This year, Samsung’s making a concerted effort to differentiate its mobile products, with the new Samsung S7 handset is a touch smaller than the new S7 Edge. Similar to how Apple has the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6S Plus, Samsung’s 2016 line-up is all about giving people a choice of flagship handset. It’s easily the best decision that Samsung has made, as last year’s line-up was a bit cluttered and it was hard to know which phone to buy. By making this change, everything is much clearer.
Samsung has released a lot more information about the phone, letting MarkMeets fill in the blanks before. This includes the price, release date and specs. As a result, I’ve been through and updated all of the necessary sections to bring you the most up-to-date information.
The camera is one of the most important parts of any smartphone, with most people using their phone as their day-to-day camera over a compact model. With the Galaxy S7.
The camera is one part that the company has made a big focus on, deciding to go all-out for quality over specs. With this in mind, Samsung has dropped the megapixel count from 16-megapixels on the S6 to 12-megapixels on the S7. That might make some images a little less detailed, but the important thing is quality. To aid this, Samsung has increased pixel size from 1.12um on the S6 to 1.4um on the S7, which means that each pixel gets more light, so noise is reduced. The lens has been improved, moving from an f/1.9 aperture to a f/1.7, making the new phone 25% brighter.
A final improvement is that Samsung has used a dual-pixel sensor, which gives 100% phase detection pixels for extremely fast focusing in all light conditions. Samsung described the technology as the difference in trying to focus on an object using two eyes, rather than one. So, how fast is it really? I was able to test out the S7’s camera vs the S6’s using some Samsung kit. In the setup, both phones were pointing into a dark box, with an image at the far end. When a switch is pulled, a closer image is lifted into place, forcing the cameras to refocus on the closer image. In the video below you can see that the S7’s focus (on the right) is so fast that you can’t see it do anything; the S6’s focus (on the left) takes a while to kick in, hunting to get a focus lock. That’s quite an impressive improvement from Samsung.
So, what about quality? Well, I haven’t seen any footage for shots from the S7, so it’s hard to say at the moment. In the demo above, the S7’s live preview window produced a cleaner image with a lot less noise than the S6’s, but until I get chance to look at actually samples from the phone, it’s hard to say how much of an improvement the new camera really is.
As with last year’s S6, the new S7 has a flat 5.1in Super AMOLED display with a QHD resolution (2,560×1,440). This gives the S7 a pixel density of 577ppi, which is one of the highest on the market and higher than the S7 Edge (it has the same resolution, but its larger 5.5in screen slightly reduces pixel density). Needless to say, the screen is super sharp, plus it’s bright and colourful, too.
Samsung has traditionally made some of the best smartphone displays that I’ve ever tested, so I’m expecting the S7’s screen to be equally as good, although I’ll need to wait until I get the phone into the Expert Reviews labs before I can verify this. Unfortunately, at the time of doing the hands-on, Samsung was unable to provide any more information about the screen, such as brightness: I’ll update this article as this information becomes available.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – New features
As with the S7 Edge, the S7 has an Always On Display (AOD). This can be used to display information permanently on the screen, such as a clock, calendar or recent notifications. It’s a neat trick that lets you see information at a glance. Samsung has promised that battery life is not affected, as the Super AMOLED screen means that only the pixels being used to display information draw any power; in addition, the AOD shows a cut-down and simplified screen, so only a fraction of the display is used. Again, I’ll have to wait until I’ve got the final phone in for review to test if this new mode does make a difference.
Build quality and a waterproof design
From the outside, there’s very little to tell the S7 from the S6, as both phones use the same materials and colours. It’s a great choice, in my opinion, as the S6 was clearly one of last year’s best-looking and best-made smartphones. Using roughly the same design for another year makes loads of sense and it is what Apple has been doing for years.
Size and weight are quite similar, too, with the S7 measuring 142x70x7.9mm and weighing 152g, while the S6 measures 143x70x6.8mm and weighs 132g. The weight and thickness difference are likely to come from the bigger battery: a perfectly acceptable compromise in my opinion.
While the new handset might not look that different from the outside, there have been some clever design tweaks that make the phone waterproof and dustproof (IP68 certification). This means that the S7 can survive being submerged in up to 1.5m of water for 30m. As the waterproof design is integral to the phone, there’s no need for rubber caps to block the phone’s ports.
As with the S7 Edge, Samsung has also reduced the camera bump on the back, so that the lens protrudes by just 0.46mm. It’s an improvement, but I’d definitely like to see a design with the camera flush with the phone’s body.
The SD card slot is back
Fans of expandable storage rejoice: Samsung has listened to your feedback and has reinstated the microSD card slot. When you remove the SIM drawer from the top of the phone, you’ll see that there’s a slot for a microSD card, so you can cheaply and easily expand your phone’s storage. Samsung has said that the phone will take memory cards up to 200GB. In addition the phone comes in 32GB and 64GB built-in storage models.
The S7 starts at £569 or get it on contract.
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