Apple’s domination of the smartphone market is beginning to slip ever so slightly, and the guys over at Samsung are ready to take what is rightfully theirs. The Galaxy S7 is symbolic of this agenda, and in all honestly it has become hard to return to the relatively under-powered iPhone models we use day to day. Checkmate Samsung, you crafty billion-dollar company you.
It may not be the next big innovation on the market, but it instead excels by building upon the already solid foundations found in the previous S6. Just looking at the nearly identical S7 lets you know all you need; this is a direct upgrade to the S6, not a reinvention. Its main immediately noticeable difference is that it is thicker (about 1mm so) but not to the extent that it may feel uncomfortable in the palm of your hand. Unlike an iPhone however, it is not entirely flat thanks to a protruding camera on the back of the device, which will be no surprise to long term Samsung followers.
Fingerprints and dust tend to collect quite quickly on the display throughout the day, which is a shame, but not unexpected. However, this is a small complaint when compared to the fact that in action the S7 is exceedingly well built, and won’t strain your hands during extended sessions.
The screen itself is sharp, colorful and surprisingly bright, outputting at a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440. We felt a little bad for wasting such an excellent display on watching Jingle Cats, but those who are seeking premium mobile viewing won’t be disappointed here.
Interestingly the screen itself is designed to never be fully switched off, with Samsung claiming that this will cause minimal battery drain per hour. Battery life, a calendar and messages are all displayed around the clock, with the exception of third party apps which are mysteriously absent from this feature. There is a small degree of customizability, but we found the options restrictive to the point where it can feel like a fairly pointless addition. However, if you are genuinely concerned with the effort of pushing a single button to check the time, this is the solution you have been waiting for.
The S7 is a juggernaut of a phone, packing a serious Exynos 8890 processor and 4 GB of RAM to ensure everything runs without the smallest sign of hitching. This all assists in powering a number of resource intensive new features, such as split screen app multitasking which allows for two apps to be activated at a single time. The screen is large and powerful enough to work well with this option enabled and we found it extremely beneficial when web browsing.
Don’t expect these new additions to be more taxing on the battery, as the S7 features a meaty 3000mAh battery that charges extremely rapidly through both a wired and wireless port. Even with everything in full use the battery will easily offer a full day, even with the screen drawing power constantly. That’s pretty impressive with all things considered, but when gaming we did notice around a 2 hour drop off from the expected lifespan. It’s nowhere near a deal breaker, but don’t expect the S7 to allow for continuous play without some backlash. Those looking to keep things going even further can enable a few power saving modes that improve usage time by around 2 hours, meaning that it still falls short of some other options on the market, but not enough to mimic Apple’s disastrous efforts.
The included camera could easily sell the device by itself, not only due to excellent picture quality, but the new dual-pixel sensor exclusive to Samsung’s new line of S7 smartphones. The camera finds its focus rapidly, and the resulting images are brighter, clearer and overall vastly superior to what competing products can offer. The included ‘Pro Mode‘ provides in depth options controlling shutter speed, contrast and more for users who have a firm grasp on what makes a photograph pop. Alongside high definition video, slow motion options and panorama shots, it all results in a fully featured package.
The S7 lacks an included video player, but compensates with a wealth of free apps that can handle the job extremely well. The new Pop-up tool lets you minimize videos while you go about fiddling with other applications without having to close anything down. The image gets pretty tiny, but we appreciate its inclusion so we don’t have to miss a second of our favorite shows when an urgent emails comes in. The Google Play music app is included by default, and it provides the expected options such as music steaming, in-store purchases and downloads. It’s exactly what you expect and it gets the job done, even if it lacks anything exciting to write home about.
We walked away impressed after our time with S7, even if some may argue that Samsung might be playing things a little safe. As their new flagship device, it performs the role admirably and is an attractive offer for anyone looking out for an upgrade.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 is available for purchase now for £569.