We are now only a few days away with Samsung’s next event being on Sunday 21st February at 7:00pm Barcelona time (GMT + 1:00) with everyone expecting Samsung to announce the next flagship devices being the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.
- USA West Coast (San Francisco) = Sunday 21st February 10:00AM
- USA East Coast (New York) = Sunday 21st February at 1:00pm
- Western Australia = Monday 22nd February at 2:00AM
- Northern Territory = Monday 22nd February at 3:30AM
- Queensland = Monday 22nd February at 4:00AM
- South Australia = Monday 22nd February at 4:30AM
- NSW & VIC Australia = Monday 22nd February at 5:00AM
The Samsung Galaxy S range of phones along with the Note range of phones are the two most popular series of phone the Korean based company makes and with struggling sales in 2015, Samsung will we wanting to turn that around in 2016.
So how are they going to do that?
For starters they will have to really deliver with the Samsung Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge and to explain what I mean, I will now step through each of the components of the phone and rumours of what is to be included.
One of the biggest differentiators between the S7 and S7 Edge will the the display.
Both are rumoured to be an AMOLED Quad High Definition (QHD) Display with a screen resolution of 2560 x 1440. The S7 is expected to have a 5.1inch display like the S5 and S6 with a pixel density of 576PPI (pixels per inch) and the S7 Edge is rumoured to have a 5.5inch display with curved left and right sides along with a pixel density of 534PPI. In terms of real world usage, these display will look as gorgeous and sharp as each other to the naked eye.
Just like the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ (don’t get me started on that name), the S7 Edge will have curved sides which provide extra functionality but the S7 Edge will have a screen more similar in side to the S6 Edge+ model (has a 5.7inch display).
The Edge model will also serve additional functions which will be discussed in the Edge Software section under software.
The S6 and S6 Edge came with the Samsung Exynos 7420 Octa-Core 14nm processor.
This is expected to be a jump up to an Exynos 8890 Octa-Core 14nm processor or the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor.
Exynos 8890 is expect to offer 30% more performance and 10% better energy efficiency compared to the 7420 along with LTE speeds of 600MBPS download and 150MBPS upload which means you could download a 4GB movie or upload a 1GB video both separately in 1 minute.
There is also expect to be a boost from 3GB of RAM to 4GB in the S7 and S7 Edge which is as much as the Note 5 has from late 2015.
Storage is going to be a very interesting aspect to the S7 & S7 Edge.
Ever since the Samsung Galaxy S (1), Samsung has always integrated a microSD card slot for expansion of storage for people who like to store all of their photos, music and videos on it, except for the S6 and S6 Edge.
It seemed that Samsung took the Apple route of charging people $100 more for the next storage tier being 32/64/128GB with the S6.
For the S7 it is expected that the microSD card slot will come back due to a lot of anger from the Android community. This is based on latest rumours suppose to be built into the same slot as the Nano SIM card, making it look like a dual-SIM setup but one being for storage (see featured image for this post at the top).
As for built-in storage, I expect their to be a 32 and 64GB storage size and a slim chance of a 128GB option.
One major aspect of the S6 and S6 Edge that is terrible based on many reviews I’ve seen on the internet is for the battery only lasting 3-4hours.
The battery in the S6 is 2550mAh battery and the S6 Edge has a 2600mAh battery. This is expect to change dramatically in the S7 with a 2800-3000mAh battery which is 10-18% larger than the S6 and a 3500-3600mAh battery in the S7 Edge which is almost 35-38% larger than the S6 Edge and almost 17% larger than the S6 Edge+ which has a 3000mAh battery.
Having a larger battery alone will make the phone’s battery last longer, if all of the components in the phone are just as energy efficient as the previous models, but Samsung should be trying to take this even further, with the software but also with its specs including the display, CPU and LTE chips.
A QHD display is more energy consuming than a Full HD 1080p display, as it has almost 78% more pixels which leads to more battery consumption.
This is also a similar issue with new 4K TVs these days because if you compared in Australia, a Sony 1080p TV which has a 5.5 star rating, the 4K equivalent would only be 2.5 star rating which is not so good for your power bills.
It doesn’t seem so bad for a TV, but it would be worse for a phone because they do not have a constant power connection going through them, meaning they have to rely on built-in batteries.
Another area that Samsung should try to improve upon is the CPU, as I believe it is one of the culprits towards the S6 and iPhone 6s battery life, as Samsung produced some of the A9 Chips for the iPhone 6s with the same FinFET 14nm process and both of these phones have had bad battery life (but TSMC chipped iPhone 6s batteries are better). The have supposedly made the battery last 10% longer, but that is not enough compared to the 3-4 hours screen on time from the S6.
