Samsung Galaxy J5 and J7 first impressions: affordable, yet capable and quite competitive

“The Korean giant has just launched two new mid-rangers in the Indian market, and here’s a closer look at the pair” 

With the invasion of Chinese smartphone brands, Indian consumers are a happy lot. Not only these brands have made the market competitive, they have also helped in bringing down the average sales price of smartphones. Thanks to them, within a budget of just Rs 10,000, users can get a feature-rich smartphone these days compared to earlier when one needed to spend big bucks to get a capable device.

Samsung Galaxy J5 and J7

However, not everyone is happy with this scenario, especially the Korean behemoth Samsung. While earlier, it was the de facto leader in the mobile market in terms of shipments, now its sales are declining rapidly and so is its popularity (out monthly Top 20 series indicate this shift well). Thankfully, the brand is learning and adapting to the changes in the market along with trying to meet consumer’s increased expectations. Its current flagship duo, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge (review | FAQs) are perhaps the biggest example of that. It’s also doing away with its confusing naming conventions for its offerings and instead has started to opt for series such as ‘A’ and ‘E’. It also has another range called ‘J’, wherein the first device, the J1 (first impressions) was targeted at the affordable segment.

Now, the manufacturer is expanding the portfolio with two more devices labelled, the J5 and J7. The phones were launched for the Indian market today and here’s a peek at their capabilities.

Both the J5 and J7 feature similar design ethics and offer polycarbonate bodies. However, the J5 is the smaller of the two, since in accordance with its name, it’s built around a display panel of 5-inches. The Galaxy J7 on the other hand, falls in the phablet category, thanks to its screen size measuring 5.5-inches. This also makes the J5 an ideal handset for one-handed operation, while the J7 requires two hands to use in most cases such as typing.

Samsung Galaxy J5 03 Samsung Galaxy J7 01

At the front of the phones, the display takes up the majority of the space, with an earpiece, some sensors, a secondary shooter and an LED flash above and an array of navigation keys below. Both the devices are available in a choice of white, black or golden hues.

Samsung Galaxy J7 02 Samsung Galaxy J7 03 WP_20150716_13_16_58_Pro

The right edge hosts the power button, while the left spine features the volume rocker. The top is completely bare, whereas both the micro-USB port and 3.5mm audio socket can be found at the bottom.

Samsung Galaxy J5 08 Samsung Galaxy J5 10

Samsung Galaxy J5 09 Samsung Galaxy J5 11

The devices have a smooth finish at the back, wherein you’ll find the primary camera unit along with an LED flash on one side and speaker mesh on the other. There’s also Samsung logo towards the middle. The back panels in the mobiles can be pried open to access the SIM card slots as well as the expansion slot.

Samsung Galaxy J7 08

Owing to its size, the Galaxy J7 is heavier (171g vs 146g) than its younger sibling, the J5. However, surprising thing is that the manufacturer has managed to make it slimmer at 7.5mm as compared to 7.9mm frame of the J5.

Both the Samsung Galaxy J5 and Galaxy J7 feature a screen resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels. Equipped with Super AMOLED technology, the display panels reproduce vivid colours and offer impressive contrast levels. The text also appears sharp, though if you notice the screens from close quarters, then the J5 has an edge with slightly better pixel density (294ppi vs 267ppi).

Samsung Galaxy J5 07 Samsung Galaxy J7 10

Hardware-wise, both the devices come powered by a future-proof 64-bit capable processor. The Galaxy J5 draws power from Qualcomm’s budget-centric Snapdragon 410 SoC, which comprises of four cores humming at 1.2GHz. In contrast, the Galaxy J7 is fuelled by Samsung’s in-house Exynos chipset, which has eight cores running at 1.5GHz. Complementing the processors in both the mobiles is 1.5GB RAM. During our brief usage, both the smartphones were able to deliver a zippy performance. The experience was the same when we played GT Racing 2 on the Galaxy J7, though the actual hardware prowess of the devices can only be tested when we push their limits extensively.

Samsung Galaxy J7 25

On the Galaxy J5, the storage duty is handled by 8GB flash memory, out of which around 4.2GB is available to the end user. On the other hand, the Galaxy J7 gets double the storage, with approximately 11.5GB available to use. Users also get an option to extend the storage further by up to 128GB with the use of microSD cards.

Samsung Galaxy J5 19 Samsung Galaxy J7 17

Samsung has toned down its Touchwiz customisation a lot with the recent devices, and same ideology continues with its latest offerings. The Galaxy J5 and J7 run Touchwiz, which is based on Google’s latest OS, i.e. Android 5.1 Lollipop. The custom skin matches well with the aspects of Material design. Apart from a few preinstalled apps such as WeChat, OneNote, Skype and a few demo games like Prince of Persia, there isn’t much bloatware in the UI. You also get an all-in-one tool called Smart Manager providing at-a-glance look at phone’s battery, storage, RAM usage, etc.

Samsung Galaxy J5 12 Samsung Galaxy J5 13 Samsung Galaxy J5 14

Both the Samsung Galaxy J5 and J7 share the specs in the imaging department. They sport 13-megapixel sensors at the back, supplemented by LED flash units. We took a few test shots with the devices, and the quality seemed to be fine, however we’ll reserve our judgment until we test the shooters over a variety of conditions. The Chaebol is also ensuring that the devices entice selfie-enthusiasts too, as they pack 5MP snappers along their own dedicated LEDs for providing illumination in dimly-lit environments. Both the cameras are capable of recording full HD videos.

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Tasked with keeping the Samsung Galaxy J5 alive is a removable 2,600mAh battery, while the Galaxy J7 gets slightly beefier unit rated at 3,000mAh. The devices also come with Samsung’s ultra power saving mode to increase the battery life in emergency situations.

Samsung Galaxy J5 15

The connectivity options on offer are 4G support (only on the primary SIM slot), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.

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Samsung has priced the Galaxy J5 at Rs 11,999, while its bigger brother will carry a sticker price of Rs 14,999. With these devices, it does seem that Samsung is trying to change according to market needs as the pricing is quite competitive. Talking about the competition, the Galaxy J5 will be up against the Lenovo K3 Note (first impressions), YU Yureka (review), MEIZU m1 note (first impressions), whereas the Galaxy J7 will be duelling against the likes of Xiaomi Mi 4 (review) and ASUS ZenFone 2 (review). However, these phones are able to set themselves apart with their brand name and features such as removable batteries and expandable storage. However, it’s odd that the brand is not harnessing the potential of its vast distribution network as these devices will exclusively be available to buy from Flipkart starting July 23rd. We’ll wait and watch how the two fare. 

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