Samsung has finally revealed its much awaited Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge handsets. The revamped smartphone was revealed at the company’s Unpacked Event ahead of this week’s 2016 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and critics have begun to pour over the specifications.
So what’s Samsung’s new flagship smartphone range like?
The two handsets undeniably share many design cues not just with each other, but with the outgoing Galaxy S6 models. There are one or two changes though.
The biggest difference is seen on the S7 Edge. While the standard S7 remains a 5.1-inch handset, the S7 jumps up in size to 5.5ins. With that comes the biggest change in terms of overall design, too. The sharper, flat back is gone and is instead rounded off to meet the curved edges of the screen.
At the back, the camera module has gone on a diet to make it protrude less – the new models jut out just 0.46mm, meaning they sit more or less flush. Samsung has also worked on the overall exterior packaging and manufacturing standards of the phone, now being IP68 waterproof standard.
The Galaxy S6’s display won praise, so Samsung has a reputation to trade on. Both the S7 handsets have Super AMOLED Quad HD screens with resolutions of 2560×1440 pixels, but the smaller phone has a pixel density of 577 compared to the 534 of the larger Edge model. There’s “no reason to suspect that the quality is going to be anything other than brilliant”.
One striking new feature is that the display is always on – even when the phone is off. Notifications, date, time and a personalised screen will always be shown, while using minimal power.
Both phones will use an identical processor, but with two different specifications.
Samsung claims the S7 processor is “30 per cent faster” than the one used last year, with the CPU up to 64 per cent quicker. Both phones have 4GB RAM while from launch, models will be available with 32GB and 64GB storage, though Samsung has confirmed that expandable storage is also an option on the new S7 phones. Micro SD cards up to 200GB in size can be used. The SIM card slot has two housings – one for the Nano SIM, the other for an SD card.
Owing to the fact the phones are different sizes, the batteries have grown and changed slightly. The standard S7 is fitted with a 3,000mAh battery, the larger S7 a 3,600 one. Both can be fast charged and wired or wireless charging is available.
As suspected, the S7s will run Android Marshmallow 6.0, although Samsung has introduced a few new built-in apps and features, too.
Among them is Game Launcher, a dedicated hub for mobile gamers where they will be able to launch games and customise settings. Samsung has also incorporated the camera into the gaming experience so users can record their screens or themselves while playing.
On the S7 Edge, a new sidebar scrolling function allows for easier access to news, apps, contacts and messages. It was rumoured that the S7 could get 3D touch like features, but instead Samsung has introduced additional swiping features. Samsung Pay – the company’s rival to Apple Pay – is also coming to the UK with the S7.
It’s not just the way the camera fits into the chassis of the phone that has changed, there are big hardware revisions to the S7’s snapper.
Rumours that the phone could actually ship using a camera with less megapixels than the Galaxy S6 have turned out to be true. The S7 uses a 12 megapixel camera over the 16 used on its predecessor, but the actual sensor is mated to revisited and improved hardware and Samsung say they’ve improved the camera’s overall performance, particularly in low light. An aperture of f/1.7 combined with larger pixels means the camera will allow in 95 per cent more light for better results. The front-facing camera is still five megapixels, but also gets the f/1.7 aperture for improved performance.