S7 & S7 Edge Announcement Thoughts

#TheNextGalaxy was announced earlier Monday morning (5am on Australia’s East Coast) and Samsung unveiled the S7 and S7 Edge.

A lot of the rumours came true as to what I was predicting, so below is a list of all the specs and features of the devices with my thoughts on each.

DISPLAY:

One of the biggest differentiators between the S7 and S7 Edge is the display.

The S7 has a 5.1inch Quad HD (2560×1440) AMOLED display which is the same as was on the S6 with 576PPI (pixels per inch).

The S7 Edge has a 5.5inch Quad HD (2560×1440) AMOLED display with curved sides to the display and 534PPI.

I find it interesting that Samsung has decided to along with the regular S7 release a S7 Edge with a bigger screen. This essentially means that the S7 Edge is also the S7 Edge+ if you were to compare it to the S6 Edge+ but has a 5.5inch screen instead of 5.7inches on the S6 Edge+. If Samsung however bring out a proper S7 Edge+ in late 2016 with a 0.2inch larger screen, then Samsung has a device variants issue.

The Edge model also has additional features like the S6 Edge variants and was marketed as a more single-handed friendly phone with the ability to launch any pre-selected app from the App Edge by swiping from the right edge to select one. In many ways I understand this, but still feel that a 5.5inch screen is still not going to be very single-handed friendly, especially with the curved edges being a slight worry in terms of grip with the phone.

DESIGN:

The design of the S7 and S7 Edge are virtually similar to their 2015 models, with the S7 Edge being slightly larger due to its larger screen.

Dimensions:

S7 (millimeters): 142.4 (H) x 69.6 (W) x 7.9 (D).

S7 Edge (millimeters): 150.9 (H) x 72.6 (W) x 7.7 (D).

S6 (millimeters): 143.4 (H) x 70.5 (W) x 6.8 (D).

S6 Edge+ (millimeters): 154.0 (H) x 75.8 (W) x 6.9 (D).

Their isn’t much to say about the design as it is literally the S6S when it comes to design, as iPhone S models are internal changes only and this is what happened here. The only noticeable difference is that the 2016 phones are not as tall and wide but are thicker, although it seems to be normal these days for any smartphone manufacturer to have the same design with minor tweaks for 2 years.

The device is available in 4 colours. Black Onyx, Gold Platnium, Silver Titanium and White Pearl.

The camera bump is also significantly less in depth and the thickness of the whole phone is actually more than the 2015 models which holds a larger battery, discussed later.

Samsung has also included an Always On Display. This means when your phone is locked or in standby mode, there will be a clock, date, battery level and any new messages or missed phone calls will appear in white text on a black background without having to press the lock or home button to see these things.

PROCESSOR:

Samsung never announced what the actual processors were in the S7 and S7 Edge but they did not ignore it.

The processors have a 30.4% faster CPU and 63.9% faster GPU. It is expected to be a Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890 CPU based on the previous rumours and depends on the region you get your phone.

S7 and S7 Edge have a new cooling system that is used in rockets and satellites, which has a liquid that vaporizes and high temperatures and condenses at lower temperatures. This is to help the processor from overheating and help gain more performance from the processor which is a really cool idea but we won’t know how effective or useful it is until we see some reviews.

The devices also got an increase from 3GB of RAM to 3GB which is good for an Android phone but will be even better if there were more memory optimizations to have less memory leaks which is more of an issue on Android than it is on iOS.

STORAGE:

Samsung has re-added a microSD card slot in the SIM card tray up top of the S7 and S7 Edge with support of up to 200GB in size.

Because of the phones are available only in 32GB variants since people who want larger phones would have to buy or re-use microSD cards.

Android Marshmallow has a adaptive storage feature which is not being used on these phones, which is such a shame to not at least provide the option, although Samsung has probably done this to make sure apps have the best performance on internal storage and that all files like music, videos and photos are on the microSD card.

BATTERY:

The S6 had a very bad battery and we would hope this is addressed in the S7 and S7 Edge with the 3000 and 3600mAh batteries respectively.

