Samsung Galaxy S7 preview

Updated 03/02/16: What's that? You wanted a waterproof Samsung flagship? You might be in luck...

The proverbial waters of the Samsung Galax-sea S6 (and its edgy sibling) have settled after the wonderous waves of its release, but the next great tech tsunami is just a leak and a quake away.

Yep, you snooze you lose (or miss a grainy pre-production shot, at least) as far as Galaxy handsets are concerned - even if confirming the info in a manner anything close to concrete is trickier than building a nougat house on a jelly plot.

Still, when the S7 finally does roll around to release it’s almost a dead-cert to be a corker: we loved the S6 - in fact, it made it to the peak of our top 10 smartphones.

From upgraded camera smarts to a slimmer shell and more powerful processor, here’s all we know (so far) about Samsung's future flgship.

Samsung Galaxy S7: a familiar face

UPDATE 5/1/16: VentureBeat reports that the Samsung Galaxy S7 will have a dust and water resistance rating of IP67, which is a big step up from the standard Galaxy S6. While that's not quite as waterproof as the Active variants of the last couple flagships, it should make the phone a lot more durable against the elements than its predecessor.

UPDATE 29/12/15: A report out of South Korea's Electronic Times newspaper claims that Samsung will issue a different size each for the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. While the standard Galaxy S7 should keep the same 5.1in screen of its predecessor, the Galaxy S7 Edge is reported to feature a larger 5.5in display.

Of course, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ features a 5.7in screen, so that's sort of a sweet spot between the two Edge models. Also, the report claims that Samsung plans to manfacture about 5 million units for the launch, with twice as many standard models as the Edge - so if true, the Galaxy S7 Edge could be a little scarce at first if demand is high.

ORIGINAL STORY: According to the latest leak, courtesy of a third-part case manufacturer, the Galaxy S7 will look... exactly the same as the curent Galaxy S6.

Sure the home button appears to be more rectangular, and yes, the SIM slot has moved down a tad, but assuming these renders are the real deal, don't expect much to change in the looks department. Well, apart from the size, that is.

The same source believes that there will be two variants of the S7, and the larger one will reportedly have a massive 6in display. Could this be a Galaxy S7+? We'll just have to wait and see.

Read more: Galaxy S7 Edge cases give the best look yet at Samsung's new phones

Update 14/12/15: Allegedly genuine Galaxy S7 case shells have leaked on Chinese site Weibo, showing off what appears to be a USB Type-C port on the bottom, contradicting earlier renders of a microUSB port. It's impossible to say which port will be used at this early stage, but we're keeping our fingers crossed for the newer USB Type-C port.

The Wall Street Journal not only confirms the USB Type-C port, but it also believes that there will be an S7 Edge variant, while stating that the regular S7 will support microSD cards for expandable storage.

Update: 01/02/16: Evan Blass (@evleaks) has done it yet again. The image above appear to be genuine, high quality renders of the Samsung Galaxy S7 (left) and the slightly larger Galaxy S7 Edge (right). 

Struggling to tell the difference between the leaked shtos and the current Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge? Yep, us too.

Update 02/02/16: @evleaks isn't content with just showing off the front of the Galaxy S7, so he's graciously allowed us all to see the back too

Again, there doesn't seem to be anything too different from the current S6. The shape is slightly rounder, we suppose, and the camera flash appears to have been tweaked, but apart from that, it looks like a copy and paste job.

Update 03/02/16: Not for the first time, we’ve received news that the Galaxy S7 will be water and dust resistant - IP68 rated, if you want to get into the specifics.

That means the Galaxy S7 will match the Sony Xperia Z5 when it comes to surviving the wet stuff, and will, at a minimum, survive full submersion in at least one metre of water for thirty minutes.

The source for this news is famed leaker Eldar Murtazin, who goes on to state that the Galaxy S7 will also have a reinforced frame, making it more durable.

