Samsung Electronic (SSNLF) finally took the wraps off its Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge smartphones at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
As expected, the overall look of the Galaxy S7 doesn’t stray far from the premium glass and metal design introduced with last year’s Galaxy S6. The Galaxy S7 Edge is there too, after the curved display design proved so popular last year, but this time Samsung has made its model larger to compete directly with Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iPhone 6 Plus.
While the Galaxy S7 looks very familiar, Samsung has worked hard to win back Galaxy fans who were put off by some of the design compromises introduced by the Galaxy S6’s move from plastic to glass and metal — namely the loss of removable microSD memory cards, the inability to swap out the battery and the loss of water resistance.
With the re-sizing of the Galaxy S7 Edge, the Samsung Galaxy series is now set to go head to head against Apple’s iPhone flagships. And with the iPhone 7 and iPhone Plus due in the fall, Samsung has six months to try to reverse its smartphone fortunes and turn last year’s disappointing slide in marketshare to a gain — preferably at arch-rival Apple’s expense.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new Samsung Galaxy S7.
Samsung Galaxy S7: Tweaked Design Meant to Regain Galaxy Fans
Most people welcomed Samsung’s move from the plastic of previous Galaxy smartphones to the glass and metal construction of the Galaxy S6.
Last year’s Galaxy S6 was arguably the best smartphone the company had ever released, and it was definitely the best-looking. However, the premium design meant some features Samsung fans took for granted had to be ditched.
With the latest Galaxy series, Samsung is trying to appeal to those who skipped the Galaxy S6 because of those omissions.
SSLNF couldn’t bring back the user-replaceable battery, but it significantly boosted the capacity of the battery for 2016, so the need to swap the battery should disappear for most users. Furthermore, cheap storage expansion is back, thanks to a microSD card slot in the SIM tray, and the Galaxy S7 is once again waterproof with an IP 68 rating, meaning it can survive 30 minutes in 5 feet of water. Along with the return of these previous Samsung features, the Galaxy S7 also has a slightly rounded back, which makes the new phone more comfortable to hold.
Finally, while last year’s Galaxy smartphones were powered exclusively by Samsung’s Exynos CPU, this year, the North American versions return to Qualcomm, Inc.’s (QCOM) Snapdragon.
Samsung Galaxy S7: Specs
- 5.1-inch QHD Super AMOLED display (Galaxy S7) and 5.5-inch QHD Super AMOLED display (Galaxy S7 Edge)
- Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 CPU with 4GB RAM
- 32GB storage, expandable with microSD cards (up to 200GB)
- 12MP f/1.7 primary camera with 1.4-micron pixels
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, ANT+, USB 2.0, NFC
- 3000 mAh battery (Galaxy S7), 3600 mAh battery (Galaxy S7 Edge)
- Home button fingerprint sensor
- Rapid charge, Qi and Powermat wireless recharging
- IP68 water and dust resistant
- Weighs 5.36 ounces (Galaxy S7) and 5.54 ounces (Galaxy S7 Edge)
- Runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Samsung Galaxy S7: The Camera and Always On Display
Something interesting happened with the Galaxy S7 camera, and Samsung may have some difficulty in marketing the change.
After years of pushing the pixel count in its smartphone cameras and promoting the higher resolution as an advantage over the iPhone, Samsung is now adopting a lower pixel approach similar to Apple.
While the Galaxy S6 had a 16MP camera, the Galaxy S7’s is a 12MP shooter. But, like Apple, Samsung is gunning for superior low lighting photos at the expense of a higher pixel count. The lens has a wider aperture at f/1.7 to let in more light, while the lower pixel count on an image sensor that’s the same size means each pixel is larger (1.4 microns in this case). The result shouldn’t take away from landscape photos, but will pay off in superior indoor and low-light shots.
Samsung also added Motion Photos, a feature that’s very similar to iOS’s Live Photos.
While the displays of the new Galaxy smartphones remain the same resolution as last year, Samsung has added an always-on feature that displays useful information on the display, 24/7. This should use less than 1% of the phone’s battery every hour and could turn into a net power savings if the user unlocks and checks their phone less often as a result.
In terms of performance, Samsung says the new flagship Snapdragon silicon processor and RAM boost from 3GB to 4GB results in a 30% performance gain with graphics up to 64% faster than last year.
Samsung Galaxy S7: Release Date and Pricing
There are two big questions everyone is asking now that the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge are official: How much and when?
It’s easy to answer when: you can pre-order both smartphones starting Feb. 23 and Samsung says they will be in stores by March 11. If you pre-order, the company will even throw in a free Gear VR virtual reality headset, worth $150.
But the pricing of each phone remains a question mark — at least until the pre-orders officially start. However, bets are that the phones will be at or around the same prices as last year. So expect starting prices around $650 and $850, respectively.
Is the Samsung Galaxy S7 the best smartphone on the market? It’s not a radical change from 2016, but it’s a solid upgrade. The real challenge won’t come for another six to seven months, when we find out what Apple has planned with the iPhone 7.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.