Sunday, March 13, 2016

Samsung Galaxy S7 | Complete Review

Samsung Galaxy S7

THE GOOD Polished design. Awesome camera. Long battery life. microSD storage slot and water-resistant (again!).
THE BAD Annoyingly reflective. Smudge magnet. Plastic-looking selfies even with no filter. No removable battery, which isn't surprising, but is still a compromise compared to 2014's S5.
THE BOTTOM LINE The fast, powerful, beautiful Galaxy S7 phone is 2016's all-around phone to beat.
  • DESIGN9.0
  • CAMERA8.0
Mar '16
The ultimate way to test a new phone? Travel with it. When you happen to be seeing sights and losing yourself to the moment, there is no space to tolerate a poor camera or buggy computer software, slow speed or short battery life. If there is a flaw, you are going to locate it.

So I tested the Samsung Galaxy S7 in London and Berlin while colleagues also took it for a spin in San Francisco and Sydney. And you know what? It did great. Far better than excellent. In fact, the S7 was a great telephone that never cracked beneath the stress of being the only way I take images and navigate completely unfamiliar terrain, all while keeping battery life going through lengthy days out. And it did so with a lot more finesse than existing phones. I'd call it the greatest all-around cell phone out there, far better even than the superb Google Nexus 6P and iPhone 6S. (But not fairly as sexy as its fraternal twin, the larger curvy-screen S7 Edge, my best pick if you want to splurge.)

Here's what I identified (along with fellow S7-testers) while utilizing the S7 about Europe.

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Ideal for pockets, but smudgy as hell
I began my testing on London's crowded, bagpipe-festooned bridges and streets. Since I continually mashed the S7 into my jeans and jacket pockets only to retrieve it once more for a weather check, photo, digital payment or to navigate around, its approachable size was a far better fit for me than a bigger phone. "Medium" by today's bonkers requirements, it has a 5.1-inch screen.

Throughout all this nonstop handling, the S7's curved back and sides made it comfortable to hold, and the one time I dropped it, it didn't dent or break. That was only a couple of feet off the floor inside a pub, mind you -- I'm certain it'd sustain much more damage if it had clattered onto pavement.

I spent a good, long time staring at the S7. That curve-back design and style I talked about and some very slight rounding of the edges of the display are damn good, giving the telephone a lot more luxe and contoured appearance than most, including last year's ramrod-straight Galaxy S6. In truth, look closely and you can see that this S7 is built far better than prior Galaxy phones.

A single downside to the S7's shiny metal-and-glass backing is that smudges pile up on smudges, leaving a semi-permanent sheen of finger grease all over your pricey phone. It's gross, and a pain to continuously clean, which usually fails anyway. But like all stunning phones, you are probably bound to slap a case on it anyway, so it's virtually a moot point -- just not an excuse.

Camera, camera, camera!
I took a boatload of photos in London whilst testing the phone, but when my sister and I went to Berlin for the weekend, all hell broke loose. Each pastry and pretzel, imposing museum, graceful river crossing each and every glorious kebab and lip-smacking beer became an opportunity for dutiful documentation.

What was confirmed again and again is that crisp pictures from the 12-megapixel camera countered low-light interference in every darkened cocktail bar, moodily lit restaurant and dusk-dimmed park. Even though this camera has fewer megapixels than last year's S6, it takes much better photographs. Scenes are brighter, which tends to make the action simpler to see.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Camera

Even in low-light scenes, such as a Berlin speakeasy, the S7 trumps the iPhone 6S, yielding brighter, more usable pictures. Digital noise was still there, just diminished those little speckles of color that infiltrate the picture which is an inevitability in low-light digital camera shots.

Whip-fast autofocus was also a winner, grabbing clear shots of moving objects, like swaying flowers (yes, I actually do take pictures of flowers) and my sister lunging like a lightsaber-wielding Jedi in front of a mural (fear her!).

Pictures didn't just look excellent on the S7's sharp screen they also stood up to enlarged views on my laptop and an even bigger monitor back in London.

