Samsung Galaxy S7: news and rumors
Update: New rumors suggest the Galaxy S7 will look mostly like the Galaxy S6, with only a few tweaks to the design. It’s looking ever more likely that the Galaxy S7 will arrive earlier than expected, and may come with microSD support. Samsung has also announced a new camera sensor, which could be used in the phone. And we’ve seen both the rumoured Exynos 8890 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipsets benchmarked.
Samsung is going to have to do a lot of work to be able to repeat the trick – but there’s much more that can be improved on in the new phone, so there’s plenty of scope.
We don’t expect to see the new handset until early 2016 though – usually Samsung takes time out in early March to announce its flagships at MWC in Barcelona, and we expect it to be the same again this year.
However, rumors about the new phone are already beginning to roll in, so here’s everything we’ve picked up so far.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next flagship phone from Samsung’s Galaxy S line.
- When is it out? Possibly as early as January 2016, failing that probably at MWC in late February.
- What will it cost? Expect expensive – it’s bound to be one of the more costly phones to buy next year.
Samsung Galaxy S7: The techradar concept
When it comes to the new Samsung Galaxy S7, we want to see Samsung departing from the standard, blocky smartphone design.
What we want this time is something innovative, something that pushes the boundaries and takes into account all the awesome technology Samsung keeps promising.
So here’s how we think it should shake down: techradar’s Galaxy S7, complete with all the technology Samsung has talked about, with a few of our own flourishes thrown in…
The main difference is, again, the screen. If Samsung is going to make a success of the Gear VR, it needs a better screen, and leaping forward to 8K will make looking at the display a pin-sharp experience.
The other big thing we’re hoping to finally see is the iris scanning technology that will supersede the fingerprint scanners we’re seeing in more and more phones. With dual hi-res scanning cameras on the front, with enhanced apertures, simply turning the phone screen on will confirm your identity.
The edges of the super-sharp screen are now properly pushed to the side of the phone, with the notifications now showing properly either side – the S6 Edge has the curves as decoration, but now they’re actually going to be used.
And bass-rich speakers on the top and bottom will utilise Samsung’s omni-sound technology to make the phone a true media marvel – no more backwards-facing tinny sound here.
Of course, TouchWiz still remains… but hey, there’s only so much we can hope for…
Samsung Galaxy S7 release date
One rumor states that the Samsung Galaxy S7 could be announced in January, possibly on January 19. That’s not the first we’ve heard of this either, as an analyst at SK Securities also reckons the Galaxy S7 could be unveiled as soon as January for an early February launch, while other sources claim Samsung has started developing the firmware a month early, which also suggests a possible early release.
This follows earlier information from the South Korean website Newsis, which cites insider sources who claim that Samsung started work on the Galaxy S7 about 2 to 3 months ahead of its usual schedule. So it is believable that the S7 could launch early, but we’d still take it with a massive helping of salt.
There are even rumors that we could see the Samsung Galaxy S7 before the year is over. December has already been mooted as a potential Samsung Galaxy S7 release date, while another source points to a more vague late 2015 date – although we reckon that’s highly unlikely.
Traditionally, Samsung usually releases one Galaxy S and one Galaxy Note flagship device a year, so it would be a big departure if it released the S7 in 2015. This rumor could just be a case of getting lost in translation, so we’d recommend caution when taking it at face value.
If none of these rumors pan out then we’d look to February or March for a release. Samsung has recently been unveiling its Galaxy S flagships at MWC and releasing them shortly after, which in 2016 would mean a launch in late February or March.
Samsung Galaxy S7 design
Given that Samsung has only just overhauled its flagship design for the Galaxy S6 we’re not expecting massive changes in the Samsung Galaxy S7. Any changes on the Galaxy S7 are expected to be small with a largely similar look to the Galaxy S6.
A source close to Samsung told The Korea Times, "As the S6 and S6 Edge represented progress, the S7 will have improvements both in picture quality, performance and other some new features. The key point is can consumers enjoy content with enhanced viewing quality and boosted processing speed."
There may be a few tweaks to the look of both the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, but it seems Samsung wants to keep a largely similar design language across the board.
On the other hand, an older rumour suggested the Galaxy S7 is going to be much bigger than the Galaxy S6 with a 5.7-inch screen – we’re taking that with a big pinch of salt though as it sounds quite out there.
On top of that the Galaxy S7 may be built of a different type of metal. Sources claim the company is experimenting with magnesium based alloy that will make the phone stronger whilst keeping it light and allows the heat out when the processor is working hard. This rumor has popped up again recently, so it could be accurate.
A slim metal and glass build seems likely and whatever we get it’s likely to be premium, especially as there’s a rumor that the battery won’t be removable specifically because making it so would compromise the design.
Samsung Galaxy S7 screen
Interestingly there’s talk that Samsung could offer the Galaxy S7 in two different sizes. One with a 5.2-inch screen and one with a 5.8-inch one and supposedly at least one of them will have a 4K display. Given there’s already the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ though we wouldn’t hold our breath for a phablet version of the S7.
