In this article, I give you my quick review of the Samsung Galaxy S7 with specs included. Claiming anything to be the best in a field as subjective as smartphones, is asking for serious competition.
Especially in a year that’s been as full of great releases as 2016. But I’ve carried this smartphone on and off for 90 days, and when people ask me in general “What’s the best that Android has to offer?” This is the one I point to.
If you’re paying attention when you take your first look at it, the Galaxy S7 exudes a refinement that reminds you that the number in its name isn’t arbitrary. This is in fact the 7th generation of Galaxy S and if I had to give it a nickname, I’d call it The Fixer.
Previous year’s jewel-like Galaxy S6 corrected for the cheap plastic casings of generations past but omitted features like expandable storage and waterproofing.
The S7 fixes both of those oversights and beefs up the battery in the process. I should mention here that my device is a standard S7, not the Edge edition with an even larger power pack and a bigger, edgier display.
With the exception of endurance, my conclusions in this article can be attributed to that model as well.
The S7 brings over much of what worked for its predecessor. The buttons feel well made and they’re pleasantly clicky.
The home key hides a fast and accurate fingerprint scanner and there’s a heart rate sensor nestled next to the camera flash around back.
The wireless charging is dual-mode, meaning it’ll work with the Qi plate you might have at home, and the PMA pads you see at Starbucks.
The AMOLED screen is striking, with rich color and stark contrast, along with an always-on mode that’s eye-catching, if a tad underutilized.
Lock the phone into the option Gear VR accessory and that super sharp screen becomes the display for a pretty convincing virtual reality headset.
And then, there are the photos. The S7’s camera is packed with goodies, like optical stabilization, Hyperlapse, full manual controls, hell, even a dedicated food photography mode for terrible people.
But, the best things about this camera are the simple things. How quickly the viewfinder launches when you double click the home button. How you can usually just leave HDR in automatic mode to get a decent shot, even in tough lighting.
And it’s summertime as this article goes to press, and that’s when the S7’s waterproofing really comes in handy. It lets you photograph fearlessly, to get the shot you want without worrying about ruining your phone.
Now, I will point out that there’s an oversharpening problem with the S7 camera, more digital noise than on the S6. And I’d be remiss to leave out that Samsung sacrificed resolution for pixel size this year, as well. But I’d also be lying if I said I’d noticed, or frankly, cared.
I don’t mean to be flip and say that there’s no room for improvement here. Of course, there is. But for probably 17 out of 20 people, this camera will be more than good enough. For 19 out of 20, it’ll be better than any smartphone camera they’ve used before.
Here’s where I’d usually say something like… But for all of its achievements in optics Samsung still stumbles in software… and yeah, there’s some weirdness. I mean, you’ve got to poke a little fun at a smartphone that comes with two clocks. This is because Samsung still insists on loading its own custom interface atop Android.
This year, though, it’s thinner, lighter, and much faster than it’s ever been. It doesn’t seem to bog down as much as past Galaxy. This phone is almost as responsive as it was 3 months ago, probably thanks to a mixture of software optimization and updated silicon.
And if you think the same way I do about Samsung’s interface design…barf town… well, you can paint right over it by getting a different launcher, or load up another theme in the onboard store.
And there are little accents that make you feel taken care of too.
The little triple-chime in your ear that lets you know a call is connected. That harkens all the way back to Samsung’s early flip phones, which would flash their led to indicate that the network had started your call.
And then there’s the handy button on the dialer that gives you an audio boost in a loud room. And the option to flip off your notifications if you’re playing a game, so you don’t get interrupted mid-carrier landing.
These are little things, the definition of minutia, but they’re reminders that someone sweated the small stuff when they put this phone together.
Now, buying the S7 isn’t an automatic ticket to paradise. Two tickets to paradise In fact for some, it could be a highway to the danger zone.
That added Samsung software means you’re likely to see delays, maybe significant ones, when Google releases Android updates.
The battery life is acceptable, usually good enough to get me to the end of a day, and you can top off fast when you need to, but I still wouldn’t call this an endurance champ by any means.
The speakerphone is loud but its downward-firing position makes it easy to plug with a thumb. And there are definite downsides to owning a phone that’s basically all glass.
Oh, I should mention, if you’re on ATT, you do have the option of the Galaxy S7 Active, which marries impact protection to water resistance.
Samsung Galaxy S7’s biggest problem is that it was released expensive. The OnePlus 3 [I reviewed here] delivers an outstanding experience for 30% less. And if you’re looking at unlocked devices, you can get a good smartphone for much less than what Samsung’s asking here.
But most people still don’t buy unlocked. They get their phones from carriers, who let you spread the cost of a phone over 2 years. If you’re one of those folks, and you can afford an extra $20 or $30 bucks a month, the S7 is really hard to beat.
Are there more interesting phones out there? Sure. Phones with more character? Yeah, I think so. And there are phones with better performance in individual metrics.
But, when you take all of its advantages and consider them together at this price point, I don’t know of any other smartphone that ticks quite as many boxes like this one. The Samsung Galaxy S7 is, therefore, in my view, the best overall Android smartphone on its release date.
If you’re considering one, you probably won’t be disappointed. That’s my review of the S7. Feel free to share this post.