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Samsung Galaxy S7 review: a return to old ways

Update: Two additional S7 versions reported

The Galaxy S7 is about to hit stores worldwide. With this handset, Samsung has built upon all the strengths of its past phones to deliver a new standard in mobile technology. The S7 is not perfect but it is one of the best Android phones currently on the market. Find out why in our full Samsung Galaxy S7 review.  

Update: Two additional versions of the Galaxy S7 have been reported. The different versions refer to their varied chipsets and we've already seen Samsung release two separate versions. Check out our performance section for additional details. 



  • Strong performance for everyday tasks and gaming
  • Excellent display
  • Speed and quality of cameras
  • Water resistant


  • Incomplete microSD card support

Lowest price: Samsung Galaxy S7

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Samsung Galaxy S7 release date and price

The Galaxy S7 release date lands on March 11, 2016 but the device can be pre-ordered now. Those who have already placed an order should find a Galaxy S7 on their doorsteps sometime today (March 8).

The Galaxy S7 price is currently set at US$699 for the 32 GB model, and it comes in a four main color variants: black, white, gold and silver. A 64 GB version is also available in some markets (though not in the US).

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The silver variant of the Galaxy S7. / © AndroidPIT

For comparison, the iPhone 6s 16 GB can currently be picked up unlocked for close to the same price – US$680 - US$699 – and the LG G5 will probably start at the same. 

Samsung Galaxy S7 design and build quality

Outwardly, the Galaxy S7 is a minor – but in some ways very important – update to its predecessor. From the front, you could be forgiven for confusing the two devices, with similar button and sensor placements.

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On the front of the S7, everything remains the same as the Galaxy S6. / © AndroidPIT

Comparing the S7 to other Android phones, it’s undoubtedly more compact, featuring a 5.1-inch display, but it is also perhaps a little thicker than most at 7.9 mm (though you would never describe the device itself as thick).  

Like the two-year-old Galaxy S5, the S7 is water resistant. It can survive a quick dip unscathed with IP68 certification: a feature that is also found on the Sony Xperia flagships.

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The curved rear of the S7 gives it a gorgeous feel. / © AndroidPIT

The Galaxy S7's dimensions come in at 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm and it houses an aluminum frame, with a scratch-resistant layer of Gorilla Glass 4 on the front and back.

It’s 1.1 mm thicker than its predecessor, but it's a facet of the design with a two-fold benefit. Firstly, the extra space allows for a 17.6 percent greater battery capacity. Secondly, the camera sensor is less prominent (more on that in a second).

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Upstairs there is a microphone and a slot for the microSD and SIM cards. / © AndroidPIT

The rear of the Galaxy S7 is where the most visible design changes can be seen. The S7 has laterally curved glass, like that of the Galaxy Note 5, which, combined with its petite frame, provides a sumptuously snug fit in the hand. 

Then there’s the aforementioned camera lens. The sensor protrudes by only 0.46 mm, which helps the device to remain flat when lying on its back. It’s barely noticeable, really, while the Galaxy S6 camera stuck out a distracting 1.7 mm from the device.

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The side profile is rounded to perfection. Thanks to its curved back, the S7 can easily be picked off the table. / © AndroidPIT

On the front of the Galaxy S7, Samsung remains faithful to the previous design decisions. The proximity and light sensors are found on the top left of the device (next to the notification LED). Tthe loudspeaker for calls is in the center, and the front-facing camera is at the top right. Even the physical home button with fingerprint sensor, centered below the display, is identically shaped and placed as on the S6.

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The power button on the right of the phone can easily be reached with an ambitious thumb. / © AndroidPIT

The S7's differences can be understood better with the hands than with the eyes. There are a few small details that have a big impact on the overall design, and it means the S7 is nothing but a pleasure to look at and hold.

Samsung Galaxy S7 display

The Galaxy S7 features a Super AMOLED display with 1,440 x 2,560 resolution: the same specs as the S6. The screen is typical Samsung: that is to say, it’s sublime. Thanks to the QHD resolution and 5.1-inch display, a pixel density of 577 pixels-per-inch is achieved, guaranteeing great sharpness and detail.

Likewise, contrast and saturation are of the highest display standard: blacks are true and even in bright sunlight the S7 display is easily readable.

