The Samsung Galaxy line and the S7 need little introduction. The phone is Samsung’s 2016 flagship and is arguably the biggest launch from any manufacturer thus far in 2016. It is an upgrade to last years’ S6 and looks like a slightly larger S6 with a glossy glass, slightly curved front and back and a metal band around the phone.
It is particularly notable for bringing back the two features that the S6 lost from the S5 – waterproofing and a microSD card slot. The microSD takes up to 200gb cards and the waterproofing is internal – so no rubber flaps to deal with.
Price: ± From £439 to £460
Paid extras: MicroSD Card and GearVR Headset
Delivery costs: Free Delivery
Ships to: U.K., Europe. U.S., Canada
Samsung is a giant Korean conglomerate formed in 1938. It manufactures a wide range of items from washing machines to computer chips to PCs but is probably most well known for its Android smart phones. It has slipped slightly from its position of dominance in that market but is still one of the major players. The company has almost half a million employees and annual revenue of over $300 billion.
The S7 looks like a top quality phone with its gloss, glass, metal and slight curves. The ports are on the base of phone with a 3.5mm headphone jack and traditional microUSB next to the downward facing speaker.
Internally it has a Snapdragon 820 and a massive 4Gb of RAM. In use it feels blazingly fast. I have been using it for about a month and I don’t recall a single significant slowdown or problem. I was a little concerned about overheating and it has gotten warm when pushed it hard whilst charging at the same time, but this doesn’t seem to have caused any problems.
The camera protrudes very slightly from the back and it takes amazing pictures. It has actually dropped a little in raw megapixel count, but to make up for that it has improved low light performance to the point where I get pictures in low light that are almost as good as in full light. The S7’s camera is the best phone camera I’ve ever used.
The days of Samsung’s Touch-Wiz nightmares are somewhat behind us. The S7 runs Marshmallow and whilst TouchWiz is still there, it’s far lighter than it was. The changes it brings are more cosmetic. I prefer a more vanilla experience, but it is serviceable. Samsung has never been great on Android updates and chances are that it will take months for the S7 to get Nougat, probably during the first few months of 2017.
Samsung have built an ecosystem of hardware products around the S7, including a 360 camera, the GearVR headset, wireless cases and stands. We reviewed the GearVR with the S6 last year and it provides a great introduction to VR.
The S7 is a slightly lower resolution screen than the S6 but a little larger and the faster internals mean that it’s an improved experience. Add that to six months of (slow) interface development from Samsung and several third parties and the add on hardware is genuinely a value add that’s unique to Samsung.
- Target age range: Adults
- Indoor and outdoor use, will withstand inclement weather – waterproof without port covers.
- Special considerations: glass back and fronted and tends to be rather slippy to hold
Environment & People
The S7 is a premium ‘Superphone’ and among the most expensive phone available to purchase, however there are numerous two year contracts available at £30+ a month with no upfront cost that include a S7 in the package, which places it within a reachable price for a lot of people.
There has been a lot of debate recently in the tech press as to the difference in actual usability between a superphone like the S7 and a mid-range phone like the OnePlus 3 that is several hundred pounds cheaper. The reality is that for most users the mid-range phone will be more than enough, however it’s a cost-effective choice for those interested in its added features – access to its VR-accessories, a top notch camera and it’s power that makes gaming, intensive media editing and intense use a pleasure.
Product dimensions: 14.2 x 6.9 x .7 cm
Item Weight: 152 grams
Colour: Black, white and gold with aluminum banding
Materials: Gorilla Glass 4.0 front and back
Operating System: Android Marshmallow 6.0
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890 Octa
Memory: 4GB RAM
Display: Amoled 5.1″ 1440 x 2560
Storage: 32 or 64GB
Camera:12 MP, f/1.7, 26mm, phase detection autofocus, OIS, LED flash, check quality
Features 1/2.6″ sensor size, 1.4 µm pixel size, geo-tagging, simultaneous 4K video and 9MP image recording, touch focus, face/smile detection, Auto HDR, panorama
Video [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], HDR, dual-video rec., check quality
Connectivity: microUSB 2.0
Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth: v4.2, A2DP, LE,
NFC (Near Field Communication): Yes
Battery: Non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery
Charging: 60% in 30 min (Quick Charge 2.0) and Qi/PMA wireless charging
Waterproofing: IP68 certified – dust proof and water resistant over 1.5 meter and 30 minutes
Warranty: 24 months free from manufacturer’s defect.
* Google & Samsung accounts. Without it the phone is useable, but you cannot access the store, update apps or do a number of other things.
* Sim card with a data contract. It is possible to use it as a wifi only device, but we wouldn’t recommend it.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 is a great phone. It builds on the S6’s already good experience and the end result is a powerful, well built and beautiful device. The only real drawbacks are its overly slippy back and the fact that as a premium phone it has got a premium price tag.
Looking for the best Android phone of 2016? Want to be able to use VR with your phone? Want the best camera phone on the market? The Galaxy S7 will serve you well. Highly recommended.