I also really liked using the new, optional preview mode that lets you delete or share photos right away right after taking them. Oh yes, the S7 has optical image stabilization (OIS), which helped preserve my photos from blurring after all those jetlag-fighting coffees.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Camera Window

I'm nevertheless much less certain of the 5-megapixel front-facing camera, which now has even more "beautification" filters than ever before. I by no means liked these, even though I am sufficiently vain that I never want to see each and every line and wrinkle. To me, they make skin appear plastic and dull. Maybe its the uncanny image of perfect skin, but I know a lot of folks who love the youthening effect. At any rate, I turned all of these filters to zero but nevertheless discovered that selfies either looked fake or overly harsh. Something in the processing appears off, but this isn't a dealbreaker by any means.

I did use the S7's front-facing screen "flash" to light dark selfie scenes, which basically means the telephone screen whites-out before the camera fires. This came in handy since my sister essentially selfie-documented each and every move we produced for her husband and kids, particularly at dinner and the bar. The is blinding. Toning down the brightness would make it more beneficial, specifically, if I could choose a warmer color temperature or reduced brightness setting to make it all less intense. The iPhone 6S' equivalent selfie-flash did much better in the identical scenes.

Less bloatware is a very, very good thing
Back in London, my appreciation for Samsung's more restrained customizations to the Android 6. software program settled in. The S7 slims down the bloatware significantly, while leaving a lot of sophisticated settings for customizing everything from the lock screen to phone themes -- you just have to dig a bit deeper now to locate everything. Samsung also added a handful of good-but-subtle optional touches, like a new "tray" to help you effortlessly move app icons from one screen to another.

Speaking of extra touches, I really like the thought of the Game Launcher, a set of tools you can turn on to trigger some quick actions, like recording the screen or minimizing your game so you can do something else. I'm not the kind of active gamer who would instantly benefit from these functions, so attempting it out on the subway threw off my movements when playing more precision-based games, like the Riptide 2 racer.

My colleague Jason Parker in San Francisco liked being capable of turning off all alerts (with the exception of actual incoming phone calls), but pointed out that the notification for an incoming call still covers most of the screen -- so this particular function doesn't impress as much as it should.

Throughout my week away from San Francisco (aka house), I fell in love with the S7's new always on display, which shows you either the clock, a calendar or an image. It was immediately beneficial for checking the time and the phone's battery levels, a constant worry, without actually getting to take the telephone out of standby. I also set up a clock for the local timezone and the one at home, so I knew when it was too early to call or text.

Battery life is long, performance swift
Other than the camera quality, battery life was my No. 1 concern when utilizing the S7 while Euro-tripping. I was frequently out from 9 a.m. until midnight and didn't usually carry a bulky charger or heavy external battery pack since that gets annoying. Fortunately, I didn't need to. The battery lasted through a complete day of heavy use.

Back in San Francisco, my colleagues ran the S7 through our normal CNET lab tests, a looping video downloaded to the phone, played in airplane mode. The S7 averaged 16 hours in three tests, which is one of the longest-operating outcomes we've observed for any phone. In comparison, the iPhone 6S scored 10.5 hours on the exact same test. I'd nonetheless expect to charge it once a day, but would be a lot more confident of making it through a late night without the battery dying. If you want a larger battery, there is also the S7 Edge.

In the course of my week gallivanting about with the S7, it operated smoothly and never lagged, and games played on its top-of-the-line processor with ease.

A few items the S7 could do better

  • Less plastic-looking selfies, toned-down screen flash.
  • A speedier, more precise fingerprint reader like the Nextbit Robin's side-button reader (this wasn't negative, the Robin's is just that excellent).
  • Figure out how to add a removable battery on a metal style (LG did). For you, that means swapping in fresh batteries if you want to keep the telephone for a long time or increase its resale value.
  • Make sure the phone's right side energy button does not turn on in a purse this drains the battery more quickly (kudos once again to the Nextbit Robin).
  • Make the screen more readable outside on overcast and sunny days. Microsoft/Nokia Lumia phones have a filter Samsung ought to, as well.
  • Support thicker gloves. In chilly London and Berlin, I had to pick between frozen fingers or my lined leather gloves. Samsung says the screen automatically supports thinner gloves.

