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Mobile Communications

Samsung S7: Reactions

After months of rumours, Samsung has unveiled its latest flagship phones, the S7 and S7 edge, but what do the experts think? What surprised? What didn’t? And how do they stack up against competitors? We consulted four industry experts to find out.

 

John McCann, Phones, Wearables & Tablets UK Editor, techradar

“The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge managed to both surprise and underwhelm at the same time. From first glance it's almost impossible to tell the new handsets apart from their S6 predecessors, suggesting not a lot has changed, but pick them up and the curved rear edges are immediately noticeable as they nestle in the hand far more comfortably. It's a nicer overall experience and one I found allowed me to grip the handsets better and operate them more easily one-handed.

“The glass finish on the front and back is still an absolute fingerprint magnet which makes the phones look pretty grubby, but Samsung's managed to also make them sleeker, and feel even more premium. If you're looking for iPhone build quality on an Android device, look no further than the two new Samsungs. As long as you don't mind wiping fingerprints off your phone every five minutes that is.

“In the build up to launch rumours hinted that Samsung may reintroduce a microSD slot to its flagship line after ditching it for the S6 range, and that's exactly what has happened. This means you can easily - and cheaply - expand the storage in the S7 handsets, rather than having to pay a hefty premium for more internal space. It's a feature I'm personally very happy about.

“A welcome surprise for me on the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge is their IP68 dust and waterproof rating, allowing the phones to take a dip in the bath, or sing in the rain with me without any risk of short circuiting.

“I found battery life on the S6 range to be very disappointing, but Samsung is making all the right noises with the S7 and S7 Edge. It's upped the size of the battery in the handsets, and with Android Marshmallow on board they'll also benefit from Google's new Doze power saving smarts. Fingers crossed then I'll be able to get through a whole day without having to dash to a charger by early evening.

“The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are highly accomplished smartphones and they'll have no trouble challenging the best phones in the market including the iPhone 6S and LG G5. That said, owners of the S6 and S6 Edge don't have any major reasons to upgrade to the new handsets. The new features are definitely welcome, but they're certainly not revolutionary.”

 

Kent German, Senior Managing Editor, CNET

“Samsung's new Galaxy S7 doesn't look very different from the previous Galaxy S6, and in many ways it's not. Still, there's just enough here, like a better camera and a massively bigger battery, to warrant a look from Android fans. Features that the iPhone lacks, including expandable storage and wireless charging, will help the Galaxy S7 easily stand apart from Apple's handset, but Samsung should be more worried about aggressive Chinese brands like Xiaomi and Huawei that are aiming to capture Western buyers with their own polished and powerful phones.”

 

Rob Kerr, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com

“Misreading the appeal of its curved-screened Edge is not an experience Samsung will wish to repeat. More unsuccessful still was waiting six months to release the bigger S6 Edge+, at a time when all the screen hype had subsided.

“This time around, Samsung has created two disparate devices, forcing people to ask: should I go large for the curved screen?

“What we don’t have here are two phones likely to tempt existing Samsung users to upgrade from the S6 iterations right now. Yes, Samsung has ruggedised things – handsets impervious to dust and water generally go down well, as does improved battery life – but the compromise is the camera, which now has fewer megapixels on both handsets, but megapixels aren’t everything these days.

“Samsung is obviously betting on the curved-screen having enough cool factor to warrant the extra cost, and persuading people to stretch their pockets – both in material and cost – shouldn’t be too hard given the price difference of £70.

“It’ll be very interesting to see how mobile fans respond. By trying to target two demographics they could either nail both, or fall between two stools by not serving the core appeal of what made the S6 Edge so successful – an innovative form factor with an affordable price tag.”

 

Abby Francis, Mobile Expert at online smartphone retailer mobiles.co.uk 

“It could be said that many of the presentations at Mobile World Congress smartphones have taken a back seat to peripherals, such as virtual reality headsets, cameras and modular attachments. This was true for Samsung, with its Gear VR and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg taking a significant amount of the limelight. This isn’t a criticism, if anything it shows how smartphones and their associated technologies go beyond what we keep in our pocket, and have led to innovations that few would have predicted. 

“Regardless of the attention paid to virtual reality, both the S7 and S7 Edge are amazing devices, with the biggest improvements found in the S7 Edge.  

“In terms of design, the improvements found on the S7 Edge are small and unsurprising, but beautiful and effective at the same time. Being a large phone making sure it is a pleasure to hold is important and something Samsung has achieved through creating a more rounded design and making sure the camera protrudes less than it did on the S6. In terms of build quality it’s a stunning device. There was a time when Samsung smartphones were clearly behind Apple in terms of premium build, but those days are far behind us and the S7 and S7 Edge are testament to this. 

“It was no secret that the S7 and S7 Edge were going to be waterproof, but it was a pleasant surprise to see this hasn’t had an impact on design or functionality. The phone has both a Micro USB port and standard 3.5mm headphone jack, as well as expandable storage, and you can still drop it in the bath without fear. 

“The camera on the S7 and S7 Edge is better than that found on the S6, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but Samsung reducing the pixel count to 12MP from 16MP is. In reality, this lets more light in and helps the camera shoot better low-light pictures. However, it’s always easier to tempt consumers with a higher pixel count than it is anything else. 

“The Game Launcher was a surprising focus for Samsung, but that could be because it’s odd that nobody has thought of it before. With smartphones revolutionising the way play games, being able to record and share footage from our phones, as well as turn off calls and alerts, makes perfect sense and should please those who like to play fast-paced arcade games on the move. 

“Samsung came into Mobile World Congress as Apple’s greatest threat and despite announcements from LG and Sony, many will still consider the S7 and S7 Edge as the best Android smartphones out there. However, to get a broader picture of the smartphone war we will have to wait and see what Apple announces later in the year.”

 

Read more:

Samsung S7: Rumours & reality

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Kate Hoy

Kate Hoy is Editor of IDG Connect

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