Samsung Galaxy S7 Smartphone, Gear S2 Smartwatch Work Well Together

REVIEW: The latest smartphone from Samsung compares very favorably with the Apple iPhone 6S, but there are important differences that may affect how you use it.

Galaxy S7 Review 2

Samsung's latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S7 and its somewhat larger sibling the S7 Edge, are aimed at the same market as Apple's latest flagship effort, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

The Verizon version of the Galaxy S7 (reviewed here) and the iPhone 6s are about the same size, they're close enough in weight and thickness so as to not matter, and they do everything you want a smartphone to do, including taking nice photos and handling a variety of communications from phone calls to email and text messages.

But there are differences. The Galaxy S7 has a slightly larger screen at 5.1 inches, for example, but not enough larger to make any practical difference. The Galaxy screen is of the super AMOLED (active matrix organic LED) variety rather than the LCD screen of the iPhone. Perhaps more important, the screen is embedded in a case that's water resistant, something the iPhone isn't.

Because the AMOLED display allows only the pixels in use to draw power, the S7 is able to display information continuously on the lock screen, including the time and battery status, without affecting battery consumption significantly. This means that you can glance at the phone while it lies on your desk or is placed in its wireless charger and see what time it is.

Samsung wireless fast charger is more convenient than I'd expected, which translates into being able to keep the phone topped off all the time, but I found that this wasn't actually necessary. The Galaxy S7 has excellent battery life, meaning it routinely lasted throughout the day without a recharge.

The biggest challenge for the S7's battery life is a result of very weak signals in the area near my office because the phone needs to crank up its power output accordingly. However, Verizon supports WiFi calling on the S7, so dealing with weak signals isn't the problem it might have been otherwise.

What was a problem with the otherwise excellent screen on the S7 is its almost magical ability to attract fingerprints. The screen is quickly covered with smudges from normal use, and while they can be cleaned off, they inevitably reappear. This in turn makes the screen less useful in sunlight when the AMOLED screen is already competing with the light levels, while also being obscured by smudges.

Looking beyond the screen, the Galaxy S7 includes a 12 megapixel camera on the back and a 5 megapixel camera on the front. The rear camera actually has a lower pixel count than its predecessor, but this is a clear example that there's more to good pictures than megapixels. The design of the S7 camera sensor is such that the capture area is larger and is designed to enhance the autofocus system, which turned out to be both very fast and very accurate. As a result, the S7 takes excellent photos that are certainly the equal of the iPhone 6s in terms of picture quality.

The S7 is designed to take video, as has become the norm lately, and you can shoot 4K UHD video if you need it.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...