Samsung’s new Dual Pixel autofocus is shockingly fast and brings smartphone cameras a leap closer to DSLRs.
The Galaxy S7 takes a great thing and makes it even better. It may be pricey, but it’s the most capable smartphone you can buy.
The Galaxy S7 is the best smartphone Samsung has ever made. It’s delightfully snappy, unabashedly sleek and boasts a superb camera. It’s water resistant and crafted from the finest materials. And after a noticeable absence from the Galaxy line, its microSD card slot has made a triumphant return. This truly is an amazing device.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 is a stellar phone. It’s a handset that packs great battery smarts, excellent camera abilities and loads of raw power into an increasingly affordable package.
Even though Samsung has replaced the Galaxy S7 with the new Galaxy S8, it’s still worth taking a look at the 2016 flagship Samsung phone for your next big purchase. The price has begun to drop quite impressively, and the Galaxy S8 lacks a killer feature that makes it a must-have over the Galaxy S7.
Refinement was the watchword of Samsung’s approach this time around, taking the success it met in the Galaxy S6 and building on it with attentive care. The Galaxy S7 is a little prouder than its predecessor, a little bolder and fuller. Samsung stayed away from plastic parts, doubling down on their metal-and-glass construction process. The phone’s rim is all soft metal and graceful curves, while its glass front and back lounge warmly in your fingers. Oddly, the lack of sharp edges is almost a downside; more than one person we handed the phone to thought it was made of plastic, thanks to its rounded, slippery feel.
Design is similar to last year, but still strong
Rear curving makes it much nicer to hold in the hand
Now waterproof, which adds a level of security to use
Can be gripped securely thanks to smaller bezels
Muffled single speaker
We’ve never been fans of the tweaks companies insist on making to stock Android. They usually come prepackaged with a lot of bloatware. Historically, Samsung’s TouchWiz was one of the worst offenders, filled with features you probably don’t use and stuffed with inferior apps. That’s not always the case – Samsung’s camera app, for example, is rather wonderful, unobtrusive yet filled with great controls. Still, the S7’s setup process is full of bloatware requests.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad. Samsung has actually integrated some solid software additions, chief among them its new always-on display. Even when the phone’s screen is off, a few of the OLED display’s pixels remain active, showing you the time and basic notifications like missed calls and texts. You have to use Samsung’s included apps to get the full effect, but it’s a nifty feature nonetheless.
It’s rare for final products to live up to marketing hype, but the Galaxy S7 does. Each of its 12 million pixels has its own twin photo diodes built-in. This means every single pixel can be used to refocus the lens, which greatly cuts down on focus time. You can double-tap the home button to instantly wake the phone to camera mode, find your focus and take a picture, all within the span of about a second and a half.
It’s worth noting that while the quality of the pictures the S7 takes has improved, they’re not that much better than those taken by the S6. The phone’s sensor is now just 12 megapixels, but thanks to an ƒ/1.7 aperture, it can handle low-light photography with far less distortion. Samsung’s ever-improving image processing nets some gorgeous photos, and of course, you can shoot video up to 4K resolution or in lower resolutions up to 240fps.
Considering the phone comes packing Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM. We’ve listed a handful of our test results in the benchmark graph at the top of this page so you can see for yourself the numbers it’s capable of pushing around. Benchmarks aren’t everything, though, and there’s no substitute for pure experience; in ours, we never hit a single hiccup. The only other phone to come close was Apple’s iPhone 6s.
On the storage side, the Galaxy S7 is available in both 32GB and 64GB setups. There’s no 128GB option, but never fear; the microSD card slot, absent from last year’s Galaxy, has returned, and it can accept expansion cards up to 200GB in size. That’s more than enough storage for all your photo-, video-, music- and app-downloading needs.
First up, Samsung’s given us a bigger battery – huzzah! – cranking things up from the measly 2550mAh offering in the Galaxy S6 to a far more agreeable 3000mAh power pack in the S7.
Charging times have also been given a boost – both wired and wirelessly – with the fastest charge achieved via the wired connection, using the fast charge adapter which you’ll find in the box.
I ran the Exynos 8890-powered Galaxy S7 completely flat and then plugged it in. After just 15 minutes it had already refuelled to 25%, and around 30 minutes in I was at the 50% mark.
The last big feature the S7 boasts is its IP68 rating; the phone is dust-tight and water resistant up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. Practically speaking, you can spill your drink on the phone, drop it in the sink, take it out in the rain or rescue it from a toilet without worry.We’d even venture to say you could bring it into the bath, but don’t leave it under hot water for too long – some watertight seals don’t like warmer temperatures.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S7 has taken a positive step forward when it comes to battery life. It’s not the best performer out there, and you’ll want to plug in every night to be sure of a full day’s use when you wake – but you won’t find yourself dashing for the charger come mid-afternoon.
If you crave the best of the best and don’t mind a few smudges, absolutely. There’s something tangibly exciting about having the finest tech on the block, and harbor no illusions, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is it.