An improvement from the S6, the Galaxy S7 is a well-rounded, reliable smartphone.
When the formula for Coke changed back in the day, people were outraged, and less than three months later, Coke reintroduced Coke Classic, essentially what we know of today. Now, this is not an identical story, but, Samsung’s radical change with the S6 from the S5 caused consumers to voice their opinion, simply people weren’t happy. Samsung listened to their customer’s and brought back much of what was desired with the new S7, but, it is everything we want…? not 100%, but we’ll see how close. I personally paid for the S7 you see here in Titanium Gold. And I’ll place an affiliate link above as prices will of-course fluctuate throughout the year. That way, you can check for the most up to date prices.
Going over the physical features, this looks almost identical to the S6, but with some subtle changes. This thing looks gorgeous in my opinion. I’ve always been ok with plastic phones, I love my V10 from LG, but the titanium look under the glass front and back panels just makes this phone stand-out. Of course looks are subjective, so you can be the judge on that. The S7 comes with a 5.1 inch screen while it’s bigger brother comes in at the medium size of 5.5”. If you guys have been following me for awhile, you know I like big phones, and my daily driver has been the Nexus 6p since it was released, and before that was my Note 4. Jumping to a quote, small phone now, I was completely shocked that I did not mind the smaller size at all. Matter-of-fact, using this phone felt natural, then jumping back onto my 6p or V10, those felt huge. Not an issue, I still like big screens, but I’m just explaining, the S7 didn’t feel small to me personally. Regarding the other side of the coin, the phone did slightly increase in thickness to accommodate the new battery and other features which I’ll go over, but I’ve always experienced, anything within the 7mm range is just the right size for my hands. There’s enough meat to hold the phone confidently because it’s not too thin, yet it doesn’t feel bulky.
Getting a bit technical now, the front panel comes equipped with Gorilla Glass 4, making this up to 2 times more drop resistant than other glass panel competitors. What we also have that’s new, or technically making a return, but improved from the S5, the S7 is IP68 certified, making this phone water resistant, upto 30 minutes in a maximum depth of 5ft of water. During my testing, and unfortunately the pools haven’t opened yet to throw this 5ft down, I left this in shallow water for 30 minutes, and pulling it out later, it’s working fine.
Moving onto a quick walkaround and going over the new features, the top has your sim tray, but if the 32gb built into the phone isn’t enough, making a return is the use of a Micro-SD Card, and Samsung allows expanding your memory upto a maximum of 200gigs. Rotating to the right is your power button, to the very bottom, there’s your 3.5mm port, no USB-TYPE C, which is perfectly fine for me since the world is still predominantly using the current standard you see on the S7, and to the right is a little speaker that sounds like a tiny and tinny speaker at full volume. Phone calls sounds like most other smartphone speakers these days so there wasn’t anything stellar to speak about. And finally to the left are your volume controls. Now, before talking about the front of the display though, the rear also makes some subtle changes. A glass back makes a return which for the most part has been very durable from everyday use, but it’s not impervious to scratches. I 100% own up to this, while putting my phone down my pocket, my make shift money clip slid against the back and has caused a slight scratch. But again, my fault on that, but indeed, tossing this in the car’s cup holder, tossing this on my desk, just everyday use, it’s been very durable. Also on the rear and for those who are not too familiar with Samsung products, the LED flash is also a heart rate reader. Using Samsung’s S-Health and comparing to my chest strap, which has always been very accurate, the Samsung provides very accurate results. But getting back to the rear, the camera has slimmed down pretty dramatically almost becoming flush which at first just seems like an aesthetic fix, but beyond looks, physically tapping and typing on the S7 on a table, it does feel like a reduction in the phone rocking.
Jumping into camera performance, I’ll put up some photos on screen for your review. Keep in mind, all photos are unedited, and I did my best to align the photos here.
At first, it sounds like Samsung took a step backwards with their spec sheet. I’m speaking of the megapixel count being reduced from 16 to now 12. For the average consumer, a high megapixel count isn’t everything. It’s moreso about the sensor and its performance. With the lower megapixel concept and not being too technical, with less pixels to jam into one space, the larger each pixel can be, in-turn, each pixel can capture more light. In the end, this means better low-light performance.
