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Samsung Galaxy S7 review

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The wait is over, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is here and, on first impressions at least, it’s shaping up as another smartphone triumph for Apple’s chief rival.

More of a reincarnated, improved Galaxy S6 than a completely new device in its own right, the S7 is definitely a case of revolution not evolution – much like an iPhone ‘S’ jump. But, hey, when the Galaxy S6 is still one of the best devices on the market, that’s anything but a bad thing.

So, what’s different? Well, everything you didn’t like about the Galaxy S6 – the crummy battery life, lack of microSD storage expansion and protruding rear camera – that’s all gone. Instead you’ve got a camera capable of taking solid snaps – even when the lights come down – more power than ever before, and a body that’s finally waterproof. We’ve had an early play, and can’t wait for another go.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Design: Small changes make a big difference

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Looking for something completely different? You might want to turn your attention to the modular body of the LG G5 instead, because the Galaxy S7 is a near carbon copy of the S6. This isn’t a negative – it’s still a great looking bit of kit and one that gives the iPhone 6S a run for its money. It’s just not particularly spectacular.

It’s nicer than its predecessor though thanks to a couple of small changes. A slight tapering to the phone’s back gives the S7 a notable curve and the gradual decline in the phone’s posterior makes it more comfortable to hold. The boxy nature of its predecessor has been softened, with the little tweak making a major difference. A little bit of added weight – courtesy of a larger battery – gives the phone a more robust, sturdy feel too.

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You’re not going to want to drop it though. That glass back might be reinforced, but it’s still likely to crack and shatter if the fingerprint magnet takes a tumble or two to the concrete. While drops won’t end well, the S7 isn’t afraid of the wet stuff.

Without adding to its bulk or plaguing the device with ugly port covers, Sammy has made the S7 waterproof. Now the phone, which comes in black, silver or gold, can take a dunk in the toilet or face-up to a spilt shandy without succumbing to a liquidy demise – handy.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Screen: Fantastically familiar

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While the S7’s body has undergone a couple of small changes, the phone’s screen is completely untouched. And we couldn’t be happier. It features the same 5.1-inch QHD panel as the S6. That’s a stunningly sharp 2560 x 1440 pixels resolution, or about as much detail as our eyes can distinguish.

This isn’t just any QHD display either. Samsung’s love of Super AMOLED panels ensures the S7’s screen is one of the best we’ve ever seen. Blacks are darker than Dorian Gray’s fantasies, and colours pop more than a cork in an overly-shaken bottle of champagne. For a company that’s all too frequently fallen into the unnecessary specs race one-upmanship, it’s nice to see that no unnecessary 4K panel has been crowbarred in here.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Features and Software: The return of an iPhone-beating favourite

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Want to know why the S7 has gained a couple of grams around the waist? It’s not (like us) struggling to shake some unwanted holiday weight, but has answered one of the biggest gripes with its predecessor and added a larger battery. Jumping from a 2,550mAh power supply to a 3,000mAh battery, Samsung promises you’ll be able to watch a full 13-hours of Full HD content on a single charge – that’s a full season of Game of Thrones. The days of the one-day hump are finally over.

That’s not where the improved battery skills end either. The S7’s quick charge skills are straight from the Duracell Bunny’s dreams, with the phone capable of going from zero-to-half charge after just 10 minutes of re-juicing. Wireless charging times will take a little longer, but the cord-cutting abilities are there. Sadly, given our limited time with the device, we’ve as yet been unable to verify these claims. Stay tuned for our full Samsung Galaxy S7 review for a better battery breakdown.

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Beneath the hood, it’s not just about staying power. There’s plenty of grunt too. A new processor has been squeezed in, improving overall power by 30%, and a massive 4GB of RAM has been added. The result, on first use at least, is a phone that cruised through everything we could throw at it. There’s the return of an old favourite too. After a year’s absence, Samsung has come to its senses and brought microSD storage expansion back to build on the S7’s 32GB internals – another strike to iPhone owners everywhere.

On the software side, having cut much of the TouchWiz clutter last year, Samsung has left its Android skin largely untouched for the Samsung Galaxy S7. There are a few notable updates and improvements though – including the impressive, and socially-friendly Game Launcher – and it now sits atop the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow base.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Camera: Picking up when the lights go down

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OK, before your start panicking, yes, the Galaxy S7 camera has dropped from a 16-megapixel to a 12-megapixel sensor, but no, this is not a bad thing. A high megapixel count doesn’t guarantee good image quality. Nor does a low number mean shoddy shots are on the way. After first use, the Galaxy S7 camera looks to be even better than the S6’s already brilliant offering.

How? Well, the new unit uses a better f/1.7 lens and larger, dual diode pixels that let in a heap more light. The result? In early tests there is slightly less image noise and graining to shots. Focus times are sharp and image colours on point too, although further testing is needed before a final judgement can be passed.

There’s a secondary 5-megapixel camera up front too for the selfie-lovers out there. While this doesn’t boast improved after dark skills, after an early play, results are pretty decent, and more than good enough for your next Instagram fix.

Samsung Galaxy S7 First Impressions

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The Samsung Galaxy S7 could, on first impressions, be seen as a slightly underwhelming update. Take a step back, however, and it’s clear to see it’s a device that’s made the best considerably better. No, it’s not going to revolutionise the smartphone space, but it’s fixed everything that was wrong with the S6, and should be enough to keep Samsung on top for another year. We can’t for a more comprehensive play.

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