Read more: You'll be able to give the Samsung Galaxy S7 a bath

Samsung Galaxy S7: more power

The Samsung Galaxy S7 will, surprise surprise, have an upgraded processor. Shocking, we know.

OK, so you’re here for juicier specs than that - but don’t be greedy. The S7 - codenamed Project Lucky - is allegedly set to pack an Exynos 8890 chip (also known as the M1 Mongoose) according to Geekbench’s benchmark database.

Early tests have shown it to be almost 50% quicker for both single- and multi-core usage, which is good news for hardcore handset pushers.

That said, there are also more recent rumours of a Snapdragon 820 being used for international variants of the next-up mobile - so, sadly, we can’t offer much in the way of Samsung certainty.

Alleged Snapdragon 820 benchmark figures show off a processor that's very impressive indeed, clocking max speeds of 2.2GHz and beating Apple's A9 chip in multi-core performance tests.

We expect the 820 to run cooler too, thanks to its more efficient, power-sipping 14nm architecture, but it's unclear at this stage just which chip Samsung will go for.

It's likely, given the rumours that both processors will be used, that we'll see different Galaxy S7 models rock different processors, depending on their region. Either way, media fans will be glad to hear that there's talk of a returning microSD slot too.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S7 looks set to be the most powerful phone in the world

Samsung Galaxy S7: storage and battery life

UPDATE 5/1/16: Not everyone loved that the Galaxy S6 dropped the microSD port and removable battery in favour of a sleeker, enclosed design, but Samsung may try to win some old fans back with some noteworthy Galaxy S7 tweaks.

The first of those? Well, the return of microSD support - VentureBeat says both the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge are slated to support cards up to 200GB in size, which will supplement the expected 32GB and 64GB internal storage options of the devices.

And while a removable battery doesn't seem to be in the cards, Samsung will reportedly also bump the internal battery on both devices. VentureBeat says the Galaxy S7 will have a 3,000mAh cell (up from 2,550mAh in the Galaxy S6), while the larger Galaxy S7 Edge should see a big bump from 2,600mAh to 3,600mAh. That could amount to several hours of additional battery life per charge.

Read more: Latest Samsung Galaxy S7 rumour says bigger batteries and microSD support planned

Samsung Galaxy S7: flat, curvy screens

We expect more of the same screen-wise from Samsung, and that's just fine by us. Its Super AMOLED smartphone displays are the best in the business, with rich colours, true blacks, and razor sharp resolution.

Speaking of which, we could see the now-standard 2K resolution bump up to 4K, but we wouldn't put our money on it, at least not this year. The benefit of a 4K screen is debatable at this screen size, and the resulting battery drain, in our opinion, wouldn't be worth it.

We don't expect the screen sizes of the S7, S7 Edge or to change from their current dimensions either, though if Samsung manages to slim down the bezels, we might see larger displays packed into smaller bodies.

Read more: Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge will be larger than the Galaxy S7, claims report

Update 11/1/16: There might not be as big a difference between the vanilla Galaxy S7 and the fancier Edge version as was first thought. Leaked AnTuTu benchmarks show the S7 Edge with the same 5.1in screen that's rumoured for the standard S7, rather than the 5.5in display that was expected. That leaves the door open for a 5.5in Galaxy S7 Plus, which might launch alongside the other two S7 phones rather than wait for the Galaxy Note 6 later in the year. 

Update 14/12/15: According to the Wall Street Journal, the Galaxy S7 will have a touch-sensitive screen, similar to that of the 3D Touch display found on the iPhone 6s. If true, it's still not knwon how similar Samsung's tech is to Apple's own display, or what extra features such a screen would bring to the Android table.

Upsate 22/01/16: Import data from Indian site Zauba reports on a reportedly genuine Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge shipment in South Korea.

The report mentions two devices - the SM-G930 and SM-G935 - with screen sizes of 5.1 inches and 5.5 inches respectively. This suggests that the Edge variant will indeed have a slightly larger screen.

