Samsung officially announces the Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge

After weeks of leaks and speculation, Samsung finally shed light on what the Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge will have in store. At their press event in Barcelona a day before MWC, the Korean tech giant went into detail about all the main features a consumer wants and needs in a modern Smartphone, citing that “People inspired innovation”. Samsung have stated this fact for every one of their press launches, but it was never believed due to many shortcomings of said devices after launch.

But something about this year’s event struck a chord with me. It’s obvious Samsung are willing to change for their consumers and have their best interest in mind. Let’s see what the Galaxy S7 & the Edge (Not the one from U2) have to offer.

Build Quality

Image provided by Android Central

At first glance you may think the S7 shares the exact same characteristics of its predecessor, and you’d be right. The front of the device has little change, keeping the same screen size from last year as well as their trademark ‘home button’ that has been carried on since the original Galaxy S launch. The only major difference from the S6 is the look of the home button. Samsung went with a Galaxy S2-inpspired recessed home button with a 1-2mm border protruding around the button itself for better comfortability.

The back of the device is where things really start to take shape, with Samsung taking design cues from last year’s Note 5 with a rounded contoured edged back, and a flush camera module with a protruding metal border for better protection.

The heartrate sensor continues on, being in the same position as the Galaxy S6. Samsung didn’t announce any new APIs or improved technology into this bit of the hardware, but this is hardly surprising due to the fact that the heartrate sensor has reached peak performance.

The sides of the devices are also more of the same from the S6, with a matte metal finish and silky smooth borders across the whole device. The power button is on the right-hand side of the device, with the volume rockers on the left – SIM Tray is along the top also, with the Micro-SD card expansion slot integrated into the SIM tray itself – headphone jack is along the bottom just like last year, too.

Hardware

Before I start talking about each individual hardware feature, here’s a rundown of the specifications:

Galaxy S7

  • 5.1” AMOLED Display – 1440×2560 pixels
  • 12MP Camera – f1.7 aperture w/ ‘Dual Lens’ functionality
  • 5MP front-facing camera
  • 4GB RAM
  • SnapDragon 820 CPU
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  • 32GB Internal Storage – Expandable via Micro SD
  • 3000mAh battery
  • WIreless Charging – Both PMA & Qi standards
  • Nano-SIM
  • Water-Resistant – IP68 certified

 

Galaxy S7 Edge

  • 5.5” AMOLED Dual Edge Display – 1440×2560 pixels
  • 12MP Camera – f1.7 aperture w/ ‘Dual Lens’ functionality
  • 5MP front-facing camera
  • 4GB RAM
  • SnapDragon 820 CPU
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  • 32GB Internal Storage – Expandable via Micro SD up to 200GB
  • 3600mAh battery
  • WIreless Charging – Both PMA & Qi standards
  • Nano-SIM
  • Water-Resistant – IP68 certified

 

Display

Samsung have been innovating and progressing the AMOLED brand and functionality for the better part of 8 years now, with the Nexus One being among one of the first devices to have the technology implemented.

Bringing it back to 2016, and Samsung have come on leaps and bounds with this technology, making the most saught after displays on the market right now. But the Korean tech giant wanted to go one further for this year, and it isn’t necesarrily about the display’s specifications. It’s more about what functions can come from using this display.

Samsung today announced that both the Galaxy S7 & Edge will have an ‘always-on display’. Now this technology isn’t new – Motorola implemented this feature initially on the first Moto X. This feature wasn’t actually ‘always-on’ – Motorola introduced 4 IR sensors in the device and whenever these sensors noticed movement, the display turned itself on, displaying the time and how many notifications you had without actually unlocking the device. The technology itself hadn’t been improved upon much over the years, with devices such as the Nexus 6, Moto X (2014, 15) and more recently the Nexus 6P implementing the same incarnations of the software advancement into the device.

This is where Samsung introduced some changes to this idea. The Korean company have introduced some customisation options for this ‘always-on’ display, with calendar options and other functionality soon to be announced. Another thing Samsung stated was that the display will in-fact be ‘always-on’, unlike other implementations.

You’re probably wondering “but won’t this diminish battery life?” and the answer is no. I’ll give you the reason why as briefly as possible.

AMOLED stands for Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode (You can see now why it needed an acronym). The part we’re going to concentrate on here is the ‘Active-Matrix’ part. Active Matrix basically means that this process addresses each individual pixel, actively maintaining the pixel state. Whereas the older Passive Matrix technology could only maintain a specific type of level without any changes made on an active level.

In leymans terms, the AMOLED technology doesn’t light up the display all at once when it’s switched on. The Active Matrix technology picks up where light is required and only lights up that part of the display, and the rest of the display where light isn’t required isn’t switched on at all. This equals better battery efficiency and more imporantly deeper blacks. This is why the ‘always-on’ technology has been a major success in devices such as the Moto X, Nexus 6 and the recent Nexus 6P, because they all have AMOLED displays and do not diminish battery life due to the AMOLED technology.

Camera

Cameras have become an important comodity in Smartphones in recent years, with social media taking over our daily lives and apps like Snapchat and Instagram are the main focal point of requiring a decent enough camera to take good pictures for the situation.

