Samsung has officially pulled the covers off the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, so we've pulled together some of the press' first impressions on the phones
Samsung’s annual Galaxy launch is always a focal point of the tech calendar, but after the success of last year’s Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, this year’s event was particularly well hyped. As expected, Samsung has unveiled two direct successors to last year’s champion pairing – the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.
Both phones are getting their microSD storage back, and thanks to Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s memory card integration, that means they now have hugely expandable internal storage. They’ve also received a bump up in battery capacity, whilst Samsung has made huge improvements to the camera in both devices, lowering the Megapixel count whilst increasing performance.
But don’t just take our word for it. The world’s tech press has descended on Barcelona to get a first look at the new phones and give their own expert opinions on Samsung’s latest devices. Here’s what they thought…
Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S7
“If you look beyond the design similarities, Samsung’s fixed nearly everything that was disappointing about the S6. The dropped waterproofing is back once again, with IP68 rating. The battery has boosted from 2550mAh to 3000mAh with little change in the dimensions. The microSD expandable memory is back in force.
“The 5.1-inch screen is back once again, without the rumored 3D-Touch style screen that would have been a direct nod to Apple. It’s the same QHD resolution that we’re seeing on multiple smartphones these days (thankfully, Samsung decided to resist the chance to join Sony’s insane 4K revolution) and it’s still the best-looking screen on the market.
“While this is the phone that would have crushed all in its path in 2015, there’s no denying that the Samsung S7 is a welcome upgrade in the right key areas – but with the cheaper S6 on the shelves next to it, there will be many now facing a tricky choice.”
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“The ‘evolution not revolution’ verdict is a cliché, but it does do a good job of summing up the Galaxy S7. Its design has been refined, making it more comfortable in the hands, with waterproof and expandable memory powers thrown in for good measure.
“The camera is, to us, the most exciting prospect, as our first impressions suggest that Samsung’s lens and sensor improvements have made a noticeable difference in what was already a fantastic smartphone snapper. The usefulness of the always-on screen and game recording and sharing is debatable, but at least the option is there.”
“If you already own an S6 or S6 Edge, the specs might be too similar to what you already pocket to truly entice you. I’m battling my own expectations as I type this, because it doesn’t seem like much has changed compared to similar Samsung phones, like the S6 Edge+, released only a handful of months before. On the other hand, the S7 (and larger-screen S7 Edge) has the makings to be of one of the year’s best phones, and features such as wireless charging and expandable storage play a big part in that – especially since these are features the iPhone lacks.”
“The Samsung Galaxy S7 could, on first impressions, be seen as a slightly underwhelming update. Take a step back, however, and it’s clear to see it’s a device that’s made the best considerably better. No, it’s not going to revolutionise the smartphone space, but it’s fixed everything that was wrong with the S6, and should be enough to keep Samsung on top for another year.”
“Perhaps the most significant change this year comes in the S7’s new 12-megapixel camera. It’s lower resolution than last year’s 16-megapixel shooter, but Samsung says its larger pixels let in 56 percent more light than before for better low light images. The camera’s lens is a brighter f/1.7 aperture, allowing in 25 percent more light. Combined, the new sensor and lens let in 95 percent more light than last year’s already impressive camera, which is promising for low light photography. The sensor’s shape has also changed from a wide-format 16:9 to a more traditional 4:3 ratio.
“Samsung says the new camera can focus up to three times faster thanks to its dual-pixel system that allows every single one of the 12 million pixels to act as focus pixels, similar to the system Canon uses in some of its DSLR cameras. The camera is also very quick to launch — in brief demos it handily beat out a Nexus 6P and iPhone 6S Plus in getting ready to take a shot.”
Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
“Curiously, the Edge is a physically bigger device; it has a 5.5-inch curved Super AMOLED display, as compared with the normal, flat 5.1-inch panel on the S7… It’s a strange move at first blush, but it’s actually pretty savvy – the only thing the S6 Edge had over the S6 was its curved display, making it an obvious choice for people tired of traditional smartphones.
“By giving the S7 Edge a bigger screen, Samsung’s trying to set the Edge apart with more than just aesthetics and carve out a more specific niche for the regular S7… That bigger body also means the S7 Edge has a bigger battery, though both have gotten hefty upgrades: There’s a 3600mAh battery in the Edge, while the S7 was boosted to 3,000mAh. The original S6 pair was purely all right on the power front, but this upgrade is more than welcome.
“Of course, the Edge line plays home to some neat software features, and this year’s version seems to have the most elegant yet. Remember that “drawer” of sorts that lives right on the edge of the curved display? Samsung has made it twice as big, so you can store shortcuts for ten people, apps or “tasks” – macros that let you perform specific actions like taking a selfie with a single button press.”
“The S7 Edge has received a more thorough update: it’s been given a larger, 5.5-inch display (still quad HD Super AMOLED and curved on both sides), and been refined even further. The back of the device has a slight curve to it now, making it much more comfortable to hold than last year’s phone.
“It’s also remarkably small, especially when it’s put side-by-side with other phones with 5.5-inch screens, such as the iPhone 6S Plus. The S7 Edge is a phone that most people could use with one hand, and it slips into a pocket with ease, despite having a spacious display. In the brief time I spent with it, I was taken away by how nice it was to hold in my hand. It’s a stunning piece of technology.”
“The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a phone that instantly impresses the second you pick it up, bringing with it a similar feeling the first time you fondled HTC’s One M8, one of the best-looking phones on the market.
“Where the ‘normal’ Galaxy S7 is far too similar to the previous year’s model, the S7 Edge takes a surprisingly successful smartphone in the S6 Edge and adds in some decent changes to make it worthy of the upgrade.
“The main difference is on the back of the phone. The Galaxy Note 5 was the first Samsung phone to use the new curved back, and that’s been improved on the S7 Edge. The result is a smart, glossy phone that sits in the hand like a polished pebble, begging you to spin it around and enjoy the lack of sharp edges that lived on the S6 Edge and S6 Edge+.”
“It has to be said that the S7 Edge is the most beautiful smartphone I’ve ever held. It’s no longer simply an S7 with some added curves; it stands in its own right. It’s moved from a 5.1-inch to 5.5-inch display, yet it feels compact and easy to hold in a single hand.
“Probably the coolest addition to the display this time around is the Always-On mode, which is similar to the Glance Screen on Windows Phone. It will constantly display the time, notifications, upcoming appointments and so on, without the need to unlock the phone and open up an app.
“Pair those good looks with a huge battery, stonkingly fast processor, plenty of RAM, microSD expansion plus wireless and fast charging and you’re probably looking at the phone to beat this year.
“That’s not even mentioning the stunning screen and hopefully impressive camera. Apple, you better have something good up your sleeves to do battle with this.”
“Samsung has stuck to its 2K Super AMOLED guns, and the display is as sharp and as vibrant as ever, with the trademark pure blacks which are so revered by AMOLED fans.
What has changed however, is the size. Whereas last year’s Edge variant shared the same 5.1in screen size as the regular model, this year’s Edge has a larger 5.5in display. Its likely then, that we won’t be seeing an S7 Edge Plus, which makes things less convoluted, and that’s fine by us.
“The Edge S7 is unsurprisingly more powerful than ever, with a quad-core Snapdragon 820 (or octa-core Exynoss) processor that promises to be 30% faster, along with a 64% faster GPU and 4GB of RAM to boot.
“The Galaxy S7 Edge is a handsome, powerful piece of kit, and we’d happily choose it over the regular S7 for its looks alone.”
Is this the Galaxy for you? Interested in the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge? Head over to vodafone.co.uk and preorder one for yourself!
By Pete Dreyer