First looking at some outdoor photos. Not a direct comparison but having these phones laying around, the Samsung provided the richest and most contrasting photos. Looking at this first photo, the S7’s photo is sharp and just has the image pop before any editing performed. The V10 from LG provided a slightly more washed out look, and the Nexus 6p fell right in the middle with providing some contrast, but not as applied at the Samsung. Moving onto the next photo, I noticed Samsung sometimes has a little issue with blowout, essentially any area where it’s bright and dark, the S7 tries to brighten the entire photo, and at times, the brightest parts are just on the edge of being too blown out. However, looking at the Nexus again, it’s a bit dull, although it’s not over bright. And last if you look at LG, similar results, but if you’re nitpicky, Samsung again comes in with slightly more contrast which makes the image just pop more than the V10, but also find, the Samsung is the sharper image once again. And just for the hell of it, I also carried my Samsung Note 5, and keep in mind the Note 5 has a higher megapixel count, but both performed nearly identical with each other. Moving onto the next photo, the 6p provided again this dark image and it’s just not sharp. Looking at the S7, the Samsung auto-white balance went with a warmer tone, making the cement and the stone on the wall just pop, and then looking at the V10, the sharpness and detail is about the same, but the white balance appears to be less appealing in my opinion. One last outdoor photo, the S7 and the V10, samsung just offers another photo that just looks more vibrant and for the average consumer, much more desirable. I’m not looking for pure accuracy here, but most consumers takes a photo and uploads it, maybe apply a filter through Instagram, but most consumers want something right out the box to use and upload right away, and you can see, how much sharper the Samsung is… and how much more contrasting.
The last test here is with low light performance. Starting with a photo indoors, you can see, the S7 still reveals noise in low-light, but, pay close attention to details in the dark… and the colors. The V10, and you’ll see this pattern with the next several photos, LG over-compensates and causes this white or slightly washed out look. There’s more detail visible, but the entire image isn’t as vibrant. And again with the Nexus on all of the low-light photos, you’ll see the Nexus seems to keep the most accuracy without pumping up brightness, but then there’s areas where it’s just too dark. Looking at several other photos real quick, you can see, it’s the same in every scenario that I put these camera’s through.
With the Samsung cameras providing exceptional quality, another feature new to the S7 lineup is what they call Dual-Pixel auto-focus. Samsung is claiming much faster auto-focus and performing a similar test to what Samsung performed at their press conference, it is such a dramatic difference than any other camera I’ve tested before. Playing this back in slow-motion, you can see how much faster the S7 is compared to what’s currently out there.
The last feature which I’m shocked Samsung doesn’t promote more is the Pro mode, essentially it’s manual mode just like the LG G-series of phones. For the pro-photographer in you, or if you want that perfect shot in dark areas and auto-mode can’t figure it out for you, you can manually control shutter speed, iso levels, white balance and manually focus on your subject. This mode works good, but you can’t perfectly fine tune it like the LG phones which gives you much finer incremental adjustments. But again, the feature is available, it works great, but not as good as LG’s. You also get the standard features of panorama, selective focus, there’s a FOOD mode that focuses on the center, but then everything around your plate or dish is blurred, and the last feature I wanted to show real quick is the Virtual shot, allowing you to spin around an object, and once done, you can tilt your phone side to side to get a walk around. Pretty cool, but once you share it with someone, it’s only a video file, your friend can’t tilt the phone like you can to control the camera angle.
The last bit is the camera. Image stabilization works really well in keeping your shots from being shaky, and the options of 4k or Quad HD is indeed nice. I noticed again, LG does provide slightly smoother image stabilization over the Samsung, however, with Samsung’s Dual-Pixel technology, the Samsung focuses that much faster.
But enough about the camera, let’s start looking at the display. The screen comes with the flagship standard 2560×1440 resolution. The same Super AmoLed display makes a return offering that rich and vibrant look. Not every panel is the same, but to show you what my phones look like, with my color tests, the Samsung Note 5 produced the best and whitest screen with the S7 producing just a slightly warmer tone for some reason. When I tested the S6 Edge+ last year, that screen was also a pure white display, so again, not sure why it’s slightly warmer on my model. The LG produces a cooler tone with subtle hints of blue, and the Nexus 6p offered the warmest out of the four.
Looking at blacks, the Nexus and both Samsung’s produced the deepest blacks available with the V10 offering a dark yet glowing screen. What you want to look for are the deepest blacks available to help contrast other colors being displayed, and to have the display look less artificial in a sense, no obvious backlighting, no screen bleeding. The same results with Blues, all looked rich and more vibrant than the LG V10. With Greens, the S7 and Note 5 looked the best with the Nexus coming in slightly dimmer, but still a nice contrasting shade, and LG with the worst I believe with a more faded green. And last to finish the RGB colors, red’s on Samsung always look more orange to me, and the LG gave a nice shade that looked more accurate from my assessment. Now, what is also important and worth taking into consideration, the Samsung’s performed great in direct sunlight and was for the most part visible. The nexus did struggle a bit in trying to see the screen when compared to the S7. Either way, both Samsung phones provided some of the best viewing experiences to date.
