Samsung is one of the few smartphone makers with a wide presence across all price segments. It has multiple devices aimed at different audiences, a strategy that has helped it hang on to the number one spot in India despite ferocious competition.
The C series, one of Samsung's many different product lines, has been updated with potent new models. The Galaxy C7 Pro is priced in a segment dominated by OnePlus with the OnePlus 3 (Review) and OnePlus 3T (Review). Even Motorola has the somewhat similarly specced Moto Z Play (Review) at a lower price. Can the Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro put up a fight? We put it to the test.
We have to admit, the Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro is a good-looking device. Samsung has got the design and build quality spot on. The phone is available in gold colour but we prefer the navy blue finish of our review unit. We wish Samsung offered a black option, which would have gone well with the black front panel. You are reminded of the aluminium unibody when you pick this phone up in an air-conditioned room. The body is just 7mm thick and is comfortable to hold thanks to the curved sides and edges.
The glass on the front of the Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro has rounded edges. The front camera, earpiece, proximity sensor and hidden notification LED are arranged in a line, with Samsung branding below them. The metal mesh on the earpiece and the accent surrounding the home button are finished in the same colour as the back panel, which looks neat. The physical home button houses the fingerprint sensor and has backlit capacitive buttons on either side.
The volume buttons are positioned on the left and the power button is on the right, with the hybrid dual-SIM tray below it. You can use two Nano-SIMs or use the second slot to extend storage with a microSD card. The tray has little tabs that hold SIMs in place securely, which is appreciated.
Samsung has opted for antenna lines that run across the top and bottom of the phone's rear. They sit flush with the metal just like the ones on the Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro (Review) and the Oppo F3 Plus (Review). The primary camera and the dual-tone LED flash are in the center. The camera protrudes slightly and has a metal surround which should help prevent scratches. The Samsung branding at the back has a reflective finish which shines when light bounces off the matte back panel.
The Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro has a USB Type-C port, loudspeaker, microphone and 3.5 mm audio socket at the bottom, and a secondary microphone at the top. Samsung provides a Micro-USB to Type-C adapter in the box so that you can work with your existing accessories. The phone tips the scales at 172g and feels just about right in the hand. We must add that it is a little slippery to hold, and the entire screen cannot be used with one hand.
The Galaxy C7 Pro sports a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with full-HD resolution and thin borders. We must say that the display is very good. Punchy contrast and good viewing angles make it viewable in various lighting conditions. You can choose from a selection of predefined display modes but there is no way of fine-tuning these settings.
Powering the phone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 SoC with an integrated Adreno 506 GPU. The processor has eight Cortex-A53 cores and is clocked at 2.2GHz. The Galaxy C7 Pro has 4GB of RAM along with 64GB of storage. You can expand storage by up to 256GB by popping in a microSD card. There is support for Bluetooth 4.2, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, GPS, and NFC. The Galaxy C7 Pro has a non-removable 3300mAh battery and comes with a proprietary quick charger in the box.
Samsung chose to launch the C7 Pro with Android 6.0 Marshmallow instead of Android 7.0 Nougat. The UI that Samsung offers is quite polished and is in line with what we've seen on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. If you have used Samsung smartphones in the past, you'll find this UI improved, yet familiar. You also have the option to customise it with a theme of your choice. Samsung lets you select themes and icons from the settings, and you can choose from a variety of free and paid ones.
The UI has an app drawer, and apps can be sorted alphabetically or in your own custom order. Swipe left from the homescreen and you'll come across Briefing, a news feed powered by Flipboard. You can customise the types and sources of news as per your liking, or switch it off altogether. Samsung also offers a blue light filter with a schedule and customisable intensity. This is quite useful at night and in low-light situations.
The Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro gets an Always-On display mode that shows the time, date, and notifications, if any when the phone is in standby. Power saving options let you extend battery life by turning the brightness down and limiting device performance. At the highest power saving level, the software only lights up select pixels on the AMOLED screen. S Power planning is a different approach to battery management, which reserves a bit of power only for calling, when your total charge level falls below a set threshold.
There are lots of preinstalled apps on the Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro and you can find even more apps in the Galaxy Apps store. You get Samsung's S Health which lets you track steps, your water intake and sleep. The S Folder lets you lock private data, but you need to create a Samsung ID for this to function. The phone also claims to lock down your data if it detects someone trying to gain root access or load a custom ROM, both of which are security risks. You also get the Opera Max browser with built-in data compression, and some apps from Microsoft.
The Galaxy C7 Pro sports 16-megapixel cameras at the front and back. It has a dual-tone LED flash at the back, but misses out on a selfie flash. Double-pressing the home button quickly launches the camera app no matter what's currently running on the phone. You can choose between multiple modes before taking photos, including Continuous Shot to take bursts, and a Food mode that adds a bokeh effect to make subjects more prominent. Pro mode gives you better control over individual settings but sadly misses out on aperture and shutter speed controls. Samsung also gives you the option to download more modes from its store.
The phone is quick to focus and capture shots, and they come out sharp with accurate colours. Photos taken with the primary camera in daylight look quite good, but HDR mode sometimes caused ghosting in our sample shots. Objects at a distance lack detail and there is considerable noise in the output. You can switch to Night mode but the difference in the output is marginal. Focusing took longer in low light, colours seemed a bit off, and the edges of subjects weren't very smooth. Video recording on the Galaxy C7 Pro maxes out at 1080p. There is continuous autofocus and you can also lock focus while recording. The camera adjusts to scene changes quite quickly while recording.
Photos taken with the selfie camera are good enough for sharing and social media. The Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro has a beautify mode which smoothens out faces and skin, which isn't turned on by default. Group Selfie requires you to swivel the camera around to capture a wider field of view. Video recording maxes out at 1080p.
The Galaxy C7 Pro did manage to impress us with its overall performance. It took no time for us to get used to the 5.7-inch screen. The slippery body does mean that you need a sturdy grip while unlocking and using it. The Snapdragon 626 SoC has adequate power and never left us wanting. Also, Samsung has been generous with 4GB of RAM. Over 1.5GB was usually free to deal with anything we threw at it.
We put the Galaxy C7 Pro through our benchmarking tests and it managed to score 67,717 in Antutu, plus 931 and 4498 respectively in Geekbench's single and multi-core tests. For gaming, we played Warhammer 40K Freeblade, Clash Royale, and Breakneck. We didn't encounter any lag while gaming and the phone ran cooler than we had expected it to.
Battery life is good and the device manages to go one full day with medium use and a bit of gaming. Our HD video loop test went on for 16 hours and 8 minutes before the phone died. What this means is that you won't need to worry when you are away from a charger. When the battery does run out, the bundled adaptive fast charger manages to top the phone up in around 90 minutes.
Samsung has managed to strike a good balance between performance and battery life with the Galaxy C7 Pro. The premium build quality and crisp display add to its appeal. Yes, it is priced at the same level as the OnePlus 3 (Review), but the C7 Pro isn't running the same race. Its ideal competitor is the Moto Z Play which is priced at Rs 24,999. In comparison, the Galaxy C7 Pro offers a better processor, more RAM, and a sleeker body.
If what you need is an all-day performer, the Galaxy C7 Pro would be our pick over the Moto Z Play (Review). You can also wait for discounts like these on the Galaxy C7 Pro to sweeten the deal. However, the OnePlus 3T (Review) is still more of an outright powerhouse.