Samsung Galaxy S7 & S7 edge Hands On

Samsung’s new handset don’t rewrite the book, they literally borrow liberally from the Galaxy S6 design and features. Having said that the are more refined and clearly improved and they even restore features that were painfuly absent form Galaxy S6 line. Even though it’s hard to get excited, the are likely, the best phones that Samsung has ever made.

Samsung has tightened up the S6’s overall design for the S7: it’s more comfortable to hold, easier to pick up off of a table, has a flatter fingerprint scanner, and has a less pronounced camera hump. It won’t look unfamiliar to anyone that’s seen or held the S6, and it still looks remarkably similar to the iPhone 6 and 6S depending on which angle you look at it from. The standard S7 retains the 5.1-inch, quad HD Super AMOLED display from its predecessor.

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The S7 Edge has received a more thorough update: it’s been given a larger, 5.5-inch display (still quad HD Super AMOLED and curved on both sides), and been refined even further. The back of the device has a slight curve to it now, making it much more comfortable to hold than last year’s phone. It’s also remarkably small, especially when its put side-by-side with other phones with 5.5-inch screens, such as the iPhone 6S Plus.

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Both phones have support for microSD cards to augment their 32GB of internal storage (Samsung says a 64GB model will be available in some regions, but the US will just have the 32GB), as well as IP68 water and dust resistance, which allows for submersion in up to 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes at a time. The S7’s waterproofing includes sealed ports, so there are no fussy port covers over the USB ports or headphone jacks. The S7 does not use USB Type-C, but sticks with the traditional Micro USB port. Samsung says this is because Micro USB retains compatibility with the Gear VR headset released last year, and that USB C isn’t quite ready for the mainstream just yet.

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the S7 line is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor in North America, a departure from Samsung’s own Exynos chips that were in the S6. (Samsung is still using Exynos processors in the S7 for other regions of the world.) The RAM has been stepped up to 4GB this time around.

Samsung increased the size of the phones’ batteries, up to 3,000mAh in the S7 (up from 2,550mAh in the S6) and 3,600mAh for the S7 Edge (vs 2,600 in the S6 Edge). Those batteries are significantly larger, especially in the S7 Edge, so hopefully the battery woes of the S6 are left in the past.

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Perhaps the most significant change this year comes in the S7’s new 12-megapixel camera. It’s lower resolution than last year’s 16-megapixel shooter, but Samsung says its larger pixels let in 56 percent more light than before for better low light images. The camera’s lens is a brighter f/1.7 aperture, allowing in 25 percent more light. Combined, the new sensor and lens let in 95 percent more light than last year’s already impressive camera, which is promising for low light photography. The sensor’s shape has also changed from a wide-format 16:9 to a more traditional 4:3 ratio.

We’re not disappointed by the Samsung Galaxy S7 line, but we can’t say we’re excited.