The new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge unveiled by Samsung at Mobile World Congress increase the design stakes in mobile with 3D glass and ergonomic curves. Available in the US and UK with a free Gear VR headset from mid-March, how far do they go in terms of furthering the performance of smartphones?
The problem with smartphones today is that the innovation appears to be slowing and changes from one model to the next are becoming predictable and subtle rather than outstanding and revolutionary.
From this year’s Mobile World Congress, offering the advance from the S6 to the S7 is hardly overwhelming, but you get the sense that Samsung is at least trying.
The Korean tech giant’s new offering features a water-resistant chassis, the return of the microSD card slot and 4GB of RAM.
Samsung revealed that pre-ordered devices in the UK and US from 23 February will receive a free Galaxy VR headset, which could be a sign of things to come in mobile-buying patterns.
Does Samsung have the edge in mobile design and performance?
The new S7 and S7 Edge come with what Samsung claims is the first Dual Pixel camera on a smartphone, which promises brighter and sharper images in low light. Dual Pixel technology captures brighter pictures through a wider aperture and bigger pixels.
The camera also comes with new Motion Panorama features that bring a sense of movement to traditional panoramic photos.
The new devices have a 5.1-inch screen and are constructed from 3D glass and metal and are dust and water-resistant to IP68 standards, rated as “dust tight” and protected against complete, continuous submersion in water.
The new smartphones feature the same wireless charging technology that Samsung trotted out last year.
But the big reveal, which will delight many Android fans, is the return of a microSD tray.
A hybrid SIM card tray will allow users to insert a microSD card with up to 200GB of additional storage and, in some countries, the tray can be used with a dual SIM card.
The device will be powered by a 64-bit Octa-core processor and comes with 4GB of RAM and 32GB and 64GB of storage. The operating system is Android 6.0 (Marshmallow).
“We believe in a world that is brighter, sharper, more convenient, and more fun,” said DJ Koh, president of mobile communications business at Samsung.
“We strive to deliver on that vision with the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge by marrying elegant design with functionality and providing a seamless mobile experience.”
You get the feeling all of this talk about elegant design and functionality will be lost, however, on consumers who are finding the step changes from one device family to another year-on-year are getting smaller and smaller, giving them fewer compelling reasons to buy new devices that just seem to be getting pricier and pricier.
By bringing back microSD storage, Samsung may actually be listening to consumers.