Samsung Galaxy S7 review: Design and build quality - what’s new in Galaxy S7?

If you read some early reviews of the Galaxy S7, you might have been led to believe not much has changed in the S7’s design over the S6. But while the S7 still follows Samsung’s familiar design blueprint, the company has made several tweaks to the device’s appearance - and though the Galaxy S7 is still a stunner, not all its changes are aesthetic. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs Samsung Galaxy S6

Most obviously, out of the box, is that the Galaxy S7 is thicker and heavier than its predecessor, which is primarily due to the fact it houses a higher-capacity but still non-removable 3,000mAh battery. It’s not a huge difference, with the S7 7.9mm thick and 152g and the S6 6.8mm thick and 138g, but enough for you to feel the change if you’re used to handling the Galaxy S6. We love the fact the rear camera no longer protrudes so far, which looks a lot nicer and stops the S7 rocking on the desk when your fingers prod at the far edges of the screen. 

The Galaxy S7 has not only gained some weight but some beautiful curves, and now features curved glass at the front and tapered edges at the rear. The metal frame is thinner on the left- and right sides, without the S6’s chiselled edge, and the glass rear wraps around further toward the front. Samsung has tweaked the phone’s colouring too, and our black review sample seems to change with the lighting, rather than the flat black of before. (The S7 is also available in gold.) 

Given that the Galaxy S6 was criticised for its slippery glass case, the tweaks Samsung has made in the Galaxy S7 add up to a phone that feels less easy to snap, more comfortable in the hand, and much easier to grip. The Galaxy S7’s contoured edges even make it easier to pick up in a hurry, and they do say it’s the little things that count. Also see: Best phones 2016

Samsung Galaxy S7

Gone is the silver chrome trim around the home button/fingerprint sensor, speaker, camera, flash and heart-rate sensor, and even the back- and recents soft-button legends have been toned down so as to not detract from the Galaxy S7’s sleek new look. If you’re concerned that all this makes the S7 look boring, think again: the new customisable always-on display now heads up Samsung’s design roster, and is all the ‘something extra’ it needs. (See screen quality and always-on display for more detail.) 

The SIM tray has moved from the Galaxy S6’s right edge to the top of the Galaxy S7, and there’s a good reason for the relocation: there’s more space up here, and Samsung has extended the tray to include a microSD slot. And that is probably one of the most exciting changes for Samsung Galaxy S-series fans - Samsung took heavy criticism for removing expandable storage from its Galaxy S6. Also see: Best Android phones 2016

It’s a great sign when a company actually listens to what its customers want, and the other big change in the Galaxy S7 is another example of this (and, again, something that had been removed in the Galaxy S6). The Galaxy S7 carries IP68 certification, which means it is resistant to dust and water, and can survive a 1.5m dunk for up to 30 minutes. Pleasingly, Samsung has been able to achieve this by surrounding the inside of the Galaxy S7’s ports and connections with rubber and applying an anti-corrosive coating to the metalwork, which means it hasn’t needed to revert to the nasty port cover flaps we saw in the Galaxy S5. There’s also a short-circuit protection mechanism inside the Micro-USB port, which prevents any accidents happening when you mix water and electricity to charge the phone.

Yes, that’s right, we did say Micro-USB and not the new reversible USB-C connection standard. We have to admit the inclusion of Micro-USB came as a surprise, and Samsung’s reasoning at the time seemed weak: it told PC Advisor at MWC that people don’t have the accessories for it just yet. But having last week spent a good hour scrambling around for a USB-C cable to charge a phone, we're coming around to its way of thinking: USB-C is convenient, but until we have as many USB-C cables and accessories lying around as we do Micro-USB cables and accessories, it just isn’t as convenient as Micro-USB. 

Something else that’s stayed the same is the speaker, which still sits on the Galaxy S7’s bottom edge (jump to audio performance). But you’ll notice that the phone’s dual-mics have been moved toward the phone’s screen and now sit closer to your face when making a call. And the IR sensor is gone. 

We’re mentioning this last, since it’s not something we can ‘see’ (not with Mobile Fun expecting our handset back in any case), but the Galaxy S7 is said to feature liquid-cooling technology to help it to deal with the heat generated when gaming or using a lot of processing power. We still found the Galaxy S7 became warm, particularly during our benchmarks (jump to Galaxy S7 benchmarks) or wireless charging, but not as finger-burningly hot as does the Galaxy S6 on occasion. (We should mention that all metal-framed phones will get warm in use.) See all smartphone reviews.

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