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A typically brilliant Galaxy S7 display. / © AndroidPIT

Samsung has provided further optimisations on the Galaxy S7 and thanks to these, the contrast and brightness of the display can adjust depending on ambient light. In very dark conditions, you can watch this transition at work and because it automatically improves readability, it's a worthwhile addition.

Samsung Galaxy S7 special features


Always-on displays are the “in thing” for 2016: both the S7 and LG G5 house this technology. 

Always-on means a portion of the Galaxy S7 display remains permanently active. This part of the display can contain calendar information, the date and time, notifications and much more. The implementation of this feature caused concerns over the effect it would have on battery life. It’s small, but it is noticeable.

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The Always-on S7 display. / © AndroidPIT

According to Samsung, the always-on function consumes little power because only individual pixels are activated. But I could see the effect it had on battery life, so I disabled it.

Dust and water resistant to IP68 certification

After a two-year wait, the Galaxy S series is again dust and water resistant. This time, instead of just surviving temporary immersion, the Galaxy S7 is now capable of surviving a depth of up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes.

Thus, it has a better class of protection than the Galaxy S5 and far better than the Galaxy S6, which promised no protection against these elements.

During my test period, I doused the Galaxy S7 a number of times without problems. What is particularly clever is the handset’s recognition of wet connections: attempt to plug in your charging cable while a drop of water is in the USB port, and the S7 will prevent the charge to avoid short circuits.

Game Launcher and Vulkan

A brand new feature of the Galaxy S7 is Game Launcher. This software feature, unique to the Galaxy S series, acts as a home for all of your gaming activities.

Installed games are collected here and it also houses other game-related functions such as the ability to take screenshots, record gameplay videos, and post these to social networks.

galaxy s7 game launcher
The Game Launcher saves energy, enables screen recording and can minimize games. / © AndroidPIT

Game Mode may be interesting for more “hardcore” gamers, as enabling this means all notifications can be disabled and all power and resources can be directed to the game in question (a feature which might become even more necessary as the S7 ages).

Since the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge are among the first smartphones that the new Game API Vulkan supports, we can continue to expect more realistic graphics in Android games which will be optimized for these devices.

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Game Launcher on the S7 Edge. / © AndroidPIT

Fingerprint sensor

The Galaxy S7 holds a fingerprint sensor within its physical home button. The S7 supports Samsung Pay, which is already available in the US and is rolling out in the UK and Australia soon. What's more, the wireless payment service currently has the edge over Android Pay, as it is compatible with existing payment terminals (to integrate with Android Pay many older terminals will need to be replaced in stores).

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Samsung has already made numerous accessories with "always-on" support available. / © AndroidPIT

Samsung Galaxy S7 software

The Galaxy S7 runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. There is little in the way of pre-installed apps and what’s there is quite practical. Monthly software updates are in store for the Galaxy S7 to defend against security breaches and software errors.

In addition to the seven Samsung apps, there are five from Microsoft, as well as Facebook, WhatsApp and a selection of Google Apps. Your carrier will no doubt pre-install its own software to make network-specific adjustments for Voice over LTE support or Mobile Payments.

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TouchWiz on the Galaxy S7 Edge, adapted for Marshmallow. / © AndroidPIT

Samsung Galaxy S7 performance

The performance of our Galaxy S7 was very fast, but I experienced a few dropouts and crashes. Future updates will likely quash these bugs and increase overall stability.

Samsung has delivered a worthy improvement to the already extremely fast Galaxy S6; in many measurements, the Galaxy S7 is faster than every other Android devices we’ve seen in the newsroom.

The gaming performance is in the range of the Pixel C tablet, whose graphics chip was produced by the gaming performance experts at Nvidia. Combined with planned software enhancements from Vulkan, I expect a breakthrough gaming experience for the Galaxy S7, though currently there are only a few titles available based on the new technology.

  Galaxy S7 (Exynos) Galaxy S6 Huawei Mate 8
Vellamo Metal 2743 2585 2917
Vellamo Multi Core 3371 3192 3390
AnTuTu 6.0.4 130270 76703 90040
Basemark X 1.1 High 31131 15134 15325

The Galaxy S7 we have been using is the European version with the Exynos 8890 processor (a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 version is available in the US and we expect similar performance numbers from it). The new top-of-the-range processor from Samsung has four plus four CPU cores and Mali-T880 graphics.

If only one or two cores are in use, they will be automatically overclocked to 2.6 GHz, which provides faster performance on most everyday tasks and the heat pipe cooling solution implemented into the S7 prevents thermal throttling in everyday life.