Then again a benchmark believed to be for the Samsung Galaxy S7 claims it has a 5.7-inch display, so maybe it will be growing. It lists a 1440 x 2560 QHD one though rather than 4K.
It looks like Samsung may adapt a similar feature to the iPhone 6S’ 3D Touch technology. A company called Synaptics has a technology called ClearForce that allows for different functionality depending on how hard you’re pressing on the screen.
Another rumor states that the Galaxy S7 may be coming with a curved screen. According to supply chain sources the phone will be launching with a flexible display after Samsung put in some big orders with Taiwanese manufacturers. That rumor has popped up again more recently.
It may end up being a separate version of the Galaxy S7 much like with the Galaxy S6 Edge, but it’s interesting all the same.
A new trademark filing suggests Samsung is working on its own new super-strong display technology called Turtle Glass. It’s set to replace Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 and we may see it launch on the Galaxy S7.
There’s even talk that Samsung will go further and deliver a foldable phone, but this seems incredibly unlikely. Even if the technology is in place (which is a big if) it’s doubtful that Samsung would risk something so new and untested on its flagship.
Samsung Galaxy S7 rivals
In recent years HTC has been a significant rival to Samsung, launching similarly impressive phones at around the same time, so we’d expect the HTC One M10 could be a Samsung Galaxy S7 rival. Very little is known about it yet but it’s sure to be stylish and likely to be very powerful.
Other than that there’s the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, which are likely to still be selling very well by early 2016, while the Sony Xperia Z6 or whatever Sony’s cooking up next could steal some attention away from Samsung too.
Samsung Galaxy S7 camera and battery
Samsung’s unveiled a new BRITECELL camera, which is designed to be both better in low light and smaller in size than the snapper on the Galaxy S6. It’s not been confirmed whether it’s heading for the S7, but it seems fairly likely.
On the other hand there are also reports of Samsung speaking to Sony to get a hold of the IMX300 sensor that is included in the Xperia Z5 series.
Samsung is so impressed with the technology that it may include it even though it has been working on its own sensor – rumor is the Galaxy S7 will have a different sensor depending on the region and model of the phone.
Another rumor has suggested that Samsung isn’t worrying about megapixels and is instead focusing on other areas such as how light the photos are and the size of the sensor itself. According to a tipster on Weibo, Samsung will drop the Galaxy S6’s 16MP camera down to a 12MP one on the Galaxy S7.
Previously, an AnTuTu benchmark showed a phone believed to be the Samsung Galaxy S7 as having a 16MP rear camera and a 5MP front-facing one. Those are the same camera specs as the Galaxy S6, but that has one of the best smartphone snappers around so that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. With so many camera rumors though it’s hard to know what we’re going to get.
There’s no word on what size the battery will be yet but according to one rumor it won’t be removable as it’s apparently not possible to have a removable juice pack without compromising the design. Given that the Samsung Galaxy S6 has a sealed battery this doesn’t really come as any surprise.
Samsung Galaxy S7 OS and power
The Samsung Galaxy S7 will almost certainly launch with Android Marshmallow. In fact snaps of supposed internal Samsung documents regarding its Android Marshmallow update have made their way onto social networking site Weibo, and appear to confirm the rumored Galaxy S7 codename ‘Jungfrau’ and a key spec of the upcoming flagship.
Samsung’s Galaxy S7 is rumoured to come in two different variants – one with an Exynos chipset and another with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820. That Snapdragon 820 rumor has since been echoed by other sources and in a benchmark.
The Snapdragon 820 version has been caught by Geekbench’s benchmarking suggesting the device will score a multi-core score of 5423. That’s nothing on the rumoured Exynos 8890 version that scores 6908 but it’s only just behind the very powerful iPad Pro that scored 5468.
The fact the Snapdragon 820 chip is being linked to the Galaxy S7 is interesting, as Samsung ditched Qualcomm’s offering for the Galaxy S6, instead exclusively using its own Exynos processor. Samsung didn’t disclose the reasoning as to why it opted to do this, but the current top-tier Qualcomm chip – the Snapdragon 810 – has been plagued by reports of overheating and patchy performance.
Perhaps this is a sign of Qualcomm’s return to form in the chipset market, although it’s too early to confirm either way. However while Qualcomm has been touted as the maker of the Galaxy S7’s chip, other benchmark results have leaked onto the internet that claim to show Samsung’s next SoC, the Exynos M1, could potentially power the new Galaxy.
These benchmarks show the hardware used to make the Exynos M1, and it looks like it uses a series of custom ARM cores. Intriguingly the benchmarks also show that the Exynos M1 is much more powerful than the Snapdragon 820 in almost every aspect.
