Every year, the biggest announcements at Mobile World Congress happen a day before the conference actually starts. 2016 has been no different, as LG and Huawei have already revealed what they’ve got coming. But the biggest news of the day comes from Samsung.
Walking into the auditorium for the Samsung press conference, every member of the audience had a spiffy new Gear VR waiting for them on their chair. But don’t worry – according to the company purchasers of its new top-end phones will also get one for free (in some countries – we don’t know if SA is on that list yet).
Virtual reality is a big thing for Samsung, so the special guest at tonight’s press conference was none other than Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who was there to talk about the collaboration between Samsung and Oculus Rift (a VR firm owned by Facebook) on capturing and playing VR video and games.
Wait a minute, go back a couple of steps. New smartphones you say? Oh yes.
Galaxy S7 and Edge
It has been one of the worst-kept secrets of the last couple of months, but tonight Samsung made the existence of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge official.
The first thing you will notice, is that the SIM card slot is at the top of the device.
“Our customers are the inspiration for every innovation,” said Samsung’s Justin Denison.
You’ll also notice that both phones are even faster, and are built from metal and glass with natural lines from back to from. And when it comes to displays, the Edge will be a 5.5-incher, while the regular S7 will have a screen size of 5.1-inches. The camera (in terms of design) is now almost level with the body.
The phone also makes use of Always-On Display, which lets you see things like emails, time, and messages, without even touching the screen. With a side glance, you get the info you need, quickly. Interestingly, Always-On is something that LG also added to its G5.
Are they waterproof? Sure, why not. They both have a IP68 waterproof certification, meaning that you can submerge them entirely in water for 30 minutes in 1.5m water. Meaning that you can now take pictures and videos underwater.
Speaking of footage, the phone will now also have a Micro SD, so you can add more storage so you can take more pictures.
More storage is great, but you need a great camera, so the S7 has camera with an f-stop of F1.7, making night photography easy-peasy. But what are the megapixels?
Samsung is also the first company to embed Dual Pixel technology into a camera. Simply put, what this means is that 100% of the pixels are used to focus on something.
Want fish-eye and wide-angle lenses? Samsung has thrown that in as well, as you get covers that add extra lenses.
Having all those things is great, but you will need some serious tech to run all of those. Samsung hasn’t yet said whether these phones sport a Snapdragon processor of one of the firm’s own Exynos chips, but is has described the S7’s CPU as 30% more powerful than the S6, and the new “Pro GPU” as adding 60% more power. According to founder of Epic Games Tim Sweeney, the GPU is capable of full screen anti-aliasing and some impressive realtime physics – which suggests this is Samsung’s own chip tbh.
Denison made a big deal of the cooling system too – essentially the GPU is cooled using the kindsog heatpipes you find on PC graphics cards and laptop processors. “It like aircon for your phone,” Denison explained.
Update: We’ve since discovered that both phones will sport Qualcomm chipsets in the US, China and Japan (likely the Snapdragon 820), and Samsung’s own octa-core Exynos 8990 processors in the rest of the world.
You have your power – check. You have your graphics – check. But now you need a great battery to make that all happen. For that reason, Samsung has thrown in a powerful 3 000 mAh and 3 600 mAh battery into the S7 and S7 Edge respectively. That is the most that any Galaxy phone has ever had, so it should last you pretty much all day (the official stat is “enough for an entire season of Game of Thrones” – although 10 hours of video playback isn’t that impressive these days).
The S7 and the S7 Edge will be available in select countries, which will include South Africa, on 11 March, and the company said that pre-orders will open in the coming days.
There has been no mention of price, but we will let you know as soon as we know. But speculation has it that it will be between 20% to 25% more than what the current phones cost.