The devices are also roughly 1mm thicker each to accommodate a larger battery inside of them, which is something about every Apple fanboy wants to see.

The guy during the announcement said you can binge-watch an entire season of Game of Thrones (back to back) over Netflix (or equivalent service) on a single charge.

Samsung also included Fast Wireless Charging which was first introduced in the S6 Edge+ and Note 5, which can charge a phone from 0 – 100% in roughly the same time as it would via cable.

The S7 takes 90mins to charge (wirelessly or via cable presumably) and 100mins on the S7 Edge which is not much more considering the battery is 20% larger than the S7.

I am still hoping that with the S7 we get around 4.5-5hrs of screen on time and 5-6hrs with the S7 Edge and we will know when we start to see reviews coming out.

What makes me extremely pleased about the Always On Display, is that the feature will only use 1% of your battery (presumably throughout the day) and that it might save more battery from you not having to completely turn on the display when you do not need too. The LG G5 which was also announced today has this feature on an IPS LCD display and uses 0.8% of battery an hour (or about 13% of battery over a 16 hour day assuming you sleep for 8 hours a day). This I felt did not need to be included on the LG G5 but makes perfect sense on the S7 and S7 Edge since it is using an AMOLED display and is only using a few pixels and turns off all other pixels.

CONNECTIVITY:

At the time of writing this review, there were not many Wi-Fi facts out there for the new handsets, but it should be getting faster thanks to the Snapdragon 820 and Exynos 8890 chips.

Bluetooth has also been upgraded from 4.1 to 4.2.

None of the initial impressions that I have seen online have mentioned if the fingerprint sensor on the home button is any better, but I am hoping that it is at least as good as the S6 but as good as recent fingerprint sensors like Touch ID on the iPhone 6s and the sensor on the Nexus 6P.

Another feature that we did not get was a USB-C connector. I am expecting #TheNextGalaxy 2017 will have it as one of the key reasons to get the new phone at that point. This and the modular design of the removable battery on the LG G5 is about the only major features that it has over the S7 and S7 Edge.

SOFTWARE:

Software is very interesting on the S7 and here is why.

Android Marshmallow 6.0 has been included which has many new features included in it and TouchWiz is still being used on the Galaxy phones.

The TouchWiz skin from what I have read and seen looks a little cleaner, but not much has been discussed about the software apart from the new Edge features and new gaming features which lets you focus on your gameplay by being able to lock buttons (presumably the capacitive soft buttons next to the home button) and disable notifications from alerting you etc.

Samsung is also including $200 worth of fixed In-App Purchases for some of the most popular games on the App Store.

The one major thing that I still have with the S7 and S7 Edge is if the software updates are going to be released any faster than previous phones. They most certainly did not mention anything about it and Google was rumoured to be helping Samsung with it but that was not obvious during the keynote apart from their partnership with Samsung for the Gear 360 camera to post content to Google Street View (which is really cool).

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 BUT this is not supported on the S7 or S7 Edge. For some people, this may be an issue despite it also not being offered on the LG G5, but will make it easier to put all music, videos and photos in the expandable storage and only have the apps on the phone’s built in storage for better performance.

Another trend that I am starting to notice in Android manufacturers (both Samsung with the S7 and LG with the G5) is removing the app drawer. This makes the phone’s home screen act more like an iPhone where everything is on the home screen (or hidden in folders), but still has widgets on the home screen which still makes it a better home screen over iOS. With the S7 it will give you the option to disable it and the G5 has no app drawer at all, which Samsung has the better implementation as many geeks will want it and other users can elect to not use it.

Samsung Pay has been announced to come to Australia, Spain and 5 other countries in 2016 but no concrete dates from what I’ve seen for any country. In Australia however, it will likely only support American Express credit cards.

CAMERA:

The camera in short has a lower resolution of 12MP (down from 16MP) but has pixels that are 30% larger than the iPhone 6s Plus and a f/1.7 aperture which makes it significantly better for low light shots.