Recent leaks have however suggested that the screen of the Galaxy S7 will have curved edges as standard.

Vietnamese site Samsung Viet reckons the S7 will drop standard screens altogether, and be available only in the wraparound Edge variants familiar from the S6 Edge. How big will these curvy creations come in? Supposedly the plain Edge model will be 5.2in, whilst an S7 Edge Plus would crank up the dimensions to 5.7in.

Whilst it might seem a little strange for the manufacturer to drop the fully-flat frontage altogether, it's not the most ridiculous rumour we've ever heard, particularly given the way the S6 Edge was marketed - and would be a good foundation for some sensible upselling, Samsung style.

This all-Edge rumour contradicts the even more recent renders of an S6-like handset however, so it's all a bit up in the air at this stage. Coupled with the whispers of a larger 6in S7 model, Samsung's 2016 lineup could be very convoluted.

If you ask us, some rumour wires have been crossed, but we'll have to wait for more information before we can untangle them.

Read more: The Samsung Galaxy S7 will apparently have a curved screen as standard

Samsung Galaxy S7: a super snapper

UPDATE 11/1/16: More evidence for a lower pixel count camera appeared in a leaked AnTuTu benchmark result, clearly showing 12MP on the rear and 5MP on the back. This doesn't have to be a bad thing, though; reports from SamMobile suggest the camera won't poke out the back of the phone like it did on the Galaxy S6. It'll sit flush to it instead, so it will lay flat on a desk and won't stick out in your pocket.

UPDATE 5/1/16: According to a report from VentureBeat, Samsung may take the unusual step of downgrading the megapixel rating on the Galaxy S7's back camera - to 12 megapixels from 16. Why the change? That's not clear at this point, but the report says that the lens aperature should be improved from f/1.9 to f/1.7, allowing for better low-light photos.

The Galaxy S6 had a spectacular camera, so hopefully any changes don't diminish that huge selling point.

ORIGINAL STORY: As for its camera kit, the S7 is likely to be quite the clicker. We loved the Galaxy S6's sensor and the shots it delivered - and Samsung should have something special up its sleeve for the new flagship. 

How can the Korean manufacturer end the megapixel wars? As we've come to expect with pre-release ponderings, the rumours go both ways: some suggest Samsung could reduce the pixel-count in favour of a larger sensor.

On the other hand, there are firm indications from Chinese forum Weibo that the mobile-maker was so moved by the 23MP IMX300 sensor in the Sony Xperia Z5 that it wants to borrow it for the S7.

We've seen Samsung split its strategy before, so it's not such a stretch to imagine it might use Sony's kit in certain markets, and its own for the rest - especially given that it's also alleged to be working in-house on a 20MP ISOCELL sensor with a new RGB colour pattern for better low-light lenticulars. 

Read more: Samsung likes the Sony Xperia Z5’s camera so much, it wants to put it in the Galaxy S7 (apparently)

Update 18/01/16: Samsung is reportedly planning a rival to Apple’s Live Photos feature.

Tentatively dubbed Timeless Photo (awful name, we know), it records 1.5 seconds of footage both before and after the shutter button is pressed.

Unlike Apple’s version, no audio footage is recorded, which means it’s saved in the much more convenient and shareable gif format, with a higher frame rate to boot. Essential feature? Not really, but who doesn’t love a good gif?

Read more: Samsung working on GIF-tastic Live Photos rival for the Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7: release date

Samsung has officially sent out invitations for its Unpacked 2016 event, which will take place on 21 February, in Barcelona.

There's no glimpse of the Galaxy S7 itself, but there is a black box with glowing edges, which resemble the number seven. So there's that, we suppose.

The Galaxy S6 hit shelves in April last year, so we expect a similar release window this time round too.

Read more: Samsung dates its Galaxy S7 reveal event for 21 February