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7 things to love about the Galaxy S7 and GS7 edge (and 3 to hate)

Al Sacco | Feb. 22, 2016's Al Sacco goes hands-on with Samsung's new Galaxy S7 smartphones and spotlights the most notable new features, along with a few of the GS7 phones' potential shortcomings.

samsung galaxy s6 galaxy s7 gs6 gs7
Samsung's Galaxy S7 (front) and GS6. Credit: Al Sacco

Samsung on Sunday unveiled its two latest flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S7 and GS7 edge at an elaborate Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona. Rumors about the GS7 and GS7 edge hit the Web (hard) months ago. Many of the most widely circulated reports proved accurate. However, Samsung did keep a few surprises under wraps.

I spent about an hour with both new Android phones last week at a media event in New York City, and I brought along my GS6 and GS6 edge+ for comparison. Of course, 60 minutes isn't nearly enough time to provide a full evaluation of a smartphone — let alone two of them — but a number of things quickly jumped out at me.

What you'll love about Samsung's Galaxy S7, GS7 edge

1) Galaxy S7 and GS7 edge digital camera

The GS6, GS6 edge and GS6 edge+ all have 16MP cameras. The new GS7 and GS7 edge have 12MP digital shooters. So, you ask, why is a reduction in megapixels a good thing? Simply put, megapixels aren't everything when it comes to digital cameras, and at a certain point, the lens, aperture and shutter speed begin to carry as much if not more weight.

The cameras on the new GS7s are the "first dual pixel sensor 12MP" smartphone cameras ever, according to Samsung, which means every pixel they pack is used to focus. That leads to quicker, more effective autofocus. Samsung says the GS7 cameras focus "two to three times faster" than the GS6 shooters. The GS7 camera aperture (F1.7), leads to 25 percent less exposure time than the cameras on the GS6s (F1.9), according to Samsung, which should result in crisper, clearer images. The camera pixels themselves are also larger in the GS7s (1.4μm) than the GS6 phones (1.12μm), Samsung says, and they take in more light and help capture quality images in dimly lit spaces.

I know that's a lot of "Samsung says" and "according to Samsungs," but it's tough to test camera quality in a controlled environment. The company did, however, perform a demo in which it pitted a GS7 edge against an iPhone 6s Plus in a dark chamber to see which one focused faster and took better images without a lot of light. As you might expect at a Samsung event, the GS7 edge was the clear winner, and though I don't entirely trust Samsung's tests — and it remains to be seen whether or not the improved sensor makes up for that significant pixel reduction — they were encouraging.


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