Samsung’s New Galaxy Phones Are All About Their Killer Cameras
According to DxOMark’s camera tests for smartphones, last year’s Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus has the best overall imaging prowess of any phone. That reign at the top of the mobile pack may be a short one, because Samsung’s new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones seem destined to leapfrog it.
The newest Galaxies have cameras that offer features you’d expect to find in DSLRs—most notably, phase-detection autofocus systems on both handsets. This autofocus technique (relatively new to smartphones, starting with the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6) is more effective in low-light situations than older contrast-detection AF systems. It also reacts more quickly to objects approaching or retreating from the lens, and is especially smooth when you’re shooting video. The S7 and S7 Edge have new sensors covered in phase-detection pixels, making them standout smartphones for fast-action and flash-free nighttime shooting.
It’s not all about the autofocus system, even though the S7 and S7 Edge did perform incredibly well in still and video modes during my brief hands-on time at a press event. Helping with the low-light performance is the wide-aperture f/1.7 lens and the lower pixel density of the sensor. When it comes to shooting in the dark, using a sensor with fewer pixels per inch gives you better light-slurping capabilities. The new phones have fewer pixels (12 megapixels versus the 16 megapixels of the S6 and S6 Edge) and slightly larger sensors.
Although these phones aren’t designed for shooting photos underwater, you can go for a quick swim with one. Both new handsets are water- and dust-resistant to IP68 specifications, meaning they’re submergible in five feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Splash and spill on them all you want.
They’re also telephones! The 5.1-inch Galaxy S7 and 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 Edge (the name comes from its display that curves at the vertical edges) are loaded with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 chip, a generous 4GB of RAM, and up to 200GB of expandable storage via their microSD trays. Samsung claims the new phones are 30 percent faster than their predecessors, and they’re the first smarphones to support the Vulkan 3D graphics API. Along with 64-percent-faster GPU performance, Samsung says the new phones allow gamers to record their gameplay and flip on a power-saving mode for games that drops frame rates to 30fps.
Both new Android Marshmallow phones have Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440-pixel) AMOLED displays, with “Always On” zones for treating your eyes to the current time and an endless stream of notifications. They’ve also got fast-charging capabilities, as well wireless-charging options that Samsung claims are as fast as some competitors’ wired-charging offerings (I didn’t get the chance to test this). The S7 Edge has an edge in the battery-life department, rocking a 3,600mAh unit in comparison to the S7’s 3,000mAh cell.
The S7 Edge also has some additional features due to its curved-screen design. There’s a revamped Edge UX, Samsung’s name for the side-swiping shortcuts from the contoured edges. It now supports two rows of icons (up from one) and lets you configure quick access to apps, contacts, and third-party panels akin to Microsoft’s Live Tiles. You can set the phone’s shortcuts to be location-sensitive, showing work apps at the office and fun apps at home.
Speaking of work, Samsung is also taking a few cues from… BlackBerry Balance? Yes. As part of the phones’ Knox security features, they keep enterprise apps on a partitioned chunk of the phone and personal apps on another. That way, the just-fired BYOD set can have their work apps remotely wiped without affecting their Snapchat game.
Both new devices support the near-universally accepted Samsung Pay.
These crazysexycool showerproof supercamera creditcard workplay gamephones aren’t out yet. Samsung says to stay tuned to your favorite carrier’s announcements for pricing and availability.