The internal storage is 32 GB UFS 2.0 memory. This flash memory provides the highest speeds we have seen on an Android device. With 389 MB / s read and 68 MB / s write speeds registered in Vellamo Metal, the Galaxy S7 is 2.45 and 1.39 times faster, respectively, than the (almost) equally expensive Nexus 6P.

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AnTuTu and Geekbench 3 scores for the Galaxy S7. / © AndroidPIT

In everyday life, you see this speed showcased when powering up or rebooting the device and, most noticeably, when installing and opening apps. If you’re upgrading from an older device, you will notice the difference immediately.

One weak point of the S7 is the small internal memory it comes with, as around 7 of its 32 GB of internal storage space are chewed up before you even install anything. Thankfully, this can be extended by microSD card to house music, movies, images and even entire apps. Despite this, it does not house the true Adoptable Storage functionality that Marshmallow provides.  

galaxy s7 vellamo score
Vellamos sheds light on the CPU speeds. / © AndroidPIT

The device we tested crashed once in five days, and another time the TouchWiz user interface had to restart. As Samsung delivers monthly security updates, early patches should improve the already impressive stability.

In addition to the two processors previously reported, we now have reports that two more chipset versions of the Galaxy S7 are currently in the works. In Geekbench's database, a smartphone called the Samsung SM-G930W8 was spotted with three different chipsets. SM-930 is Samsung's codename for all S7 versions. 

The two new possible processors are the MediaTek Helio X20 or the Helio X25. Both chips integrate deca-core CPUs. The X25 runs at higher clock speeds, although they are basically the same chipset. The W in the codename could refer to Canada, which it has in previous editions. If these leaks are true that could mean two more potential versions of the S7; four versions total. 

Samsung Galaxy S7 audio

The built-in speaker of the S7 is loud and clear. It is optimized primarily for audio conferencing, so it isn’t so well-suited to the low frequencies that make for better music listening. A pair of in-ear headphones are included, and they come with an extra pair of rubber covers. These offer decent enough quality for listening to music. Using the software equalizer, the sound can be adjusted to your liking.

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The Galaxy S7 (left) and Galaxy S7 edge (center) besides the Galaxy S6 (right). / © AndroidPIT

The Galaxy S7 also offers a clever voice-recording app that makes use of the top and bottom speakers to produce stereo recordings. This makes differentiating between multiple voices much easier.

galaxy s7 voiceRECORDER
The microphone signals are divided into stereo channels when recording. / © AndroidPIT

Samsung Galaxy S7 camera

The Galaxy S7’s camera is one of the best of any smartphone I’ve tested. The camera’s snappy focus and shutter time, in conjunction with the quick launch feature, make it fun, functional and an undeniable selling point. The results speak for themselves: very few photos do not come out well on the first attempt.

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Fewer megapixels, more light sensitivity. / © AndroidPIT

Samsung has reduced the number of MPs on the main camera sensor from 16 to 12. Nevertheless, the quality of the photos produced sees a marked improvement. This is mainly because of the dual pixel technology the camera now employs, something that can be found on more expensive Canon SLR cameras. The advantage of dual pixel technology is, essentially, that the autofocus operates extremely fast.

With the shutter, Samsung goes one step further than the Galaxy S6. The aperture size has increased from f / 1.9 to f / 1.7. This larger opening allows more light to be let in, so pictures, particularly in low-light conditions, come out better. Of course, the Galaxy S7 also has an optical image stabilizer, which compensates for unsteady hands.

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The camera software on the S7 is identical to that on the S6. / © AndroidPIT

As always, the photo app offers several features which provide a versatile range of exciting and fun things to play with. These include slow-motion and time-lapse imaging, access to numerous presets, as well as fixed focus and exposure values.

galaxy s7 camera app
Exposure and focus can be fixed so that the camera will no longer adjust automatically. / © AndroidPIT

The Galaxy S7 also packs a 5 MP front-facing camera with an f / 1.7 aperture. It, too, delivered amazing results in our test; the dynamic range held up well, even under poor lighting conditions.

Samsung Galaxy S7 battery

With just one charge, the Galaxy S7 will survive through the day, even with heavy use. In addition, the supplied charger can fully juice the battery in 90 minutes and the energy-saving modes are smart, functioning better than similar solutions found on other devices.

