Samsung has finally unveiled the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. No longer an almost-identical pair, the new Edge is a larger device, while the GS7 retains the familiar size of the GS6 and GS5.
This generation is more of a refinement, than a revolution, but considering how great last year’s Samsung flagships were that’s actually very good news.
While differing in size, both devices mostly feature the same hardware and software improvements.
A new, mature approach to camera design
Samsung, like many other Android manufacturers, has always had a problem when it came to camera design. Specifically, a “more is better” approach. This time around, camera resolution has actually been in order to accommodate the upgrades.
Here’s why that’s a great thing.
Digital camera resolution is more about balance, than it is about cramming in more pixels. Obviously, the more pixels you have, the sharper the image and the more detail can be displayed. However, as you cram more in, you capture less light. At some point the balance tips the wrong way and you lose details, despite having a larger canvas on which to paint them.
This is why the huge 21MP cameras on phones like those made by Sony take great pictures outside during the day, but suffer indoors or even on a cloudy day. Alternatively, the 12MP cameras of the current-gen iPhones are pretty darn good once the light starts to dim.
Moving towards a balance-focused approach, rather than a more-MP approach, is both an intelligent and mature way for Samsung to aim for the photography crown.
Battery life was one of the, if not the biggest complaint about the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. And what do you know? Samsung addressed it.
Both the S7 and S7 Edge have bigger batteries, although they’re not identical. Check the relevant phone section for specific detail. Sufficed to say, both devices should be able to last a full day with no problems.
Always-On Display (AOD) is an increasingly common feature in modern smartphones. It’s a low-energy way of keeping useful information on your screen while the phone is in standby mode. On the GS7 and GS7 Edge, you can view the time, date, calendar, and apparently a variety of other options that you can access via settings.
It’s not much of a battery hog, either. Samsung says it requires just 1% of battery usage, which isn’t bad at all.
MicroSD makes a comeback
Despite being heavily rumoured, this isn’t one we necessarily expected to come true. Samsung has reinstated the popular microSD slot for expanding storage up to 200GB further. Unfortunately, this wasn’t done using the new adoptable storage feature in Android Marshmallow, which gives you pretty much full use of any microSD storage as if it were built-in, but it’s still useful.
32GB built-in storage; no other option
Thanks to that microSD slot, Samsung was able to offer just one storage option across both devices: 32GB. In all honesty this will probably be enough for most users, but if you need more then you can always pick yourself up a microSD card.
Phenomenal cosmic power
Both phones come running the same processing hardware. Depending on your region, you’ll either get a top of the line Snapdragon chipset, or a Samsung-made Exynos processor. Either way, the CPU will be about 30% more powerful, and the graphics processor will be somewhere around 64% better. There’s also a whopping 4GB of RAM. We’re not even sure if that’s necessary in the current market, but it’s certainly not going to do any harm.
Return of the fingerprint scanner
Samsung has kept the same home button-oriented fingerprint scanner we saw on last year’s model, and which was probably inspired by the Touch ID button from Apple’s iPhone line. It’s good to see it come back, as it’s a useful feature, but after learning how much easier it is to operate a rear-mounted scanner, like the ones found on both the LG-made Nexus 5X, and Huawei-made Nexus 6P, it would have been great to see Samsung make it a little more easy-access.
Galaxy S7 details
The Galaxy S7 is around the same size as its two predecessors. The 5.1 inch 2560x1440 display is a familiar site, as are its thin bezels and glass front-and-back design. The corners are a little more rounded now, and the bluish colour option has been swapped out for Onyx Black, but otherwise not a huge amount has changed in terms of look.
The battery has been upped to 3000mAh, which is around 30% larger than last year. This should be easily enough juice to make it through a full day, even with the new AOD features.
Galaxy S7 Edge details
The S7 Edge is larger than both its progenitor and its sibling. At 5.5 inches, it’s closer to the Galaxy Note 5 (5.7 inches), than the Galaxy S7. The display is still 2560x1440, which is perfecetly acceptable. Despite stretching the pixels out over a wider area, it still affords the user a cool 534 pixels per inch (ppi), which leaves the 401ppi of the same-sized screen on the iPhone 6s Plus looking a little wanting.
The battery has been kicked up to a whopping 3600mAh. That’s a big battery, but coupled with the same fast charging found in the Note 5 it should last all day, and fill up relatively quickly.
Which is best?
Both and neither. Samsung appears to have taken a leaf out of Apple’s iPhone/iPhone Plus book and offered us two nearly-identical phones, differentiated primarily by their size. Of course, the Edge has a small handful of extra features, and a cool-looking screen, but your decision should be based on how big a phone you want.
If that’s not a concern to you, then it’s a question of price vs Edge-ness. Do you think it’s worth paying $100 or more extra for some funky features? That one is entirely up to you.