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Samsung Galaxy S7: Everything we think we know

T3 logo T3 24-11-2015 David Nield

Courtesy of T3: T3 image© Courtesy of T3 T3 image This year's Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge double-whammy from Samsung has certainly helped it claim back some of the limelight from Apple - the phones have been well-reviewed and seem to be selling in decent numbers, helping the South Korean firm overcome some of the disappointment surrounding the Galaxy S5.

The smartphone market doesn't stand still though, and Samsung knows it's going to have to repeat the trick again next year. You don't have to be a genius to work out that the Galaxy S7 is the likely name of Samsung's 2016 flagship phone, but what kind of features and specs will it have? We do some crystal ball gazing to find out.

Our T3 Predicts series looks at upcoming key products and forecasts the key capabilities of new products based on current tech trends and previous release dates and patterns.

What is the Samsung Galaxy S7?

Most smartphone makers have settled down to an annual product cycle to introduce the newest technology as quickly as possible and to feed our insatiable appetite for shiny new gadgetry. The Galaxy S7 will be Samsung's flagship phone for 2016 and although the new handsets usually appear in March, this time the rumours point to a January launch - although don't take that as set in stone.

Samsung has never been afraid to push out multiple editions of the same device, and the Galaxy S6 Edge was an interesting development this year - it's attracted enough attention to make an S7 Edge very likely when the time comes (two separate device codes have been spotted online). There's also the rugged Samsung Galaxy S6 Active to consider, another phone which might get a 2016 refresh.

The main focus is going to be on the flagship Galaxy S7 though - it's this device that's going to set the standard for Samsung and all of the Edges and Actives and Notes that follow it. With the Apple iPhone continuing to sell in record numbers and budget Android handsets taking up a large chunk of the market too, Samsung knows it needs to keep innovating to keep making money.

What do we think we know about it?

As 2016 comes racing into view, we're hearing more and more about what the Galaxy S7 might offer: reports out of South Korea are suggesting that Samsung is ramping up production of its S6 Edge-style curved screens, so this may be the new normal for the firm's future handsets. Samsung will certainly want to avoid any stock supply problems. Under the hood, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 should be making an appearance to set new standards in terms of raw power.

We've also heard that iris-scanning technology is going to replace the fingerprint sensor as the biometric unlocking method of choice on the Galaxy S7. It's already started appearing in one or two experimental smartphones - the idea is a front-facing camera scans your iris and confirms you are who you say you are. The technology is now becoming accurate and inexpensive enough for it to be a viable option for manufacturers.

Other rumours centre around the materials being used to make the new Samsung Galaxy S7, specifically a new type of magnesium alloy. Expect premium metal and glass to be the order of the day here - we know Samsung is working on its own extra-strong glass, so that could make an appearance in Samsung's 2016 flagship as well.

Why it's likely to happen

Samsung isn't going to get out of the smartphone game any time soon, so it's almost certain that another flagship is on the way - it's just a question of what we can expect to see when it appears. As with Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge were major steps forward for the company, so the S7 may be more of a minor upgrade.

We'd expect the usual bumps to specs in terms of processor power, memory and almost definitely camera capabilities, but the design is likely to remain largely the same - the S6 phones have received some high praise for their looks (even if they are very iPhone-esque) so Samsung would be barmy to try and mess with that so soon. Samsung recently unveiled a new camera lens technology so S7 snaps should look even better than those from the S6 (and fit in a smaller casing too).

The smart money is on a minor refresh with perhaps a few extra features thrown in for good measure and the possibility of a display upgrade to a 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels) - or even two models with different screen sizes, just like the iPhones. The rumours should start coming thick and fast later this year so bear them in mind when deciding whether to get the S6 or wait for the S7.

What else could happen

There are all kinds of other factors to take into consideration when speculating about the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy S7. There's Android Marshmallow of course, recently launched by Google, which will undoubtedly be the mobile OS that it's running on the S7 (with TouchWiz on top as normal of course).

Samsung will be keeping a close eye on what the likes of HTC, LG and Sony get up to as well, and then there are the Chinese manufacturers like OnePlus and Huawei who are busy innovating in Asia with high-end, low-price handsets. Samsung could easily tweak the Galaxy S7 as the year goes on depending on what these other firms do with their phones.

Don't forget Samsung's Gear VR virtual reality headset either, another reason why the design of the S7 may not venture too far from that of the S6 (to maintain compatibility). We're hoping the 2016 flagship brings with it better battery performance as well, now that Samsung has switched to non-removable packs, but that might be wishful thinking.

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