The Galaxy S6’s battery was a weak point, and rightly came under fire from many users. Samsung has taken this criticism on board and installed a 3,000-mAh battery in the Galaxy S7, up from the 2,600 mAh found on the Galaxy S6.

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It's not USB Type-C, but the Galaxy S7 can still be charged quickly. / © AndroidPIT

Nacho Nieto, Head of Technology and Platforms at Samsung, explained to us that the battery in the S7 is malleable and, because of this, a 3,000-mAh variant was the only option. The moldable battery can also be customized so that it fills available space within the phone, which was not possible with the battery used in the S6.

Like the Galaxy S6, the S7 also supports wireless charging.

galaxy s7 save power
Samsung's app power saving software can optimize games and background apps. / © AndroidPIT

Unfortunately, another area of contention on the Galaxy S6, the fact that the battery is non-removable, has not been addressed. The only flagship to feature a removable battery so far this year is the LG G5.

Samsung has also equipped the S7 with some software features intended to save battery life. These features keep an eye on when the device is being used and put apps into a deep sleep mode when they have been ignored for three days.

This provides an extended standby time without limiting functionality. When other manufacturers attempted to include similar features, it meant that sometimes messages or emails arrived late, making the feature more a burden than a boon.

Samsung Galaxy S7 technical specifications

    • Type:
    • Phone
    • Model:
    • Sorry, not yet available!
    • Manufacturer:
    • Samsung
    • Dimensions:
    • 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm
    • Weight:
    • 152 g
    • Battery size:
    • 3000 mAh
    • Screen size:
    • 5.1 in
    • Display technology:
    • AMOLED
    • Screen:
    • 2560 x 1440 pixels (577 ppi)
    • Front camera:
    • 5 megapixels
    • Rear camera:
    • 12 megapixels
    • Flashlight:
    • Dual-LED
    • Android version:
    • 6.0.1 - Marshmallow
    • User interface:
    • TouchWiz
    • RAM:
    • 4 GB
    • Internal storage:
    • 32 GB
      64 GB
    • Removable storage:
    • microSD
    • Chipset:
    • Samsung Exynos 8890
      Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
    • Number of cores:
    • 8
    • Max. clock speed:
    • 2.6 GHz
      2.15 GHz
    • Connectivity:
    • HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2

Final verdict

Samsung has done a good job of addressing concerns users had with the Galaxy S6. The Galaxy S7 features an increased battery size; improved ergonomics and the return of water and dust resistance, along with the much beloved MicroSD card slot. It's almost as if Samsung wanted to revel in past glories while building towards new ideals.

The Galaxy S7 surely warrants its asking price. It excels in all the key areas: its camera is the best that we have tested so far; its gaming performance is great and future-proof; its battery life is enough to support heavy use; and it’s generally a snappy and smooth device.

Above all, the Galaxy S7 has, thanks to its traditional but polished design, gilded itself with a certain prestige that you only otherwise see with the iPhone. And you get it for US$50 less.


Write new comment:
  • I was user of huawei phones, but since when huawei phone ditched me i just hate it now, was going out for long trip and just took my backpack over my shoulder and cell was hanged up and unable to work again, later on I decided to go for Iphone 6s plus but after getting reviewed between 6s plus and S7 edge I'm down again to an android phone. you owe me samsung s7 edge :P ;) can't wait to buy.

  • Dusan V. 2 months ago Link to comment

    I bought S7 few days ago. Before that i used LG G4 for more than a year. S7 camera is maybe better for low light conditions, but overall G4 is better shooter. And sound quality is really bad, but that is due to water resistant capabilities of device. In every other way S7 is great device. I recommend it to anyone.

  • Tech-8816 3 months ago Link to comment

    Thanks for the review. The Samsung Galaxy S7 is a very great high-end device, but it's very expensive too, I only can afford about 1 in 10 of this price. For the budget smartphone, Bluboo Maya with 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM, 13MP camera and Android 6.0 at $69.99 will be good for me, recommended.

