The Galaxy S7 is the best Samsung phone ever — but it may not be good enough to take on iPhone 7.
On the GS7, editor-in-chief Phil Nickinson gives some prudent advice about security:
While we applaud the transparency, the truth remains that it's a crapshoot when (or whether) a carrier-branded Samsung phone will be updated. While it's not quite a deal-breaker for us, it's something to keep in mind when purchasing.
And the camera:
It's the end result that's ... well, it's a little confusing. We're gotten some great shots out of the Galaxy S7 in daylight, for sure. But we've also gotten some that have a good bit of yellow tinge to them. Or others with details that aren't as crisp as we expected. Or a beautiful blue sky that's noisy when viewed at 100 percent. Or sometimes the shot is simply blown out with any sort of direct sunlight. It's good, but maybe there's a little more tuning to be done? (When is there not, though.)
Low light is supposed to be where the Galaxy S7 really excels. And, again, the answer is "it depends." Give it some light to work with and it does pretty well. Maybe it's not quite as magical as the GS6 and Note 5 seemed to be, or our expectations are that much higher now. It's good. It's really good. But it's not a miracle worker.
But overall he really likes it:
It's not all that often we can recommend a phone without any real hesitation. The Galaxy S7 is one of those. Samsung has improved on most of our complaints from the Galaxy S6 era. Battery life is improved. Not great, but adequate. The overall design is better and less slippery, and it takes a case well without becoming too large. The display size hits that 5.1-inch sweet spot. The fingerprint feature is excellent.
On the GS7 edge+, editor Andrew Martonik has some quibbles about carrier bloat-ware and the edge software itself not being super useful. Overall, he really likes it as well though:
Samsung is undeniably putting its marketing power behind the "edge" version of the Galaxy S7. It's bigger, flashier and more expensive than the standard phone, and it's for those who want to stand out from the crowd just a bit more. Compared to the compact Galaxy S7 the larger size of the GS7 edge is going to cause problems for some people, but if you want the boost in battery, head-turning curved screen and handful of extra software features, the Galaxy S7 edge is the one to get.
I'm sure some people will call it the Galaxy S6s — a joke based on Apple's iPhone 6 to iPhone 6s strategy — because it really is a better Galaxy S6, but I'm not sure it qualifies. iPhone 4s introduced Siri. iPhone 5s introduced Touch ID. iPhone 6s introduced 3D Touch. There's no equivalent user experience step here that I can find.
I've only had a short time to try out a few of the review units, so I can't form a real opinion of my own yet. I did dislike the finish almost immediately, though. Making it look like polished metal when it feels like glassy plastic creates cognitive dissonance, which just ends up making it seem undeservedly cheap. The non-faux-metallic ones don't feel anyone nearly as faux, obviously.
Some of the photos taken with the Galaxy S7 camera also looked worse to my eyes than the 6-month old iPhone 6s Plus camera, especially when it came to color accuracy (refer back to what Phil says, above). I applaud Samsung for not being afraid to drop megapixel count for pixel size, but I worry they may not have ended up with the best balance.
And yes, I still think the lack of care in the industrial design betrays a potential lack of care throughout. For example, I still can't find out how fingerprint data is kept safe, absent a secure enclave (SEP) like on Apple's A-series processors.
The water-resistance is legit cool. Apple has unofficially made the iPhones 6s far more water resistant as well, but having it up front and center, and at this level, is reassuring.
I'm sure some lazier reviewers will compare specs, including number of cores and size of memory, but iOS and Android are different beasts. It's like comparing the engine in Lambo to the engine in a tractor trailer. No spec in the world can fix software consistency or coherence. Or, apparently, prevent carrier bloatware from getting installed.
Overall though, while undeniably the best Galaxy S ever, I don't think it even rises to the level of an Apple S-year update, much less a full version update like we'll be getting this year. And, as a fan of competition, thats incredibly disappointing.
That said, and my personal tastes aside, if you don't want an iPhone, Samsung has certainly done enough to keep the Galaxy S7 as the most popular alternative. (Though you may want to investigate other options as well.)
My personal tastes not aside, if you're at all on the fence, and not in immediate need, wait for the iPhone 7, compare the two 2016 flagships, and decide which one best suits your needs.