The camera also uses dual pixels which makes it a lot better to focus the camera. Samsung claims The S7 can focus on a subject 100% in time it takes for the iPhone 6s Plus to focus as much as 5%. And with the faster focus you’ll be more likely to get the actual shot you are wanting to take and not either miss out or get a blurry photo instead.

For people that uses cameras a lot, I see the changes they have included to be almost deal-breakers over all other flagship phones

The S7 and S7 Edge also have a 5MP front facing camera but has the same f/1.7 aperture that is on the rear camera which makes it better for low light selfies at night.

The camera also has a black colour around the rear camera lens which makes it blend in better with the Black Oxyn model but is roughly protruding half as much as the S6 camera bump, which will be better for placing it on a flat surface without any cases on the device.

WATER RESISTANT:

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.

The S7 does have an IP68 water and dust-resistant design which does have any annoying flaps but uses a water-repellant coating, which means the phone can be submerged in 1 meter (or 3.3feet) of water for 30mins. We have seen other phones like the iPhone 6s in some water tests last as long as 1 hour and that is not deemed as water-resistant so I hope this would be just as good as that, and that Samsung is just saying 30mins to be on the safe side.

PRESSURE-SENSITIVE DISPLAY:

The S7 and S7 Edge never got a Pressure-Sensitive Display that was rumoured to make it compete with the latest iPhone.

I am expecting Samsung to replicate this feature when Android has included APIs for a pressure-sensitive like display (possibly in Android N 7.0), of which Samsung can then add extra features to TouchWiz that would make use of the Pressure-Sensitive Display making it worthwhile adding the hardware in the Samsung Galaxy S8.

PRICE:

In Australia the Galaxy S7 costs $1149 unlocked and the S7 Edge cost $1249 unlocked.

These come with 32GB of built-in storage and there are no 64 or 128GB models since it is uses a microSD card instead. Just doing a quick search on eBay you can easily get a 64GB microSD card for $35 and a 128GB for 2-3x that, which still makes it cheaper than paying $100 for extra storage tiers.

As a comparison in Australia for the 32GB models at launch, the S6 cost $999, S6 Edge cost $1,149 and the S6 Edge+ cost $1,199. This means the S7 is about $150 more than the S6 from last year but the S7 Edge is only about $50 more than the S6 Edge+. All of this and Australia’s exchange rates into consideration etc., the prices are about on par with last year’s models.

One thing I do like about the S7 Edge is that for only $100 more you get:

  • 0.4inch larger display.
  • Dual curved edges.
  • All of the Edge software features.
  • 20% larger battery.

It seems a lot more money at first but when you factor into how more extra it would cost each day over 2 years (it’s 13.7 cents extra hint hint a day for 730 days).

Another advantage for Samsung to add the microSD card back is that they will not only make users happy, but it will reduce the number of phones that Samsung needs to stock for each of the storage tiers.

RELEASE DATE:

The S7 and S7 Edge will launch in Australia on March 11 and pre-orders go live in Australia on February 26th.

CONCLUSION:

Short Story: S7 = Best of S5 + Best of S6 + Evolutionary Updates (like and most others expected).

Long Story: Despite it looking similar to the 2015 models, I feel that it is a really good yearly update that uses an already great design.

I would almost go as far as to say I could recommend the S7 and S7 Edge, purely based off what I have read and seen online thus far, but I would still reserve judgement until reviews from many of the top tech YouTubers start to come out.

You’d feel incredibly tempted to get the S7 Edge for only $100 more unlocked if it meant you get a bigger screen, longer battery and more software features, and if I were to go for the S7, I would definitely get the Edge variant.

But that leaves me to the question for this post:

“What phone do you have currently and is the S7 or S7 Edge enough of an upgrade for you to invest in?”

In my case, I currently have an iPhone 5s which I’ve had since launch and the S7 Edge is definitely on my radar along with the Nexus 6P or 2016 equivalent and the iPhone 7 Plus.

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.

REFERENCES:

http://www.cnet.com/news/samsung-galaxy-s7-and-s7-edge-vs-samsung-galaxy-s6-galaxy-s6-edge-galaxy-note-5-and-galaxy-s6/

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