Moving onto performance, I’ll throw up the specs on screen. The most notable is the latest processor from QualComm the Snapdragon 820 making a debut claiming a 40% increase in performance over last years 810 and a 30% increase in being energy efficient. Sounds great, but in the real world, really, is it a significant improvement that the average consumer can actually see or feel? Regarding gaming, this is where you’ll see the biggest improvement over last years models. Games load just that much faster consistently time and time again across most gaming applications. While playing, it’s not much of a difference, most games already run well with last years phones and this year is really no exception.
No frames skipped and no lagging experienced. As for everyday applications, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, loading Netflix, music files, etcetera, they felt very similar to my older phones and really didn’t exhibit a substantial difference in speed to make a big impact. As for using the phone in general, Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay of course makes a return and it isn’t much different from last year. I do admit, last years was much better than the year before, so I would say, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, but… there’s still some room for optimization. Overall, for the average consumer, it’s great experience, especially if you decide to use the abundant amount of features Samsung usually offers. But, there are times when opening apps, or switching from a camera to an app, there’s a minor stutter evident. not everytime, but when it does happen, you take a slight pause and subconsciously find it unusual. For most, it won’t be an issue at all, but if you’re coming from the 6P or the LG G series, you’ll find those two phones at least to be consistently zippy over time.
FEATURES & BATTERY LIFE
Continuing the last round of important features, the fingerprint scanner makes a return and works very well once you register your fingers. The only thing, I didn’t find a way to unlock the screen from the new Always-On display, so I had to press the home or power button first before using the fingerprint scanner. If there’s something I’m missing, please let me know in the comments below. But regarding the new Always-On display, I loved this. You have several options to display, either just the clock or one with the time and the calendar. It is always on, and I’m shocked it doesn’t appear to turn off off when you place the phone in your pocket. It doesn’t seem to use the proximity sensor to turn off the display when the phone is stowed away. Samsung claims it takes very minimal battery life away. From my test over night leaving it on, I drained 12% percent of battery over 6 and a half hours of sleep, which is worse than my LG V10, which only got a 5% reduction of power overnight.
Regarding battery life, Samsung has included a bigger battery, bumping it up to a 3000maH from 2500 on the S6. My screen on time has been averaging around 3hrs and 15minutes with my worst performance around 3hrs and best under normal use that is about 3hrs and 30minutes. Overall, I’m needing to recharge the phone every day and a half. Quick charging remains the same and takes an hour and a half to get back up to full from a dead battery from my tests and my video proves it, and Samsung does keep the wireless charging intact. One thing I found out by accident, if there’s water in the USB port, the Samsung will prevent the phone from charging to prevent a short circuit. Thank goodness.
But to wrap this review up, the S7 has dramatically improved the physical side of things and the camera performance is still one of the best. It’s clear the software side has been tame in improvements, but the new features like Always-On, the water proofing, SD-Card really makes up for some of the biggest gripes of last years model. I do admit, having the removable battery would be nice, but the styling on this is really a head-turner to lose. My only hope, if the phone ever needs to be opened up, hopefully the internal waterproofing won’t be affected. I would have loved the IR blaster to make a return, but again, in my personal opinion, everything else almost makes up for its shortcomings to make this one of the best phones on the market currently. Hopefully next year, TouchWiz will once again be refined, and you never know, maybe USB Type-C will be more mainstream. For the time being, and as I said in the beginning of this review, it’s not 100%, but the overall experience for the average consumer, the piece of mind from water-proofing, the elimination of worrying about storage space, and of-course, you get one good looking phone, I think Samsung did very well by offering just an overall, well-rounded package.
So that’s it for this review, be sure to Like and Subscribe if you haven’t already. If you found this video helpful, please help by sharing my work. And last, be sure to follow me on either Facebook, Twitter, and or Instagram. I’m Jimmy with JimsReviewRoom and my channel is here to help YOU make a purchase decision. You guys take care, and I’ll see you on the next one.
[table id=6 hide_columns=”all” show_columns=”a,b,c,g,j” /] Specs from manufacturer. If incorrect, please contact us.