By: Kirk Douglas
Whether through the endless banners on tech blogs, the glowing reviews shared on social media or the tech commentary flooding Twitter, I can’t help but notice how well Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S7 seems to be received thus far.
I have yet to lay hands on the device or its larger counterpart, (the S7 Edge) but it is clearly making waves among mobile enthusiasts and seeing a positive initial reception. Something hard to ignore when a person such as myself cares so much about said technology.
Samsung’s industrial design of the product and thoughtful pulling back on gimmicky software features seems to have left those who have handled it impressed with the company’s ability to refine the positive aspects they accomplished in prior models.
This thoughtfulness, even from the distance of a non-user of Samsung products has sparked a variety of tech musings commending the company for utilizing restraint in a way that betters the overall user experience.
This is notable for a number of reasons. The plethora of Android phones on the market today has often included options Windows phone and iPhone have gone without. Removable batteries, memory card slots and water resistance to name a few. And though Samsung’s new addition doesn’t include a removable battery, the spec list is impressive.
With so many options on the Android platform there’s a tough call prospective buyers have to make when new devices get released. I have seen it among my friends and coworkers. Endless comparisons among devices including their cameras, specifications and graphics performance. Designs, screen quality, cost and even the version of Android being employed all come into question for those who care. With every new addition the internet is brimming with benchmark tests and Youtube videos showing real-world use cases and less than typical high-performance tests alike. So far, Samsung’s S7 line have passed these tests with flying colors, offering performance comparable to and sometimes besting the the nearest competition, particularly with their updated camera.
(Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6S Plus Camera Comparison via YouTube)
But finally, Samsung may have broken through some design barriers that could make buying your next Android phone a much easier decision. The Verge is so convinced of this that they recently reported that Samsung’s Galaxy S7 makes them a design leader as a result of the aforementioned attention to detail. More precisely, the article points to an important observation: Samsung actually responded to customer feedback.
When Samsung loyalists expressed disappointment and concern over missing features in their last flagship line, Samsung listened. An important step in establishing that customer concerns didn’t fall on deaf ears. A step that could potentially gain back lost customers or keep existing ones on board.
Vlad Savov of The Verge, isn’t the only person who’s noticed either. EE Times was one of many to report (via IHS Inc.) in the last 24 hours that an assessment of the company’s Bill of Materials (or manufacturing cost based on parts) actually went up over prior models and is higher than competing products on the market. This further validates Samsung’s commitment to the future of their Galaxy line. Putting the cost of goods above the desire to profit is a tough choice to make, but in this case perhaps a required move to regain slowing smartphone sales momentum.
After a less than stellar reception of the Galaxy S6 including complaints about battery life, processor inefficiencies and lacking upgradable storage and waterproofing, Samsung is surely happy with impressions on the Galaxy S7, which restored many features.
My platform of choice remains iOS but i’ve got to hand it to them, Samsung has surely got my attention in at least one big way here. The low-light camera their new phones tout is seemingly much more capable than the ones on any device I pocket. I’m interested to see what could be gained of these improvements in day to day photography and i’d admittedly love to get my hands on one for at test drive.
Design wise, the phones include physical changes described as fairly subtle – finessed curves on the back side and around the edges but otherwise much the same as the S6 line. I’m not entirely convinced that the glossy look is one I would like given accounts of it picking up fingerprints so easily but they sure do look sharp.
The S7 could be the phone that provides a clear path forward for Samsung selling more hardware and increasing customer loyalty among existing users. At the time of this writing I haven’t been able to track down another recently released Android device that compares favorably both in terms of industrial design and performance.
If one thing is clear, it is that Samsung has managed to raise the design bar for both themselves and their Android competition. This is a sentiment being echoed throughout reviews and impressions online and it will be interesting to see how remaining competitors respond through the rest of 2016 with their respective releases.
I won’t be switching platforms anytime soon, but I’ve got to hand it to them. Samsung, you’ve now got my attention. Changing products for the better is one thing. But potentially changing the market for Android phones is real innovation.