Samsung Galaxy S7 review: Still the best phone you can buy
Samsung knows exactly how to make a top Android phone, and with the Galaxy S7 it's just pulled another marvel out of the bag. Read our Galaxy S7 review to find out why Samsung's S-series still offers the best phone money can buy. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review and Samsung Galaxy S7 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.
Update January 2017: According to Samsung its Android 7.0 Nougat beta programme for the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge is now complete, and the OTA update should begin rolling out to devices later this month. Keep in mind that the below Galaxy S7 review was written with it running Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
It’s early days to decide which is the best phone of 2016, of course, but right now the Galaxy S7 is unbeatable, and we struggle to see which phone might be able to take it on. Even the LG G5 (which goes on sale later this week) and the HTC 10 (to be announced next week) can't hold a candle to Samsung's flagship. We really think Samsung’s cracked it with the Galaxy S7.
It's worth pointing out the Galaxy S7 is a twin, and its sibling - the Galaxy S7 edge - is also a very capable Android phone with a unique dual-curved-edge screen. But it's not for everyone. Meanwhile the Galaxy S7 is a great all-rounder that has managed to improve on the already brilliant S6. Samsung has improved on its winning formula in the most important way: by listening to what consumers want. And, since it's Samsung, it's also piled on even more performance.
We’ve heard several critics slam the Galaxy S7 for not featuring a whole lot of new stuff. And while everyone is allowed their own opinion, we think they’re wrong - as you’ll read below. But the analogy of the Galaxy S7 being like an iPhone ’S’ upgrade is most certainly fair comment. Indeed, if you're looking to upgrade from the Galaxy S6, you're probably better off staying put until the Galaxy S8 is released in early 2017 - unless the new features we'll talk about below are especially important to you.
New in the Galaxy S7 is the headline always-on display. It shows you a bunch of useful information on screen in standby mode, such as the time, date, battery percentage and whether you have any missed calls or texts. But actually we don’t think this innovative feature is the most important change. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S6 review and Samsung Galaxy S5 review.
When Samsung announced the Galaxy S6 fans were divided. Finally the S series had the premium design it so rightly deserved, ditching that awful pimpled plastic and replacing it with a metal frame and gorgeous glass front and rear. But in doing so Samsung removed several features that helped make it such a great phone: waterproofing, expandable storage and a removable battery. Also see: Best MiFi 2016.
The first two return in the Samsung Galaxy S7, while battery life has improved no end with a higher-capacity cell inside. It’s easy to brush these off as old features removed from the Galaxy S5, but they are the three things fans cried out for in the Galaxy S6, and saw them threatening to go elsewhere. So their return is quite a big deal, to say the least.
As you would expect from Samsung it’s also upgraded the processor, and in our performance benchmarks the Galaxy S7 retakes its spot at the top of our charts - for raw processing power this is absolutely the fastest phone you can buy today.
The camera has improved, too, although it might not sound like it on paper, and is now better-suited to taking photos in challenging conditions such as low light. Samsung offers a ton of interesting shooting modes for photo and video - and that’s not the only software highlight. If you’re a mobile gamer you’ll appreciate the new Game Launcher, and all users will be able to find a use for its excellent multitasking- and privacy features, among others.
The Galaxy S7 is a great phone, but Samsung still has room to improve in its Galaxy S8 for 2017. Sound is strong, but not as good as it was in the Galaxy S6, for example. The latest connectivity standards USB-C and Quick Charge 3.0 are missing in action, as is the IR blaster. And there are some little niggles throughout, such as the ease with which it picks up fingerprints and the fact it still doesn’t feature a removable battery. Overall, though, the Galaxy S7 is a fantastic phone, which we’ll look at in much greater detail below.
Jump to: Samsung Galaxy S7 deals | Galaxy S7 design | Galaxy S7 always-on display | Galaxy S7 battery life | Galaxy S7 benchmarks - How fast is Galaxy S7? | Galaxy S7 audio performance | Galaxy S7 storage and connectivity | Galaxy S7 camera review | Galaxy S7 software | Our verdict on the Galaxy S7
The Samsung Galaxy S7 went on sale in the UK on 11 March, and those who preordered before March 5 received a free Gear VR headset with their order. Also see: Best VR headsets 2016.
There are two versions of the Galaxy S7: the standard Galaxy S7 reviewed here; and the Galaxy S7 edge, which features a dual-curved-edge screen for displaying notifications and providing access to your frequently used apps. The Galaxy S7 is the cheaper of the two, with its £569 RRP £70 lower than the S7 edge’s £639 RRP.
Do note before you buy that as with all Samsung phones before it, the Galaxy S7’s price will drop significantly over the next few months - some have estimated by as much as 21 percent in three months. If you really want the best deal and you’re prepared to wait a little while, don’t buy the Galaxy S7 until the summer.
If you are considering paying for the Galaxy S7 in full, rather than subscribing to a mobile operator’s tariff, also consider Samsung’s Upgrade Programme, which allows you to pay a monthly subscription from £24.58 and receive the latest Galaxy S-series flagship every 12 months.
Whether you buy the Galaxy S7 upfront or join Samsung’s Upgrade Programme, you’ll still need to pay for your texts, minutes and data. See our best SIM-only deals for advice on where to get the most for your money.
A third option is to get the Galaxy S7 from a UK mobile operator and pay a monthly fee that covers the phone itself, all your minutes, texts and data. We’ve rounded up all the best Galaxy S7 deals in this separate article, but be prepared to pay in the region of £50 a month if you don’t wish to pay an upfront charge for the phone. At the time of writing the lowest contract price we found for the S7 was £40 per month with unlimited texts and minutes, 2GB of 4G data and no upfront charge for the phone. That deal is from Vodafone, but via Carphone Warehouse.
Our sample came from Mobile Fun, which sells SIM-free versions of the S7 and S7 edge, as well as a great range of Samsung Galaxy S7 accessories, including cases - read our round-up of the best Galaxy S7 cases.
Update 20 April: A new pink gold colour option was made available in South Korea today, and is coming to selected markets soon. Also see: Best Samsung phones 2016: What is the difference between Galaxy Note, Galaxy S, Galaxy A and Galaxy J?