Samsung Galaxy S7 rumor roundup: what to expect from Unpacked

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Samsung’s next Unpacked event is scheduled for February 21 in Barcelona, the day before this year’s Mobile World Congress formally gets started. And while Samsung hasn’t quite out and admitted it just yet, you don’t have to be a modern-day Nostradamus to have a pretty good idea that we’re likely to see the tech giant introduce this year’s smartphone flagship, the Galaxy S7.

Over the past few weeks and months we’ve been hitting the Galaxy S7 rumor beat with gusto, covering all angles of reports claiming to offer a little early insight into just what to expect from this year’s offerings: how many phones will share the Galaxy S7 name? What can we expect from the hardware powering them? What killer features will Samsung use to hook shoppers as it tries to cling to its (increasingly shaky) top spot among smartphone manufacturers? And what, if any changes can we hope to see in terms of Samsung’s handset design language?

With under two weeks to go until Samsung’s presumptive launch announcement, we don’t have a lot of time for this picture to become much more clear – and that makes now a prime time to take a look back on what we’ve heard, what we’ve seen, and think about how this all comes together to paint the picture of Samsung’s next big smartphone: what does the Galaxy S7 hold in store for us?

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The Hardware

After last year’s Exynos-only GS6, Samsung’s almost certainly returning to old habits with plans to release GS7 handsets in both Exynos- and Snapdragon-based configurations. Just like the way things used to be, expect the Snapdragon version to grace US carriers, while international markets will get their hands on Exynos editions of the phone. Interestingly, at least one rumor has suggested that the US could get both SoC options, though that’s far from confirmed.

As for the chips themselves, we’re looking at a brand-spanking new Exynos 8 Octa 8890 and what’s shaping up to be the most popular flagship SoC on the block this season, the Snapdragon 820. Benchmarks for both models look more than respectable, and no matter which GS7 you end up with, it’s shaping up to be a processing powerhouse.

Early rumors went back and forth about screen sizes, curved-screen edge designs, and possible phablet-sized Plus editions of the Galaxy S7. While there’s still the possibility that we could be surprised, most of the latest rumors have settled in on two main setups for the phone: a standard flat-screen Galaxy S7 with a 5.1-inch display, and a Galaxy S7 edge that comes in slightly larger, with a 5.5-inch panel.

Other specs to expect (say that four times real fast) include 4GB of RAM, a quad HD resolution for these OLED screens, and at least 32GB and 64GB storage options. Those displays could also offer an at-a-glance always-on mode, giving users quick access to notification without killing battery life.

There’s been some talk of pressure-sensitive touch panels (a la 3D Touch on the iPhone), but that idea’s been less prevalent in the most recent GS7 rumors, leaving us wondering if it might have ended up on the cutting room floor.

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Bringing Back Some Fan Favorites

Last year’s GS6 phones made some controversial choices with their hardware, dropping familiar features like a removable battery, microSD storage, and waterproofing. While we’re likely still suck with a permanent battery for the GS7, multiple sources have pointed to the return of microSD expansion (maybe through a hybrid SIM tray rather than the old slot under the phone’s back cover) as well as a waterproof construction.

On the battery front, Samsung may have learned its lesson when it comes to battery life that leaves us wanting, and it’s looking good that Samsung will outfit both the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge with larger batteries than their predecessors. We’ve heard a 3000mAh figure mentioned for the GS7 proper, and new evidence backs up the idea that the GS7 edge will get a big 3600mAh battery.

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This Looks Very Familiar

If you gazed upon the Galaxy S6 and thought to yourself, “this is how I want my Samsung flagships to look,” well, we’ve got good news for you, because all we’ve seen suggests that the Galaxy S7 won’t stray far from its predecessor in the design department. That includes curved edges reminiscent of an iPhone, a bottom-mounted speaker, and a protruding rear camera bump.

The good news in that latter area, at least, is that while the overall look may take heavy inspiration from the GS6, the details are changing – and for the better. Reports suggest that this year’s camera bump will be noticeably less pronounced than last year’s, and a recent photographic leak sure seems to back that idea up.

As for the camera’s hardware, Samsung may be cutting the raw megapixel count this time around, giving us a 12MP main sensor, but seriously improving light sensitivity in the process, hooking the phone up with enhanced low-light performance. That notion is further supported by reports a very large f/1.7 aperture, up from f/1.9 in the Galaxy S6. Around front, look for another 5MP component.

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Software And Accessories

While software’s arguably just as important to a phone’s success as its hardware (if not more so), we haven’t heard a ton about what to expect from the Galaxy S7’s software package. A very general report claimed that Samsung’s really trying to outdo itself with a low-lag, graceful TouchWiz that’s especially easy to use, but we haven’t picked up much in the way of details nor confirmation.

For accessories, we’re expecting a lot of the standard stuff. That includes plenty of cases, including traditional, extended battery, and even keyboard-equipped designs. Maybe the most interesting accessory suggested for the Galaxy S7 is a 360-degree wireless camera that users might be able to use to produce their own VR-ready footage – which would sure seem to also imply GS7 Gear VR support.

What about release plans? A specific date has been hard to pin down, but March 11 has been mentioned, and the safe bet seems to be on availability commencing sometime near the middle of March.

With a week and change to go until February 21, there’s still plenty of time for new Galaxy S7 rumors and leaks to emerge from the woodwork, helping to fill in the rest of the gaps in our knowledge of this flagship. Keep checking in with Pocketnow for details on all those developments, and be sure to visit with us on launch day for on-the-ground coverage of Samsung’s GS7 announcement.

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bitsRead more about Stephen Schenck!