Samsung Galaxy S7 First Look: Not ground-breaking, but still impressive

The Galaxy S7 has arrived in India quicker than any other flagship; Samsung continues to raise the bar on ‘speed to market’. Yes, smartphone users are an impatient bunch, Apple please take note. 2016’s first major Android flagship is here, but does the S7 – the seventh Samsung Galaxy flagship device, fire on all cylinders?

As far as first impressions go, the S7 might not look radically different from the S6. But take a closer look, Samsung has taken the glass and metal blend to the next level; this looks like the real deal, the finished product. The difference is even more evident in the 5.5-inch S7 Edge version where the Edge screen seems to have a clearly defined purpose and is less of a gimmick. It does more too with more tasks available on the Edge screen for easy access. Samsung’s flagships have been ahead of the curve with their Super AMOLED displays and this duo does it yet again. While the S7 boasts of a 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED (2560×1440 @577 ppi) the Edge version comes with a 5.5-inch display that packs 534 pixels per inch. We love how both these devices feel in your hand (152g / 157g for the S7 and the S7 Edge).

The camera is clearly the device’s talking point. Samsung has opted to play down the megapixel count and focus on the real benefits in the primary cam of this device. These pros include a larger aperture (f/1.7), bigger pixels (that Samsung believes equals better pictures) and a dual pixel primary shooter. I tried the S7 in a specially designated low light zone and was quite impressed with the first brush. However, we will reserve our judgement on the S7’s low light creds till our deep dive review. It was also refreshing to see a couple of engineers from Samsung’s large R&D team in Bengaluru (the largest outside Korea) talk about the camera, instead of a celebrity.
The S7 also marks a U-turn of sorts for Samsung. The device goes back to an internal storage option (with a hybrid dual-SIM slot that can support Micro SD cards up to 200GB) after ditching internal storage options with the S6. The S7 also boasts an IP68 certification and, unlike most phones, the device is sealed from the inside (and not the outside) to ensure it is dust and water resistant (up to 30 minutes in depths up to 1.5 metres). There are a couple of other innovations too, like an always-on display that cleverly shuts off when the device is in your pocket. We can’t wait to explore the S7’s gaming avatar with the Vulkan graphics API (Samsung believes this will offer PC style gaming). The S7 also offers nifty touches like blocking alerts when you’re gaming and the ability to record games and capture screenshots to show off your conquests. The S7 also marks the debut of Samsung’s very own concierge service (only for S7 and Edge users) that is an extension of the ‘My Galaxy’ app.
Hardware-wise the device gets a major leg up from the S6 – a 3000mAh battery (3600mAh for the Edge) and an octa-core processor with 4GB of RAM. The Samsung Galaxy S7 is the most powerful Samsung device yet, that’s a given. The device might not break radical new ground but it scores on form, it certainly ticks the camera box, and has enough new tweaks to spark conversations at work and at the pub when you’re with your mates. Does it justify its price tag? (Rs 48,900 for the S7 and Rs 56,900). We’ll find out by March 18, when the product hits the shelves. Samsung sweetens the deal somewhat; all pre-bookings between March 8 and March 17 will get the Gear VR free.
Key features
Display: 5.1-inch / 5.5-inch (S7/S7 Edge) quad HD Super AMOLED. 2560×1440 @577 PPI / 534 PPI (S7/S7 Edge)
Battery: 3000mAh / 3600mAh (S7/S7 Edge)
IP68 – Water and dust resistant
Camera: 12MP primary shooter with smart OIS, 5MP selfie cam
Processor: 64-bit octa-core (2.3 GHz Quad + 1.6 GHz Quad)
Memory: 4GB RAM, 32GB on-board memory, plus extendable memory (up to 200GB) via hybrid SIM/SD slot
OS: Android 6.0 OS (Marshmallow)