Samsung Galaxy S7 review: A refinement act

A refinement act

GSMArena team, 11 March, 2016.

Still 5.1 inches, even better now

Third generation in a row, the Samsung Galaxy S flagship comes with a 5.1-inch display and for the second time it has QHD (or 1,440 x 2,560 pixels) resolution. The subpixels are arranged in the familiar Diamond Pentile fashion, meaning the green subpixels are twice as many as any other single color.

Samsung Galaxy S7 review

We're happy to see that Samsung is offering higher maximum screen brightness on the S7 when compared to the S6. The overdrive mode, which kicks in under bright sunlight if you have Auto brightness ON, goes a bit lower than what we saw on the S6.

The minimum display brightness is 2.1nits, which is perfectly suitable for late-night reading in a dark room.

Color accuracy of the screen is top notch as long as you opt for the Basic display mode. The other available modes make colors pop but they are nowhere near as color accurate as Basic (Average DeltaE 2000 of 1.7 and Max DeltaE of 2.3). For comparison, the Avg DeltaE in Adaptive mode is 7.1.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy S7 0.00 395
Samsung Galaxy S7 max auto 0.00 539
Samsung Galaxy S6 0.00 363
Samsung Galaxy S6 max auto 0.00 619
LG Nexus 5X 0.30 455 1542
Sony Xperia Z5 0.59 583 986
Apple iPhone 6s 0.36 536 1481
LG G4 0.43 532 1238
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 0.00 421
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) max auto 0.00 601
HTC One A9 0.00 366

The Galaxy S7 posted a remarkable result in our sunlight legibility test, second only to Samsung's own Galaxy S6 edge+.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Microsoft Lumia 950XL
    3.837
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • LG G4
    2.317
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221

Connectivity

Samsung's Exynos 8890 chipset is paired with an LTE Cat. 9 modem. Theoretical maximums are 450Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink. If you have access to an HSPA network only, you'll get a maximum of 42Mbps and 5.76Mbps respectively.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 supports Wi-Fi ac networks for fast local connectivity. Wi-Fi, a/b/g/n at 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks are also supported, of course. Then there's Bluetooth 4.2 LE (for smartwatches, sport sensors and such) and apt-X codec (for high-quality audio streaming).

NFC support is present and is used for Samsung Pay (in conjunction with MST), which lets the S7 replace your credit cards. It's also useful for pairing with other devices and reading NFC tags.

The microUSB 2.0 port on the bottom of the phone supports fast charging and regular USB 2.0 transfer speeds. With the included adapter you can easily use the USB Host and OTG support - you can connect a mouse or a keyboard, USB flash sticks, or just use the Galaxy S7 as a power bank.

We noticed the Galaxy S7 lacks MHL support, which should render wired TV-out impossible. But since the wireless options are that rich, we suspect few people will miss it.

Samsung Galaxy S7 battery life

Battery capacity is one more key area where Samsung gives you more with the Galaxy S7. The smartphone packs a 3,000mAh power bank, a substantial increase over the S6's 2,550mAh. Okay, the battery is still sealed, but that's a lot easier to live with when there's simply more of it.

It's also quick to charge, even if the S7 only supports Qualcomm's QuickCharge 2.0 standard and not the latest version 3.0. Samsung promises 0 to 100% in 90min for the S7, but doesn't say just how rapidly those percentages climb from flat to, say, 70% where it starts to taper off.

Much like the company's last-year flagships, the Galaxy S7 is also capable of wireless charging with pads compliant with both Qi and PMA. Samsung will also sell you a fast wireless charging pad, which can fill up the battery nearly as fast as a cable will.

Samsung Galaxy S7 review

Now, let's move on to our test results, where the S7 does indeed outlast its predecessor. 23 hours of voice calls on a 3G network is three more than the S6, and the nearly 15 hours of video playback are about 2 and a half on top of last year's model, and an impressive achievement in its own right.

It's web browsing that is a slight letdown, at nine and a half hours with the built-in TouchWiz browser. We did manage to squeeze close to an hour more using Chrome, but even 10:20h isn't spectacular. Still, in the scorecard we've used Samsung's own browser result, as that's our default course of action when more than one app is provided.

The Always On display feature was always going to be a battery drainer, no two ways about it. Samsung's claim that it would cost you 1% per hour seems about right and it does leave a huge impact on the overall endurance rating. That's because our proprietary score also includes a standby battery draw test, which we carried out with the AOD off and then once again with AOD on. These results are not featured in our test scorecard but are calculated in the total rating.

Since its launch, the AOD setting has been optimized and now allows you to schedule times to activate it. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on how long you keep the phone out of your pocket.

Samsung Galaxy S7 review

Our proprietary rating denotes the number of hours the phone will be operational if you are to make an hour of 3G talks, web browsing and video playback per day. Such usage pattern is of course entirely artificial, but we've established it so our battery results are comparable across devices.

The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Reader comments

Anyone else had issues with the "Pink line" on their new phone? Has a fix really been found even a repair? Thanks

Yip like many - suggest a silicone "Skin" can help solve those issues. :)

that's for the edge variant not in flat one