Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro review: An excellent all-rounder that falls just short of OnePlus 3T
Samsung released the Galaxy C7 Pro about two months ago at Rs 27,999, which felt a little overpriced. But with a Rs 3,000 discount, the smartphone is a much easier sell, except that it runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, a software that is now outdated.
Samsung's design has evolved over the years and the recently released Galaxy C7 Pro is one of its best-designed phone. By constantly releasing smartphones in different price brackets and sizes, Samsung has managed to keep a stronghold on the Indian market despite a slew of Chinese players entering recently and doing well for themselves. Samsung has a strong offline presence and good brand equity and it doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
The Galaxy C7 Pro is a direct competitor to one of the most popular smartphones in the Indian market: the OnePLus 3T, launched last December. I got to test the phone for about three weeks. Can it take down the champion? Read on to find out.
Build & design
The smartphone, for me, was love at first sight. Gone are the days of plastic dominating the design of Samsung smartphones (read Samsung's flagship Galaxy S5 from a few years ago). The C7 Pro sheds the designs of past and comes with an all-metal chassis with rounded corners and edges, which give an extremely comfortable feel. The sleek, beautiful model is easy to hold in the palm of one's hand. Just how sleek is it? 7-mm -- one of the slimmest in its segment.
Underneath the curved edges and all glass front is that gorgeous 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display. It's a known fact that no one in the industry can best Samsung at the display game. Just look at its innovation with the Galaxy S8. That 'Infinity display' steals the thunder. The display on the C7 Pro bested the one on the OnePlus 3T as it was brighter and had punchier colours.
The physical home button at the bottom incorporates the fingerprint scanner. Sitting above the display is the notification light sensor, earpiece and front camera. You get the power button on the right and below it, the SIM card tray. The volume buttons are located on the left. At the bottom is a USB-C port (thank you Samsung for adopting this feature). There is a 3.5 mm headphone jack (a feature people will be happy to know that Samsung hasn't omitted) alongside the microphone at the bottom and a speaker on its right.
Samsung's C7 Pro sports antenna lines at the top and bottom of the device, on the back side. The ever-slightly protruding camera is in the middle.
Round the back, the C7 Pro has antenna lines that run across the top and bottom of the device. The camera sits in the middle and protrudes slightly from the surface of the phone. While the C7 Pro may lack the design aesthetic of the Galaxy S8, it is built like a tank. It certainly feels much more durable than Samsung's current flagship, and the build quality is top-notch, as one would expect in this segment.
The phone is available in gold and navy blue with the latter attracting much more attention. Despite the slender profile, the phone is very durable and the build gives no impression that it'll break easily.
The only negative is the fact that due to its matte finish, the phone was slippery and it constantly felt like it would fall out of my hand. If one were to buy this phone, I'd highly recommend a case, even though it would take away from the looks of the phone.
At 5.7 inches, the phone would be hard to use one-handed for anyone with tiny hands, but for me, it was comfortable to use and I rarely needed to use my other hand.
Features & software
The Galaxy C7 Pro comes with a Snapdragon 626 processor, while the OnePlus 3T, launched before it, comes with the 2016 flagship processor Snapdragon 821. The Galaxy C7 Pro is paired with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of space, expandable up to 256 GB via a microSD card.
Both front and back cameras are 16MP shooters while the rear camera comes with dual-LED flash. The rear camera can also record Full HD 1080p videos.
Other than that, the features are standard - dual-SIM 4G LTE connectivity, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS and FM Radio. The battery under the hood is 3,300mAh with support for fast charge.
The UI on the Galaxy C7 Pro is easy to use and pleasing on the eyes with a tonne of features itself. The icons and interface have gotten a modern makeover. Then there is Samsung's always-on display that can show you the time, date and unread notifications. Flipboard is incorporated into the UI on the left-most home screen. It's what they call "Briefing".
Samsung also has included its multi-window more, one--handed mode and lock apps with your fingerprint with is S Folder. You can also double press the home button to launch the camera.
