Are you thinking about buying the hottest Android phone of 2016? Read the review of Samsung Galaxy S7 from the perspective of a technology geek and runner.
Yes, I finally decided to sell my previous phone and bought myself a Samsung Galaxy S7. I have already been using it for three days, so it’s high time to write something more about it.
DISCLAIMER: This is not going to be another in-depth scientific review with tons of technical jargon and specifications. I know these reviews are quite popular on the Internet and I read many of them before buying my new phone. However, my intention is to create an honest review analyzing and assessing my Samsung Galaxy S7 from practical points of view and help my readers decide whether this is the phone model for them.
What I am sharing here with you is a practical review written by a technology geek (and a runner) who needs a nice-looking, efficient and quite durable phone. However, the truth is that the device will be used for what most people use their phones for, i.e. texting, using Facebook, browsing the web, taking photos, writing e-mails, playing games, watching YouTube and so on.
That’s why the review focuses on analyzing how Samsung Galaxy S7 performs in the above situations, what useful features it has and what its main disadvantages are.
Why I finally bought a Samsung Galaxy S7
Whenever a new flagship phone appears (especially if it’s a Sony, Samsung or HTC), I always feel the urge to buy it. In this case, I managed to resist this urge for almost two months, because I genuinely liked my previous phone (especially its compact size together with quite high technical specs).
However, during my trip this weekend my Sony Xperia Z5 Compact (with 2 GB of RAM) turned out not to be efficient enough. It kept overheating and stopping when it was paired with my car and I was trying to listen to music over Bluetooth (through my car’s head unit) and use it as my backup navigation (I wanted it to set notifications to my car’s head unit over Bluetooth). Unfortunately, giving music and sending notifications to my car turned out to me way too much for it. 🙁
I tried many different things to fix this problem at first, but I finally realized that there simply isn’t enough RAM and neither resetting or restarting the phone will help. That’s how I decided to buy a Samsung Galaxy S7 which seemed to be one of few devices what would meet most of my needs, i.e. 4 GB of RAM, nice looks, water-resistance, excellent camera, good battery and so on.
Let’s now delve a bit deeper and see how it all REALLY is. 😛
We could easily fill several pages of text with nothing other than technical specifications of Samsung Galaxy S7. In this review, however, we will mainly focus on the most important specs and features everyone should know about. Here they are:
- Dimensions of 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm
- Weight of 152 g
- Display size of 5.1 inches and resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels
- 64bit octa core processor
- IP68 water & dust resistance
- Corning Gorilla Glass 4 (both front and back)
- Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) on board
- Always-on display
- Dual pixel primary camera of 12 MP, f/1.7, 26mm, 1/2.6″ sensor size, 1.4 µm pixel size
- Dual pixel secondary camera of 5 MP, f/1.7, 22mm
- 4K video recording
- Fingerprint sensor
- Non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery
- Fast battery charging
- Wireless charging (with a compatible charging pad)
If you are interested in full technical features of Samsung Galaxy S7, you can read its detailed specs on GSMARENA or on the website of its manufacturer (but here you will find a bit of marketing hype).
The first impression after opening the box was that my Samsung Galaxy S7 is simply beautiful.
The first impression after turning in on was that it has a wonderful display. My first impressions haven’t changed yet (even though I have been using my new phone for three days now).
The first thing that came to my mind when I saw a Samsung Galaxy S7 for the first time was that this phone is simply ELEGANT. It doesn’t look cheap in any way (in contrast to its plastic predecessors like Samsung Galaxy S4 or S3).
The Internet is full of various pictures of S7 and below is the picture of mine:
The phone (at least in Poland) is available in three colors: black, gold and white. Since I have never had a gold phone, I chose this color. It’s stylish!
Unfortunately, I was so eager to crack open the box to see my new phone that I didn’t manage to shoot the unboxing video. 😛 However, I collected all the stuff from the box again and at least took a couple of photos. As you can see even the box looks elegant and, again, stylish.
In the box you will find regular accessories like:
- headset (separately packed)
- fast charger
- user manual
- USB cable
- adapter on-the-go
- key for the SIM card and memory card.
