Samsung decided to play it safe this year with the Galaxy S7 by sticking with a similar metal and glass design as 2015’s Galaxy S6 and make only iterative updates to phone while also bringing back features that were last seen on the Galaxy S5 with the waterproof design and the microSD card slot.
That’s not to say that the Galaxy S7 isn’t a great device, it definitely is one of the best Android smartphones you can buy right now. It’s just that Samsung didn’t want to mess with their winning formula all that much.
After using the Galaxy S7 for a few weeks now, this is easily one of the best Galaxy S phones since the launch of the Galaxy S in 2010.
Editor’s note: I only was able to test out the standard Galaxy S7 for this review and not the Galaxy S7 Edge to help compare but the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are virtually identical aside from the display and battery capacity.
In this review, I will cover the following areas:
- Design & Hardware (hardware and specs)
- Software (all about that Android)
- Camera (a picture is worth a thousand-word right?)
Design & Hardware
The Galaxy S7 keeps the same design elements as the Galaxy S6 from 2015. You’ll find the body is made up of a mix of metal and glass. The standard Galaxy S7 has the same 5.1-inch display as the S6 while the S7 Edge has a 5.5-inch display.
However, the black Galaxy S7 is a fingerprint magnet (especially on the back of the device), I would recommend getting a case or a decal/skin for your Galaxy S7 if that will bother you.
The Super AMOLED QHD display (1440×2560 pixels with a ppi of 577) on the Galaxy S7 is a beautiful display. It’s bright and colours are detailed but I’ve been so used to the display on my Nexus 6 that the Galaxy S7 seems tiny in comparison. It looks great from all angles, no matter how you look at it.
The S7 feels great in the hands and has a good heft to it and it’s actually thicker than the Galaxy S6 because most S6 users complained of the smaller battery, so Samsung increased the battery size in the S7 (3,000mAh on the standard S7 vs. the S6’s 2,550mAh).
It also charges really fast; you get up to four hours of battery life in as little as 10-15 min. The Galaxy S7 also has wireless charging support (Qi Wireless & PowerMat).
The battery did last all day for me, that’s partly due to the Galaxy S7 running Android 6.0 and it’s Doze feature which kills background tasks when the phone isn’t in use.
The Galaxy S7 is sporting a Samsung Exynos 8890 Octa-Core processor (at least the Canadian/International version is) while the American version of the Galaxy S7 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. The difference in processors is due to compatibility with carriers and their frequencies. It also has 4GB of RAM to help thing run smoothly.
Just like the Galaxy S6, the S7 has an improved fingerprint sensor that doubles as the home button. It works most of the time, there was once of twice were it didn’t recognize my fingerprint and asked for my set PIN code to get in.
The Galaxy S7 also brings back to big features from the Galaxy S5 that were missing from the S6, which were water resistance and a microSD card slot. It is IP68 water and dust resistant up to 1.5m for 30 min.
The microSD card slot supports cards up to 2TB (but none exist yet), the biggest capacity available currently is the SanDisk Ultra 200GB Micro SD (which I used for this review and work well and was quick and reliable by offering speeds of 90 MB/s).
The Galaxy S7 is available in one capacity, 32GB (but it’s a good thing that is has a microSD card slot right?) and comes in two colours, black and white. The Galaxy S7 also comes at a cost, it is $899 CAD off-contract and about $399 CAD on a two-year contract while the Galaxy S7 Edge is $999 CAD off-contract and $499 CAD on a two-year contract.
The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are the first Samsung smartphones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow. And like all past Samsung phones, it comes with TouchWiz running on top of Android.
There are some material design-esque elements this latest version of TouchWiz but they’re hardly noticeable. This version of TouchWiz is somewhat toned down but to the point that it’s basically a Nexus or what HTC has done with their latest version of Sense on the HTC 10.
The Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge also have a always-on display (which can be turned off in the settings) and it can show you notifications, the date & time and other items. You can also customize the always-on mode so it can show you an image instead or a calendar.
You’ll still be able to get access Google Now on Tap (which is become more and more useful), custom app permissions, granular app & memory management, improved microSD card support (but Samsung has hidden the feature in Android 6.0 where you can make a microSD be formatted like internal storage, this was probably so then the everyday user wouldn’t get confused).
You’ll also be able to theme your Galaxy S7 to your liking using Samsung’s theme store with paid and free themes including some that give your S7 a material design makeover.
Samsung has had split-screen multitasking on their devices since the days of the Galaxy Note series. You can have two windows open at once and they can be resized or swapped. Quite a few apps are supports and it’s not just the Samsung ones that are.
And if an app doesn’t support split-screen multitasking, it will tell you.
You can also shrink any app into a smaller window simply by swiping diagonally from one of the corners but would be more useful on the Galaxy S7 Edge than the standard Galaxy S7.
Even though the megapixels on the S7 maybe lower than the S6, the S7’s camera shows that it shouldn’t matter. It’s 12-megapixels instead of the S6’s 16-megapixels.
The camera on the S7 actually lets in more light than the S6’s camera, it also takes great low-light photos and video which can be great for dimly lit restaurants or even concerts.
You can also quickly open up the S7’s camera but simply double pressing the home button and it will launch instantly.
The camera interface on the S7 is fairly simply and you have access to basic functions like flash, video mode, etc. There are also different modes you can choose from, including a Pro mode which gives you access to manual exposure settings, something you would find on a like a DSLR. You can also capture in RAW too.
Photos from the Galaxy S7 look great and show lots of detail and colour really pop.
The front-facing camera is 5-megapixels which should be good enough for selfies.
The Galaxy S7 is capable of taking 4K video at 30fps and 1080p video at 60fps and even slow motion video at 720p at 240fps.
This video is of the Australian Indie-band, Atlas Genius performing their song, “Stockholm” at their Toronto show.
The video quality from the Galaxy S7 looks great, with lots of detail. The fast autofocus helps as well.
This video is of a New York-based band called Secret Weapons and they opened for Atlas Genius in Toronto.
Even though it might seem like a iterative upgrade, the Galaxy S7 is still a great device with an awesome camera, if you like the Galaxy S6 from 2015, you love the S7. The water resistance, microSD card slot and increased battery capacity make a better choice among other Android smartphone including the S6.
The Galaxy S7 maybe not be fool-proof (TouchWiz still need some work and can be frustrating at times) but it is the best all-around device for most consumers. Even though it is has a high price tag, it’s a great smartphone for anyone.
+ Great display
+ Solid performance
+ Awesome camera
+ Excellent battery life
+ Premium design and build quality
+ Expandable storage is back
+ Water resistance
– Price may be too much for some
– TouchWiz can be frustrating
– Fingerprint magnet