Technophile

Cellphone or camera – answer to the argument!

Visvaksen P | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on March 30, 2016

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Samsung has had a camera which was popular for its built-in cellphone. The new S7 is a cellphone with a killer camera

The rapid advancement of smartphone tech over the past decade has created a strange headache for manufacturers traditionally accustomed to charging a premium for their devices. With the portable computing and telephony technology that underpins most smartphones becoming cheaper and more reliable than ever before, the vast gulfs that existed between high-end and the low-end has narrowed significantly, leaving fewer and fewer standout features for flagships to wow users with.

Samsung’s new flagship, the Galaxy S7 is a slick device by any measure. It looks great in the hand, runs any app with ease, supports the latest version of Android, and has good battery life. But every other Android smartphone in the Rs10-20,000 range checks most of the same boxes these days. So in order to make it stand out from the crowd, Samsung has stuffed the internals of a DSLR camera into its slim frame. The result is an extremely interesting proposition – even at its half-a-lakh-plus price point.

Design

Last year marked the end of Samsung’s obsession with plastic, with most of its premium models ditching the polycarbonate for a combination of metal and glass. The Galaxy S7 continues the trend with an aluminium frame holding together a glass-topped rear and the 5.1-inch display in front. Unlike its larger-screened sibling, the S7’s display has an ‘edge’, but it does have a subtle curve towards the extremely thin bezels. The rear-side features a much more pronounced slope towards its extremities, both of which come together to make the device excellent to hold and behold.

The AMOLED screen is an absolute beauty which supports Quad HD resolution and a pixel density of 577 ppi. It is easily one of the brightest and most vivid panels available today and the individual pixel control that AMOLED technology allows means that while offering the blackest blacks, it is also incredibly efficient on energy and supports nifty features like an always-on display.

The only other design changes of note are the return of microSD card support through a hybrid dual SIM tray and IP68 water resistance. Both of these features skipped a generation, last being seen on the Galaxy S5 before reappearing on the S7 due to popular demand.

Performance

Going by the benchmarks, the Exynos 8890 chipset that is used on the global version of the S7 is slightly slower than the Snapdragon 820 that powers the American version. But beyond the numbers, the difference is impossible to notice. The octa-core processor on the Exynos features four Mongoose cores running at 2.3 GHz and four Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.6 GHz. Paired with a Mali T880 graphics chip, they offer performance that enables the S7 to, like any good flagship worth its salt, run any app that you throw at it and thanks to the 4 GB of RAM, it will run tens of them simultaneously without breaking a sweat. Storage space starts at 32 GB, which is another feather in its cap considering the iPhone’s cheapest variant offers only 16 GB.

The fingerprint detector built into the home button is one of the few Android scanners that hasn’t recessed into the rear. It is very fast when it gets a read, but in our testing we found it failing to detect our digits more often than competing biometric units on devices like the iPhone 6S and Nexus 6P.

Battery life is exemplary for a device that boasts of so such a powerful display and processor. With two SIMs plugged in, data connectivity alternating between 4G and WiFi and heavy usage involving near constant notifications, the 3,000 mAh battery not only managed to last a full day, but also had enough juice to power through till the next afternoon.

Camera

The only real reason to buy the Galaxy S7 over any other phone is the camera. The 12 MP rear shooter is by far the best smartphone camera Technophile has tested till date – significantly better than Apple’s best.

The Sony IMX260 sensor has a f/1.7 aperture – a first in the smartphone world. And the Dual Pixel autofocus technology increases the number of pixels employed in the focusing process from the 10 per cent typically seen in devices that use face detection autofocus to a whopping 100 per cent. With every single available pixel playing a part in focusing and an ultra-large aperture letting in more light than any other comparable device, the S7’s camera is ultra-fast and delivers an incredible level of clarity. At the maximum zoom level, where most smartphones become stuttery and blind to detail, the S7 is able to deliver extremely clear images. In poorly-lit environments – the Achilles heel of even the best smartphone cameras – the S7 finally offers a viable option.

The camera app complements the hardware well, offering a good mix of professional features and point-and-click ease. It supports ten different shooting modes in addition to offering support for more that can be downloaded from Samsung’s Galaxy Store. The front camera is a 5MP unit that has an identical aperture and packs a number of selfie-focused features that make already beautiful faces even better to look at but did little for our ugly mugs.

Software

Along with the move away from plastic bodies, another change Samsung has effected in recent times has to do with the amount of custom features it adds to stock Android on its device. Once famous for its bloated OS packed with unwanted features and third party apps, Samsung has done well to trim the fat and leave only the essentials in the Galaxy S7. There are still a few pre-installed apps that cannot be removed, but the bulk of the bloat has been conveniently pushed into Samsung’s Galaxy Apps storefront.

The S7’s version of Lollipop still does offer a dash of Samsung – with features like the Smart Manager, customizable quick settings and the Flipboard briefing widget extending functionality in an unobtrusive manner.

Verdict

The Galaxy S7 pushes Samsung back to the top of the smartphone pile, wresting the crown from Apple with the sheer brilliance of its camera. The same camera also propels it beyond the smartphone category, promising a best of both worlds deal to users who currently own a DSLR and a high-end smartphone. Now, this means that its massive price tag could end up proving a bargain for the first time.

Price: ₹56,990

Love: Camera, display

Hate: Fingerprint sensor

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Published on March 30, 2016
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