Samsung Raises Curtain on Galaxy S7 Models

Samsung on Sunday introduced two new models of its flagship Galaxy smartphone line at the annual gala for the mobile world, the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, Spain.

Both phones have similar features, but one, the Galaxy S7 Edge, has a 5.5-inch display, the same size as the iPhone 6s Plus.

The units have curved screens that support quad HD resolution, as well as a slight curve on the back, making them easier to hold.

To soothe complaints about the battery life of the previous Galaxy generation, the units have received power boosts. The S7 Edge has a 3,600-mAh battery, a jump from the S6 Edge’s 2,600, and the S7 has a 3,000-mAh power supply, while the S6’s battery was only 2,550.

In addition, the units are water and dust resistant, support microSD storage, and run on Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Fewer Megapixels

Samsung also has made some changes in the Galaxy’s camera. It has reduced the number of megapixels on the shooter’s sensor to 12 from 16, but increased the size of the pixels, which should improve the camera’s performance in low light conditions.

The pixels in the new Galaxy models are 30 percent larger than those in the iPhone 6s Plus, 1.4 micron compared to 1.22 micron for Apple.

Both Apple and Google have gone the fewer-but-bigger-pixel route with some success, so Samsung’s rivals already have done some of the consumer education about the move.

“It will work as long as they frame it in terms of bigger pixels get more light,” said Daniel Matte, an analyst withCanalys.

Larger pixels also make it easier to incorporate into each pixel autofocusing technology, which allows the camera to take sharper pictures faster.

“Autofocus is really fast now — nearly instantaneous anywhere across the image,” Matte told TechNewsWorld.

“That’s been in DSLRs and quality cameras for a while, and now it’s migrated to the smartphone market,” he added. “That’s a big improvement.”

Mixed Reviews

“They’re a nice improvement over previous versions, but they’re not groundbreaking,” said Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst atTechnalysis Research.

“There isn’t any one feature that’s a killer and will massively move the needle in the market,” Matte said.

“The best addition they made was adding Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820, which in certain use cases doubles the performance,” Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst atMoor Insights & Strategy, told TechNewsWorld.

Virtual Reality

For consumers who preorder either of the new phone models up to March 18, Samsung is offering a sweet deal: a free Gear VR headset.

Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus

In addition,Oculus is offering those who preorder the phones six Gear VR games for free.

Will the lure of a free VR headset help boost initial sales?

“There’s not that much content out there for VR, so it’s more of a gimmick at this point,” Technalysis’ O’Donnell told TechNewsWorld.

“They’re going to incent people to try VR,” saidGartner Research Director Brian Blau.

“It’s a nice incentive if you’re interested in doing VR with a Samsung phone,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Beyond that, it’s not going to change the picture for overall smartphone sales.”

Cooling Market

Samsung, as well other smartphone makers, would very much like to change the current picture for smartphone sales.

“We’re seeing a lengthening of upgrade cycles for smartphones and growth is slowing. It’s going to be hard for anyone to do well in the smartphone market in the next few years in terms of growth,” Canalys’ Matte said.

“As phones mature,” he continued, “they become good enough for most people, so it’s more difficult to sell them.”

In the United States, another factor contributing to longer upgrade cycles is the phasing out of phone subsidies.

“Now that people are paying full price for their phones, they want them to last longer,” O’Donnell said.

“Lifetimes are extending beyond two years, so just as we saw lifetimes extend for PCs, we’re going to see them extended for phones,” he added.

Nevertheless, Canalys is predicting another double-digit growth year for smartphones this year. Globally, it predicts smartphone shipments will crack 1.5 billion in 2016.

“Despite turbulence for certain vendors and countries,” it noted in a report released Monday, “the industry will still grow by over 10 percent this year thanks to new opportunities.”

John Mello is a freelance technology writer and contributor to Chief Security Officer magazine. You can connect with him on Google+.

2 Comments

  • "They’re a nice improvement over previous versions, but they’re not groundbreaking," said Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst at Technalysis Research.

    Which is a moot point if you haven’t owned a Galaxy series phone for a while. I’m not seeing many people upgrading every year anymore. There are a few enthusiasts, but because of the cost of these newer phones people generally want to get their money’s worth.

    I haven’t owned a Galaxy phone since the S3. I’m currently using a Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and the S7 Edge I’ve pre-ordered makes my phone seem tiny and insignificant by comparrison. Actually, any of the latest/best phones this year would make my Z3 Compact seem puny.

    The S7 Edge is finally my ability to compete with my wife’s iPhone 6S Plus. Her phone is perfect size for my big hands and the S7 Edge should compare nicely. Also, music is a big selling point for me and the custom audio chip their putting in should do very nicely for my flac files.

    The addition of the micro SD is my biggest reason for buying. I have a lot of music and videos to listen to and watch, and this will ensure I can carry all my files, and not have to compromise and swap things around constantly. Relying on the "cloud" isn’t very convenient at present as the cost of downloading all the time isn’t an option for me (living in Australia). The camera is just a camera. I own a DSLR and phone cameras are just a fun little take-a-snap-of-the-moment type of thing, whatever their capability.

    So, whatever the reason for S7 being "THE" phone right now for everyone, I’m sure many will not be dissapointed.

  • For the first time in history I think samsung is going to out box apples records and thus making samsung s7 best mobile ever. with android 6.0 you will never miss any apps from android, and rightly they improved camera quality as apple give tough competition in this category. Offering free VR headset is good idea but have to see the initial price of s7 to say whether it’s a good deal or not. overall a good update from samsung.

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