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5 Reasons To Buy The Samsung Galaxy S7

Forbes logo Forbes 23-02-2016 Jay McGregor, Contributor

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Image credit: Ian Morris© Provided by Forbes Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Image credit: Ian Morris The Galaxy S7 is finally here and, thanks to deluge of leaks over the last few months, it’s no big surprise. But one thing is clear, it’s one of the slickest and most powerful devices on the market right now.

Should the S7 be your next smartphone?

MicroSD

The big U-turn. Samsung responded to the outcry of removing the apparently beloved expandable storage (up to 200GB) in the S6 by bringing it back. The Korean tech giant is trying to spin this as a victory of the consumer company relationship by tweeting “you spoke, we listened”.

This, I’m sure, is partially true, but the reality is that the read and write speeds of microSD cards has dramatically improved in recent months. A major reason Samsung didn’t include a microSD card in the S6 was that it simply wasn’t fast enough. But expandable and internal storage can now work in harmony.

The downside is that the S7 doesn’t support adoptable storage – a feature made available in Android Marshmallow – which allows a device to adopt the microSD as internal storage and use it as one block of memory. But the problem with adoptable storage is that the SD card can’t be removed and used elsewhere without having to be formatted again. I doubt the average consumer will care much about Samsung not ‘adopting’ adoptable storage, but for this is a blow for power users. 

Dust & waterproof

A visitor takes pictures of the new Samsung Galaxy S7 on the opening day of the World Mobile Congress at the Fira Gran Via Complex on February 22, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.© Getty Images A visitor takes pictures of the new Samsung Galaxy S7 on the opening day of the World Mobile Congress at the Fira Gran Via Complex on February 22, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. The IP68 rating brings back another lost feature from Samsung lore. This means the S7 is fully resistant to dust particles and water resistant up to 3m, although Samsung is yet to confirm the exact depth.

Smartphone design is slowly moving toward this becoming standard: the iPhone 6S was secretly water resistant and most phones are at least splashproof. But the IP68 rating gives that extra guarantee. And, when a premium device costs what a Galaxy S7 costs, this really should be a given.

Performance

Depending on region, you’ll either have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (US) or Exynos 8890 (parts of Europe and Asia) powering your S7.  Samsung gave some topline numbers about the performance improvements (30% faster CPU and 64% faster GPU) but the reality is that these sorts of figures are becoming less important. All premium handsets are powerhouses these days, as are many mid-range devices. And the S7 is certainly no different: playing games and zipping around the device was lightening quick.

If 360 video shooting and editing becomes the norm, then we might see an actual need for the incredible amount of power packed into most phones. The downside is the possibility of varying performance depending on region, we’ll wait to see how that pans out. 

Camera

© Samsung Samsung told me that it has focussed most of its camera efforts on eking out more from low-light pictures. The wider aperture (f/1.7) means the S7 lets in more light -apparently 56% more than the S6 according to Samsung- and thus handles poorly-lit conditions better. From the brief time I spent with the camera last week, it certainly stood up to Samsung’s claims. The S6 was incredible in low-light photography (and incredible as smartphone camera in general), so to improve this area is a really impressive work from Samsung.

But the standout camera feature for me was the speed of the auto focus. It’s hands-down the fastest auto focus I’ve ever seen on a smartphone. There was no contest up against the S6 and Nexus 6P- both of which I tested it against. It was so fast I couldn’t actually see the autofocus happen. For the type of spur-of-the-moment action shots you typically take with a smartphone, this speed is essential.

Battery

The final act in the U-turn trifecta. Samsung caught some flack for the questionably small battery packs in the S6, but I doubt it will for the S7 and S7 Edge, which have a 3000mAh and 3700mAh battery pack respectively. That’s a big increase on the S6 and coupled with more efficient processors and Android Marshmallow’s excellent power-saving abilities, the S7 – and many other Android phones – should be long-lasting devices.

There is, of course, Samsung’s TouchWiz to contend with. My upcoming more in-depth review will tell me how good the lasting power of the S7 is. Until then the headline specs are looking promising. 

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