I hope I didn’t forget about anything.
That would be all regarding the phone’s features and looks. How does it perform in practice?
The first thing you see when you buy a new phone (and when you turn it on) is its screen. Samsung Galaxy S7 comes with a super AMOLED 16-million color touchscreen.
I must say that the display is simply beautiful. Color and text are vivid and clear. The screen has outstanding sunlight legibility (which was an issue in the case of my previous phone when I was wearing sunglasses). In the case of Galaxy S7 whether I have sunglasses on or not, the screen is bright and clear.
There are a few interesting screen settings that let you adjust the display to your needs. You can, for example, change the type and size of font or use of the four different color adjustment modes.
Always On Display
The interesting feature that Galaxy S7 offers is the Always On Display. Thanks to this feature, my phone continuously displays date and time (and basic notifications) on the screen. At first I thought this would shorten battery life but I see that it doesn’t make much difference (I haven’t finish battery tests yet).
It’s especially useful at night. When I wake up I don’t have to wake up my phone to check time. In the night it looks something like that.
Not Edge but… Edge
I didn’t buy a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge because I didn’t really like this curved screen and I know there are problems in applying a protective film on such a screen. With that in mind, I decided to buy the “normal” version with a flat screen.
Unfortunately, it turns out that a Samsung Galaxy S7 still has slightly curved edges of the screen, which makes it impossible to apply a protective film on it as well (even if you apply it, it looks horrible). That’s why I have to fully rely on Gorilla Glass 4.
The first thing that I always used to do after buying a new phone was to encrypt it. After turning my S7 for the first time, I was astonished that I couldn’t find the option to encrypt it.
All I could find under Lock screen and security was the option to encrypt the SD card.
When I googled this problem I learned that I couldn’t find this feature because my Samsung Galaxy S7 is by DEFAULT encrypted, which greatly increases the security of data of every user of this model of phone. Congratulations, Samsung.
Apart from the default encryption, the phone offers some other extra security features like auto factory reset after 15 incorrect attempts to unlock the device or secure startup (the password has to be entered before the device starts up).
With these features on board I really feel that my data is well protected.
Fingerprint sensor and its placement
Of course, one of the best security features of Samsung Galaxy S7 is its in-built fingerprint sensor which lets you unlock your device with your finger (instead of entering the password every time).
The sensor works really great and almost always recognizes my fingerprints (even when my fingers are wet). The sensor in Sony Xperia Z5 Compact also worked OK, but failed to recognize my fingers more often than it happens in the case of Samsung Galaxy S7.
The position of the fingerprint sensor (under the home button) is really a matter of how you tend to grab your phone when you take it out of your pocket. In Sony the sensor was placed under the power/unlock button. However, having in mind slightly bigger dimensions of Samsung, the placement of the sensor where it is makes perfect sense, so I am not going to complain about it here.
What is also very important for me is the user interface of my device. In the case of older Samsung phones, the UI was (at least for me) very poor. Since the introduction of Android “M” to Samsung phones, it improved a lot.
My Samsung Galaxy S7 has quite nice user interface (take a look at the screenshot below).
Thanks to many screen settings available, you can adjust the size of font, its color, type or style of icons.
No cool themes
However, I miss other colorful themes I had in my previous phone (all extra themes were developed by Sony so they all were of excellent quality).
The themes that are available for downloading in Samsung Galaxy S7 are not developed by Samsung, so they very often look very cheap. I have to stick to the default theme as I didn’t like any of the extra themes available in the theme store.
Samsung Galaxy S7 comes with a non-removable Li-lon 3000 mAh battery. I couldn’t really believe when people said that Samsung had finally solved the problem of battery life in its newest device. After three days of using my phone this seems to be true.
I am still testing battery life of my phone but it turns out that my Samsung will last for almost two whole days of normal use, i.e. mobile data and location turned on, using Facebook & Messenger, texting, making a few calls, taking a few photos and Always On Display turned on. Without all of these features turned on, I think we could count on even three days of use.