Samsung stated multiple times during the conference that they have been the sole initiatior of phone cameras, being the first company to implement a camera in a phone. The ’S’ range of devices have always been known for having very good cameras, but Samsung didn’t want to settle for ‘good enough’ this year, introducing a 12MP camera which could be seen as a downgrade from last years 16MP. Megapixels aren’t the only the factor to take into account when it comes to any camera – there’s things like the aperture and the size of the module itself to take into consideration. This year, Samsung have introduced a f1.7 aperture into the 12MP camera module, which is a first for a smartphone camera. With increased aperture, this allows more light to be let in by the camera module, producing better low-light images all round.

Another feature which is a first for a smartphone is the ‘Dual Lens’ technology which typically is endorsed by most DSLR cameras out there. Dual Lens means ‘blink of an eye’ auto-focusing, meaning you can capture the more important moments of your life in quick succession without fumbling around and missing it. Samsung provided sample shots alongside Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus, with the Galaxy S7 focusing on an object moving in frame 3-4x quicker than Apple’s current flagship.

For the panorama lovers out there, Samsung have implemented a ‘Motion Panorama’ feature, which takes a live photo of your landscape and moment. While most panorama pictures on your device show as a ‘strip’ when viewing it in full, the Motion Panorama mode fully immerses itself onto the display. Accompanied with the live photo taking capability, it makes those moments last a lot longer as if you took the photo yesterday.

Software

Image provided by Android Central

There was no word on software improvements for the S7 per se. The S7 Edge, on the other hand did have one major overhaul in its software, which is the ‘Edge Menu’. If you didn’t know already, the original S6 Edge had a dedicated menu for when you swiped in from one of the edges of the display, revealing certain shortcuts. The initial implementation left a lot to be desired, with it only having favourite contact shortcuts, making the feature a rarity for use.

In the S7, Samsung decided to go away with the contact shortcuts and trade them in for applications shortcuts, as well as opening an API for developers to implement widgets or added features to their apps. All in all, it’s a good improvement – but I feel the edge display is a bit of a niche when it comes to features surrounding it. The concept of it is great, and it makes the device itself look aesthetically pleasing, but that’s about it.

Wireless Charging

Image provided by Android Central

Samsung were one of the first manufacturers to implement both standards (PMA & Qi) into a smartphone, which is a great idea due to the fact that McDonalds & Starbucks do not use the usual Qi standard for their future-proof tables. PMA is an older standard of wireless charging, but having the option of PMA in there covers all angles regardless of if it’s an old technology or not.

Battery

The Galaxy S6 had a lot of shortcomings, and one of the main ones was the battery life. Abysmal may be an understatement here, as the overall battery experience was too inconsistent to trust if it could get you through a full day or not. The same went for many of the previous ’S’ devices that hit the market. Samsung never really managed to get a handle on the battery life, and while the landscape in smartphones has been ever-changing, battery life has become increasingly important over the past year.

This year, Samsung have announced that the Galaxy S7 will have a 3000mAh battery, with the S7 Edge having a 3600mAh battery.

There’s not really much to say in regards to overall battery tests yet, as the devices have just been announced. We’ll soon know how the battery holds up in the coming weeks leading up to the reviews. Samsung claim you can ‘easily’ get through a day of heavy use.

Processor

The ’S’ line are a flagship line of phones from Samsung, so of course it will have the latest and greatest offering of processors to lead the company into battle for the next year. Depending on location, you will either get the Qualcomm SnapDragon 820 (EU Countries), or the Samsung-created Exynos 8890 (Countries to be determined). Samsung themselves confirmed in their press conference that the Galaxy S7 CPU is 30% more powerful than its predecessor, the S6. The GPU is 60% more powerful, too.

One thing Samsung also liked to boast about today was the fact that they have introduced a new cooling system into the housing of the device, which is primarily used in rockets. This means the device will take a lot longer to heat up and will dissipate heat at a faster rate.

Along with the new cooling system, the S7 is one of the first devices to have the Vulkan API for gaming inside it. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney came on stage and showed an example of what the API is capable of, running the Unreal Engine seamlessly in 60FPS with no frame drops and handled the ‘true to life’ graphics and textures with no real issue – exciting times ahead for mobile gaming. A game launcher was also announced alongside the API implementation, meaning you have in-game options for device-specific blocking such as disabling certain hardware buttons while playing a game so you don’t accidentally exit the game. Social sharing is also apart of the launcher so you can record gameplay and share it to social media.

Samsung Pay

Samsung briefly mentioned at their Unpacked event that Samsung Pay will be coming to 7 countries in 2016, including the UK. While official dates were not announced, we now have a rough timeframe as to when it will make an appearance. List of countries to get Samsung Pay in 2016 below:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • UK

 

Pricing

Pricing wasn’t really mentioned at all during the conference, but official details in a press release have confirmed the baseline pricing for both devices.

Galaxy S7 Edge – £639

Colour Options – Titanium Silver, Gold, Black

Galaxy S7 – £569

Colour Options – Black, Gold

You also get a free Gear VR if you pre-order the device.

Availability

The Galaxy S7 will be available on March 11th globally, with pre-orders starting today in most countries (UK included). US pre-orders start on the 23rd February.

My Thoughts

Although it seems like Samsung haven’t improved much this year, they didn’t have to. The Korean tech company are going back to form with their iterative nature of upgrades, a lot like most companies do. The Galaxy S6 was, and still is a winning formula – Samsung changed what was required to make it a true winner and came out with the Galaxy S7. From the contoured ergonomic back, to the beefy specifications – The S7 will be one to watch for this year.

Let me know your thoughts on the device below in the comments.

About Kurt Colbeck

Cynical, bitter, and speaks his mind. And those are my good points! I like to ramble and I love technology, so this is why I'm here.

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