Samsung's New Galaxy S7 Is Everything We've Been Waiting For

It's new smartphone season. This year, Samsung is facing a strong battle not only from LG, with its new G5, but also from Huawei and other Chinese competitors. It has taken on board last year's criticism of the Galaxy S6, and has revamped and refined its flagship smartphone. To keep everyone happy, Samsung has announced two new phones — the 5.1-inch Galaxy S7 and the 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 edge — and has gone all-out with the tech inside.

These two new phones line up nearly perfectly with the leaks that we've seen recently; every rumour was right on the money, and that's a very good thing. Water resistant, with expandable storage, and a sleeker skin on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the new Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are Samsung's latest attempt to please an entire crowd of potential upgraders and new phone buyers, as well as keeping feature-hungry smartphone enthusiasts sated.

And, with a release date closer to the announcement than any Galaxy phone before it, and a confirmed Aussie price as of today, and and an incentive for pre-ordering, it's obvious that Samsung in Australia isn't playing games — it knows what it has to offer, it knows that you'll want to buy one, and it's trying its hardest to make that easy for you. (Want the price and release date? Just jump to the bottom of the article.)

The new Samsung Galaxy S7 is built around a 5.1-inch, 2560x1440pixel Super AMOLED display, and at 557ppi it's identical at least on paper to last year's S6. The phone itself is slightly thicker and slightly heavier than last year's model, but that's because it's packing some pretty significant changes under the hood. Running the latest Samsung Exynos 8 Octa 8890 processor, it's the most powerful phone that we've seen in 2016 to date and is slightly faster on paper than Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820, giving Samsung an advantage over competitor LG's G5.

Released at the same time as the S7 is the S7 edge. Unlike last year's S6 variants, though, the S7 edge uses a larger 5.5-inch 2560x1440pixel Super AMOLED display, bridging the gap between the 5.1-inch S6 edge and the 5.7-inch S6 Edge+ and likely eventually (if not immediately) superseding both in Aussie retail stores. With the S7 edge, Samsung has a high-end, more fashion-forward smartphone that feels barely bigger than the S7 itself but has plenty of extra screen real estate.

Both phones are water resistant, too, with no need to close ports or insert rubber seals when you take them underwater. The S7 and S7 edge are both IP68 rated, dust tight and able to survive sustained immersion underwater rather than just splashes or jets of water. Samsung has had water resistant phones before, most recently the S6 Active, but this is the first time that technology has filtered down into a mainstream product.

Equally laudable is the Galaxy S7's (and edge's) microSD card slot. Samsung has a new SIM tray in the top of the device that holds both a nanoSIM and a microSD card, with support for cards up to 200GB in capacity. The S7's Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow OS supports SD card storage natively, and can use any inserted card (formatted correctly by the phone) for long-term storage of apps and downloaded media including synced files from streaming music apps like Spotify and Apple Music. Samsung started selling SD and microSD cards in Australia late last year, so it's a smart move.

Samsung "is still exploring" whether it will bring a dedicated dual-SIM enabled version of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge to Australia, with that extra SIM slot being hot-swappable with microSD temporary storage in the SIM tray. Dual-SIM phones in Australia are usually the remit of smaller brands like Oppo and recent competitors like Huawei, but Samsung would capture a small but important proportion of the market that have dedicated data SIMs or secondary SIM cards for international calls and messaging.

The software, too, has been further refined and further pared back — in most areas. The Touchwiz interface, now in white and blue with fewer pastel accents of the Android 5.1.1 iteration appearing, is quick to launch and move through. The list of currently running apps is by far the biggest improvement, jumping up immediately on pressing the S7's capacitive button where the S6 and Note 5 lagged a small amount. The most interesting new inclusion on the software side is Samsung's new Game Launcher.

The Game Launcher automatically corrals any games that users downloads, and stores them in a quick-access folder on the home screen or app drawer. It's more than a folder, though; the Game Launcher also allows access to Samsung's Game Tools, where users can choose from four resolution and frame rate presets that it says can significantly lower power consumption when playing — by up to 15 per cent in some cases.

Colour variants are still yet to be confirmed for Australia, but at its launch in Barcelona, Samsung showed off the 5.1-inch Galaxy S7 in black, white, silver and gold, and also had the larger S7 edge in black, silver and gold. It's a sure thing that we'll get the black and silver variants, and the gold S7 edge is a near certainty, but some carriers may sign up for exclusivity on particular colourways — especially for the imminent local launch.