  • Okay, so I have the galaxy S5 now and it is seriously on its last leg. Will glitch all of the time, back out of my texts, overheat, and will lag like a solid 45 seconds, or just say everything has "unfortunately stopped". I am stuck between getting the galaxy S7 (is it worth it?), or should I switch over to the iPhone? I obviously love the galaxy since I have always had one, but the iPhones seem more known and more things (such as chargers and cases) are readily available at a reasonable price. IPhones rarely seem to lag and I own other apple products that I can link it up to. I do not use my phone for much more then social media, some small photo editing, text messaging, and for email and sports apps, which every smart phone is capable of doing. Please help, I'm legitimately cannot make a decision. (no sassy/rude responses please and thanks)

    • I think it's about time for a new phone. I like iphone, however, after several updates, iphones are known to lag. As the phone updates more and more the phone starts to lag more and more. I would go with the galaxy s7 or the s7 edge. The s7 edge is the only phone on the review site "CNET" to receive a perfect 5 out of 5, and it's the fastest phone out right now. It will be faster than the iphone 7 as apple doesn't upgrade the hardware until the "S" models. So the iphone "7s" will an upgrade in internal specs not the "7". Also, the s7 edge and the s7 are said to be the best phones ever created pound for pound.

    • my Verizon s5 is on its last legs as well because the battery is really horrible on it. I have to charge it at least twice a day. I cannot count on my phone lasting me the whole day unless I charge it. I unplug my phone around 6 or 6:30 and I will have to charge my phone around 12 or 1. I hate that and I rely on a charger to get though my day. I just want my phone to last me a full day so I don't have to worry about having to charge my phone at all.

  • Laniyah G 6 months ago Link to comment

    I have the S7 and while I love it at times, I also hate it. I've had the phone for almost a month now and the phone has frozen and made this loud noise for about a minute before rebooting. Anyone else having this same issue? It is extremely annoying.

  • What about an IR blaster? I see note 5 dropped it but not s6. Does the s7 have one?

  • This review was written in great detail. I was considering to buy Galaxy S7.

  • What is the voice recording app called? I have an S7, and I MAY have accidentally poked the top mic instead of the microsd tray release. It would be nice to test the response of both mics to make sure I didn't damage my new phone.

  • 4
    BoothPrim 7 months ago Link to comment

    The fastest and the easiest way to transfer all the contacts, messages, photos and more from Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony and others to Galaxy S7

  • Larry R. 7 months ago Link to comment

    Here's the deal, why after all this time they can't put a decent Battery in a smartphone? The S7 has a 3000 mah Battery. I have a Note 2 Galaxy and it has 3100 mah, not to mention a 5.5 screen. Lots of real estate. Now I have been waiting for YEARS to upgrade and it just looks like I'll either wait for the S8, S9 or S10, who knows. Or, find a Xiaomi Cell Phone for 1/3 the price and 4000 mah Battery. Fingerprint sensor and all. Are we being overcharged again? I think so.

    • Since you have a Note, what do you think about the newer Note version? I think it's the 5, not completely sure. I have an s5 and I bought the s7 edge and am not a fan of the edge. Debating returning it for an s7, or a Note 5. Thoughts at all? :)

  • Alex 7 months ago Link to comment

    It's really a great device.I got one.Now want to root it.But there is no way i think.I just found a guide but not sure if that works or not.
    Guide >

  • Yeah if the phone had a removable battery I would probably get it, but I'll probably go for the LG instead since removable batteries are a non-negotiable feature for me.

  • when u here on adroidpit will stop being so Samsung ass kissers ? Samsung made me get my phone away and go for some other for a just simple reason,Samsung maybe is gd,but not the best,has so many unuseful features that just take space in the phone,has many things that come with the phone that take more than half of the space u think u buy with the phone,no sorry for u guys,but is not the best and i am very sure that will never be and as far as i can tel,buying s7 having s6 is the most stupid thing to do for they r pretty much the same,as i said,Samsung is not the best

  • Will there be an Active variant of the S7? No mention of this. I'm a professional horse trainer, love my S5 Active, with 3 hard buttons vs soft, don't really want to give up the Active functionality and advantages.

    • no, there won't. this is ip68 water resistant, put it in a rugged case and your done. if you don't want to give up the active functionality stick with the s5 active which the waterproofing sucks

    • From what I have read, there will most likely be a S7 Active. It will still be an AT&T exclusive though. You can already get cases for them. Dummies models of the phones are sent out ahead of launch to prepare for 3rd party accessories.

  • Andrei 7 months ago Link to comment

    Excellent and very comprehensive review, gave it a 10! Still, I have one question left. For example, If I'm getting an unlocked model and insert an AT&T SIM, will the phone be automatically locked on AT&T? I've read some articles claiming this. Thanks!

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