Review: Samsung Galaxy J7 V for Verizon Wireless
The software experience feels … dated.
The lock screen lacks any kind of always-on or ambient display. It does include a large clock positioned at the top. Notifications fill in the space below the clock and shortcuts to the phone and camera occupy the bottom corners of the lock screen. Thankfully you can customize the shortcuts.
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On the security front, there's no fingerprint reader aboard, so you're stuck with old-school locking methods that are less convenient and less secure.
The Galaxy J7 V runs Android 7 Nougat with Samsung's interface on top. It's an older version of Samsung's software, not the more modern variant that adorns the Galaxy S8 and Note8. That's a bummer.
Customizing the home screens is easy enough. The home panels support 4x4, 4x5, or 5x5 icon grids, which is nice. The app drawer is anchored to the far right side of the dock at the bottom of the screen. I dislike this unusual positioning, and it's unchangeable.
The app drawer is arranged in side-by-side panels, like an iPhone. The app drawer supports alphabetical or custom arrangements, as well as folders. Verizon and Samsung preloaded several folders with their own branded apps. You may also hide (but not uninstall) the Verizon and Samsung apps that you don't use.
The Quick Settings panel drops down to provide access to various toggles, the screen brightness control, and notifications. Samsung gave it a new look, but the functionality of the panel is unchanged when compared to other Android handsets. You can rearrange the toggles however you wish.
Samsung's Easy Mode is available for those who prefer a simpler experience. It hides most apps and settings and blows up buttons so they are easy to find and use even for those with poor vision.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 625 processor, clocked at 2.2 GHz, powers the phone. This is a nice step up from the Snapdragon 415 that was in last year's version of the J7. It's still limited to 2 GB of RAM. Even so, I didn't run into any issues as far as performance is concerned. The J7 V felt quick and snappy while I reviewed it. The phone opened apps swiftly and the home screen experience was always fluid.
The J7 V's camera will jump to life rapidly no matter which method you select to open it. Options include double-pressing the home button, waking the screen and tapping the lock screen shortcut, or opening the app from the home screen.
The camera app is one of the simplest I've encountered lately. Some standard controls are easy to spot on the left (settings, flash, selfie cam), while just a couple of buttons (shutter, video) dot the right. Swipe the screen to the right to reveal the shooting modes, or to the left to reveal nine different filters.
The default shooting mode is auto. The more advanced shooting modes include pro, panorama, continuous shot (burst), HDR, night, sports, and sound & shot.
The pro mode adds controls for white balance, exposure, ISO, and metering. That's all. You won't find any controls for shutter length or aperture. This limits the creative potential quite a bit.
The rest of the shooting modes perform more or less as you'd expect them to. The sports mode prioritizes shutter speed. The sound & shot mode records several seconds of audio to go with a still image. I wish the HDR mode could be toggled from the main screen.
The phone includes a simplified version of Samsung's selfie mode. The Beauty Face tool lets you smooth out wrinkles and delete moles and other skin blemishes. It also makes you look like an alien. I do like that the selfie mode includes a panorama tool for wide-angle shots.
The J7 V's camera app is light on its feet and the interface is dead simple to use.
You won't find any fancy camera tech buried within the J7 V's imaging components. There's a dual LED flash for lighting, and that's about it.
Most of the images I captured with the J7 V turned out pretty well. Focus and white balance were nearly always dialed in accurately. Exposure is the one thing that might trip you up. For example, I noticed a number op photos were underexposed and lost detail in dark regions. Some of this can be rectified after the fact, but I'd rather see the camera get it right on its own. Low-light shots showed some grain, but not overmuch.
The 5-megapixel selfie camera isn't as good. Focus was really soft most of the time, and exposure was all over the place. Grain was also a problem.
The phone can record video up to full HD (1080). I think the phone did a good job capturing video, particularly during daylight hours. Video shot at night (or in the dark) was full of grain.
Verizon / Samsung Stuff
There are a ton of junk apps on the Galaxy J7 V from Samsung and Verizon. You can delete some of the third-party stuff that's preloaded (eBay, BofA, Final Fantasy) but not the Verizon-branded stuff (VZProtect, Caller Name ID). I bring this up because the phone is limited to just 16 GB of storage and you only get access to about 7 GB of that. Use a memory card if at all possible.
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