In just under a week, Samsung is expected to unveil two new smartphones: the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. Based on the rumors, leaked images, and purported specs that we’ve seen, the company will build on the total design rewrite that the Galaxy S6 received last year. In 2015, Samsung’s flagship featured a premium, metal and glass design that exuded quality, but came at the sacrifice of beloved power user features. It appears Samsung has heard those complaints and may be ready to bring back what was lost for 2016. Let’s go over all that we know so far about Samsung’s latest phones.
Two sizes, one curved
If leaked photos are any indication, the Galaxy S7 is going to look extremely similar to its predecessor. The reliable @evleaks has posted numerous shots of the new smartphone, and you’d be hard-pressed to spot any differences from the S6. Samsung actually seems to be offering a true “black” color option this year, as opposed to the S6 where it was really a dark blue. Sadly there’s no no emerald green or other standout color options; Samsung’s playing it real safe with black, silver, white, and gold. Elsewhere on the outside, it’s all really similar to last time with identical placement for the camera, side buttons, headphone jack, and USB port. Everything’s a bit sleeker, but the core design hasn’t changed much.
The Galaxy S7 Edge is a different story, though. This year Samsung is upsizing its curved-screen phone with a larger 5.5-inch display (the regular S7 will remain at 5.1 inches). That means you’ll now have to deal with a bigger device if you like the look and utility of Samsung’s Edge smartphones — and who doesn’t like the look of these things? Thankfully this one might not be as difficult to pick up off a table. The leaked product renders hint that the back is more curved this time around, but we can’t yet say for certain. Both the S7 and S7 Edge will likely retain the same resolution (qHD 1440 x 2560) as their predecessors. And they’ll be Super AMOLED once again; that’s no surprise since Samsung’s displays blew everyone away in 2015. No one really ever managed to top them.
Water resistance and microSD make a comeback
These phones may look nearly identical to last year’s models, but Samsung is expected to bring back two features that were absent from the Galaxy S6. The S7 will reportedly feature an IP67 water-resistant design, so it should be able to endure unexpected splashes or exposure to rain when you’ve got to pull out your phone for directions or to answer an urgent text. We haven’t seen any awkward plastic flaps or other waterproofing accessories in leaked shots, so it’s likely these phones have been treated with a water-repellant coating if this rumor is indeed true.
The features that power users loved could be returning in the S7 and S7 Edge
Nor have we actually seen a microSD slot in any photos of the S7 and S7 Edge, but reports have been adamant that these phones will support expandable storage. If there’s no separate microSD slot, it’s possible that the S7’s SIM tray will also hold microSD cards, a trick we’ve seen from other manufacturers like Motorola lately. Samsung is likely to again offer 32GB and 64GB options for internal storage, but it’s not clear if there’ll be a 128GB version after the Note 5 went without it. If you can simply add more storage after the fact, that puts way less pressure on the decision of how much storage you’ll need out of the box. Credit to LG and Motorola for keeping these features around and applying some pressure on Samsung to bring them back.
Bigger batteries in both
Battery life was an undisputed weak point of the Galaxy S6. The phone was great everywhere else, but its weak battery dragged it down so badly that it actually made the S6 hard to recommend to your friends. Fast charging and wireless charging were nice to have, but they didn’t make up for the fact that other phones were lapping Samsung’s flagship in terms of longevity.
Here again, Samsung seems to have heard its critics. VentureBeat reported in January that the S7 will include a 3000mAh battery, up from the S6’s 2550mAh. That should make for a decent enough improvement, especially when you factor in Android 6.0’s Doze feature, which puts the phone into a deep low power state when it’s not being used. But if battery life is an important factor for you, it’s hard to argue against the S7 Edge and its positively colossal 3600mAh battery. Like last time, both will offer fast charge and wireless charging.
Less megapixels, better in low light
There’s no denying it: the camera that Samsung put into the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Note 5, and S6 Edge+ was absolutely stellar. It stood toe to toe with Apple’s iPhone, and frequently won. Its 16-megapixel pictures were tack sharp, it delivered great low light results owing to the f/1.9 aperture, and produced some of the best 4K footage we’ve seen come from a smartphone.
But apparently Samsung isn’t afraid to mess with a winning formula. With the S7, it’s been rumored that the camera will see a “downgrade” in resolution to 12 megapixels. But that’ll apparently allow the camera — now with f/1.7 aperture — to perform even better in low light settings. This has us a little nervous, just because the last camera was so damn great. But as long as Samsung sticks with its terrific camera app and killer “double tap the home button” shortcut for opening it, we’ll give the company the benefit of the doubt.
Different processors… maybe
Samsung and Qualcomm have apparently made nice one year after the Galaxy S6 completely skipped over the Snapdragon 810 in favor of Samsung’s own chipset. That was a huge setback for Qualcomm, as Samsung’s Exynos processors have proven to be incredibly powerful at every task users throw at them. But for the S7, it’s rumored that Samsung will be going with the brand new Snapdragon 820 in the United States market, sticking with its own silicon elsewhere. In either case, Samsung probably wouldn’t want there to be a major difference between the two, so you can expect each to perform best in class.
So it turns out we know quite a bit about Samsung’s next big thing, but there’ll no doubt be a surprise or two at the company’s Unpacked event — which The Verge will be covering live. What software changes await? Will a preorders get you a free Gear VR, as has been rumored? Perhaps Samsung will try to match Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program to make it easier for last year’s buyers to jump up to the S7.
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