In the run-up to the big reveal, both Galaxy S7 devices have proven possibly Samsung’s worst-kept secret to date, not that this is meant as a slight against Samsung – pretty much every manufacturer is unable to keep things wrapped up tight these days and in-development products always leaks onto the web in abundance. Consequently, once again much of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge design, and many of the features, are not a surprise to anyone who’s been keeping an eye on things in the last six months or so.
At the forefront of all this is the confirmation that, as per the rumours, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge are not tremendously different design-wise from the Galaxy S6 series, and this is no bad thing because those devices were absolutely gorgeous, made from high-end materials, and offered a premium feel in the hand – in my opinion some of the best handsets Samsung has ever made. All good stuff.
But there are still some noteworthy differences and new features to make the Galaxy S7 edge stand out from its forebears.
Enough that consumers are very interested, it seems, as according to a statement from Samsung’s Dutch branch pre-order figures for the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge in Europe are 2.5x higher than the Galaxy S6 series last year. The Galaxy S7 edge is also proving the most popular model, accounting for 61% of all pre-orders inside Europe. The news comes a few days after Samsung’s chief of mobile, Koh Dong-jin, made a less precise statement that pre-orders globally had exceeded the firm’s expectations.
Following Koh Dong-jin’s comments, reports have emerged on April 4 where analysts in Asia believe Samsung may have shipped as many as 10 million Galaxy S7 units inside March, during the month since the phone’s launch. That is a much higher figure than earlier predictions around the 7 million mark, to the extent that analysts are reportedly taking the firm’s comments about out-selling older Galaxy S models much more seriously following the pre-order surge. Analysts are now said to be adjusting their sales predictions for Samsung’s expected 2016 performance, although Samsung itself has not commented on the reports and has not yet issued official sales or shipping figures.
As of April 8, Samsung has published its earnings report for Q1 2016 and things are looking pretty good for its mobile business with consolidated sales at a value of £30.7 billion, a considerable year-on-year uplift over 2015’s Q1 at £28.8 billion. Consolidated operating profits are also up 10.4% on last year’s figures. Although the report doesn’t represent final, ironclad stats, these things are not usually far off the mark and, more to the point, it showcases the general swell of success for Samsung since the launch of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, which are sure to be primary players in causing the increase in sales and profits.
Android 7.0 Nougat Update To Bring Galaxy Note 7 Grace UX
According to September 23 reports, the Android 7.0 Nougat software update (which Geekbench benchmark results show is already in testing on the Galaxy S7 series) will introduce the Galaxy Note 7’s new Grace UX to the flagship handsets. The word comes via GSMArena, which states that as well as an all new UI and built-in Nougat features from Google’s software, the Galaxy S7 series will receive additional Galaxy Note 7 features for the Always On display mode.
“The new UI is reportedly performing better (or smoother) on the Galaxy S7 and the S7 edge than the software they’re currently loaded with,” meaning it is performing better on the test units than Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. The report adds that it is not clear if the performance boost comes from enhancements in Android Nougat itself, the Grace UX, or a combination of the two.
Samsung Galaxy S7 EDGE: Design & Display
No prizes here for guessing that the Galaxy S7 edge features Samsung’s unique edge display design – that’s where the display panel curves around the two longer sides of the phone using flexible OLED screen technology and contoured glass. It’s a signature look, and a very attractive one at that, adding a bit of unusual visual interest to make the phone more than your typical smartphone slab.
However, get the Galaxy S7 edge alongside the Galaxy S7 and you’ll notice another major difference – the phone’s size. Last year’s Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge were more-or-less the same in terms of the physical device size and display size, with a few extra millimetres here and there to accommodate the display curvature. That’s all changed for 2016, with the Galaxy S7 edge being a significantly bigger model than the regular Galaxy S7 and packing a 5.5in display compared to the non-edge model’s 5.1in screen.
The rumours of some additional curves to the Galaxy S7 edge back panel were true, although it’s a very small, subtle change that could easily be missed – on the whole it’s the spitting image of its predecessor, including the welcome use of glass and metal in the same places and a selection of similar metallic colour options. Just as with the Galaxy S6 series, the build quality here is as superb as the visual design and it’s a very robust feeling phone to get to grips with. Also worth noting is that the camera bump has been reduced quite significantly, although it’s still not flush.
