Samsung has given us a September surprise with the announcement of its latest Galaxy A7, a mid-range smartphone with outstanding photographic capabilities thanks to no less than three rear-facing cameras and an impressive 24-megapixel, f/2.0 selfie camera to boot.
It's not a bad idea at all: an affordable, mid-range smartphone that doesn't go too crazy on premium flagship features, but still offers superb photography tools. After all, not everyone wants to pay for things like super slow motion and curved touchscreens, but most people can tell the difference between a good camera and a better one, and everyone wants their dogs, kids, pouts and coffees to look their best.
Hence the A7, which manages to outdo the S9 itself on sheer camera power. On the back, there's three cameras. The first is an 8-megapixel, f/2.4 ultra-wide with a 120-degree field of view similar to what a human eye sees, for when you need to cram a lot into a picture.
Second comes the 24-megapixel main lens, with a low light-friendly aperture of f/1.7. And when things get really dark, this camera reduces its resolution, acting as if it's got bigger pixels to suck light in with by combining four pixels into one.
The final rear camera is a 5-megapixel, f/2.2 depth sensor that the A7 can use to crank the bokeh up and down on portrait style shots.
The front camera is also a bit of a beast, reflecting the fact that selfies are more popular than rear camera shots in some markets. The A7's 24-megapixel, f/2.0 selfie cam is about as good as they get, with its own LED flash for low-light situations and the ability to add a bokeh effect or mimic pro studio lighting after you shoot. Very cool.
Beyond that, it's a fairly run of the mill smartphone; Android 8.0, 2.2 GHz 8-core processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage, 3,300 mAh battery. The screen is a 6-inch diagonal super AMOLED with 1080 x 2220 resolution, there's a MicroSD card slot for up to 512GB of external storage and an NFC chip for Google Pay.
It's got Samsung's Bixby assistant, for better or worse, as well as Dolby Atmos immersive sound, and those freaky little AR emojis – cartoons built around your own face and movements – that we first saw on the S9.
The fingerprint sensor is on the side, and otherwise it's a perfectly decent-looking jigger in blue, black, gold or pink.
The bad news? The Galaxy A7 won't be available everywhere from the looks of it. It's launching in the fall in Europe and Asia, with no mention of the USA or other markets at this point.
On the other hand, Samsung says it's got something special to announce on October 11, bringing "a new member to the Galaxy family." So we'll keep an eye on that!
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