“It’s not just a new phone. It brings a new way of thinking about what a phone can do. You defined the possibilities and we redefined the phone. The Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. Rethink what a phone can do.”
That’s the official line from Samsung on the latest evolution of its smartphone.
It was only a year ago we saw the S6, so it is not surprising that the S7 has retained many of the design traits from last year’s model. The S7 is more about evolution, not revolution. The end result is a sleek, better-performing and more sensible phone. The result of Samsung’s process of “rethinking” is obvious.
The S7 and its big sister S7 Edge retain the metal and glass chassis, but there are some refinements such as a flatter home button, and a thinner protrusion for the camera. The rear of the phone has been rounded, giving the device a completely different feel to its predecessor.
However the most remarkable new features are an IP certification for water and dust resistance, as well as expandable storage. They certainly represent improvements on the S6. Some of the “new” features have appeared in previous models, although Samsung claim that their reappearance are because the technology has been refined.
The dropped waterproofing, with an IP68 rating is a handy feature. It means the phone can be immersed in 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes before you need to panic. That’s plenty of time to take a deep breath and reach into the toilet bowl to retrieve your camera.
Samsung says that they have also worked out how to completely seal off the inside components whilst keeping micro USB ports, earphone jacks open, so you won’t have to fiddle with extra caps or covers.
CAMERA: BRING ON THE NIGHT
The camera itself is now much improved, despite the drop in megapixel rating from 16MP to 12MP, designed to help improve low light capabilities.
While it sounds like a downgrade, in reality it’s a big change for the better, thanks to the fact that the lower pixel rating actually lets in more light – 25% more, thanks to the 56% large pixels being used.
According to Samsung, “some of our most precious memories happen after dark”. Now that’s an interesting observation. This is the first smartphone camera to have a professional-grade Dual Pixel Sensor with which you’ll now be able to take crisp, clear photos in the dark. With Galaxy S7 edge and S7, you own the night.
It also means that the front-facing “selfie” 5MP camera is much-improved especially in low-light situations.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORY
Another “scaling down” has seen the Galaxy S7 only available in a 32GB model. Considering that Samsung offered 64GB and 128GB variants in the past, that doesn’t seem like much of an offer.
But in reality it’s a common sense move that improves the marketability of the phone. Rather than put prospective owners through the pain of understanding and deciding on memory capability, Samsung has simply added a microSD card slot in the SIM tray – something Samsung fans have been crying out for over the last 12 months.
The inclusion of expandable memory is a giant leap for the Galaxy, and it does not slow down performance of the phone.
The 5.1-inch screen is as pin-sharp as ever. Bigger and sharper in the Edge with its 5.5 inch screen. The high-res screen makes web browsing and watching video an impressive experience. The Super AMOLED technology used inside still offers huge benefits in terms of color reproduction and contrast, so everything looks stark and clear. It’s still the best looking screen in the market.
Samsung seems to have put a lot more effort into the battery pack with the Galaxy S7 – boosting it up from 2550mAh in the S6 to 3000mAh. The battery is non-removable and has an endurance rating of 80 hours.
The Galaxy S7 is one of the first Samsung phones to jump to Android 6, which comes pre-installed on the handset. That’s running on top of two different chipsets: the Qualcomm 820 CPU and Samsung’s own Exynos unit plus 4GB of RAM.
Both engines offer a huge amount of power and graphical grunt to make the stuff on the phone’s display shine.
THE GAMES WE PLAY
The other big feature is the Game Launcher, a sandboxed area where you can store the latest gaming titles you’ve downloaded, and access a suite of tools to improve your gaming experience.
Game Launcher is the ultimate control center for games. All your games in one convenient place with new downloads added automatically. Before playing, you can mute and hide alerts and adjust game settings to save power.
You can also activate the Game Launcher set of tools to trigger some quick actions, like recording the screen or minimizing your game so you can do something else.
DECISIONS, DECISIONS…S7 OR S7 EDGE?
The two have everything in common except for the S7 Edge’s larger battery and screen size, and the S7’s conventional display versus the Edge’s curved screen (plus “edge” software navigation bar). Ask someone that has the S6 Edge and they will extol the virtues of the side navigation bar. Screen size of the S7 Edge is 5.5 inches versus S7 5.1 inches. Besides that it really is a matter of taste and budget.