Samsung's Galaxy S smartphones have been the most popular Android phones for years. They're fairly easy to use, have a bright Super AMOLED display and recently ship with a pretty decent camera. This year's Galaxy S7 won't stray far from that familiar strategy. Samsung has already confirmed a special media event on 21 February 2016, where we assume the Galaxy S7 will be released. The event takes place just one day before Mobile World Congress begins in Barcelona. But why wait three more weeks when we can piece together a complete (albeit unofficial) idea of what the phone will look like right now. Here's a look at the latest Galaxy S7 rumours:
What will it be called?
This one is fairly certain. It will be called the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Yes, there will also be another Edge device. Samsung hasn't used Roman numerals since the Galaxy S III, and I see absolutely no reason why'd they revert now.
Besides, the iPhone 7 is also coming out this year, so why not have a numerically similar name to the most popular smartphone on the planet. Seems like a fairly obvious choice for Samsung at this point.
This rendering, originally published by Evan Blass of VentureBeat, is the purported look of the new Galaxy S7 (left) and the Galaxy S7 Edge (right). You can see on the right unit that there's a slight curve on both sides, just like last year's model. The image shows what is presumably the 5.5" version of the Galaxy S7 Edge. Unlike last year when a 5.1" version of both devices was revealed in addition to a larger version, Samsung appears to be opting for the larger screen on the Edge.
The Edge will be a perfect compromise between the 5.1" Galaxy S6 and the 5.7" Galaxy S6 Edge+ that were revealed last year. The result will be a phone that is larger than previous generations, but still doesn't stack up to big phones like the Galaxy Note 5.
You may have also noticed the devices look REMARKABLY like the old Galaxy S6. For a quick comparison, I put the two of them together.
As you can see, the metal trim looks slightly more gunmetal on the Galaxy S7 (left) than the Galaxy S6 (right), and the round home button looks like it has slightly tighter curves. Other than that, it looks like an exact clone of the glass-and-metal Galaxy S6.
This additional image from VentureBeat shows renders of the two new devices from another angle. They look stunningly iPhone-like and it's still hard to see if the Galaxy S7 will come with USB Type-C (though that's the rumour). This picture confirms Gold and Silver will be colour options, though last year we also saw Blue, Green, and White along with the new Rose Gold Galaxy Note 5.
Also, for fun, here's an animated tour of the new S7 based completely off of leaked images from uSwitch Tech:
I haven't been able to confirm the look of the Galaxy S7's backplate with any other images, so it's hard to fully endorse the video above. Nonetheless, it shows that the back slopes into the bezels much like last year's Galaxy Note 5, but not quite. Well-known leaker OnLeaks posted to Twitter the very subtle difference between the S7 and the Note 5 backplate.
— OnLeaks (@OnLeaks) February 1, 2016
I'm still hoping they were able to shave down that big camera bump from last year's model. Here's what the Galaxy S6's camera bump looked like:
If we're to believe that the leaked images are real, it appears that Samsung will be following a smilar two-year refresh cycle to the one Apple currently uses for the iPhone. The S5 looked a lot like the S4, and this year's S7 is a near duplicate of last year's Galaxy S6 with a few standout differences if you know where to look. What's strange is that the S5 was a staggering disappointment, with many reasoning that the Galaxy S5 mirrored the Galaxy S4 too closely. It was so bad that Samsung replaced the head of its mobile design division.
It seems like the Galaxy S7 is going to do the exact same thing, so Samsung must be confident in the tech specs it's packing inside the new Galaxy. Speaking of which...
Evan Blass, the same leaker who brought you those wonderful renders up above, also has the details on what the S7 will (probably) be packing inside its metal and glass casing — and it comes with a few surprises.
Last year's Galaxy S6 made a giant leap from utility to fashion accessory, ditching water resistance, expandable storage, and a removable battery in the process. With the Galaxy S7, Samsung is going to fix things. First, the Galaxy S7 will reportedly have a hybrid SIM tray, allowing room for expandable memory. That's one. Also, the S7 will be bringing back water resistance (IP67, up to 1m).
As for a removable battery...
It's unlikely that Samsung will go back to using a removable battery. But that's no reason to scoff at the new design. The Galaxy S7 will come with an upgraded 3,000 mAh battery, a step up from the 2550 one stuck in the S6. The S7 edge will supposedly get the biggest upgrade with a 3600mAh battery, which is an absolute monster.
