It is that time of the year when Mobile World Congress (MWC) talk is in full swing and typical of this time, there are a number of unannounced smartphones that are currently being discussed. None more so than the latest flagship smartphone from Samsung. For this year, this is the Samsung Galaxy S7. This will be one of the most talked about devices all year and while we are still having to wait for the official announcement to come through, as per usual, there has been a good deal of information emerging over the last few months. Snippets here and there which collectively do provide quite a substantial overview of what we can expect from the latest flagship device from Samsung.
Before we get started though, two points that seem to be very much confirmed is the launch and the number of variants. Starting with the second point, it has been long thought there could be as many as four variants being announced, however that is not the case. At the time of launch, there will only be two devices unveiled. The first will be the main Galaxy S7 handset and this will be accompanied by the second handset, the Galaxy S7 Edge. In terms of the launch, Samsung has confirmed their Unpacked event will take place just ahead of MWC 2016 on Sunday Feb 21 in Barcelona.
The Outside, Hardware & Design
Up until recently, Samsung has always had to take on some slack for the look of their Galaxy S range devices, more specifically, the lack of their premium parts and in spite of what was clearly premium prices. However, that all changed last year when Samsung introduced the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Devices which not only came with premium parts, but the sum of those parts resulted in two extremely attractive devices. Constructed with metal and glass, these were (and still are) two of the most highly sought after devices. Needless to say, Samsung will want to capitalize on what was a winning design from the consumer point of view. In fact, if recent rumors are to be believed, the design will not differ that much at all from what was on offer last year. Instead, 2016 and the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will be more about refined devices than revolutionary devices.
Glass and metal does look to be largely back in play again. However as mentioned, this year is a refining process and this largely seems to evident design-wise in the curvature of the devices and especially with the Edge variant, as this is believed to be coming with a slight curvature on the top and bottom of the device, as well as its namesake sloping sides. It would not be too far of a stretch to assume this form factor will be common to both, so expect a slightly more curvy standard Galaxy S7 as well – curves which will be promoted as offering a more comfortable experience when held in-hand.
Moving to the display and the one common theme emerging is that the dual edges of the S7 Edge will not be the only defining difference between the two devices. It had been previously thought that (+) versions of both devices will be unveiled along with the standard versions. However, it is now starting to become clear that the Galaxy S7 Edge will be a plus version of the standard Galaxy S7. Plus in terms of battery (we will come to this) as well as the size. In short, the Galaxy S7 is largely expected to come touting a 5.2-inch (could be 5.1-inch) display, while the Galaxy S7 Edge will likely come with a larger 5.5-inch (could be 5.7-inch) display. In either case, it is highly anticipated that both devices will make use of a Quad HD (2560 x 1440) resolution. Displays which will of course, be Super AMOLED displays. Speaking of which, rumors are also highly suggesting that the Galaxy S7 display will make use of an 'Always On' feature. In addition to the direct suggestions for the feature on the latest Galaxy handset, further evidence came through in recent FCC filings which noted Samsung was looking to trademark "Always On Display". Timing alone would seem to suggest the feature will be in play on the S7 and/or S7 Edge. While this is a feature which is already in use on other manufacturer handsets, the AMOLED displays on the Samsung devices will be able to better utilize this feature, as they will not draw as much power when using Always On as an LCD display will.
Moving to the back and while most of the appearance (based on the leaked images that have come through) looks to be the same as the Galaxy S6, there is a slight difference with the rear positioned camera. Consistent with last year, the camera on the back does seem to be one which protrudes, although the protrusion is one which is far less prominent this time around.
One interesting aspect of the design came to light quite recently and if true, will be an aspect which is very good news for consumers. Last year, one of the associated costs with Samsung's migration to premium was that the Galaxy S6 did not offer any waterproof or resistant elements. This might not be the case with the Galaxy S7 as a recent Indian import listing for Zauba notes that the Galaxy S7 has "waterproof" parts. If this is the case, then as well as a more premium build, less protruding camera and curvier design, the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will be more durable as well.
The Inside, Specs & Performance
So, what does the latest and greatest from Samsung have to offer beneath the surface? Well, unless any massive leaks emerge in the next week or two, we will have to wait until the final and official announcement to know for sure what to expect. Although, we do have a number of aspects to work with in the meantime.
When it comes to Samsung, the processor is always one of the most talked about aspects and especially after last year when Samsung opted to use their own Exynos processor instead of the (at the time) flagship processor from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 810. In terms of the Galaxy S7, things will be a little bit different this year. Yes, it does look like Samsung will include their own Exynos processor (Exynos 8890) in the twin Galaxy S7 devices, although, there is enough evidence to suggest that Samsung will also be releasing alternative versions which comes equipped with the latest 2016 offering from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 820. The differentiating factor seems to be regional, with the U.S. variant likely to come in Qualcomm form and the International version likely to come in Exynos form. Either way, sporting a Exynos 8890 or a Snapdragon 820, the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge look to be hitting the market with the most powerful processors currently available.