If you’ve been following the Galaxy S7 series rumours for a while you’ll know that water and dust proofing was rumoured, but, as is often the case, there were some conflicting rumours saying it wasn’t so. Fortunately, the naysayers were wrong, and the waterproofing that’s been missing since the Galaxy S5 has made a welcome return here. It’s an IP68 certification, officially good for up to 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes, although this is really just a legal disclaimer more than anything. At the end of the day, we want waterproofing for rain, spills, and for those rare occasions where you drop your phone in a sink/toilet/river – and in all these scenarios it should be fine. It’s also worth mentioning the waterproofing has been achieved through coating of the components of the phone with protective layers, so there are no port covers or rubber grommets to contend with.
The display itself is Samsung’s usual high end Super AMOLED with a QHD resolution (2560 x 1440 pixels), that’s the same resolution as the smaller Galaxy S6 edge display, though naturally the larger screen size means a slightly lower pixel density than both last year’s model and the non-edge Galaxy S7; the Galaxy S7 edge’s pixel density is 543ppi. Not that any of this is a problem of course, these are all high enough pixel densities to produce incredibly sharp picture quality, while the Super AMOLED provides the rich colour and contrast we’ve come to expect from Samsung flagships, as well as very good brightness, sunlight performance, and viewing angles.
A new feature for the Galaxy S7 edge is the always on display (or AOD, for short)…well, it’s new for Samsung’s flagship series, anyway – we have seen this elsewhere before though. Of course this doesn’t mean the display is literally always on, at least not completely, but it does mean that you can pick some information to be displayed even when the phone is in its sleeping state in a low-power mode. This utilises OLED tech’s unique advantage – selectively powering only certain pixels. A shortlist of available display options for AOD includes calendar, clock, and notifications, although we suspect it probably has wider applications than that.
As if the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge display specs weren’t impressive enough just on paper, prominent display testing and analysis source DisplayMate has published its in-depth examination of the screen technology in use on both handsets. The findings are pretty glowing, to say the very least, with DisplayMate delcaring Samsung’s phones as having the brightest displays it has ever tested, together with the most accurate colour it has ever tested too!
“While the Galaxy S7 screen size and resolution remain the same as the Galaxy S6, its has been significantly improved for most display performance metrics. The most noticeable one is a Maximum Brightness that is 24% higher than the Galaxy S6, which is quite a significant improvement in high ambient light. The Contrast and Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light have also significantly improved,” states the report.
“The display on the Galaxy S7 matches and even exceeds the performance of Galaxy Note 5 that we tested in 2015 and rated it as the Best Performing Smartphone Display that we had ever tested. This is a particularly significant enhancement because the 5.1 inch Galaxy S7 display is considerably smaller so the display components had to be scaled down by 20 percent in area from the larger 5.7 inch Galaxy Note 5, and then still deliver the same Maximum Brightness from the smaller pixels.”
Samsung Galaxy S7 EDGE: Hardware & Battery
Another revived feature is the inclusion of a microSD card slot, which is great for multimedia collections. Samsung hasn’t reintroduced a removable battery pack, however, as this is a unibody phone, but the cell has been bumped up from last year’s 2600mAh to an impressive 3600mAh, just as rumours suggested. Obviously this will need testing, but a battery pack that size should offer very good performance, plus we’ve found the last few Samsung flagships have offered excellent battery life generally and even better with the excellent Super Power Saving mode.
Of course you’ve also got plenty of connectivity capabilities built-in, all that you might expect, including NFC, 4G LTE, and Wi-Fi. It has a microUSB port but it’s not the new Type-C version.
Samsung Galaxy S7 EDGE: Processor
Samsung is yet to specify which processor models are available in which regions, but we do of course know there are two types – the Samsung Exynos and the Qualcomm Snapdragon. What the firm has said is that CPU performance will be 30% faster than the Galaxy S6 series while the GPU has a 64% uplift. Samsung does have an interesting and rather PC-like solution to performance-related heat this time though – the handset contains a heat pipe filled with water, and when the SoC heats up the water turns to vapour before being cooled via a heatsink. Smart.
We will update this section when we have more info from Samsung regarding the processor specifics.
Interestingly, Youtube channel JerryRigEverything has now released a video showing the Galaxy S7 edge being dismantled on camera – in case you were wondering what its insides looked like. As well as being quite cool generally, the video showcases the heat-pipe setup from around the 4:30 mark.
