Shipping and more general availability is expected by Monday.
The phones are the upgraded versions of the highly successful A5 and A7 launched last year at a price of Rs 25,500 and Rs 30,500.
In other words, the 2016 versions are costlier at launch by Rs 3,000-4,000, which is probably due to the huge dip in the value of the Indian rupee vs the dollar over the last one year.
Rather surprisingly, the chipset used in the new A7 is the same as that in last year’s model, though LTE specs have changed. The new phone will also come with a 5.5-inch full-HD Super AMOLED display.
Last year’s model, which also comes with Snapdragon 615 chipset, is currently available in India for Rs 23,000.
For the extra Rs 10,400 that you pay for the new model, you get 1 GB of extra RAM and a better camera with optical image stabilization plus bigger aperture. The new model also offers an upgraded operating system and a battery with a capacity of 3.3 Ah, which is 27% more than that of the one on last year’s model.
Camera resolutions on this year’s model has been kept the same at 13 MP plus 5 MP, but the newly added optical image stabilization should give better pictures for those with shaky hands while the bigger aperture should give better results in low light.
The Samsung Galaxy A7 2016 edition weighs 172 gm, 31 gm more than last year’s model, possibly because the new model comes with a Gorilla Glass back panel instead of a plastic one like in case of its predecessor.
Both of the new models come with Cat 6 LTE, which allows the phone to use spectrum from two different spectrum blocks at the same time, while the 2015 models supported only single-carrier Cat 4 LTE. Indian operators are likely to add support for dual-carrier LTE only after 6-8 months from now.
The phones also come with Android 5.1 Lolipop instead of KitKat.
So, is it worth paying Rs 10,400 extra?
Frankly, we don’t think so unless the new display turns out to be of better quality compared to that of the 2015 model. The display size, technology and resolution of the display remains the same, but the panel is likely a different one and better than last year’s.
Coming to Galaxy A5 2016, it costs Rs 11,400 more than last year’s version, but offers more substantial updates from the 2015 model. In fact, the new A5 is in many ways a smaller version of the A7 except for the fact that it has only 2 GB of RAM instead of 3 GB.
The biggest improvements are on the display and processor side. The display has been enlarged to 5.2 inches from 5.0 and the resolution has been doubled to full-HD from HD last year, with the result that there are now 424 pixels per inch of the screen compared to 294 earlier.
The Snapdragon 410 platform has been replaced by the Snapdragon 615, the same one found in the larger model. The cameras on this year’s model too are the same new and improved ones that you can see in the new A7.
SO, IS IT WORTH IT?
Given their higher prices and the state of the market right now, these phones make very little sense for most people, except perhaps for die-hard fans of Samsung (of which there are perhaps not that many.)
The only other category of users who would consider the models are those who really like AMOLED displays.
The main drawback of these models is not something that is related to the handsets themselves, but to the overall market.
The Indian smartphone market has undergone a sea-change since the first A series phones were launched.
While last year, the low-price revolution was limited to the lower-end of the market, this year, the low-price revolution has come to the upper-mid-range with the launch of the LeTV Le 1s and the upcoming entry of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Pro.
From a specifications point of view, the A7 is inferior to the LeTV Le 1s, which costs only one-third of what the Korean model is priced at. The 1s has a fingerprint scanner, double the storage memory and arguably a better processor. However, both of Samsung’s models will support 4G voice, which is not present on the 1s, and external memory.
The other comparison is with the upcoming Redmi Note 3 Pro, which was expected to be priced at Rs 17,000, but may be priced higher due to the decline in the value of the rupee recently. Like the Samsung models, Note 3 Pro will come with VoLTE support, and will also sport Snapdragon 650 chipset that will be substantially faster at certain use cases.
The Korean models come with octa-core Cortex A53 chipsets, while the Xiaomi model come with the more powerful Cortex A72 technology. The A72 is about twice as powerful as the A53.
The phones are available on Samsung’s official webstore.