The one stumbling block for Samsung comes when looking at the software. A mid-2017 phone launched by Samsung is still running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and not Android 7.1 Nougat (which was released many months ago). There is absolutely no excuse as to why a company like Samsung can't offer the latest Android OS updates almost a year out from the Google's launch of Nougat. While Samsung's high-end S-series smartphone has Nougat, the company has chosen to ignore its mid-range and low-end offerings.
I found the polished UI to be really easy to use and smooth. Despite it running on Marshmallow, Samsung has done a great job in overhauling its UI in the past few years and it is paying off.
Performance & battery life
The Snapdragon 626 is no slouch. It's more than sufficient on a day-to-day basis. When compared to the OnePlus 3T, I didn't notice much difference. It didn't feel like I had moved a level down. It may not have the Snapdragon 821 but that didn't matter. The one area I did find a big difference was in gaming, where I noticed slow loading times and some stuttering during the gameplay (I played games like FIFA Mobile and Need For Speed).
One other slight discomfort was noticed when the phone heated up considerably while I was gaming. Something that doesn't happen with the OnePLus 3T. The multitasking on the phone was breezy, as I rarely noticed a lag while switching between YouTube videos, WhatsApp, Chrome browser and Google Keep (note taking app).
Connectivity is excellent with pretty good call quality and even talking on the speakerphone was loud and clear. As for listening to music on the loudspeaker, well, I tried avoiding that more than often. It may be loud, but in terms of sound quality, it is strictly average.
Last but not the least, the battery life was stellar. I consistently got a day's use out of the phone with about 4 hours of screen-on-time (SOT) and enough charge left over to tide me over till the morning arrived.
The camera is not going to bowl you over. Both cameras offer a 16 MP shooter but the rear one has the advantage with autofocus and dual-tone LED flash. The camera app is very easy to use responsive. Pictures taken in good daylight sunlight offered vivid images with a lot of detail and accurate colours and very little noise. HDR works well and there was very little lag. It's more than enough for sharing across social media networks.
The disappointment came when shooting low-light photos. Those came out with a lot of noise and the camera took a little longer than expected to focus on objects and people.
Selfies are decent and there are a number of filters to make that skin of yours smoother.
Compared to the OnePlus 3T, the photos on the C7 Pro are a touch disappointing with more noise and on average it took a longer time to take a photo.
Should you buy it?
The Galaxy C7 Pro has a lot going for it and is one of the best offerings from Samsung in its 2017 lineup (I need to test out the J-series smartphones for a little bit longer to know how good they are). This phone easily beats its bigger brother the C9 Pro (REVIEW). The design and display bowled me over as I've never used a better screen (Infinity display aside) and performance was breezy. On the whole, though, it falls just a little bit short.
The pictures taken from both cameras are a touch under what the OnePlus 3/3T offer. Gaming is a much more pleasant experience on the OnePlus 3/3T. The other disappointment is that there is no Samsung Pay. It is available on the A series after all. Samsung is positioning the phone as a multimedia beast and in that respect, it outperforms the expectations.
With a current price of Rs 25,990, the C7 Pro is about Rs 4,000 cheaper than its direct competitor, the OnePlus 3T. Samsung loyalists will be more than happy with the C7 Pro and those on the fence between the two might be drawn to the design of the C7 Pro more than the camera of the OnePlus 3T. What Samsung should have done was made the phone available offline. A large base of Samsung loyalists is in the offline segment. For now, though, the phone is only available on Amazon India.
In the end, it falls just short of the OnePlus 3T, but any further price reduction and the C7 Pro will be a must buy over its Chinese competitor. Compared to the Moto Z2 Play, Xiaomi's Mi5 and other offerings in the same price bracket, the C7 Pro comes out on top, in more ways than one. The C7 Pro surprised me in many ways and maybe an update to Nougat (whenever it comes), will make me recommend it over the OnePlus 3T also.