Everything you need to know about the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

GS7 brings in camera improvements, water-resistant design & expandable storage.

Galaxy S7 edge
Samsung Electronics

Samsung finally made its next-generation Galaxy S devices official at its Unpacked 2016 event in Barcelona, Spain. And they were probably one of the worst-kept secrets in the company’s history of product announcements, almost each and every detail about the devices was leaked weeks before the actual launch event; biggest credit goes to VentureBeat’s Evan Blass for that.

In 2015, Samsung released two models of its Galaxy S flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge.

The Galaxy S6 had a flat 5.1-inch display, while the Galaxy S6 edge had a dual-edge, curved 5.1-inch display with edge-specific software features — that’s about it, in terms of a difference between the two. This year again, Samsung has launched two different variations of its latest Galaxy S handset, Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, but, this time around, the difference is much more significant.

The Galaxy S7 edge comes with a larger, 5.5-inch Quad HD (2560x1440) Super AMOLED display, which is curved on both sides, and packs a pixel density of 534ppi — lower than before (577ppi), due to an increase in display size. It now has the same screen size as Apple’s iPhone 6S Plus, but fits in a smaller footprint. On the other hand, the standard Galaxy S7 retains the S6’s flat, 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED panel with a 577ppi pixel density.

Both displays come with Samsung’s new Always-on Display feature, which provides the user with the date, time, and notifications when the device is in sleep mode.

This feature has been developed with convenience in mind, therefore the user wouldn’t need to turn on the device just to check the time or a notification, providing a zero-touch experience. According to the Korean firm, the Always-on feature only consumes 1% battery per hour, and this feature should help decrease normal battery usage as consumers wouldn’t be turning on their devices as frequently as before.

Design-wise, you’ll find the S7 and S7 edge to be very familiar looking, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The new smartphones are based on their predecessors’ design language, and that’s not a bad thing. The Galaxy S6 and S6 edge were one of the most gorgeous smartphones ever manufactured by the Korean giant with their metal and 3D glass construction. Now even though they look similar, they aren’t exactly 100% identical — Samsung did tweak the existing design a little bit.

Both, front and back glass panels are now more curved and rounded, which, in theory, should improve the durability and ergonomics of the device. Samsung has also made its new devices about a millimeter thicker — GS7: 7.9mm (from 6.8mm on the S6) and GS7 edge: 7.7mm (from 7.0mm on the S6 edge) — to compensate for bigger batteries. The Galaxy S7 packs in a 3,000mAh battery, while the Galaxy S7 edge houses a massive 3,600mAh battery. This change should definitely help fix the battery life issues everyone had with the S6. The minor increase in thickness has also helped decrease the camera hump on the back, it’s now almost nonexistent.

Moreover, the new design is IP68 water and dust resistance certified, which means you can submerge the devices under 1.5 meter of water for up to 30 minutes; I’m not saying that you should though.

Unlike last year, Samsung is shipping the Galaxy S7 series in two different processor configurations: quad-core Snapdragon 820 and octa-core Exynos 8890. So far, North America is the only region confirmed to receive the Snapdragon 820 variant, while other regions are expected to receive Samsung’s own Exynos 8 chipset. Even though there’s a variance between the number of CPU cores and the actual architecture of the cores, both SoCs should have identical performance and power efficiency. The new processors are 30% faster than the Exynos 7 chip inside the S6, and the GPUs deliver 63% better gaming performance than its predecessor.

It even has a built-in water-cooling system. The OEM has bundled both configurations with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, so multitasking should be a breeze.

The devices come with 32GB and 64GB storage options, but most regions will only be receiving the 32GB variant. Furthermore, you’ll be able to expand storage via a MicroSD card slot. Yes, you read that exactly right! Samsung brought the MicroSD card support back from the dead — an excellent move, in my opinion. However, you won’t be able to use Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s adoptable storage feature, as Samsung has decided to disable it from its software, hence you won’t be able to extend your internal memory. And, if you decide not to use an SD card in your device, you could use a second SIM card in its place, thanks to Samsung’s hybrid SIM card tray. Do keep in mind that only some selected countries will be receiving dual-SIM supported models.

The Galaxy S7 and S7 edge will be shipped with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with Samsung’s TouchWiz UX running on top of it. Edge UX, for the Galaxy S7 edge, has received a major overhaul as well. Samsung is also introducing a brand new Game Launcher, which allows gamers to record their gameplay, minimise notifications, and manage battery consumption. The company has also built in Vulkan APIs support into its software, which gives users the ability to play high-performance games with lower power consumption.

With everything being said, the camera department is in which the biggest upgrade lies. With the S7 and S7 edge, the Korean giant has decreased the megapixel count of the primary sensor from 16 to 12 megapixels.

At the same time, it has added a brighter lens with a wider aperture (f/1.7) and made the actual pixel size bigger, which allows for the sensor to capture more light. The devices also come with Samsung’s new Dual Pixel technology, which helps improve low-light performance, shutter speed and provide more accurate autofocus.

Additionally, Samsung will be selling optional covers with wide-angle and fisheye lenses for all those creative people out there. 4K video recording and Smart OIS (optical-image-stabilisation) is on board as well. The front-facing camera is still a 5-megapixel sensor but now comes with a wider, f/1.7 aperture lens.

In terms of connectivity, the GS7 and GS7 edge packs support for dual-band (5GHz and 2.4GHz) Wi-Fi 802.11ac, MIMO, Bluetooth v4.2 LE, ANT+, NFC, GPS, GLONASS, 4G LTE, and MicroUSB 2.0. Samsung is still using the old, tried and tested Micro USB port for syncing and charging, instead of the new USB Type-C connector. Samsung says, that’s mainly because this way the devices would be compatible with the Gear VR headset and it doesn’t believe USB Type-C is mainstream yet.

The smartphones come with Wireless Charging, Fast Charging, and Samsung Pay support as well.

Both devices come in four different colors variations: Black Onyx, White Pearl, Silver Titanium, and Gold Platinum. In spite of that, the US market will be only receiving the Galaxy S7 in two colors (Black Onyx and Gold Platinum) and the Galaxy S7 edge in three colors (Silver Titanium, Gold Platinum, Black Onyx).

You’ll be able to pre-order the devices from Samsung’s website (or from your network provider) on Feb 23 and will receive it by March 11. And, if you pre-order it, you'll receive a free Samsung Gear VR headset.