The Galaxy S7, which goes by the codename “Project Lucky” -- to refer to the hopefully fortuitous seventh generation of Samsung’s Galaxy phone line -- looks to right Samsung’s recent market woes. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the new S7 and S7 Edge won't represent a dramatic departure from today's flagships, but they will pack plenty of improvements, including a a beefed up processor Snapdragon 820) and a waterproof design. Another report says there will be two different sizes for the S7 and S7 Edge.
Launch and Release Dates
After sending out a video teasing #TheNextGalaxy for its Unpacked event, Samsung has all but confirmed that Feb 21 is when the S7 will make its official debut. The significance of the ominous blue cube is anyone's guess, but with the video starting off with a shot of someone putting on a Gear VR, we'd expect Samsung to have some news its VR line alongside the launch of the Galaxy S7.
As for when the S7 will actually hit store shelves? Think mid-March. That's what the WSJ reports. Matching up with this info, ET News reports that Samsung is starting mass-production of the S7 and S7 Edge in February. The initial 5-million-unit run may be split between 3.3 million for the S7 and 1.7 million for the S7 Edge.
While Evan Blass (@evleaks) previously reported that the S7 will be available in three versions, (S7, S7 Edge and S7 Edge+), one of his latest tweets implies that the larger S7 Edge+ model has been canceled, or at least will not be arriving at the same time as the other two versions. This info would suggest that there won't be a big-screen variants of either the standard S7 or S7 Edge. However a separate leak from case-maker Spigen shows a screenshot of an online store listing featuring cases for a S7 Plus (no edge).
Whether inadvertent or deliberate, Samsung basically confirmed the existence of the S7 Edge when the company published a page on its website (which has since been taken down) about Edge features complete with a listing for the S7 Edge.
According to South Korea's ET News, Samsung's new flagship will come in two sizes: 5.2 inches and 5.5 inches. The latter size would seem to be the curved S7 Edge (reports indicate that Samsung has canceled a smaller 5.2-inch curved version of the S7), while the regular Galaxy S7 will come in at 5.2-inches.
Based on new leaks from Weibo and Reviewdao, we finally have the first somewhat credible pictures of what the S7 and S7 Edge will look like. The front of the S7 Edge looks to have subtle new curves on the top and bottom parts of the display in addition to the sloping sides that were introduced last year on the S6 Edge. In back, a leaked photo of a standard S7 features a camera module that protrudes only slightly from its case, which looks to be a significant improvement over the big the bump on Samsung's current flagships.
According to first-hand reports, this leaked picture doesn't quite do the S7's back panel justice, as what appears to be a plasticky-looking panel is actually very sleek glass which features rounded edges like the Note 5 for a more comfortable feel.
Another report from Korean outlet Kbench indicates that Samsung has filed a trademark for something called Turtle Glass. This means the Korean tech giant may ditch Corning’s Gorilla Glass, which is responsible for the sturdy, scratch resistant panel that protects the S6’s screen, in favor of its own super-tough display-saving tech.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Galaxy S7 will sport a pressure-sensitive display, similar to the 3D Touch screen on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. The panel would allow the phone "to interpret different taps and touches depending on how the user presses on the touch screen."
On the latest iPhones, for example, the 3D Touch screen lets you activate shortcuts by pressing on icons from the home screen, as well as preview links you press hard on--without leaving the app that you're in. Samsung could offer similar functionality, but the iPhone takes 3D Touch one step further by integrating it into apps. For instance, OpenTable lets you 3D Touch on a restaurant to preview its location on a map, and Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade lets you use different weapons depending on how hard you press.
Samsung likely won't have the same sort of sway with developers until the Android OS itself has pressure-sensitive support built in, but it should be able to make the user experience more immersive.
Even with all these leaks and reports, there’s still a lot of speculation left to be done. Samsung could push the display resolution from 2K to 4K like Sony did with the Xperia Z5 Premium, or debut a new iteration of the popular curved screen tech we’ve seen on the S6 Edge and S6 Edge Plus.
Specs: Snapdragon 820 Power or Exynos?
Leaks from SamMobile gives us an early idea of the components that may come in the S7, which could include a either a new Exynos 8890 chip or a Snapdragon 820 processor.
The timing for the Snapdragon 820 seems about right after Qualcomm itself said that its next-generation processor should be available in early 2016, and that the new chip will include features such as a more powerful Adreno 530 GPU, increased energy efficiency and the new Spectra image signal processor for better photos. In January 2016, Samsung announced that it would be producing the Snapdragon 820 itself (as well as its Exynos 7 Octa processor). The phone maker stated that the chip is "expected to be in devices in the first half of this year," lending more weight to the possibility of the Galaxy S7 shipping with an 820 chip inside.