More stuff you need to know
Moar storage!: Samsung's return to the microSD card slot meant I could load the S7 with a film to watch offline, and save all these photographs and videos to a card as an alternative to the more restricted phone memory -- you can also transfer over an app you download from Google Play. A microSd card also means you will not have to buy a pricier S7 model to get more storage. In that sense, an extra 64GB from the SD card costs you only about $20, AU$65 or £12 -- 5 times less than an Apple storage upgrade costs.

Water-resistant again: I wouldn't usually worry about a typical telephone corroding from rain, so London and Berlin's frequent downpours didn't prove a factor. I did not and will not drop the S7 into a toilet to test this. Just, no. Anyway, "waterproofing" is much more beneficial if someone throws you in a pool as a joke or you take glory photos in a hot tub.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Water Resistant

The Galaxy S7 Edge passes the champagne test

Samsung Pay is still great: This is not new, but who cares? I nonetheless employed it all the time in London and Berlin, so that makes it essential. Samsung Pay one-ups Apple Pay and Google Pay by letting you use the phone as a credit card at any card-accepting merchant (it works with old-fashioned swipe readers, no need for an NFC reader). That made it super simple to buy coffees and train tickets without having to dig for my wallet or withdraw more nearby currency when I ran out. Here's everything you need to know about Samsung Pay.

Wireless charging remains: Like Samsung's 2015 phones, you can charge the S7 wirelessly (it supports all important requirements). Same goes for quick-charging from the wired charger, which is integrated.

"Old" chargers will perform: The S7 makes use of the Micro-USB charging port, not the new Kind-C port that some phones, like the LG G5, have. This indicates that you can use any chargers that you currently happen to have lying about, but it won't do all the tricks of the new standard -- that's not a deal-breaker by any means. Adoption here will be gradual.

The rise of virtual reality:

Mobile virtual reality is finally here. Watch movies in your own private cinema, be at the center of your favorite games, and socialize with friends in a virtual world all your own. The lightweight design and intuitive touchpad drop you right in the action and allow for hours of immersive entertainment.

How happy are we to see the return of the storage slot? So satisfied!

Not a Nexus: Just a reminder, future Android updates will not come on day one, unlike on a Nexus telephone. Based on previous experience, count on a six-month wait.

Extended battery life: Battery life blows it out of the water now, when the S7 is all fresh and new, but phones can not hold the same charge as they age. Speed also slows down over time, particularly right after loading the telephone with zillions of apps and photographs. We'll keep a close eye on this one to see how it does down the line.

Great call quality: Calls sounded excellent when my colleagues tested the S7 in San Francisco with Verizon's network. Calls did not drop, they said, and audio stayed a lot more balanced with warm sound.

Virtual reality perk: The Gear VR headset is free of charge when you buy an S7 or Edge before March 18, or only $99 if you buy it outright. It's way better than Google Cardboard.

Versus other phones

iPhone 6S: The S7 bests the iPhone 6S in low-light camera shots, battery life Android 6. software functions (like Google Now and built-in Doze battery savings) Samsung Pay (which works where Google Pay and Apple Pay don't) and the microSD card slot, which tends to make storing media less expensive than purchasing a telephone with bigger storage.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: The two have everything in common except for the S7's smaller battery and screen size, and its traditional display versus the Edge's curved screen (plus "edge" software navigation bar). The more intriguing Edge is the splurge: much more distinctive but at an expense.

Google Nexus 6P: I will never stop loving the Nexus 6P as a value-for-money telephone, and you will not do wrong in buying it. The S7, nevertheless, is better in all places -- except one. A Nexus telephone is the very first one Google will bless with Android updates. Samsung owners could wait up to six months or longer.

LG G5: It isn't out, however, so we can not pitch them in a deep comparison battle but, the G5 brings some significant innovation that the S7 can not match, and its removable battery thumbs LG's nose at Samsung.

Costs: Not cheap, but worth it
The S7 went on sale March 11 and starts at $650, £569 and AU$1,149. That isn't inexpensive, but I think it really is worth the investment. Compared to 2015's iPhone 6S, the new Galaxy S7 has the advantage: The might of Android's computer software excellence, that gorgeous design, a lot of customization options and top hardware guts.

You could also pony up more to upgrade to the S7 Edge if you want the larger 5.5-inch screen, the bigger battery, and the seductive waterfall screen design.

Original Article by C|Net