at 1080 HD resolution. The diagonal screen length is 5.5 inches. The pixel array is the RGB and not the pentile arrangement seen in the S3. This ensure sharpness and clarity. The only downside to the LCD is that pictures seen to have less red warmth. Reading website and ebooks will nonetheless be a pleasant experience. The only think to note is that the phone does not support adaptive brightness. Rather the brightness is maintained based on the setting. As a profilic ebook reader, this turns out to be a boon since there will not be a sudden dimming of the screen as you are reading your novel. The lowest brightness setting also is conducive for reading in a dark room and will not hurt your eyes. What is lacking compared to the A series from 2017 however is a built in blue light filter function. However, recent literature from the medical community seems to suggest that blue light filtering is a myth and have no basis to prevent deterioration of eyesight.

Biometrics

Despite being a mid-ranger, the phone rocks a fingerprint sensor fun home button at the bottom end of the phone bezel. What is excellent about the sensor is that it is always on and just authenticate you in to the home screen. All this without the need to press the sensor button. This easily shave a few valuable seconds off to get to the home screen. Even the S7 requires the button to be pressed.

Sound for audiophile

The phone comes with a bundle in ear earphones of the garden variety. There are no ties in with audio tuning house. Plain old Samsung earphones. While I didn’t try these, since I had an old pair of Ajays, I was pleasantly surprised that the tunes from the good old phone jack was clear, clean and abeilt being a bit flat. There was no pops and hisses even when no music was playing.

With the adaptive sound software, the frequency volumes can also be personalised to fit your hearing sensitivity. For example, if you are hard of hearing for high frequencies, the phone software can boost the volumes and let you have a fighting chance to hear. What I cannot ascertain for now is whether this a global function across apps or just works with the Samsung Music app. This adaptive sound concept is not new and someone had even launch a Kickstarter product to tune your headset for your ears. Well, money saved and thanks Samsung for building it right in their phones without fanfare.

Bloatware?

Just your usual Samsung mirror apps. Aside from this, that pretty much it. Though out of the box, the Galaxy Essential widget that recommends more Samsung app was quickly removed.

The bundled Samsung Internet turned out to be my Chrome replacement browser. I am just tired of Chrome. One nifty feature that beats Chrome is the Secret feature. This one-up the incognito feature by allowing access to the “secret area” only after passing through pin or fingerprint verifications.

Must say that since I had a Samsung SUHD TV, I stumbled with the Samsung Connect app which when paired, allow my TV to stream over the air channels to my phone. All the while, the TV can even be on or off. Don’t think it’s just restricted TV channels. Any video feeds piped to the TV ought to be able to be streamed. Imagine the use case when the kids are doing homework on the coffee table in front of the TV with it being off. Yet I can still watch TV in another room, at least if I can have the phone catch my Wi-Fi signal which is shared with my TV.

Less than “Flagship"

It’s not waterproof. Not that we want to swim with it. Just that coffee spills are all too common. Those looking for some form of water proofing should look at the A series.

Aside from this, the phone is more than enough to challenge even the S7 for a price that won’t burn a hole through your wallet. If you are light with your tasks on the phone and need battery longevity to last you through your day, do consider this J7 Prime. The refresh for 2017 will at least be a few more months away. As a 2016 product the J7 prime truly impresses with how so much can be bought at a price of about 200 USD.