Samsung launched the Galaxy J7 Max and the Galaxy J7 Pro, follow ups to last year's Galaxy J5 Prime and Galaxy J7 Prime, in India on Wednesday. The two phones are part of Samsung's ever-expanding Galaxy J-series universe. "Samsung J series holds leadership position in the mass-mid segment smartphone market and continues to witness a healthy demand from Indian customers," Sumit Walia who is director for Mobile Business at Samsung India said while speaking exclusively with India Today Tech. No wonder the company keeps launching one J-series phone after another, oh so frequently.
Not only do the Galaxy J7 Max and the Galaxy J7 Pro blur the gap between Samsung's J and A-lineup -- much like last year's Galaxy J5 Prime and Galaxy J7 Prime -- they are also quite expensive -- for a J-series phone -- much like their predecessor phones. A J-series phone -- before the Galaxy J5 Prime and Galaxy J7 Prime came along -- was synonymous with all-plastic build, mediocre specs and affordable pricing. The Galaxy J5 Prime and Galaxy J7 Prime changed that theory. The Galaxy J7 Max and the Galaxy J7 Pro changes it some more.
Samsung finally decided to give its J-series, the premium treatment last year and with the Galaxy J7 Max and the Galaxy J7 Pro, it has continued with the trend. Whether or not, the move would set cash counters ticking for Samsung is yet to be seen. After all, it is always a gamble to up the premium quotient and price tag of a phone -- out of the blue -- that buyers generally expect to be practical and more affordable. Clearly, the J-series is doing well, and Samsung is ready to take the plunge, yet again.
The Galaxy J7 Max and the Galaxy J7 Pro boast of an all-metal unibody design -- top and bottom ends being plastic with brushed metal finish to accommodate the antennas -- with curved 2.5D glass on the front. Both the phones come with front-mounted physical home buttons that double as fingerprint scanners. Both the phones -- unlike last year's Galaxy J5 Prime and Galaxy J7 Prime -- hover about the phablet territory. While the Galaxy J7 Max is a 5.7-inch phone, the Galaxy J7 Pro is a 5.5-inch one. They are not identical looking though. While the Galaxy J7 Pro comes with fancy antenna lines (also it is curvier) the Galaxy J7 Max looks a lot like last year's Galaxy J5 Prime and Galaxy J7 Prime. Needless to say, that the Galaxy J7 Pro is the better looking of the two.
Being all-metal means, the Galaxy J7 Max and the Galaxy J7 Pro, have non-removable back covers, and obviously non-removable batteries. That is, but, a small price to pay for all that premium you're getting. Both the phones come with a 1080p screen, but, in the case of the Galaxy J7 Pro, the display is a Super AMOLED one. The phones have just the right amount of pixels, without going overboard, which means they have pleasantly sharp displays and good viewing angles. Needless to say, that the Galaxy J7 Pro is visibly sharper and punchier -- with oversaturated colours -- in comparison to the Galaxy S7 Max.
Both the phones run Android Nougat-based TouchWiz UI, support dual-SIM and 4G LTE (VoLTE-ready) connectivity.
Samsung is banking on two key features to sell its new Galaxy J phones: Pay Mini and Social camera. While Samsung Pay Mini is Samsung Pay minus debit/credit card support, Social camera is essentially a camera feature that lets users apply beautify and filters on the fly while taking photos as well as share them simultaneously on social media channels, right from the camera app itself.
Of these, the Samsung Pay Mini - which is essentially a lighter version of the company's Pay mobile payments service platform - is the more interesting. "There are current users in the market who have already adopted mobile wallets and the UPI interface. We've seen an opportunity there. These consumers have expressed concern over the fact that they are not getting a secure environment in which they are making payments. To address this and also to make this more convenient we thought that there's an opportunity that a Samsung Pay Mini variant can be introduced to address the needs of these consumers," Sumit explained.
Samsung Pay has all the cards (Visa, Mastercard), wallets like Paytm and UPI all integerated into one and works with both NFC and MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission). It works with any payment terminal: card swiping or reading machine accepting either a traditional swipe or contactless payments. It takes just three simple steps to use Samsung Pay, according to the company. These include: swiping up to launch the service, authenticating via PIN or fingerprint and making payments using your compatible Samsung phone. Samsung Pay Mini, on the other hand, supports only Paytm and UPI.
"We tested the market and found 50 per cent adoption of Samsung Pay on our flagship devices. We realised that it was now time to mass-scale the service. We worked towards bringing Samsung Pay even to phones which do not have MST hardware."
Moving on, Samsung is looking to bring Samsung Pay Mini to almost all its phones that have a fingerprint scanner which means previous-generation J-series phones (with fingerprint scanner) will also support the service in the days to come.
As for, overall performance, well, I for one am glad that Samsung has really tried to cut down on bloat or unwanted apps. I will have more to say about the phones' all-round performance and camera capabilities in our full review.
While the Galaxy J7 Max is backed by a 3,300mAh battery, the Galaxy J7 Pro comes with a 3,600mAh battery.
While meaningful innovations still form the backbone of Samsung's new J-series phones, the Galaxy J7 Max and the Galaxy J7 Pro are a different breed (of J-phones) altogether. They are more premium, have heftier spec-sheets and are also expensive. While the Galaxy J7 Max has been priced at Rs 17,900 the Galaxy J7 Pro will cost buyers Rs 20,900. I understand, there would be many, who would be turned off by their pricing, especially those who have for long considered the J-series as one that is relatively affordable. At the same time, there would be buyers, who were for long looking for a premium phone -- at around Rs 20,000 -- from the likes of Samsung. These are the kind of buyers who wouldn't want to invest in something like the Galaxy S6 or the S7, but, would definitely want to try out something premium should Samsung bring something of that sort. The Galaxy J7 Max and the Galaxy J7 Pro, in that case, would make so much more sense. Of course phones like the Moto G5 Plus and HMD Global's newly launched Nokia 6 and Nokia 5 will spoil their party. Watch this space for our full review of the Samsung Galaxy J7 Max and the Galaxy J7 Pro in the days to come.