Samsung has updated its Galaxy A line at the beginning of 2017 with three new handsets, of which, for the time being, only two have arrived in Europe: A5 2017 and A7 2017. Awaqa has already performed the tests and did the full review of both (1, 2), but many readers asked for a more detailed comparison with the predecessors.
We took advantage of the fact that we had the Galaxy A9 on our bench and we prepared a full comparison of the A7 2017 with him. Both can already be found at about the same price range in Brazilian retail, and have screens of close size, which leaves the comparison fairly fair and balanced.
Without further ado, we will discover the main similarities and differences between these two devices, and then evaluate which one is most cost-effective.
Galaxy A9 vs Galaxy A7 (2017): Design
Beginning with the visual differences. We have here two reasonably distinct design models, the A9 being a little more “square” and the A7 2017 more rounded and curved, which offers a more comfortable footprint – a big plus considering the size of these handsets.
Not only the sides of the newer smartphone are curved, but also the corners are more rounded than the 2016 Galaxy A line models. Overall, however, the two have quite similar details.
To begin with, the sides, whose finish is metallic. On the right side, we have the power button on both. But the A9 still has the SIM card drawer below, while the A7 2017 brings the speaker up. Already on the left side, we only have volume knobs on the first, while the second has, in addition, a drawer for one of the cards of the operator.
At the bottom, the A9 has the headphone jack, the micro-USB, speaker, and microphone. On the A7, we only see the USB type C in the middle, the microphone and the headphone jack on the right. In the upper part, antenna lines, noise reduction microphone and card drawer in both, is the micro SD card in the A9 and SIM card 2 and expansion card in the A7.
Regarding the size, since the screens are 0.3 inches apart, the A9 is larger, with 6 inches; we have a device with 161.7 mm in height, 80.9 in height and 7.9 mm in thickness, the same as the newer device, which is A little lower, with a height of 156.8 mm, a width of 77.6 mm. But the weight is very different: the A7 is much lighter, with 186 grams, against 210 of the A9.
Returning to the description of the devices, we have very similar backs, with the camera in the center, a little more up, and the flash to the side. On the A9, the camera sits on a slight bump, while on the A7 2017 we have a smooth surface. In both, we have finished in the glass.
Finally, the front. We have the light and proximity sensors, which are further apart on the A9, the loudspeaker and the front camera on the top. Beneath the screens, the digital sensor, which also has a slight bump on the A9. In addition to the capacitive buttons back and recent apps, which are backlit.
Galaxy A9 vs Galaxy A7 (2017): Screen
The screens are very similar on both devices. The difference here is the size and, on account of the equal resolution, the pixel density in each. The A9 has 6-inch Super AMOLED with Full HD resolution, which results in 367 ppi. Already the A7 2017 has 5.7 inches, also Super AMOLED Full HD, with a density of 386 pixels per inch.
As for the colors, they are basically the same thing. In some images, we can see that the A9 pulls the warm colors a little more, while in others, it goes more to the cold colors. The A7 is usually a little more steady, always with a slightly yellowish tone on white. This is by using the adaptive view, which is the default.
The user can still choose AMOLED, Photo AMOLED, and basic movie modes. In A7, you can still adjust the color balance, which the A9 does not allow because it has the previous Samsung interface. The newer device also allows the use of the blue light filter, which offers more comfortable eyesight at night.
As for the brightness, the A9 seems to be able to achieve a slightly higher maximum brightness, while the A7 stays a little below, but nothing that makes a lot of difference in the daily use day.
Galaxy A9 vs Galaxy A7 (2017): Hardware and Performance
The interior of the Galaxy A9 and A7 2017 is also quite different. While the first comes with a Qualcomm chipset, the second has the Samsung home-made solution, with the Exynos 7880 being chosen for the mission. Above, you can see more details of the technical specifications of the devices.