The new Galaxy S7 will be available to pre-order from this upcoming February 26, and will go on sale in Australia on March 11. You'll pay an outright price of $1149 for the Galaxy S7, and $1249 for the S7 edge. It's clear that Samsung is facing the potential threat of a new, low-cost iPhone coming out in March — but that's a win for us, since we all get the Galaxy S7 in weeks instead of months. Anyone in Australia pre-ordering a Galaxy S7 or S7 edge, too, will get a Gear VR headset for free as an incentive for getting in early.

I can't think of a smartphone launch recently, except for possibly the iPhone 6, where what I've wanted to see and what I've actually seen has lined up so well. Hitting those key points of including IP68 water resistance and dust resistance, and adding back the long-awaited microSD card slot, should go a long way towards keeping users happy for longer with their purchase. Apart from that integrated battery pack, the S7 is now a direct competitor on an even playing field with Sony's Xperia line-up, and has the power under the hood to beat LG's new G5. [Samsung]

Gizmodo travelled to MWC 2016 as a guest of Samsung.


Comments

    If the S7 is this good, I can't wait for the note 6. That'll be awesome.

    So... whats new again?

      My thoughts exactly. Can't believe these phones are now well over the $1K price.

      A big phone with more cores than should be needed. But hey, it is waterproof.

      Compared to the S6, waterproofing and an SD slot.

      Compared to the S5, not a lot really!

      Its watercooled.
      IP68 has been brought back,
      low light photography - vastly improved
      and all the premium features a flagship should have, metal body and premium feel. along with the waterproofing
      return of expandable memory.

      Its what the S5 -> S6 should have looked like

        where does it say water cooled?

          when it gets hot, just dunk it in the toilet for 5 mins since its waterproof to cool it down

          Supposedly the exynos version has a liquid filled copper heat pipe.

      So... whats new again?

      Definitely not the attitude or banter of smartphone haters. That hasn't changed since the iPhone 3S. Get a new line bro.

    Does this thing still have a ir blaster?

      Nope! It's been gone for a couple of generations. Samsung tells me it's Australia's number one request with the Korean design team.

        I thought from this image that the small dot on the left was the IR blaster similar to the previous Galaxy phones that had it

        http://www.samsung.com/au/consumer/mobile-phone/smartphone/smartphone/galaxy-s7/shortcut/images/galaxy-s7_shortcut_alwaysdisplay.jpg

        The S6 Edge+ and Note 5 were the first to do away with the IR blaster, all others have had it until now. It's particularly annoying that the S6 and S6 Edge both DO have it, but the larger devices somehow they couldn't find the space...?

        I've been fan of Samsung phones since the Galaxy S1. I even like Touchwiz - I've lost count of the number of Calendar / Messaging / Camera etc apps I've bought over the years that I've abandoned simply because the Samsung ones had better features and worked for me as well as if not better than those purchased. With my Galaxy S6 edge I've (begrudgingly) found i can live without external SD Storage or replaceable battery, but i suspect when my current 2 year contract is up, no IR Blaster could well be a deal breaker for me. Sony, HTC and others - there are a lot of good phones out there. I'm very much liking Win 10 on my Surface Pro 3, i could easily be tempted by a Win OS phone from a major manufacturer - just so long as the camera is good. And most of cameras are good these days. There's a part of me would hate to abandon Samsung phones - do you think it likely Samsung will listen to us Aussie complainers?

    This is probably the best iPhone ever built, o wait...

      God so sick of these lame comments - people thinking they're funny and all when they're just sad.

        I was sad when I made that comment, you point is?...

    AH SO CLOSE! I wish they hadn't made the s7 edge bigger :( I don't want anything bigger than a 5.1 inch phone. THEY DON'T FIT IN SMALL HANDBAGS AND WALLETS. Might have to stick with my s6 for a while longer then. I get why they did it, it was stupid having the edge 6+ the edge and then the note 5 but still...

      I'm in the same boat. The s7 edge would have been perfect for me had it been the same size as the s7. 5.5 is just too big.

        Don't take the actual screen dimensions too seriously, wait until you get to feel the phone in your hands at a store. Reports are that the physical sizes are very close.

      I don't know of any phones that fit in wallets ;).

        I do: http://imgur.com/a/LkfiW

          You must miss a lot of calls.

            No! You can't miss what you don't get! Seriously, I don't call a lot of people or vice versa, I'm a texter. I also have a smart band watch thing so it tells me when calls are happening.

          thats a clutch

            Yes and no, I usually think of clutches as not having slots for cards, maybe just one little zipper pocket and they're usually a bit bigger but not always. Blame fashion, no clear definitions of what things are.

