Samsung took the stage at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, towards the end of February to unveil its 2016 flagship smartphones. The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, which Samsung unveiled at the event, pick up from where the Galaxy S6 family of devices left last year. They are better in every aspect but the looks and also have some new features.
I have spent the last couple of days trying out the larger Galaxy S7 Edge. Other than the bigger frame which you immediately notice when you place the device next to its more traditional-looking colleague, the Galaxy S7 Edge also has that to-die-for curved dual-edge display and many more features also found in the “flat” S7. Here is a quick rundown of some of the notable additions to the Galaxy S7 family this year as experienced from the Galaxy S7 Edge.
1. Dual-edge display
This is rather obvious. The curved dual-edge display that we saw for the first time last year, and was widely praised, lives on. It’s livelier and good-looking as ever on the Galaxy S7 Edge. So good that when you look at it and go back and look at the “flat” Galaxy S7 your mind will already have been made up. Unless, of course, you dread large devices in which event the smaller Galaxy S7 will be a natural fit if you’re fixated on getting a Samsung device.
Samsung has added new functionality to the device to take advantage of the edge display. This includes features like People edge, Apps edge and Tasks edge which use the extra screen real estate to place quick shortcuts to contacts and apps.
2. Made for VR
Virtual reality is finally real. It is no longer something you hear about or see in movies. Thanks to advancements in mobile tech, you can simply get an Oculus virtual reality headgear from Samsung, the Gear VR, and get immersed in a whole new world of movies, games and lots of 360 degree content that will leave you mind blown. There’s no better way to explain this than to insist that you pop in to any of Samsung’s experience shops countrywide and try out the Gear VR headset for yourself.
Locally, you will need to spend a small fortune to get a proper virtual reality setup. Options from LG, HTC and Oculus itself are yet to make it here so unless you manage to navigate carefully the intricate web of making purchases online, you have few choices. Actually, you have only one choice: the Samsung Gear VR.
Since Gear VR is a Samsung product, it is meant to work exclusively with Samsung devices, particularly its smartphones. From my experience over the last few days, it does this so well, it will leave you asking for me. This is where the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (and also the other S7) comes in. It is made with virtual reality in mind and simply docking the device on the Gear VR (something so simple you won’t need a manual or guide to do it) transports you to another world.
The other big advantage of the Gear VR is its pricing. Samsung has dropped the price of the headgear significantly. At the moment, Kshs 10,999 will get you one which you can use with last year’s Samsung flagship devices. Pre-ordering the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge anytime between now and the 17th of March when the devices will be officially unveiled in the Kenyan market results in you saving that amount since Samsung will give you the Gear VR for free. More details on that here.
3. Water resistant
In 2014, Samsung released the Galaxy S5. For all the maligning it got from the critical tech press, it had at least one thing going for it: IP67 certification meaning that it was water (resistant) and dustproof (you can read more on what that Ingress Protection is all about in our forums). Then the following year that ability was dropped as the company transitioned to new build materials and designs for its flagship devices as a result of the dipping sales orchestrated by its insistence on sticking with plastic.
This year, Ingress Protection is back. The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have IP68 certification [PDF]. That means they are completely dustproof and can be dipped in a pool of water even more than 1 metre deep for a specified amount of time without any dire consequences. Well, things will change drastically if you leave the SIM/microSD card slot open and since iFixit seems to confirm our worst fears, good luck reversing the outcome.
4. Always-on display
The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have a display that, as the name insinuates, is always on. Nothing out of the ordinary. It is turned on by default when you unbox the device but you can always turn it off in the settings if it is not your kind of thing. It comes in handy all the time. You don’t have to turn on the display to check the time or the amount of battery charge you have left on your device. It even shows missed calls and message alerts. With the two devices packing Super AMOLED displays, there’s no sacrifice as far as the battery is concerned as only the necessary parts of the display are lit up.
5. Fast charging
This is not news. Devices (even entry-level ones) have had fast-charging for a while now. What makes the feature stand out on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge is that it can actually be turned off.
You might ask yourself why you’ll ever need to turn off a feature that guarantees that your device will take half the time it normally takes to be fully charged. The answer is in the amount of heat generated in the process. Since the devices are all-metal, they do get really hot. Sure Samsung has implemented liquid cooling in the devices but that only protects the internals. If you’d rather not have the devices competing with your microwave oven then you can toggle the feature off and just like that, it’s all good.
6. Expandable storage
For a long time, it has always been taken for granted that Samsung devices have expandable storage. That changed last year when in a strange twist, Samsung abandoned that long tradition when it changed the device’s design. Not only was a removable battery gone but the ability to expand storage was also left out much to the fury of core Galaxy fans. The new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge bring that feature back.
The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are available locally with just 32 GB internal storage of which at least 7 gigabytes is taken up by the system software so users only have 25 GB left to load games, apps and store photos. Those who need more will be able to easily expand that by almost ten times using a memory card.
The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have lots of features which we shall be going through in due course. The two devices are currently available for pre-order through Samsung and Safaricom shops countrywide.