The Samsung Galaxy S7 Reviewed

Samsung S7The Samsung Galaxy S7 is Samsung’s latest flagship Android phone to hit the market. We’ve been so busy selling them that we have barely had time to share our thoughts on the phone. One of our trusted reps was finally able to catch his breath and offered to give us some insight on his thoughts on the new Samsung Galaxy S7 android smartphone.

Phone Form

The phone physically feels and looks pretty similar to the Galaxy S6. In Apple-speak, you could almost call the phone the “Galaxy S6-s,” though for obvious reasons Samsung avoided that nomenclature. The screen is a tad bit brighter, and it goes farther out to the edges of the phone than before.

While it looks nice, it does pose a problem when it comes to screen protectors. Since most cases have a small lip that curves over the sides of the phone onto the display, screen protectors are inset a fraction of an inch so that a case will not buckle off the screen protector. The S7 Gadget Guard tempered glass, when the insert is factored in, leaves a bit of the edge of the screen unprotected so that other cases can fit around it. So if you don’t need a shatter proof screen protector, the PureGear screen protectors are a bit thinner and accommodate more cases while covering the entire screen.

Water Resistance Out of The Box

One other design feature that isn’t obvious is that the phone is water-resistant straight out of the package, even without having the charging and headset ports sealed. The training videos demonstrate this by having the training leader submerge the phone in a glass of water while talking about its water resistance, and of course, there are multiple commercials with Lil’ Wayne pouring champagne over his phone and dipping it in the fish tank. When the S5 launched with water-resistant seals, I still saw the occasional water-damaged S5. So if you are serious about water resistance, get a LifeProof case (which isn’t out yet, but should be available soon). If you want something that will probably survive the occasional dunk, the S7 should do fine. But a good case and Total Mobile Protection are still the best ways to protect your phone.

Samsung S7 ChampagneGaming Just Got Better

The processor is liquid-cooled, which should keep the phone from feeling too hot in the hand while gaming. The gaming mode software also allows for minimal interruptions while gaming and gives you the ability to turn off the back and menu buttons during a game. Screenshots are also available. I spent a few minutes playing the Marvel Champions game. Graphics were smooth, the sound was excellent, the phone felt good. All in all a fun time, though I can’t say how well the interruptions were halted since I was using the phone without any of my accounts tied to it. But the bottom line is if you’re a gamer, and you use Android, this is your phone.

The phone also can be used with Samsung’s new VR headset. The graphics of the phone make VR a very immersive experience, and while it’s not truly Virtual Reality in the sense that we have always thought VR to be, you can do some pretty neat things with it. As you move your head around, what you see moves with you. Apps like Netflix work with it already, and more apps and games will come. I have even seen a few controllers that add extra gaming functionality. The headset retails at $99.99 and is worth checking out at your local Cellular Plus even just to see what it’s all about.

And How About That Camera?

Samsung brings their usual bevy of camera options to the table, almost to the point of being a bit overwhelming. My Motorola Droid Turbo 2 has a comparatively minimalist setup, two very different philosophies. Compared to the Turbo 2’s 21-megapixel camera, Samsung dropped a 12 megapixel (down from the S6’s 16MP) but added low light sensitivity. The picture on the left is a picture of our store with the Turbo 2, and the picture on the right is with the S7. The S7 handled the light reflected from the wall a little bit better, but honestly if I had told you the photos were the other way around, you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference.

In low light, the S7 camera shines. The first picture again is from my Turbo 2. It is the inside of our store’s utility closet with the door mostly closed, letting just a bit of light in, though it may as well be on the inside of a purse or pants pocket. The second picture is taken with the S7, and the difference is night and day. It is still quite dim, but at least you can make out the inside of the room. Most of the time you will not be taking pictures in lighting as dark as what is presented here, but imagine how much better your everyday photos will be in situations where lighting is not optimal.

The Samsung S7 EDGE

Samsung also has an edge version of the phone that includes a slightly larger screen, bigger battery, and of course the wraparound side screen that has been a signature of that line. Samsung is also throwing more features into the edge display, like a quick launch to apps. It is sill compatible with the VR headset, though cases and screen protectors will be different. My opinion of the S7 Edge is similar to Samsung’s other edge phones: cool-looking and fun, but if you need durable cases both the glass on the side of the screen and the fewer options for cases and screen protectors might steer you back to the non-edge version. The addition of out-of-the-box water resistance, however, takes some of those concerns away.

Samsung Giveth and Samsung Taketh Away

Two other changes that are of interest are the micro SD card slot and the IR blaster. The former was absent in the S6 builds, but returns to the S7 and Edge, with support up to 200GB. While I liked my IR blaster on my S6, I just don’t miss it much when I switch to other phones like the Note 5 or Turbo 2. Samsung took note of this trend and nixed it from the S7. Not that the two features are mutually exclusive, but if I had to choose between the two, I’d take the SD card.

So is this phone worth it? If you are still on a device payment plan with an S6, and you’re not eligible for early upgrade, there might not be enough of a difference to make you buy yourself out and start over on the S7. However, if you are ready for upgrade or switching carriers and are looking for one of the best phones out there, the S7 and S7 Edge phones have set the bar for high-end Android phones.