I would hope that with the S7 we get around 4.5-5hrs of screen on time and 5-6hrs with the S7 Edge.
Wi-Fi could potentially get faster in the S7 & S7 Edge and the Snapdragon 820 has support for 802.11ad which is going to be the latest generation of Wi-Fi supporting speeds that are 2-3x faster than 802.11ac. This will not change the speed of your internet at home unless you have realistically a gigabit modem with downloads speeds through your home modem of 1GBPS.
Bluetooth is something that there has not been much heard about so it could be sticking with 4.1 or even upgraded to version 4.2.
Wireless Charging was a crucial factor to the design of the 2015 Samsung phones and I expect the wireless charging technology to be faster if not at least on par with the Note 5, with charging speeds of 0-100% in 2hrs vs 3hrs. And Samsung really wants to create a wireless world, they can start by making their wireless charging pads slightly cheaper.
The Fingerprint Sensor was also significantly improved in the S6 because you did not have to swipe like the S5 but place your finger like you do on iPhones, but sensors in the iPhone 6s with Touch ID 2nd Generation and the fingerprint sensor in the Nexus 6P are significantly faster with the iPhone 6s sensor being so fast you do not even see the lock screen. I am hoping that the S7 can at least match the speed and accuracy of these latest fingerprint sensors.
Another interesting rumour with very little confirmation is whether or not the S7 and S7 Edge will have a USB Type-C connector. This could be crucial for Samsung because it is the USB equivalent of Apple’s Lightning adapter, meaning it is reversible and works both ways. I am not really confident it is going to be there, but I sure hope it does get supported and if not with the S7 then at least with the Note 6 later this year.
Software is always a topic of heavy discussion on the internet for Samsung phones, since it uses Android and TouchWiz is built on top of it.
We are expecting Android Marshmallow V6.0.0 or V6.0.1 to appear on the S7 and S7 Edge with a TouchWiz skin on top of it.
The issue with having TouchWiz as a skin on top of stock Android, is that it makes it just that much harder to get software updates out to users as quickly as possible.
As an example, Marshmallow was announced in May 2015, release to the public on handsets in early October 2015 and is only just now being available for download on the S6 range of phones, meaning it has had a turn around of just over 4 months since initial release.
Another example is my sister’s Galaxy S4, which got the option to upgrade to Lollipop when Marshmallow was just starting to roll-out onto new devices.
Apple and iOS updates are available immediately, and this is one area of Android that seriously needs to be sorted out.
There have been rumours that Google has been in discussion with Samsung, to help speed up the process of getting the latest version of Android on the latest handsets and if Samsung can get the turn-around time to 1-2 months then we may start to see people complain less.
Android Marshmallow will also bring with it a feature called ‘Doze’, which makes a device enter low-power state and barely use any power, over extended periods of time such as overnight. This has done wonders for users with new handsets such as the Nexus 6P which has great battery life (from reviews I have seen), so I hope that Samsung does the same here for the 2016 handsets and help to get rid of the battery issues that were in the S6 and variants.
On-demand app permissions were also added in Marshmallow and I really like this commitment to each aspect of the applications you use, just like on iOS.
Android Marshmallow also has the ability to turn microSD card storage to act as though it is built in storage, which makes managing everything from apps, to documents, to all of your multimedia files (songs, photos and videos) all be on one single drive, despite it being two separate storage sources combined.
Android Pay and Samsung Pay:
Android Marshmallow also brought with it Android Pay which is Google’s new competitor to Apple Pay (despite Google Wallet existing for years prior to Apple’s solution) so it will be interesting to see if Android Pay will be support on the S7 and S7 Edge or if just Samsung Pay will be supported. I also hope Samsung announces further expansion for Samsung Pay including in Australia which is meant to get support sometime in 2016 and its significant advantage is the ability to work with magnetic stripe readers, although the majority of places that I have been too in Australia are geared up for NFC or contactless payments.
I have personally never been a fan of the look and weird glitches that TouchWiz has, but love the fact that they made it easier to customize TouchWiz (including a skin that looks like stock Android).
What I want to see most from TouchWiz, which I don’t expect to almost ever happen, is to look and perform more like stock Android, but we shall see.
TouchWiz needs to become more of a lighter skin which is less of a nuisance to put on top of Android when it comes to distributing software updates and Google may be stepping in to help with this. I would certainly like to see a Google representative coming out on stage to explain what has happened to the software on the S7 and S7 Edge.
With the Marshmallow update rolling out to the S6 Edge currently, there have been more features added for the edge screen.