Regarding performance, two handsets are very close, but the A9 takes a slight advantage. And that goes for both the opening of applications and games and the performance itself, especially in gaming. The A7 2017 is not far behind but is a little lower.
Galaxy A9 vs Galaxy A7 (2017): Cameras
In the cameras, we have very similar sensors. Both feature 16-megapixel lenses with f / 1.9 aperture on the back, while the front has 8MP on the A9 and 16MP on the A7 2017, with the same aperture. All four sensors record videos in Full HD at 30 frames per second.
The difference is in the details. One is the presence of optical stabilization in A9. Samsung opted to leave only a digital stabilization in the A7 2017, which apparently does not work for the videos – and leaves something to be desired in the photos.
The application is basically the same on both devices, and the A7 2017 has only gained a change in the interface, which became more minimalist, and the possibility of including the floating capture button.
As for the photos themselves, we have variations between the scenarios for which pulls more for hot and cold colors (see in the galleries above). In short, they are two good main sensors, but the A7 2017 cracks a bit more in the internal photos, while it offers greater speed and precision in the zoom.
Already selfie, despite having fewer megapixels, the photos on the A9 look a bit better. The harder it is to keep the device steady at the time of the click, but the sharpness and the colors look better than in the photo of the A7 2017.
Galaxy A9 vs Galaxy A7 (2017): Battery
Now the aspect that has the widest advantage of one of two devices: the battery. Here we have 5.000mAh on the A9, against 3,600 on the A7 2017. This results, of course, in much better autonomy in the 2016 device, despite the slightly larger screen.
With regard to the loading, the A9 is behind, with 2 and a half hours to load, against about 1 hour and 40 minutes of the A7. But the battery life is absurd on the A9. It was 28 hours and 45 minutes in our actual use test.
Already the A7 took 17 hours and 43 minutes in the actual use test, and it took about 1 hour and 40 minutes to load from 0 to 100%.
Galaxy A9 vs Galaxy A7 (2017): Software
The two handsets come out of the box with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. But the A7 2017 has Grace UX as the interface, while the A9 still brings the previous version of Samsung’s Android modifications, which has a few fewer options – such as the aforementioned reduction in blue light emission, for example, and the Always on Display, a very interesting feature.
Anyway, the look of Grace UX is a little more minimalist, and Samsung found a good balance with extra options compared to pure Android, which pleased most users.
In the Quick Settings menu, the brightness level on Grace UX only appears if you slide with two fingers (or twice with one). However, the icons have the triple function, turning on or off by touching once, accessing more options by touching the function name (when you have the set down) and activating the editing of the quick settings menu when touching and holding.
Overall, however, the two are very similar, with the same functions and features as Samsung Pay, Flipboard by sliding right on the home screen, among others.
One difference worth mentioning is the digital sensor. In the A7, just lean your finger and wait for the unlock, which is done quickly. Already on the A9, you need to press the Home button and keep your finger there for a second for the digital readout to be performed. This makes unlocking the latest model a bit agiler.
Another advantage of the A7 2017 is the IP68 certification. That is, the device has protection against dust and water, provided it is immersed in fresh water to a maximum depth of 1.5 meters for up to half an hour. The screen loses the capacitive function during the dive, but you can take pictures by, for example, pressing the volume buttons.
Galaxy A9 vs Galaxy A7 (2017): Conclusion
To conclude, we have here two great devices, which fall into the category of premium intermediaries. That is, they are handsets with great workmanship and several extra features, but they do not even become elite smartphones. Even so, they owe little to the top of the line.
Overall, the Galaxy A9 features better performance, slightly higher camera and much better battery life. But the A7 2017 takes this disadvantage with the latest version of the Samsung interface and the presence of IP68 certification. It is also a device with better footprint and cleaner speaker.
Anyway, since the Galaxy A9 is priced slightly below, the cost benefit of the older version is slightly higher than the latest version. Either way, if you choose either one you can rest assured that you have chosen a great smartphone.