I must admit that fast charging is really… fast. My Samsung Galaxy S7 will need less than two hours to fully charge (from 0%).
I was always convinced that more pixels mean that the camera is better. That was especially after I bought a HTC One with four ultra “pixels” which later turned out to be a total flop. In my Sony Xperia Z5 Compact I had a camera with 23MP and I was quite happy with it.
In the case of Samsung Galaxy S7 it seemed like a step back as there are only 12MP (and 12MP are only available in 4:3, so in fact it’s 9.1MP).
However, the quality of pictures taken with Samsung is much better and the camera offers a few interesting features (and you can also download other camera effects if you want).
Both the front and back cameras take beautiful photos. You can see sample photos taken by my Samsung Galaxy S7 here.
No dedicated camera button
Even though I like the camera overall, I will miss the dedicated camera button I had in my Sony Xperia Z5 Compact. I have no idea why Samsung decided not to add the dedicated camera button (which would make life so much easier).
You can read more about camera and see more of its sample photos & movies here.
Texting & typing
I use my phone mostly for typing so I really wanted to have a comfortable keyboard that would manage to correct my typos efficiently (I type very fast). I tried many different options like SwiftKey Keyboard (which is OK but I don’t like its themes) or Google Keyboard (it didn’t manage to auto-correct my typos efficiently).
The only keyboard I was quite happy with was the stock keyboard in my Sony Xperia Z5 Compact.
Great stock keyboard with a small drawback
Fortunately, I was positively astonished by what Samsung Galaxy S7 had in store for me. Its stock keyboard is even better than the one in Sony and I can now type even faster than ever. What’s more, in keyboard settings,I can easily adjust its size and other preferences.
The only thing I miss in this keyboard are extra skins (you can’t even switch between the dark and light color). The only option you have is using high contrast keyboard keys which look like this.
The high-contrast keyboard looks a bit cheap, doesn’t it?
Music is a very important part of my life (it’s always there with me except when I am sleeping), so my phone has to provide me with good experience in this regard. Samsung Galaxy S7 does its job.
The default headset of Samsung Galaxy S7 is one of the best headsets I have ever had. Fortunately, it’s not made of earphones (you don’t have to stick earbuds inside your ears). The quality of music is really great. Bass is crystal clear. This is how the headset looks like:
No music app by default
I don’t know how it’s possible but when I plugged in the headset to my Samsung Galaxy S7 for the first time nothing happened. In the case of Sony, its music player always opened and asked me if I wanted to listen to music. It turned out that my Samsung simply didn’t have any music app installed by default.
All I needed to do was search for “Samsung Music” in Google Play and download it to have the “default” Samsung app on my phone. Nevertheless, it’s a bit odd.
No stereo speakers
The quality of music played by the speaker is OK but I really miss the stereo speakers I had in my Sony Xperia. I don’t know why Samsung still hasn’t provided stereo speakers in its flagship phones. I hope that will change when S8 is around.
As I mentioned in the beginning of the review, quick and smooth performance of my phone is the most important for me. I am a very impatient and ill-tempered person and I just can’t wait for the device to respond or “think”. 4 GB of RAM really makes a difference and the operation of Samsung Galaxy S7 is almost ideal. To sum it up:
- I can finally listen to music in my car (and it doesn’t stop every few seconds because this is too much for my device).
- The fingerprint sensor responds instantly. There is no waiting.
- It doesn’t heat up as often as Sony used to. It only overheated once when downloading and installing a system update.
- Typing on S7 is pure pleasure.
- Photos taken with my new phone are of great quality.
A word from the perspective of a runner
If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you probably know that I am a runner. It means that I wouldn’t buy myself a big phone like Samsung Galaxy Note 5 or even Galaxy S7 Edge. The phone must fit into my pocket or my pouch for running.
As I often run in the rain, it must also be water-resistant. Fortunately, Samsung Galaxy S7 meets these criteria. The proof attached below.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you also have a Samsung Galaxy S7? Do you like it? Do you want to me write about some its specific feature?
Feel free to leave me comments and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!