On top of all that, the Galaxy S7 is supposed to have super fast USB Type-C charging as well as as both types of wireless charging standards, a feature I strangely fell in love with on the Galaxy S6. Basically, if you ever find your future S7 without juice, it's probably your own fault.
The Galaxy S7 will supposedly come with Qualcomm's newest and most powerful Snapdragon 820 processor in North America. This is a big deal considering Samsung and Qualcomm had a very public break up over the Galaxy S6 because of the old Snapdragon 810's overheating issues. Qualcomm appears to have fixed the problem. This will be the first smartphone to launch with new processor (though LG's G5 may also have the chip as well and is supposedly launching on the same day).
One of Samsung's latest "me too" features may be a replication of Apple's 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. A rumour from October reported that Samsung is working with Synaptics (video above) to integrate the company's ClearForce technology into the S7 display, which will allow for deep-press context menus and probably other in-app functions.
To round out the specs, the screen will stay at quad HD resolution with a Super AMOLED display, have 32GB or 64GB of storage, and come with 4GB of RAM. The camera, interestingly, may actually "devolve" from 16 megapixels to 12 megapixels but with an f/1.7 lens aperture, which could make the S7 an absolute beast in low-light. If the megapixel downgrade seems like a strange move, just remember that megapixels is more of a selling gimmick than a real indicator of photo quality.
Although no specific features have been leaked (yet) leading up to the S7 event later this month, we know a few things for sure. Features like Samsung Pay and YouTube live broadcasting will be baked in right from the get go, whereas last year they were retroactively added with software updates. If Samsung does add a 3D Touch-like feature to the S7, TouchWiz will surely be loaded up with pressure-sensitive shortcuts.
One feature that's probably going to make an appearance is a copy of Apple's Live Photos feature called Vivid Photo, according to Android Geeks. If you need a refresher, it looks something like this:
Cool gimmick, bro.
But the biggest rumour regarding TouchWiz and the S7 is that Samsung's reportedly reached out to Google in an effort to help improve the "fluency" of TouchWiz. Translation: TouchWiz is going to run faster. Remember that the S7 is supposed to come with 4GB of RAM and the latest Snapdragon processor. Suddenly, we've got a device that very well could be the fastest we've ever seen.
Other than that, we can only hope that Samsung will continue hacking away at needless TouchWiz options and integrating some of Marshmallow's best features, especially flex storage which lets external GBs work like internal storage.
Outside of the actual phone itself, Samsung has a few other things related to the Galaxy S7 in the works that are of note. First, the company may launch an upgrade program with the Galaxy S7, similar to the one Apple launched last year, which is a combination of an instalment plan and free 12-month upgrades so you always have the latest and greatest iPhone. It makes sense that Samsung would want to follow suit.
The Galaxy S7 will also be another opportunity for Samsung to push its mobile-powered VR efforts. The Galaxy S7 and S7 edge may get its own edition of the Gear VR headset, though most likely it will be compatible with the $158 headset that Samsung released last year.
However, SamMobile reports that Samsung will be pushing a gadget called Gear 360, which is a camera that lets you record in 3D and currently only has confirmed compatibility with the upcoming Galaxy S7. It's most likely a new version of Project Beyond, Samsung's 3D camera we saw last November. Here's a brief look:
Either way, VR will be part of the Galaxy S7 launch later this month. Actually, I'd say that's a definite...
Cost and availability
This is the part where things get grim. Samsung charted new smartphone waters last year by releasing a phone costing up to $1449. Given that Samsung is doing away with the 128GB version (though it may be available in some markets), the Galaxy S7 will most likely stay below that four-digit price point. S6 launched for $999 last year, and I could see the Galaxy S7 going for about the same, though earlier reports suggest Samsung cutting the price around 10 per cent. $899 would be much better. The Galaxy S7 edge will most likely be around a $150-200 markup compared to the regular S7.
Like every Galaxy, the Galaxy S7 is almost certainly coming to every major carrier and rumours are that it will start shipping sometime in March (European availability is pegged for March 11).
So there you have it. This is (most likely) Samsung's new flagship. But we won't know for sure if Samsung has a winner on its hands until we play with the Galaxy S7 later this month.
Top image: Adam Clark Estes