Samsung recently debuted the latest iteration of their flagship Galaxy phone series, the S7. A constant innovator, the S7 packs a load of features, and while there might not be massive differences from its predecessor, the S6, noteworthy alterations promise to deliver for both users and developers alike.
The S7 comes in two variants, the S7 and S7 Edge. While the S6 and S6 Edge featured improved design, Samsung omitted water resistance, expandable storage, and a removable battery. Though the S7 may appear similar to the S6, it’s a smattering of small changes that make the S7 a marked improvement over the previous generation. Notably, the MicroSD slot has made a comeback, which allows for up to an additional 200gb of storage, alongside 32gb built in. There’s also IP68 dust and water resistance. Sealed ports mean no mandatory (and often cumbersome) rubber port covers.
Battery life has been boosted, with 3,000mAh for the S7, and 3,600mAh in the Edge. A major concern for developers in the mobile space is battery life. Since limited battery capacity is a worry for consumers, it also affects developers. Devs are thus forced to concentrate on low power consumption in their apps. Though the S7 battery is still not removable, the beefier battery should meet developers and general user needs.
RAM and processor upgrades make the S7 a true powerhouse phone. 4gb of RAM is standard, and a Snapdragon 820 processor provides a performance boost over the former Exynos chip. Virtual reality (VR) has blossomed in the mobile space, from budget headsets like the Google Cardboard to Samsung’s own Gear VR. Accordingly, Samsung considered the prominence of VR when upgrading the S7.
If they made a Galaxy S7 developer edition is AOSP build I would buy 4 of them, no joke— Fade Autumn (@blesstheautumn) February 9, 2016
Many of the hardware changes are to accommodate breaking technology integrations, like VR. Powering virtual reality apps and headsets requires more computing performance, hence the 4gb of RAM, and Snapdragon 820. The return of the MicroSD slot means users have more native room for content and app storage. However, a noteworthy change is the exclusion of “adoptable storage.” The S7 does tout Marshmallow, but not Marshmallow’s capability to reformat the MicroSD as unified storage for apps and files. Android Central writer Russell Holly explored the potentially groundbreaking VR potential of the S7, which comes loaded with Vulkan APIs. Renowned game developer Brianna Wu and Vulkan developer Sascha Willems lent their expertise to Holly's article. Even the Micro USB port was kept as its compatible with the Gear VR. From Feb. 23-March 18 2016, Samsung is actually including free Gear VR headsets with pre-orders.
The S7 and S7 Edge prove that a few small tweaks go quite a long way. Samsung’s forthcoming boasts all around improvements, and further, seeks to expand the intersection of the mobile and virtual reality spaces. For developers, Samsung has a meaty Samsung Galaxy portal with loads of SDKs ranging from Accessory to Camera, and Sensor Extension SDKs.