Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and S7 hands on
The next Galaxy is shaping up to be better than ever
The Samsung Galaxy S6 range was wildly popular, but that didn't stop many long-time Sammy smartphone fans from grumbling. While the S6 jettisoned cheap-feeling plastic in favour of more premium-feeling materials, it also did away with the micro SD slot and removable battery. The new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have addressed some of these flaws, while also pushing forwards the mobile state of the art.
Casing and screen
The Galaxy S7 Edge and S7 both retain the same overall appearance of their predecessors using a glass and metal-rimmed casing. The biggest difference is that the rear of the plain S7 now curves at the edges, similar to the Galaxy Note 5. As with the Note we suspect this won't make much difference to comfort, but it certainly looks classy.
Even the S7 Edge is a little curvier than before, with both the top and bottom edges of the phone curved in addition to the left and right hand-side edges. It's a much more subtle effect than the already gently curved sides though.
The refined casings have other, more practical benefits. Both flagship phones will be water and dust resistant, rated to survive immersion in shallow water for up to 30 minutes. Although batteries remain sealed, the micro SD slot is back which will please hoarders of huge files. Micro SD cards will slot into the same tray as the SIM card.
One big point that's easy to overlook is that Samsung has taken the opportunity to simplify its flagship range. The S6, S6 Edge and S6 Active have 5.1in screens, while the S6 Edge Plus measures 5.7in.
The S7 range will be more straightforward. The S7 will have a 5.1in screen. If you want a curved screen then you'll only have one choice the phablet S7 Edge will only come in a single 5.7in size with the Plus variant consigned to history. Both screens will have a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels.
The cameras in the S6 range were the first Android phone cameras to not only give the famed Apple iPhone cameras a run for their money, but exceed them for image quality in some cases.
Although we still need to put the S7 cameras through our range of tests, on paper the new S7 phone cameras sound very impressive indeed. Although the resolution of the sensor is down from 16 megapixels to 12, each megapixel should be bigger. Combined with a wider aperture of f1.7 compared to the S6's f1.9, it should excel in low light.
Autofocus should be faster too, as the S7 and S7 Edge support phase detection autofocus. This kind of autofocus technology is usually confined to DSLRs, but has started appearing on more and more smartphones.
Water-cooled processor and battery
As with previous Galaxy phones, the processor will vary by geography with some S7s getting an octa core (2.3GHz Quad + 1.6GHz Quad) 64 bit 14 nm processor, while others get a quad core (2.15GHz Dual + 1.6GHz Dual) 64 bit 14 nm chip instead. Samsung didn't confirm which specific chip models it's using.
Update: according to information provided Vodafone, the processor in the UK version of the Galaxy S7 will be the eight-core Samsung Exynos 8890.
Bizarrely, Samsung did confirm that the processor would be water-cooled a technique previously confined to high-end overclocked gaming PCs. How this will work in practice and whether it will have any effect on durability, battery life or in-hand comfort remain to be seen. There will no doubt be plenty of RAM at 4GB, possibly even more.
Both the S7 and S7 Edge will have big batteries at 3000mAh and 3600mAh respectively. Huge capacity batteries are by no means a guarantee of long battery life software optimisations and the tuning of all the other components play a big part too but we'd be surprised if Samsung didn't improve upon the battery life of the S6 series, or least maintain it at the same level.
Inductive wireless' charging as well as wired fast charging will both be supported by the S7s, as with the S6 series.
Android and extra features
Both the S7 and S7 Edge will come with Android 6.0 Marshmallow pre-installed. We didn't get the chance to dig too deeply during our hands-on, but Samsung's much loathed but also much improved TouchWiz interface looked largely untouched from its S6 incarnation.
One definite change is that the curved sides of the S7 Edge can now be set so that it's always on displaying basic information such as the time, calendar or date. The slide-out edge interface has also been tweaked with two columns of bigger icons and panels of information. This tweaked edge interface will also be available to S6 Edge owners in the upcoming Marshmallow update.
Price and availability
Exact pricing and release dates for the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge haven't yet been confirmed, but we'd expect both phones to cost roughly the same as their S6 predecessors.
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