The Edge screen is now wider, Apps Edge is redesigned with up to 10 options instead of 5, ability to have up to 9 Edge panels including:
- Tasks edge for quicker actions like create a contact or call a certain person, just like you would get via using 3D Touch on app icons on the iPhone 6s/Plus.
- Quick tools edge for shortcuts to a ruler, flashlight or compass.
Samsung has also included customisability to trigger the edge panels to appear including the placement on the side of the screen, its height, transparency of the indicator and the option to get rid of it for those who just love the curved edges alone.
The camera from the flagship Samsung 2015 phones have been deemed better than iPhones which is a first and they’ll want to maintain this advantage because a great camera sells phones for a lot of people.
Expect a 12MP camera, which is down from 16MP in the S6 but with the lower resolution they will be able to get the it down to a f/1.7 aperture (f/1.9 in S6) which simply means that the lower the number is the better is to take photos in low light scenarios.
The camera also based on recent leaks looks to have a black colour around the lens which makes it blend in better with the black coloured model but also looks to be protruding only half as much, which will be better for placing it on a flat surface without any cases on the device.
The S5 had a water resistant design which had a flap over the micro-USB connector which made it better resistant to water, but would be a real nuisance to have to open the flap to plug the cable in just to charge it.
It is expected to have an IP67 water and dust-resistant design like the S5 but the latest leaks show that there is no flap on the ports around the phone which may mean that a water-repellant coating will be applied around the inside of the ports to not let water into the circuit boards and other components.
The killer unique feature of the iPhone 6s/Plus was 3D Touch which is achieved by pressing your finger harder into the screen than a slight tap.
Samsung is expected to replicate this feature.
I am intrigued to see if Samsung actually implements this feature, or if it’ll be perfected in time for the S8.
But I am even more curious as to what software will take advantage of this feature.
Since Samsung does not control Android, it is going to be harder to implement the feature beyond TouchWiz. This is where I am expecting to see the feature be implemented in a similar way to how it is done for 3D Touch on the iPhone, but at least initially only for TouchWiz based apps and features.
I am hoping for Samsung’s and other Android manufacturer’s sakes, that Android 7.0 (let’s call it Nutella for now) brings out APIs for pressure-sensitive displays like how Apple brought out APIs for developers immediately after the iPhone 6s/Plus was announced. From there it will mean that the S7 and S7 Edge would get better use for it beyond TouchWiz features from initial launch and be on a level playing ground with iOS, for using this component and it will infinitely expand upon the benefits that it can provide as it would then be usable in Google Play apps like Facebook, YouTube, mobile games etc., then all that would need to be done by each phone manufacturer is to get the firmware working for the pressure sensitive display to work with the Android and skinned software.
Rumours within the past week have suggested that the S7 will start at US$790, which will be around US$100 more expensive than the S6 did at launch for an unlocked model.
I am expecting the S7 Edge to cost around US$100 more in all countries local currency, which may be worth it for people that prefer the larger screen as it will give you a larger battery and all the benefits of the curved edges.
Expect the starting prices to have 32GB and equivalent of US$100 extra for 64GB and another US$100 for 128GB storage, although most people will likely go for either of the lower 2 price options and get a microSD card instead.
Latest rumours suggest that it will launch in the US on March 11 which is only 3 weeks after announcement in Barcelona which sounds about right in terms of how quickly Samsung roles out their new phones.
Short Story: S7 = Best of S5 + Best of S6 + Evolutionary Updates
Long Story: It seems that Samsung made quite a few mistakes with the S6 and what it feels like they are trying to do with the S7 is to fix many of the issues that the S6 had while providing evolutionary updates in terms of processor, Wi-Fi and LTE speeds, improved wireless charging and a better camera.
You may have noticed I did not mention anything about a removable battery as I believe there is a -100% chance of it being included in the S7. I only see Samsung bringing back this convenience as users would like to put it, in the S8 if Samsung is still struggling to make any further sales with the 2016 flagship phones.
The crucial factors I believe with this new phone will be the battery, microSD card, water resistant, improved wireless charging and the pressure-sensitive display. If Samsung can nail all of these features, it may be onto a winner for the best Android smartphone of 2016.
Everything else done in this phone is more of a usual evolutionary yearly update and nothing dramatically breathtaking.
But this leaves me to the question for this blog post.
“What does the S7 need to have for you to upgrade or consider it over any other 2016 flagship?”
For me it is mostly down to the battery, storage and software and other things like water resistant and pressure-sensitive display I would consider as a bonus.
That being said, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and do please give it a like if you learnt anything and/or enjoyed reading it and follow my blog for future posts where I am sure I’ll give my initial impressions after Samsung’s live coverage from Barcelona which I am anticipating to watch live.