Moving on and it is largely expected that the Samsung Galaxy S7 will come sporting 4GB RAM. It seems almost guaranteed that it will be no less than 4GB RAM and while there was some early rumors suggesting the RAM could be even higher, 4GB RAM is the sensible bet this time around. On the storage front, there is little-to-no information available. It is widely understood Samsung will continue their multiple variants and therefore, 32GB and 64GB models seem to be good candidates. In terms of any bigger, it stands to reason that Samsung will not announce a larger 128GB model like they did last year. Sales for the 128GB model were not thought to be that great and it make sense that they will forgo the larger option this year, at least at the point of launch. However, what is interesting is the rumor that they will re-introduce a microSD card slot on this year's models. If that is the case, then this adds to the thinking that there is even less need for an 128GB model anymore.
Battery life is always a big concern as devices are becoming more demanding and this is particularly of interest with the Galaxy S7, as last year Samsung opted to skip including a removable battery and with the small (comparatively speaking) 2,550 mAh battery that was on offer, Samsung could be looking to really bump up the mAh this time around. Which is exactly what seems to be the case. Recent FCC filings suggest that the battery on offer could be as much as 3,600 mAh. At least for the Edge version. Although, a point to note on this, as it is largely understood the Edge version will be a larger device, it will have more room to physically house a bigger battery. With the standard Galaxy S7 being smaller in size, it does stand to reason, the battery will also be smaller. How smaller will be the question, although a safe bet is that it will be in the 3000+ mAh range.
Moving on again and camera abilities are also another feature which is high up on the Galaxy expectation criteria and this is where we are seeing far less consistency in rumors. The Galaxy S6 came with a 16-megapixel rear camera and this does not seem to be the MP count that will be on offer this time around. On the one hand we have rumors suggesting the rear camera will be a 12-megapixel camera (12.2 MP). One which will come equipped with a BRITECELL sensor, which although is lower in MP count will consist of a bigger sensor, making use of an f/1.7 aperture compared to the f/1.9 aperture on last year's model. There has however, also been rumors surrounding the possibility of a Sony IMX 300 sensor being included which would likely be a 23-megapixel offering, and there has also been rumors of a possible dual-camera setup. Although, of the rumors, the 12-megapixel option – which will be designed to offer greater low-light abilities, does seem likely to be the one. In contrast, far less focus (excuse the pun) has been placed on the front facing camera with most expecting either a 5 or 8-megapixel option to be on offer.
The Software and Features
Lastly, the software on offer is far less of an issue. It is pretty much assured that the Galaxy S7 will come running on Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), likely in the form of Android 6.0.1. and will come with Samsung's own TouchWiz UI over the top. Although, similar to last year, the grapevine does seem to be suggesting that Samsung is further refining the software experience to be one which is more lightweight and closer to stock. How much thinner the software will be remains to be seen, although one thing you can count on is that there will be numerous Samsung dedicated features in play and especially for the Edge model.
A few months ago, there was a suggestion which came through that Samsung will be making use of a 3D Touch like feature on the Galaxy S7. This is a feature which can understand the pressure being applied when touching the screen and act accordingly with the level of applied pressure. While this was an early Galaxy S7 rumor and is a feature which has started popping up on other Android devices, since those early rumors there has been very little confirming this aspect. So, while this could still be a feature on offer, there is just not currently enough details to suggest this will be the case.
The Availability & Price
This is always a little harder to delve too deeply into. It is clear that Samsung will announce the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge on Feb 21 in Barcelona, although as to be expected, it is highly unlikely to be the date the devices will become available. Samsung will want to capitalize on the announcement and build as much hype as possible. Therefore, the debate is currently on how long after the announcement the two smartphones will become available. One date which seems to be gaining traction is March 11, with some suggesting that this could be the worldwide launch date with pre-orders opening when the devices are announced on Feb 21. Although, other rumors are pointing more towards April for availability. Either way, the eight week period following the announcement does seem to be the crucial time-frame in play. In terms of price, there is nothing really to go on here at all. Yes, if there are multiple storage variants, there will be multiple prices and there is no current reasoning to suggest prices will differ too greatly from what the Galaxy S6 launched for last year. It will be a premium priced device. However, it is worth noting that it has been said the price could be decreased by about 10-percent in comparison to the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. A decrease which if confirmed will be used to keep the Galaxy S7 competitively priced. Regardless of the actual cost at launch, it has also been rumored that Samsung intends to announce an upgrade plan at MWC for the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. A plan where you will be able to upgrade from one flagship to the next – a move which is likely to be a play to combat criticisms of the cost of the two smartphones. It has also been reported that buyers of the two new Galaxy S7 devices will receive a Gear VR headset as well. A bundle which will add more value to the overall price of the handsets.
The Wrap Up
Of course, it it always worth keeping in mind that much of what has been discussed here is still only rumors for now. While some aspects seem more likely than others, Samsung is a company who can at anytime announce anything and totally take the industry by surprise. Either way, with MWC 2016 getting a little closer each day, we will not have to wait too long to find out what the next big thing from Samsung will be. As always, we will be there on Feb 21 to hear, see and digest the news as and when it happens. In the meantime you can check out the video below which was put together based on some of the leaked information. As well as the various case images that have surfaced recently for both the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.
Samsung Galaxy S7
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge