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Hands on with the evolutionary Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge

Florence Ion | Feb. 22, 2016
Samsung's flagship devices incrementally improve on last year's devices with a beefed-up camera, faster processor, and curvier design.

The Galaxy S7 Edge has officially gone full-blown phablet. It comes with a 5.5-inch display and all the same curves as the Galaxy S7, in addition to a curved panel on the front. Samsung mentioned that it paid particular attention to ergonomics with this year’s devices, and as a result the S7 Edge is seriously comfortable to hold. Also, while I typically prefer smaller devices, I am reminded of how much more productive I am with a larger screen.

The flat Galaxy S7 and curved Galaxy S7 Edge, side-by-side. Credit: 
Florence Ion

This year’s Galaxy S7 is water resistant, so you can give it a bath if you like. Credit: 
Florence Ion

Speaking of productivity, you can bring the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge everywhere you go. Both phones are IP68 certified, which means they’re both water and dust resistant. The expansion slot also makes a glorious return, and Samsung future-proofed the devices, allowing them to take MicroSD cards up to 2TB in size. For now, you’ll have to settle for up to 200GB, in addition to the 32GB or 64GB of storage space that comes with the device.

Qualcomm’s back in the fold

The Exynos was fun while it lasted, but Samsung’s back to using Qualcomm’s chipset in its devices. The Galaxy S7 runs on the Snapdragon 820, which I’m expecting will blow its predecessor out of the water in our benchmarks. The system-on-a-chip is built on a 14nm process and uses four custom Kryo CPU cores, along with a new GPU and image processor. Samsung says this year’s phones are 30 percent faster in CPU performance compared to the Galaxy S6, and 64 percent faster in GPU performance.

I hope you kept your MicroUSB chargers, because Samsung apparently isn’t ready to commit to USB Type-C just yet. Credit: 
Florence Ion

We can also expect better battery life. The Galaxy S7 sports a larger 3000 mAh battery pack, up from a 2550 mAh, while the Galaxy S7 Edge takes the biggest leap to 3600 mAh, up from 2600 mAh. Annoyingly, Samsung did not spring for a USB Type-C port on the Galaxy S7, though it does offer both Quick Charge 3.0 and fast wireless charging.

Bigger pixels and better low-light performance

Samsung set up a camera comparison demonstration at its briefing against the iPhone 6S.  Credit: 
Florence Ion

I was thoroughly impressed with the Galaxy S6’s camera performance and didn’t think Samsung could outdo itself, but lo and behold: The Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge both feature 12-megapixel camera sensors  with Duo Pixel technology, which is similar to the dual-photodiode sensors that some DSLRs use. It’s said to great improve the speed and quality of phase-detect autofocus, so you can quickly shoot a photo in any kind of setting. Also, both the front-facing and rear-facing cameras feature a wide, f/1.7 aperture, which helps immensely in low-light environments. That’s the widest aperture we’ve seen on a smartphone.


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