Smartphone launches have been fairly ho-hum affairs of late. Flagship devices boil down to either Samsung and Android or Apple and iOS. The buzz from various manufacturers about the generational improvements to any given device are inversely proportional to that device’s actual improvements.
Based on the reviews its getting, the Galaxy S7 never got that memo. Nearly every single review mentions perfection: Gizmodo calls it “Inching Towards Perfection,” CNET raves it’s “The Phone to Beat,” the Verge declares it “On the Edge of Perfection,” the WSJ claims its “Head of the Smartphone Class,” and TechRadar declares it “Iterative Perfection.” And our own PCMag says the Galaxy S7 “delivers the best Android smartphone performance in a relatively small package.”
In short: Everybody loves Hypnotoad Samsung.
The Galaxy S7 comes in two flavors: The 5.1-inch Galaxy S7, and the 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 Edge. The S7 is physically nearly identical to the older S6 — it’s ever-so-slightly heavier and thicker, but you won’t notice unless you put the two devices side-by-side. What you will notice is that both the S7 and S7 Edge use a curved back meant to help the device fit more comfortably in the hand. This is a feature that’s been carried over from the Note 5, and everyone seems to agree that it makes the large device far more comfortable to hold. As a long-time small-phone devotee (I prefer devices sized like the old iPhone 5/5c), I doubt it would make a believer out of me, but if you’re a large phone fan, it seems a worthy change.
Everyone loves the additional water proofing, the return of the microSD slot, and the hardware specifications. The Galaxy S7’s battery is still non-removable, but Samsung at least made an effort to jam more battery power into the device. Battery capacity on the S7 is up 17.6% to 3000mAh, while the S7 Edge increases 38.5%, to 3600mAH. That’s a huge jump in capacities, and everyone again reports that this improvement isn’t sucked down by faster processors or power-hungry features. I’ll wait to see some formal testing before declaring the S7 a full-day champion, but early data on this front seems unilaterally positive.
Of cameras and performance
Thus far, the S7’s improvements are a mixture of bringing back features Samsung never should have cut from the S6 family and iterative improvements. The one quantum leap everyone refers to is the camera and its capabilities. TechRadar has published some photos from the S7, and while it’s not the full-on comparison we’d like, the S7 shots are amazing in their own right. Low-light photography is widely praised, especially compared with the iPhone 6s/6s Plus.
App performance is a mixed bag. “The S7 is as slow as a Jamaican bobsled team when it comes to opening big apps and detailed documents,” the Gizmodo review says. “I tested Marvel’s Contest of Champions load time against the iPhone 6s and the S7 took several seconds longer to get the game going.” The site shows video evidence of the S7 against the iPhone 6s, and the Apple device is faster when working with large PDFs or complex programs. Bloatware is also a common complaint, though the degree to which this matters varies by reviewer (some dismiss the issue as more of the same, other sites harp on the problem).
These minor issues may be resolved by an update in the future, and overall reviewer opinion of Samsung’s new S7 is extremely positive. At the end of the day, the broad consensus is that this is the best Galaxy device Samsung has ever built. Both the S6 and S5 failed to live up to Samsung’s sales expectations — we’ll have to wait and see if the Samsung Galaxy S7 will continue trending downwards, or prove the exception to the rule. The review consensus is that Samsung has lobbed the ball squarely back into Apple’s turf.
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