We expect RAM to stay at the same 4GB levels we’ve seen on the Note 5 and S6 Edge Plus, but SamMobile reports that the S7 may herald the return of microSD storage to the Galaxy line. On the Note 5 and Galaxy S6 phones, Samsung cut the microSD card slots because of incompatibilities with its speedy UFS 2.0 storage system, but it seems that sometime in 2015, Samsung figured out a way to make these two technologies play nice and work together.
The Wall Street Journal reports that only the Galaxy S7 will offer expandable storage, and not the Galaxy S7 Edge model. The WSJ also says to expect a USB-C port to replace the microUSB port on the S6. The S6 already offered fast charging, but the S7 could be even faster while offering a connector that's reversible. (There's no wrong way to insert it.) Reports say S7 Edge can go from dead to almost a full charge in as little as 30 minutes. This would seem to indicate that Samsung is planning to use Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 tech, which was announced back in September and offers charging times that Qualcomm says are 38 percent faster than phones with Quick Charge 2.0 (such as Galaxy S6).
For those worried about lackluster battery life, Sammobile discovered an FCC patent filing for the S7 Edge which details the phone as having a 3,600 mAh battery. That would make for a 20 percent improvement over last year's Galaxy S6 Edge Plus which featured a 3,000 mAh battery and an almost 40 percent increase over the 2,600 mAh battery in the regular S6 Edge. Combined with energy savings from a new processor and improvement made in Android 6.0, Samsung's next flagship could see a massive increase in battery life. Unfortunately, the FCC filing did not mention a battery size for the standard Galaxy S7.
It seems regardless which processor ends up in the S7, Samsung's next flagship will be exceedingly fast. According to Hungarian site Napidroid, a Geekbench 3 score for an Exynos 8890-equipped Galaxy S7 (model number SM-G930W8) was found showing the phone turning in a single core score of 1,873 and a multi-core score of 5,946. If true, that would peg the S7's multi-core performance as 15 percent faster than last year's Galaxy S6, which scored 5120 on our Geekbench 3 test.
As far as S7 benchmarks featuring a Snapdragon 820 go, a report from Chinese social media site Weibo (via Phonearena) shows a single-core Geekbench 3 score of 2,456, which would be by far the highest single-core result among Android phones. However, the multi-core score was a little lower than that of the rumored Exynos 8890-powered phone at 5,423.
GSMArena also said the AnTuTu performance benchmark score notched by the Exynos 8890 is a whopping 103,692, according to a Chinese source. If that is true, it's much faster than the Galaxy S6 (67,520), which packs an Exynos 7420 chip.
Camera: Sharper Sensors and Vivid Photos
A recent report from Android Authority highlights two possibilities for the Galaxy S7's rear camera. One rumor suggests that the new phone may pack Sony's Exmor RS IMX300 sensor, which packs a whopping 25 megapixels and a zippy 192-point hybrid autofocus system. A separate rumor points to Samsung using one of its proprietary Isocell sensors, which would pack just 12 megapixels (less than the Galaxy S6's 16-MP) but offer strong performance via larger light cells in the sensor.
A different report from SamMobile suggests that Samsung's new BRITECELL camera, which was recently announced at the 2015 Samsung Electronics Investors Forum, could be the sensor inside the upcoming S7. It should feature better light enhancement in dark environments and a phase detect auto focus for faster focusing speeds.
The Wall Street Journal has also reported that the Galaxy S7's camera will offer better low-light performance. Even better, the camera lens shouldn't protrude like the S6, instead laying flush with the rest of the phone's body.
In addition to packing a stronger camera, the Galaxy S7 could have its own answer to Apple's GIF-like Live Photos, according to Android Geeks. Samsung's "Vivid Photos" are expected to provide similar, second-long snapshots, but may go a step further by also capturing audio. Users will reportedly be able to share Vivid Photos directly to Facebook as GIFs as soon as they launch, whereas it took several months for Facebook to support Apple's Live photos.
Retina Scanning a Possibility
If you're sick of entering PINs and touching your finger to your phone's fingerprint sensor is just too much effort, you many be in luck. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Galaxy S7 may offer retina scanning capability. This would offer stronger security than a fingerprint, and it should work even faster.
On the ZTE Grand S3, for instance, its EyeVerify tech looks for the unique blood vessel patterns and retina of your eye to secure the phone. As Digital Trends reports, ZTE may use this Eyeprint ID for using secure apps and also mobile payments.
Don't get your hopes too high, though. The WSJ says that Samsung may decide to leave retina scanning out of the S7, leaving the door open for the S8.
According Reuters, Samsung may introduce a phone upgrade in tandem with the release of the Galaxy S7 that would let owners upgrade to a new phone every year. This would seem to be a response to a similar program initiated by Apple last year which lets users upgraded to a new phone every year by committing to monthly payments which start at 32.41 a month.