Samsung Galaxy S7 Hands-On: Refined as Hell

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

Other than Apple’s traditional September launch, Samsung’s Unpacked event at MWC is the biggest entry in the technology calendar. We seriously love routine, don’t we? As expected, the big, Samsung-branded hat has plopped out the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, the South Korean firm’s latest flagship handsets. As expected, they look a lot like their predecessors, and as usual, we’re expecting them to go down a treat with consumers.

It’s always a little disappointing to see a company stick with the previous year’s design blueprint, but in all honesty, we don’t blame Samsung one bit. Unlike the HTC One M9, the Galaxy S6 still looks as fresh as ever, and the S7s are quite simply stunning. For me, the best-looking phones on the market. Comfortably.

The only flaw I've managed to pick out is a lack of fingerprint-resistance. Greasy marks show up all over the place when you handle the phones, requiring a great deal of subsequent cloth-rubbing.

On the S7, the volume buttons lie on the left-hand edge, with the power key on the opposite side. It's a case of vice versa for the Edge. Both phones feature a bottom-mounted speaker, headphone jack and charging port, as well as a top-mounted SD card slot. Yes, it's made its grand return!

The two mobiles are also IP68-rated, so you can leave them to soak in up to 1.5m of fresh water (not salt water) for up to half an hour, before needing to worry about them drowning. Another plus point is battery capacity. The S7 holds a 3,000mAh battery, while it's taller sibling uses a 3,600mAh number. On paper at least, this bodes well.

Despite the Edge's curve, I prefer the regular model, because it's a little smaller. With a 5.1-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 Super AMOLED display, it proves that good things don't have to come in phablet-sized packages. It's easy to use with one hand, and I like that.

The 5.5-inch S7 Edge isn't massive, but it's definitely built primarily for two-handed use. While the Edge panel makes it easier for you to browse features like contacts, news and a selection of apps one-handed, once you actually select something you'd like to explore further, you'll need to free up your other hand again.

In terms of screen quality, in both cases it's stunning. Images are razor sharp, colours slap you around the eyeballs and viewing angles look good too. Samsung's decided to make the handsets' displays always-on too, so you don't need to prod the power or home buttons to view quick snippets of info like the time, battery life or calendar.

I've saved the big one until last. It's safe to say that Samsung's pretty proud of its camera work. Though the main sensor has dropped from a 16-megapixel to a 12-megapixel affair, Samsung says it allows in more light, which lets you capture better images, especially in the dark. Even in the harshly-lit testing room, it was pretty straightforward to see that the company's done a stellar job. It focuses quickly and accurately, with both colours and detail looking mighty, mighty impressive.

All in all, a damn good job. The S7 and S7 Edge each represent a step up from last year's models, and Samsung's definitely paid attention to its customers' feedback, fine-tuning pretty much everything it needed to. However, there isn't a great deal about the two new phones that you could describe as surprising or exciting, and that was our biggest fear coming into today. Still, I'd be telling porkies if I said I didn't want one.