The world agrees: The Samsung Galaxy S7 is one of the best smartphones on the planet. We called the S7 Edge the best phone to come out of this year’s Mobile World Congress show, and consumer demand for the phone has been very strong — with good reason. From a top notch camera to waterproofing to a streamlined interface, this is everything you could hope for in a phone. Here’s everything you’ll need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S7.
The return of water resistance
Samsung waterproofed the Galaxy S5, then didn’t bother to do the same with the Galaxy S6, and following solid consumer demand, it brought back water resistance for the Galaxy S7. Prior to launch, parts allegedly from the Galaxy S7 showed up on import/export tracking website Zauba labeled “waterproof.” We immediately knew what was coming and gave a little jump for joy. The released phone carries an IP68 rating, meaning dust should not penetrate its electronic innards, and you can submerge it in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes with no damage.
Anyone who’s dropped a phone in a toilet tank will apprecaite that.
Similar design, but even higher quality
Until February 2016, the Galaxy S7 stayed well hidden from the camera. The leaked image below from early February was our first real look at the phone. It’s only the back of the device, but it matched up with other leaked press renders.
An official press image was leaked on Twitter by Evan Blass, popularly known as @evleaks, in early February. Resplendent in a cool black color scheme, the Galaxy S7 will disappoint anyone wanting a complete change from the Galaxy S6 — and please anyone longing for a slick looking piece of hardware. The shape remains very similar to the 2015 phones, with the same smooth, brushed-metal bumper sandwiched between front and back glass. It’s gorgeous. This improved design extends to the camera on the back, which still protrudes, but only about half as much as last year’s model.
Always-on screen and Android Marshmallow
Following in the footsteps of innovations Motorola made two or three years ago, both Samsung and LG are adding Always On screens to their flagship phones this year. The GS7 always shows a clock when the phone is asleep. This feature should disable once you put the phone in your pocket. You can change this screen to show a calendar, as well.
There aren’t a ton of other software innovations. Samsung has loaded the phone with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but it has kept the S6’s bubbly, colorful TouchWiz interface and old-school menus.
An improved camera
Samsung really wants a better camera than the iPhone, and it has one, by some measurements. The S7 has a 12-megapixel rear cameras that operates faster thanks to an F1.7 lens (up from F1.9 in last year’s), and focuses faster thanks to its “dual-pixel” design. Samsung claims that every pixel in the lens also acts as a focus pixel, and that this is a first for smartphones.
In a direct shoot off in low-light and dark conditions, the Galaxy S7 often outperformed the iPhone 6S. Samsung’s camera was able to capture sharper images in the dark and illuminate areas that the iPhone could not. The speed of focusing also helped it grab a few shots of moving scenes that the iPhone was unable to shoot as smoothly.
Release date and pricing
The Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge were available for pre-order on all major carriers in the U.S. — AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, U.S. Cellular — and hit store shelves on March 11. Stores like BestBuy.com, Car Toys, Sam’s Club, Staples, Target, and Walmart had the phone for purchase on March 11. And those who ordered the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge before March 18 recieved a free Gear VR with six free games.
The Galaxy S7 comes in black and gold to start, and prices range from $620 to $695. U.S. Cellular has the lowest price if you pay in full, but Sprint is offering the best price with an installment plan. Sprint also has the best overall deal with its 50 percent off a second Galaxy S7 offer.
An early release was rumored due to Samsung reportedly moving to a streamlined development process, dubbed “Agile,” that aims to shave months off of its design-to-sale device cycle. The company apparently wanted to finalize the S7 by December, which could have translated into an early 2016 launch. Korea Investment predicted in early December that Samsung would launch the Galaxy S7 at Mobile World Congress in late February 2016, while ET News reported in mid-October that Samsung could announce the Galaxy S7 in January, one to two months earlier than normal.
The Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge have been talked about for a year, but now they’re here. We detail the new features, what we think of the phones, and everything we know about price and availability.