              I'm a guy, it looks like a wallet to me
              but then again, i am a guy
              lol

      I thought that but looking at phone arena's visual size comparison, there's actually not that much difference. Maybe they count the bit that curves down the side so the front flat bit is only like 5.3 inches?

        Yeah but one would think that they would measure the s6 edge the same way as the s7 edge so if that's the case, it's still a difference of 0.4 inches which is noticeable.

          It's noticeable, but not by much.

          Do an online size comparison! I just put a 6s plus on the left, s7 edge in the middle, and s7 on the right. The 6s plus is a beast compared to the new edge!

      From what everyone is saying, the physical size of the S7 Edge is very similar to the S7, but with more screen real estate due to the lack of bezels.

      So maybe wait until you get to play around with a demo phone in store :)

    Sorry Gizmodo but I find this article biased.. I mean I dont see what is so special about this iteration.. "Its everything we've been waiting for"? so basically an s6 with waterproofing and memory card is what you have been waiting for.. hmmm..

      What else would make you happy?

        Innovation!

          Such an over-used term - and one that means basically nothing in this context. What would "innovation" look like to you?

          I have never been a real fan of Samsung's products, but they have gone a long way towards dealing with every criticism that's ever been leveled at their devices.
          Their screens and cameras are best in class.
          Their build quality is now on par with the best.
          Battery life on these models is expected to be excellent.
          The SD card is back, and waterproofing is re-introduced.
          They have both quick-charging and wireless charging.
          Their fingerprint reader is very good these days.
          Both thickness and weight are similar to class leaders.

          The only potential pain points will be price (looks high-ish) and possibly Touchwiz, although that's far better than it used to be. These are very competitive and capable devices.

            Surprise Surprise I posted a Washington Post article along these lines but that has been "moderated".. oh well.. enough said..

            Innovation has become a battle of who owns the most patents and who can squeeze the most into the smallest case.

      Yes, that's exactly what we've been waiting for. :D

      Pretty much, dude. I loved the S6 last year, but I've praised the Z3/Z5's waterproofing and the G3/G4's memory card slot. Taking those features from competitors is something a lot of Gizmodo readers wanted; that's why the headline is "everything we've been waiting for".

        what did you love about the S6 last year? was it all the features they took away and then brought back this year as if they did us a favour?

    I'm a bit confused about the micro usb power input. From hands on it shows usb 2.0 plug input but in the conference video on the big screen it looked like a dual input setup either usb 2.0/3.0 or type C. When they show u the S7 Edge on the big screen as they zoom into the inside the port it just looks like a two type input port.

    USB 2.0???

    I'm glad they have SD cards, extremely annoyed the Note 5 did not, so hopefully Note 6 will!

    is it just me, or is that resolution just unnecessarily large? thats the res of my 13" MBP and id dare say its slight overkill for that too.

    Esp if lower res meant cheaper or longer battery life...

      Agreed. It is absurd and completely unnecessary. I'd prefer a phone with a 720p screen and three day battery life, like the one I bought in December. I doubt the screen on this phone looks any better.

        Not at all unnecessary. You should compare a 1440p phone and a 720p and see the difference for yourself. On a 4-inch or 4.5-inch, Z5 Compact esque phone, that's where the argument is harder to make.

        neither absurd nor unnecessary for me - it indeed does come down to preferences. Your needs / wants obviously different to mine. After months of use I'm still constantly delighted by the screen on my Galaxy S6 edge set at half full brightness indoors. Though i do take your point about battery life

        Last edited 27/02/16 4:44 pm

      1080p Is about the practical limit for a phone. 720p is a little low on larger screens, and I don't notice any real difference with the higher res. That said, if you're using it with the Gear VR...8K probably is about where you want it. Even 1440p is pixellated to hell.

      considering this generation of Samsung devices is basically designed for VR, then the resolutions are exactly what is expected. the faster we all get to 6K mobile screens the sooner we can all have amazing VR experiences on mobile.

    Is it USB-C or USB 2.0?? Will be disappointing if it's the latter but that's what it looks like...

      According to The Verge, it's a standard microUSB port. This allows them to maintain compatibility with the older model VR headset, but they have upgraded to QuickCharge 3.0 for high-speed charging.

      what are you gunna use usb c for? transferring off your sd card at 10% bottlenecked speed?

    Nice Specs.

    Too pricey.