While we’d advise taking these benchmarks with a pinch of salt it would mean that the Samsung Galaxy S7 could be a more powerful handset if it again shuns Qualcomm’s hardware. Whatever processor we get we’re expecting to see 4GB of RAM, not least because the Galaxy S6 Edge+ has that already.
Samsung Galaxy S7 other features
A report out of South Korea suggests the Samsung Galaxy S7 might have serious audio skills, as it could use the SABRE 9018AQ2M chip from ESS Technology. The chip features a a 32-bit mobile audio DAC and has 129 dB signal to noise ratio, so Samsung could be set to give HTC a run for its money when it comes to music.
It’s also been rumored that the Samsung Galaxy S7 will support USB Type-C, allowing it to charge faster and meaning you can plug the cable in either way round. We’d say this is one rumor that’s almost guaranteed to be true, as more and more phones are adding USB Type-C support.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 is bound to have a fingerprint scanner, just like the Galaxy S6.
A new rumor has suggested the Galaxy S7 may come with microSD support – something the Galaxy S6 didn’t offer – and it’ll have support up to 128GB.
That may mean we see the internal storage options cut down to just 32GB or 64GB though – but the return to microSD is a good step and means you can have much better control over your storage.
Samsung Galaxy S7 cost
There’s no word yet on what the Samsung Galaxy S7 will cost but we can tell you right now that it will be very expensive. While a price cut would be nice we’d be surprised if Samsung launched it for any less than it initially charged for the Galaxy S6. If we had to guess we’d say it could start at up to around £600 / $650 / AU$1,100.
Samsung Galaxy S7: what we want to see
What we want to see
1. Better battery life
Our biggest gripe with the Galaxy S6 was the battery – we found with moderate usage you could get between 17 and 18 hours. That is the average day if you’re on a normal sleep pattern but do you really want to be walking that tight rope thinking if I watch a film my phone it’s not going to last the whole day?
Samsung need to do better than this with the Galaxy S7; even sacrificing a little of its new found design credentials to thicken up the handset and stick in a bigger cell would have been worth the extra life. Next time let’s hope it understands functionality takes precedence over design.
2. Bring us to the Edge
We loved the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge – in fact we think everyone did – it just did something entirely different to the rest of the competition.
We want the same again, but maybe something completely off the bat. If the rumors of the flexible display handset turn out to be true we could end up seeing something similar to the S6 Edge come Q1 2016.
3. Another step into VR
When Samsung revealed the Galaxy S6 it also announced there would be a new Gear VR headsetdesigned to go alongside the new phone.
Next time around we want Samsung to keep focusing on VR but up its game even further for the Galaxy S7 – whether it be more sensors, more games or a new way of doing it altogether we just want more of a focus on VR.
Samsung is one of the few companies doing Virtual Reality right at the moment and there’s no better way to keep that going than innovating on an already good product.
4. A price drop
Samsung’s devices aren’t the cheapest on the market. One of our criticisms of the latest handset came at the price tag attached to the phone and it’d be nice to see it drop down a little as soon as possible. At the moment Samsung’s devices are even in a similar price bracket to Apple.
It may mean we lose a couple of the superfluous features on the phone but taking it down a little would be really nice. Come on Samsung, you can buck the trend and do it with the Galaxy S7.
5. Drop the fingerprint magnet
If you’ve got a white S6 you’re laughing, but if you’ve got one of the darker options you’re probably finding yourself wiping it with your t-shirt a lot thanks to all the fingerprints showing up on the rear.
The white option is the best for avoiding this but we shouldn’t expect our phones to be covered in grubby marks within a matter of minutes. Let’s sort it out ready for the Samsung Galaxy S7.
6. Something brand new
The S6 Edge really showed us something different and we want to see that same inspiration again from the South Korean company.
In the meantime we may not actually know what we want to see, but something to change up the phone market a little and give it a little kick up the bum it needs.
7. More robust design
Almost everybody agrees Samsung nailed the design of the Galaxy S6, but one big feature was missing. The Galaxy S5 had the addition of a water and dustproof design so when the Galaxy S6 was announced it was quite a shock the feature had been taken out.
Fingers crossed Samsung will see fit to return it to the Galaxy S7, but this time in a much nicer design.
8. Slight camera tweaks
It’s no secret we loved the Galaxy S6’s camera, but there are a few little issues with it we’d loved to see be improved on the next handset.
Slow motion video can look a little sketchy on the handset so we’d love to see some improvements there to see it compete with the glory of the iPhone 6’s slow-mo mode.
It’d also be nice to get a few more downloadable camera modes thrown in on top as well – we love the fact they’re not clogging up the device with useless modes but there’s not enough of them right now to justify the store Samsung has created.
9. Even more power
Not that the Galaxy S6 wasn’t powerful enough, but in a year we’re going to have a bunch of new processors doing the rounds and we want to see the biggest and best in the Samsung Galaxy S7.
Whether it be an in house created Exynos processor or a jump back to Qualcomm, we don’t mind, we just want the best the company can find. Is that too much to ask?