Samsung took the stage at Mobile World Congress 2016 to unveil the next iteration of their successful Galaxy S flagship, the Galaxy S7.
“These are the devices that come from reimagining what a phone can do and what a smartphone can be.”
– DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics
In an unconventional unveiling using their Gear VR, Samsung showed off their latest innovative entry into the smartphone arena. Touting the rounded edges of the now ubiquitous Galaxy S series with two new iterations in the Galaxy S7 which comes with the standard 5-inch display and the Galaxy S7 Edge which comes with a 5.5-inch display.
The Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge go on sale on March 11. The device will launch with an enticing freebie – the Gear VR – in select markets.
According to Mr. Lee Jui Siang, the Vice President of Samsung Malaysia, the much anticipated devices will be launched in Malaysia on March 11 with pre-orders starting on 7th March. No word on whether Malaysia will be receiving the Gear VR bundle.
No word on retail price in US or locally as of yet.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge follows the footprint of its predecessor, the S6, with a sleek glass and metal unibody design. The most notable difference between the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the S7 would be the curved glass back which we first saw with the Note 5. You could almost say that the Note 5 gave birth to the new stylistic choices of the S7 and the S7 edge.
One thing we liked about the announcement was the inclusion of the SD card slot in the Galaxy S7, a feature sorely missed by most users in the S6. This is accomplished by using a hybrid SIM tray which allows for dual SIM capabilities or the use of an SD card. Space is no longer a concern with the S7. In addition, the camera hump has been reduced significantly to only 0.46mm. It’s essentially non existent compared to the Note 5 and S6. .
One of the most surprising design choices here is the inclusion of waterproofing with IP68 certification without the clunky port covers we saw in the S5 and the active variants of the Galaxy S series.
What’s new in the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge?
- User Experience
- Improved Performance
The Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge will be released with a very much needed update to Samsung’s TouchWiz customisation on Android. First and foremost the updated TouchWiz UI on the S7 and S7 Edge will be running Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box which brings with it a slew of amazing new features including software optimisations to optimise battery consumption.
Together with this update to Android 6.0, Samsung is fine tuning its design language by making the icons on the S7 and the S7 edge appear more appealing by using their “squircle” design. In addition, the updated UI comes with Samsung Internet 4.0 which improves the built-in Samsung internet browser with security and privacy optimisations as well as Cross App which allows users to use apps within other apps.
Migration to your new Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge should be a simple affair with the updated Smart Switch application. If you’re moving from an older Samsung device, the application will now not only migrate your data, but also your home screens.
In addition, the lock screen is now customisable. Users can choose which apps they prefer on their lock screen shortcuts. You can also remove weather information from the lock screen if you so desire. In addition to this customisability, Samsung touts that it’s simplified the camera app but placing all their function icons visibly at all time. Users can also add shortcuts to their favourite camera modes directly to the camera screen.
The unique factor for the Flagship Galaxy S7 Edge is the unique dual edge screen which we first saw in its predecessor, the S6 edge and edge+. This came with Samsung’s unique edge panel which is much improved in the S7 Edge. The most obvious improvement comes from the form factor or size of the edge panel which has been increased to 550 pixels compared to the meagre 260 pixels of its previous iteration. This allows for more robust interactions with the edge panel and allows third party partners to showcase more content via the edge panel.
Samsung has beefed up the functionality of the edge panel by increasing the number of apps from 5 to 10 apps while People edge lists names in addition to the pictures of your top contacts.
They’ve also added Tasks Edge which brings the users’ most used app features and tasks to the forefront. Additionally, they’ve bundled a few useful features/tools in their Quick tools which gives quick access to items like flashlight and compass.
We really want to see developers use the edge SDK which Samsung has proudly opened to developers. This means that it won’t be long before we start seeing more edge optimised apps in the play store.
Samsung utilises it Super AMOLED display technology to allow users to get their information at a glance with their version of the Always On Display. The always on display will allow users to view items such as a their notifications and the date and time without turning on their display. What’s more it’s customisable.
Samsung’s flagship smartphones are bringing a whole level of performance with it’s new processor configuration. The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge employ an Octacore + Quadcore configuration effectively making the devices the first in the market to tout a 12-core configuration. Samsung claims that the CPU is 30% faster than it’s predecessor with a GPU which is 60% faster. How that translates into actual performance still remains to be seen.
However, the new 12-core configuration and the 4GB of RAM indicate that the devices are no slouches and are very capable of outperforming even the latest Qualcomm has to offer.
On the Graphics front, the S7 and the S7 Edge will be the first devices which utilise the new Vulkan API developed by Google and Khronos. The new API helps optimise graphics processing by dividing the load over multiple cores. In addition, the new API effective outperforms the dated OpenGL standard. Samsung claims that the Vulkan API will bring PC gaming performance to mobile. In the presentation, Samsung touted that the Vulkan API can run the Unreal engine up to 4 times faster than current OpenGL standards.
We will have to wait and see what the Vulkan API is truly capable of once apps which can fully utilise the API hit the Play Store.
In addition to the Vulkan API and new processor, the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge also have new cooling technology. The new cooling technology utilises a compound contained in a thermal spreader which evaporates to dissipate heat and effectively and condenses back into a liquid. This technology is apparently used in satellites and Samsung is confident that your S7 and S7 edge will not run hot.
Being the first devices with the Vulkan API, Samsung is looking to woo the gaming crowd to it’s flagship Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge series by bringing a slew of improvements to the devices focused on gaming.
The first improvement coming to the S7 and S7 edge is the Samsung Game Launcher. The game launcher allows players to take full control of their devices while gaming. This includes the option to disable all notifications while gaming and also the ability to lock/deactivate the back and multitasking keys to avoid unwanted misfires while gaming. The Game launcher also allows gamers to interact with their friends online by recording gameplay or capturing screenshots and uploading them to social media. In addition, the Game Launcher allows users to optimise the settings of their device to optimise battery savings or performance.
Being a gaming device necessitates accessories which cater to hardcore gaming as well as apps capable to satiating the most avid gamer. Samsung is taking this challenge head on by partnering with companies like Mad Catz and SURFr to bring the relevant accessories to the device. In addition, the South Korean company is also teaming up with gaming big boys like EA, Blizzard and KABAM to bring a whole load of apps and in game goodies to their users.
Samsung fortifies its camera prowess by improving on its camera sensor. The Galaxy S7 brings an amazing f1.7 aperture lens with 30% larger pixels compared to its competition. The sensor touts Dual pixel technology which Samsung claims to mimic the view of our two eyes. This technology has long been used in DSLRs and is now making its debut on mobile with the S7 and S7 edge.
In addition to the new Dual pixel technology, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge touts what Samsung calls “phase-detection autofocus”. This new autofocus technology utilises 100% of the pixels available to allow for faster focusing making sure that you don’t miss that one moment just cause you’re trying to get the perfect shot.
The most important claim Samsung makes in regards to its Camera is improved performance in low light situations. Thanks to the increased 1.4um pixels with a larger 1.7 aperture, Samsung claims that the camera will be able to detect 95% more light than its predecessor.
Samsung also introduces a few new camera modes with the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. Notably, the new Motion Panorama Shot mode which allows your panorama shots to come to life as videos.
In addition, Samsung brings a new hyperlapse mode to to its camera. This mode allows users to compress hours of footage in minutes, even seconds if they so desire. It stitches automatically selected frames into a brief video utilising vDIS to stabilise the image.
For selfie lovers, Samsung brings the same technology to its front facing camera. In addition, the South Korean company now utilises its Super AMOLED display as a selfie flash.