Samsung's new Galaxy S7 doesn't look like a radical upgrade over last year's Galaxy S6, but there are a few key changes under the hood. Let's line up old and new Galaxy, to see if it's worth the upgrade.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 is just a hair shorter and narrower. The bigger difference is that, in a departure from the industry's universal affinity towards lighter and thinner, the GS7 is 16 percent thicker than the Galaxy S6.
Along those same lines, it's also strange to see a new flagship that's 10 percent heavier than its predecessor.
We're still looking at a glass back with aluminum frame, but the Galaxy S7 now has a curved back – similar to what we saw on the Galaxy Note 5.
Samsung ditched the blue with this year's flagship.
You'll want to keep in mind that the GS7's silver option isn't yet on the entrée for any of the US wireless carriers. If you want that color and you're in the US, you'll have to go with the larger Galaxy S7 edge (not included in this comparison) .
No changes here – while the Galaxy S7 edge is now a 5.5-inch phablet, the standard model has the same 5.1-inch display size we saw on last year's model.
Resolution also stands pat at an incredibly sharp 1,440p.
No changes here, as Samsung sticks with a Super AMOLED panel for its new flagship.
Samsung is using that AMOLED tech to give the GS7 an always-on display – giving you quick access to time and notifications without doing anything. It's a bit like a smartwatch for your smartphone screen.
You still get a terrific touch-based fingerprint sensor (in the home button) for the GS7.
We'll need to get some extended time with a review unit before jumping to conclusions here, but the Galaxy S7 seemed very fast in our MWC demo.
That asterisk is there because only US, China and Japan get the quad-core Snapdragon 820 listed above. Other regions get an octa-core Samsung Exynos 8990 chip.
We suspect the Galaxy S7's liquid cooling is all about the Gear VR. Though Samsung's 2015 flagships didn't give us overheating problems inside the headset the way the Note 4 did inside the original Innovator Edition, a more advanced cooling system could give you virtually unlimited VR gameplay.
Like Samsung's late 2015 phablets, the Galaxy S7 jumps up to 4 GB of RAM.
US carriers are only offering the 32 GB variant of the GS7 (which is available in other regions), likely because of the next category.
Samsung brought back the microSD slot this year, so you can pop in your own card to augment the Galaxy S7's internal storage. It doesn't, however, use Android's adoptable storage (which makes external storage practically indistinguishable from internal storage), so it's mostly going to be good for things like photos, videos and music files.
The tradeoff of a thicker and heavier phone? You get an 18 percent bigger (higher-capacity) battery. We're looking forward to testing the uptimes on the new handset.
Fast charging is still in play with the new model, provided you stick with the stock Samsung cable (or another Qualcomm Quick Charge compatible cable).
Ditto for wireless charging – and the fast wireless charging that works with Samsung's special ($70) charging pad.
The GS7's battery is still sealed shut.
We actually get a drop in rear camera megapixel count with the GS7, but we're more interested in the improved low-light photography Samsung is pitching for its new phone.
One factor in the better low-light shots could be the new phone's slightly wider aperture.
Optical Image Stabilization is still around in the GS7.
In a throwback to 2014's Galaxy S5, the new Galaxy S7 has water resistance – this time rated IP68.
The Galaxy S7 launches on March 11.
As is usually the case, carrier pricing varies a bit – but these are ballpark averages. We don't recommend paying this much for the GS6 at this point – either full retail or in installments. It's still a great phone, but with a relatively small price gap between it and the newer model, it's just not a smart buy. You'll want to either look for a cheaper price on it, or go ahead and snag the new and improved GS7.
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