The most hyped up and most often leaked device of 2016 has finally been revealed, and while Samsung didn’t manage to keep much under wraps before this announcement, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge both look like fantastic iterations of the Galaxy S line.
We have two versions of the phone, like last year. The Galaxy S7 features a flat screen with a curved back design (think Galaxy Note 5) while the Galaxy S7 Edge is the bigger, curved variant, succeeding the Galaxy S6 Edge+ from late 2015. Samsung is pitching these phones as the center of their connected ecosystem, ranging from fitness to virtual reality to mobile payments to gaming. It really hits as many check boxes as possible, which has been Samsung’s go-to strategy for the past several years.
The Galaxy S7 is made of metal and glass, and features a design very similar to last year’s S6 with some key refinements. Samsung focused on more than just design and looked at how to make the devices fit in the hand comfortably, and they’ve tweaked a few things, like making the camera protrude less on the back of the device, to make it look even better. Usability was high on the priority list, and it shows.
The Galaxy S7 Edge, like the S7, gained some pretty great usability enhancements. The newer design is supposed to make the large, curved phone a little easier to hold with one hand. If you’ve ever used an S6 Edge+, you’ll understand how tricky and slippery some of those devices were. The Edge screen has also picked up some new tricks, with tons of new features and easier access to content from the curve. Samsung also opened up the SDK for the Edge screen last month, too, so you’ll start to see more developers create apps and experiences that take advantage of it soon.
The actual hardware powering these devices is identical on both phones. You’ll get either an octa-core processor clocked at 2.3 GHz or a quad-core clocked at 2.15 GHz, depending on region of the device, but oddly, Samsung hasn’t clarified if these are Snapdragon 820 chips or an Exynos processor. Samsung claims it’s 30% more powerful than what’s in the S6, however, which leans towards some Exynos variants, but we’ll need some clarification on that.
Other hardware will be standardized globally, with 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage, and a 2560 x 1440 resolution display on either a 5.1-inch or 5.5-inch display. Two major features have made a return this time, too, including the expandable storage and waterproofing that we last saw in the Galaxy S5. The microSD card slot is backed into the SIM tray, and Samsung also managed to waterproof the device without needing to use a flap on the charging port.
The Galaxy S7 has a 3,000 mAh battery, while the S7 Edge has a 3,600 mAh battery. Samsung has also developed a cooling system for use in both of these devices that should keep things from getting hot and out of control, which can quickly destroy battery life. Samsung also made a big deal about supporting the newly release Vulcan API that bring extremely powerful graphics to mobile phones extremely efficiently, and they’ve included several gaming features right into the OS that should help to extend battery life, even if you spend tons of time playing games on your device.
Samsung’s Galaxy S6 took phenomenal pictures, but they didn’t slack off in bringing some improvements to the Galaxy S7. The megapixel count dipped a bit, but the 12 megapixel rear shooter uses a brand new dual pixel technology that mimics the way human eyes see things. This is similar to the dual-camera setup that LG unveiled just a few hours ago, but does everything within one lens instead of two. The tech takes information simultaneously from both pixels, then combines things into one image. Supposedly, it drastically improves focusing speed and makes low-light shots turn out exceptionally well, which is somewhere that smartphone cameras tend to struggle. Samsung is also introducing a motion panoramic mode into the camera that captures GIF-like images in a panorama, and that effect also works on normal photos, too. There will also be a wide-angle lens phone case available, if you really want to turn your Galaxy S7 into the best possible camera it can be.
Software is always a point of contention for Samsung, with some users absolutely hating TouchWiz. Like always, Samsung definitely added in some excessive features into the software, like the extra camera modes, the gaming software that exists at the OS to block notifications, record gameplay, and the like, but Samsung still managed to trim things back a bit to improve the UX of their current Galaxy phone.
There are less pre-installed apps this time around, and Marshmallow’s usability features are all present to help you out. Samsung is sticking their “squircle” icon shapes on everything, but it’s optional for anyone that doesn’t like it. It does make things look a little more uniform, especially within Samsung’s own apps. The lock screen has been simplified, too, and you can take just about everything off of it to make it look very simple and clean. All of those new Samsung 6.0 features (cross-app, Samsung Internet 4.0) are also here.
We’re still waiting on exact pricing and availability, but Samsung did mention that anyone that preorders the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will be receiving a free Gear 360 with their purchase. We’ll keep you updated on everything else Samsung is showing off, so be sure to keep an eye on the rest of our MWC coverage this week.