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Full Review

Samsung Galaxy S7 Review: First Impressions

 

There were few more anticipated phones in 2016 than the Samsung Galaxy S7. It’s the latest flagship from one of the biggest companies in mobile and the successor to one of the best handsets of 2016. So it’s fair to say expectations were high.

And on paper it doesn’t disappoint. The Samsung Galaxy S7 has tons of power, a brilliant new camera, a super-sharp screen, a refined design and more.

It even fixes most of the complaints about the Samsung Galaxy S6, through the addition of a microSD card slot, a bigger battery and a water resistant design. So does it all come together to make the perfect phone?

Screen

The Samsung Galaxy S7 has a 5.1-inch 1440 x 2560 QHD screen. That’s the same size and resolution as the Galaxy S6, but that’s fine. There’s no need for more than a QHD resolution and 5.1 inches is a great size. Big without being a phablet.

It’s a razor sharp 577 pixels per inch and it’s bright and vibrant, just like past Samsung phones. That incredible resolution and quality also makes the Samsung Galaxy S7 a big boon for VR, which Samsung is invested in through its Gear VR headset.

But it’s got a new trick up its sleeve, as it’s ‘always-on’, which is to say it remains partially lit up to display the time and any notifications, so you can see things at a glance without having to power up the whole screen.

It’s smart enough to turn off when it’s in a pocket or bag, or when it’s face down or low on battery.

Using the always-on feature will in itself eat through a bit of your battery, but if you tend to check your phone frequently it can actually save some juice, since it’s only partially lighting up the screen.

If you don’t want it you can disable the feature, but with or without its always-on smarts the Samsung Galaxy S7 has one of the best screens we’ve ever seen.

Design

Samsung Galaxy S7 Review: First Impressions

 

The design of the Galaxy S7 hasn’t strayed far from the Galaxy S6. It’s still got a metal frame and a glass back, but this time the back has a slight curve to it like the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.

That both makes it more comfortable to hold and leaves it looking better. It also leaves it slightly chunkier than its predecessor at 7.9mm thick, but that’s still pretty thin and allows for a bigger battery.

The other big change to the design is that the Samsung Galaxy S7 is IP68 certified water and dust resistant, so you can more confidently use it in the rain and if you spill a drink on it you’re left with more than just an expensive paperweight.

The glass back can pick up fingerprints, which are especially visible on the black model, so you might want to choose a white, gold, silver or pink gold one instead, but that’s a minor issue in an otherwise beautiful handset.

Overall Samsung’s taken what was already one of the best looking phones around and made it even better.

Power

Samsung flagships are never lacking for power, but the Galaxy S7 is its most beastly phone yet, as it packs the brand new Exynos 8890 octa-core processor as well as 4GB of RAM.

That processor is made by Samsung itself and has four cores running at 2.3GHz and four clocked at 1.6GHz for enormous amounts of power.

Performance was never going to be lacking but it really is buttery smooth, even once the phone is full of apps. In benchmarks it also outpaces most other flagships, like the Snapdragon 820-packing HTC 10 and LG G5.

Camera

Samsung Galaxy S7 Review: First Impressions

Samsung has taken a brave approach to the camera, dropping it from 16MP on the Galaxy S6 to just 12MP here. But in doing so it’s upped the pixel size, allowing it to capture 25% more light.

As such it fares far better in dim or dark environments, while 12MP is still enough to take sharp, detailed shots when the light is good.

It’s also very fast to focus and snap and packed full of options to play with, with Pro mode letting you change the likes of shutter speed and ISO, while a variety of other modes give you access to panoramas, selective focus and more.

Less has changed on the front-facing camera though, as it’s still a 5MP one, though it’s highly competent for the spec and aided by a makeshift flash, created by lighting the screen up incredibly bright.

Of course video is strong too, with the Samsung Galaxy S7 shooting in up to 2160p at 30fps, though if you don’t have a high-end monitor or TV you might struggle to do the footage justice once you take it off the phone.

Features

Samsung hasn’t added a huge number of new features to the Galaxy S7, but the fingerprint scanner has made a return, so you’ll be able to unlock the phone with a tap.

There’s also a new Game Launcher, which gives you increased control over games. You can for example record gameplay, block alerts, reduce the framerate and resolution and more. We can’t imagine this getting a whole lot of use but if you’re serious about smartphone gaming it’s something no competitors offer.

Battery life, memory and connectivity 

One of the main complaints about the Samsung Galaxy S6 was its disappointing battery life.

Thankfully that’s largely been fixed with the Samsung Galaxy S7, which has a big 3000 mAh juice pack that can easily last you a day. For most users it won’t stretch to two (if you want that consider the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge), but at least you won’t have to hunt out a charger midway through the day.

It charges up fast too, so you won’t have to leave your Galaxy S7 plugged in for long.

Memory comes in at 32 or 64GB, though just the 32GB version is available in the UK at the moment. But you also get a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 256GB.

Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC, so you can make full use of Android Pay.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy S7 finishes what the Samsung Galaxy S6 started. It’s got everything great about that phone but made better, with more power, a refined design and an impressive camera.

It then fixes most of what was wrong with it, by packing a bigger battery, a microSD card slot and a waterproof build.

There’s still room for improvement – it collects a lot of fingerprints and the Galaxy S7 Edge has longer battery life, but if you don’t want a phone of that size this one is just about the best around right now.

The Galaxy S7 is powerful, stylish, feature-packed and very nearly essential if you’re in the market for a new flagship.

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Specifications

Specifications

Dimensions (mm): 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9

Weight (g): 152

Battery capacity (mAh): 3000

Colours: Black, White, Gold, Silver

Screen size (inches): 5.1

Resolution: 1440x2560 pixels

Pixels per inch (PPI): 577

Processor: 2.15GHz quad-core

Processor make: Snapdragon 820

RAM: 4GB

Internal storage: 32/64GB

Expandable storage up to (GB): 200GB

Camera: 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel

Operating System: Android 6.0

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