Samsung Galaxy S7 EDGE: Camera
Typical of Samsung’s flagship series both the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge feature the same camera setup and, again, the rumours were spot on here with a 12MP sensor. That’s a lower megapixel rating than previous models, but this is entirely deliberate as Samsung, like many other Android OEMs, has focused on improving other areas of the camera hardware. The sensor uses a higher-rated 1.4um pixels, up from the Galaxy S6, to help with noise reduction, alongside a very wide f/1.7 aperture (last year’s was f/1.9 – lower ratings are wider and therefore preferable in allowing in more light), and super-fast dual-pixel phase detection. Samsung claims this has excellent low-light performance, though naturally we’ll have to try it out in our full review to give you the verdict.
Samsung Galaxy S7 EDGE: Software
Of course the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge runs Android Marshmallow with a new build of TouchWiz over the top of it, but with that said it doesn’t seem massively different from the build currently rolling out to the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge. As with that build, there are enhancements to the edge display functions, which now allow for gesture controls and a wider selection of apps to be used – there’s also more room on the edge for more apps, shortcuts and info to be displayed.
Samsung Galaxy S7 EDGE: Price & Availability
A few days after Samsung’s big event and we’re now hearing a little more about what will be available and where – though still not much comment on pricing at this point, hopefully more on that soon. In the meantime, however, Samsung’s chief of mobile Koh Dong-jin, has publicly confirmed that the global release date is March 11, a day that will see over 60 countries hainvg the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge on sale.
“The Galaxy S7 is slated to go on sale in 60 countries on March 11. We expect its sales to surpass shipments of the previous model, the Galaxy S6,” he said. FYI, estimates place 2015’s Galaxy S6 sales figures at around 38 million units and Samsung was none too pleased about this.
The fly in the ointment is the 64GB storage model. According to SamMobile, a site that is usually well in-the-know on such matters, Samsung has confirmed that many parts of Europe will not receive the 64GB storage variant and will instead only get the 32GB model. Allegedly this limited distribution approach now also includes the US, which will also be a 32GB only zone. Apparently Samsung sees higher profit margins from 32GB phones.
Most of the major UK networks have now revealed pricing plan details for both the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. The following network deals are for 24 month contracts for the 32GB Galaxy S7 edge and on all mentioned networks it can be purchased in either Black Onyx or Gold Platinum colour options.
EE – £9.99 Up-front and £54.99 per month
O2 – £9.99 Up-front and £51 per month
Vodafone – £9 Up-front and £56 per month
Three – £49 Up-front and £47 per month – Pre-order by March 6 to receive handset by March 8; three days earlier than general release on March 11.
Samsung Galaxy S7 EDGE: Conclusion
So what do we reckon? Well obviously we’ll reserve final judgement until our full review, but that said there are plenty of positives here. The main takeaway for us is that Samsung has listened to gripes about the loss of microSD and waterproofing from older models and has therefore brought both features back, which is bound to bring smiles to more than a few faces. However, another old Samsung feature sorely missed has not made a return – the removable battery pack.
Now, it seems LG, launching the LG G5 on the same day as Samsung’s new devices, is stepping into that void with a removable battery pack, sleek metal design, and a microSD slot, and it’s quite possible the firm will poach a few Samsung fans. But, as the saying goes, you can’t have everything – the LG G5 has these features but lacks waterproofing, while the Galaxy S7 edge has everything but the removable battery, and it seems both cases have occurred due to essential features of the designs to allow EITHER waterproofing or battery removal. Of course, you can grab either phone and fit it with a battery booster case or waterproof case if you choose to, so neither is exactly a lost cause on either front.
In virtually all other areas, however, the Galaxy S7 edge does seem like a fantastic phone; the display is great, the camera tech appears to tick all the right boxes, the processor also sounds promising – and we’re loving the inclusion of that clever heat dissipation technology. Once again, Samsung has also knocked the build and design out of the park, while having waterproofing and microSD back is very pleasing indeed.
Is it enough though? That’s a tough one to call. Last year’s Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge were two of the finest phones Samsung has ever produced, and yet didn’t sell in the figures Samsung wanted. We can’t fathom why, really, but the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, while improving in key areas, are very similar to last year’s models, and if there wasn’t an overwhelming uptake then we’re wondering if we’re looking at a similar scenario this time round. We hope not, because we’d hate to see Samsung give up on its efforts in despair and go back to uninspiring plasticky tat!