    Oh no, Looks like I got the phone that turned Samsung fans away (S6)...

    At least they seem to be listening to their users unlike the fruit company!

    Does anyone think that Samsung may one day adampt to Android standards and switch their capacitive buttons around, so back is on the left and open apps is on the right? Just curious really, they seem to be the only ones holding out now, even though I assume you can probably switch the actual functions at least in the settings, if not the icons on the hardware itself.

    I was excited when I heard a rumour Samsung was ditching android for custom built software. But alas it was not the case.

      This isn't going to happen any time soon.

      Developing your own operating system and supporting ecosystem of apps and services is incredibly expensive and difficult. Almost everyone who has tried it has failed, and lost a lot of money and market position as a result.

      Many companies with serious resources have taken a shot at making their own platform. Windows Mobile is languishing with poor developer support and a shrinking user base, and BlackBerry 10 has all but given up and moved to Android. Nokia's Symbian has almost disappeared, and WebOS only appears in printers these days.

      If Samsung dumped Android for their own Tizen OS, they would lose a very large percentage of their customer base immediately. There are too many buyers too heavily invested in the Android ecosystem, or have built their workflow around certain apps and services. It would be a disaster, and Samsung knows it.

        What stops them allowing both in dual-boot. Easy to do and it would slowly gather up the fans if they find it better.

          I'm pretty sure Google's policies regarding Play Store certification prevent them from dual-booting.

          In truth, only a handful of nerds would find a dual-booting phone appealing. And you'd lose an extra 10Gb of internal storage for another partition for OS plus apps etc.

          Do you really care that much? I sure don't.

      yes theyre going to totally fragment the market place again

      Hey folks, purchase apps all over again from scratch in our new operating system.

      We know you'll love a fourth OS, just like you love our touchwiz

    Perfect size screen, can't wait to pre-order one

    Having looked at the G5 and S7 ill be getting the G5.The modules interest me.

    Nothing new here. Older Samsung phones had these features. Sony Z phones have had the waterproof and expandable storage for years, and their batteries have been excellent. So when the S8 comes out next year with a replacable battery you guys are all going to say "this is the best phone ever!".

      I'm pretty excited about this phone!

      The SD and waterproof are just bringing back what never should have been taken, but they've made it THICKER not thinner, to get better battery life.

      They reduced the MP count of the camera, but made the quality better.

      Stuff like always on screen with notifications and the gaming mode will lead to much better battery life too.

      Small things, but I reckon they all add up.

        I completely agree, I had the sony z2 and it was a great phone but it still had stuff missing. The camera was so so (comparing pictures I took on it and on the s6, the ones taken on the s6 look better) no wireless charging, no good official or even third party accessories, poor use of the magnetic charging connector thing. Hard time finding covers. Couldn't turn the LED notification lights off and just a lot of small annoyances that added up. They're good phones but don't have the wow factor that samsung are creating now. I loved the curved screen on my edge, it's different and very under used in terms of software. I don't miss the waterproofing, in the 15 or so years that I've had mobiles I've never dropped one in the toilet or any of that. I mean it's a good backup feature and I wouldn't say no, but it's not a necessity for me.

    Looks like the time to upgrade my S4 has come! Can't wait to get my hands on that not so shiny, 2nd hand S5!

    I still don't understand why smartphone makers aren't making the switch to USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 (USB-C). USB 3.0 has been out for a while now so one would think they would make the jump.

      It's easier to build it in than to include an adapter.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_external_power_supply#Cabling.2C_connectors_and_adapters

        But USB 3.0 still retains the same design, does it not?

          I think the mini plug is the same, but many people want the USB-C style flat plug which at the moment requires an adapter in the EU (same as apple does with their phones)

      Note 3 is USB3.0, but yes it is surprising it has not taken hold. I also find the larger connector to be more sturdy.

      my Note 3 had USB 3, it's a great phone but i was plagued by signal dropouts. Admittedly i live in a poor signal area, but even with my previous Galaxy S2 side by side with the Note 3 - the S2 would maintain signal when the Note 3 had lost it. I remember reading online somewhere that USB 3 could interfere with a phone's ability to hold signal. Dunno if this is true or not, but it seems plausible given my experience.

    Meh. Still the same crap as every other year. Good hardware let down by the worst software.

    Although I'd welcome the dual-SIM version and add it to my list of potential upgrades, I can't seem them bringing it to Aus through the official channels - Telstra's 2G switch off starts in December and these handsets won't be dual-active 3G.

    Last edited 22/02/16 4:33 pm

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