Review by Sunetra Chakravati,3/4/2016 10:40:09 AM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Beautiful display | perfect size | very good camera | expandable storage | IP 68 rating | Solid processor | Strikingly good-looking | USB OTG optimised
Fingerprint sensor prone to misfires | Adoptive storage does not work | Always-on display irritating
It has been a long journey for Samsung. Their Galaxy S series of phones have seen more transformation over the years than flagships from other manufacturers and although they have sometimes gotten it wrong, with the Galaxy S7 range, Samsung have slayed some of their harshest critics.
I am not sure if Samsung themselves were unsure of the reception the phones would receive but the launch of the phones were all supposed to be about the VR... We watched the launch on the supplied VR headsets even though Mark Zuckerberg was hardly 5 meters away. If they were trying to bolster their spot as 'go to' manufacturer and device, they shouldn't have bothered. The craftsmanship, the detailing and the software show the amount of R&D that's gone on behind the scenes to make this the powerhouse that it is.
Samsung got the look and feel of their flagships right with their Galaxy S6 range and have further tweaked it to make the S7 the stunner it is. Instead of being a flat slab of metal, the back curves subtly on the sides and the glass is as polished and attractive as I remember it to be.
Although shiny, it doesnt pick up as many prints as, say, the Sony Xperia Z5 and the metal on the sides is a gunmetal colour on my 'black onyx' review sample. Exactly like the iPhone 6s, the power button is on the right and the volume ones on the left side. The speaker grille is at the bottom and the SIM card goes in at the top of the phone, sharing the same drawer as the microSD card.
IP68 rating is brand new on the Galaxy S7 handsets. Samsung were criticised for leaving it out in the Galaxy S6 even though the Galaxy S5 was water-proof. The rating means that the phone is dunkable in upto 1.5 meters of water for upto 30 minutes and not suffer any lasting impact. This rating is for fresh water only so not in a swimming pool or on a beach holiday.
Expandable memory is again one of the newer much-welcomed features that lets the user expand memory upto 200GB. Even though you will not be able to use the best feature of Android M i.e 'adoptive storage' via which users are able to store apps on the SD card- you will still be able to have your pictures, videos and files on there. And this isnt just a Samsung issue, the LG G5 will not support it either.
Low-light photography has been vastly improved owing to an aperture of f1.7 on the lens. Previously, an aperture as low as f1.8 was only seen on an LG G4 which won awards for photography, especially in low-light. On the Galaxy S7, not only are the pictures superbly well-lit and bright but photos taken in good light conditions are some of the best I have seen. And this, even though the megapixel resolution on the camera has remained the same as the one on the S6 family.
The always-on display takes some getting used to and can be quite irritating if the phone is in front of you and you get distracted by the constantly jumping display as it makes its way across the screen but once you get used to it, it is actually quite handy as you know immediately how much charge on your battery is left. That is it. It does not pull through twitter/ Whatsapp or Facebook notifications but just texts, missed calls and battery levels. This is another great new feature like the expandable memory but doesnt go as far as I would have liked to see it go.
USB OTG (on-the-go) connector comes pre-bundled with the Galaxy S7 and can be used to quickly and seamlessly transfer content between phones. Usually phones can only be read by PCs or laptops using a USB connector but the S7 is one of the few devices in the market that is a USB OTG certified one. It is also very very handy for reading content off external storage devices like USBs. Also, you can connect MIDI keyboards and controllers to your S7 if you wanted to recird and create music.
Although the Galaxy S7 isnt a patch on the Galaxy S7 edge display for the immersive experience it delivers, the one on here is not to be sniffed at. With the same 577ppi density, the Super AMOLED display, is one that is harked back about in almost all my reviews. It is that good. Rich, vivid colours and deep inky blacks are its calling cards and it delivers the experience you wuld expect from the King of Android.
Samsung are shipping the Galaxy S7 with either Snapdragon 820 processor or their home-grown Exynos one. In the UK, consumers are getting ones with the Exynos processor onboard and there has been claims of wrongdoing by Samsung because the Exynos processor doesn't perform as well as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 in processor tests. Our AnTuTu tests yielded a 128879 score, which is a couple of thousands behind the Galaxy S7 running Snapdragon 820 but nothing that you would notice during the course of a day. The difference is so marginal that there is no reason to scream blue murder or think yourself ripped off. The 4GB RAM coupled with the 32/64GB internal storage has all the smarts you will expect from a flagship device that retails for upwards of £500.
The Galaxy S7 runs Android Amrshmallow (6.0) out of the box but come June when we will most probably see Android 7 (Nutella?), do not wait for an overnight update on your device. The Galaxy S6 is still running Android Lollipop and even though there is nothing wrong with it, I could not help but compare it with the overnight updates you recieve on an iOS device.
Battery-wise, Samsung have upped the size marginally and the S7 has a 3000mAH battery which did very well in our looping video test, losing just 4% charge over 30 minutes of streaming video over wi-fi from Youtube with 100% brightness.
As I mentioned before, while the resolution has stayed the same, Samsung have stuffed the Galaxy S7 full of the most advanced filters and smarts you could ever demand from a camera phone. My personal favourite is 'selective focus' which brings such depth of clarity and beauty to run-of-the-mill landscapes, you have to pause for thought.
'Pro' mode lets you adjust everything from ISO to white levels, I can see video collage becoming very very popular with Instagram-addicts. The 'Live broadcast' feature was introduced on the S6 Edge + and makes an appearance here as well. Front-facing camera has remained the same with 'beauty mode', wide selfie and video collage onboard as well.
Overall, I could find no fault with the cameras and they get a double thumbs up from me.
Exynos or Snapdragon, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is a solid handset. 5-star looks, processor, camera and in a size that is best for one-handed use during your commute. The water-proof feature that we last saw on the Galaxy S5 is back and so are the stars on my verdict. The 577ppi on the Super AMOLED display is absolutely dope- guaranteed to wow even those who find niggles easily.
If there was something that I didn't like, it is how bad the fingerprint sensor is and how often it misfires. The oblong shape might have soemthing to do with that! Also the fact that adoptive storage from Android is not fully utilised here and neither is the always-on display. However, these are very minor niggles on an otherwise stellar handset.
Samsung have delivered a class product.
Operating System: Android™ 6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
Dimensions: 142.4x69.6x7.9 mm
Resolution: 2,560x1,440; 577ppi
Display: 5.1-inch, Quad HD Super AMOLED display
Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon 820 processor (or Samsung Exynos chipset) octa-core 64-bit 4GB RAM
Camera: 12-MP primary camera with OIS and f1.7; 5-MP selfie camera. 4K video capture
Memory: 32/64 GB internal storage;
Expandable storage upto 200GB via MicroSD slot
Battery: 3000 mAh lithium-ion battery
Fingerprint sensor:Yes (home button)
Misc: IP68 rated; Samsung Pay with NFC, MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission) and Barcode technology