Samsung has priced its Galaxy S7 edge smartphone at Rs 56,900 and the smaller version at Rs 48,900.
It is also giving away free Gear VR headsets to anyone who books the phone before March 17.
The Galaxy S7 is seen as one of the top 3 phones available in the world right now, and possibly the best if you go purely by the hardware specifications.
Both phones are largely alike, except for the displays. While the flagship has a 5.1-inch quad-HD display with 4 million pixels, the Edge version has a 5.5-inch screen with curves on both sides.
The prices are largely along expected lines. We’d predicted a pricing of Rs 49,900 for the S7 and Rs 57,900 for the Edge, and the actual numbers are Rs 1,000 less.
However, Samsung continues to remain among the most expensive — if reliable — brands in India.
Others like Xiaomi, Meizu and LeTV have eaten into the Korean company’s market share due to its pricing strategy.
However, Samsung will also reveal the affordably priced Galaxy J7 to take on the cheaper competition soon. The phone, with a full-HD AMOLED display, is likely to be priced around Rs 15,000.
THE IMPROVEMENTS IN S7
The biggest improvement in the S7, and its Edge version, is of course the extra grunt that has been added to the engine.
Compared to the Galaxy S6, its successor has about 30% more CPU power on a single-core basis and about 15% more on all-core basis.
Part of the reason is that the new model has 4 GB of DDR4 RAM while last year’s model came with 3 GB of the slower, DDR3 RAM.
It has been confirmed that both the handsets that will be sold in the country will be powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 8890 processor and not Snapdragon 820, which is found inside the North American version.
While this may sound like a disappointment, it is not, as both chipsets are actually manufactured by Samsung itself using its advanced 14 nm technology.
The underlying technology is also very similar and is a customized version of ARM’s Cortex A72 core design. (Qualcomm’s customized design is named after the poisonous Krait snake, while Samsung’s design is named after the Mongoose, one of the few animals that kills snakes.)
As we noted earlier, on an overall basis, the Exynos 8890 is about 21% more powerful than the SD 820 due to the fact that it comes with eight cores while the Qualcomm chipset has only four cores.
On Geekbench 3, for example, the Exynos 8890-powered Galaxy S7 scores 6,600 points, while the SD 820-powered peaks out at 5,450 points.
However, because the Snapdragon chipset is a 4-core design, it is better able to maintain high workloads on a single-core basis. In other words, if you are using only one process — an unlikely scenario on a real-world situation — the SD 820 version will be slightly faster. In single-core Geekbench tests, the SD 820-powered Galaxy S7 scores up to 2,370 points, while the Exynos 8890-powered version maxes out at 2195, which implies a difference of 8%.
However, on an overall basis, the Exynos version outperforms the Qualcomm version by 21%.
Another key area of difference is in camera technology.
Samsung has chosen to go with a slightly larger sensor for this year’s phone at 1/2.5 inch, while reducing the number of pixels on the sensor to 12.2 mln. This results in a drop in the camera resolution from 16 MP on S6 to 12 MP on the latest models.
However, that also means that each pixel or light sensor on the camera is now bigger at 1.4 micrometer instead of 1.1 micrometer on the S6. A bigger sensor is able to capture more light compared to a smaller one. Secondly, it has also made the ‘hole’ of the camera bigger at f/1.7 versus f/1.9, allowing more light to come in.
The combined effect of these two developments is excellent low-light photographs without any flash.
Though the impact of the change will not be visible in a fully lit, outdoor photo, it will be very noticeable in indoor lighting conditions. The company is claiming a 95% improvement in photo quality in low light.
Another area of improvement in imaging is focus speed, which is now almost instantaneous. “Each and every one of the pixels on the image sensor has two photodiodes instead of one, meaning the professional-grade Dual Pixel Sensor can focus as quickly and as accurately as you would with your own eyes,” the company says.
Having a 12 MP camera also ensures that the resulting photographs are smaller in size, saving memory.
The third area of improvement is battery backup.
The 5-inch Galaxy S6 came with a 2.5 Ah unit, while the 5.5 inch S6 Edge+ had a 3 Ah unit. The S7 comes with a 3 Ah battery and the 5.5-inch S7 Edge comes with a 3.6 Ah battery. The phone maker is promising a video playback time of 15 hrs on the smaller model and 18 hours on the Plus.
Of course, this has also made the phones thicker at 7.7 mm vs 6.6 mm last year.
However, the Korean phone maker has made good use of the thicker design by bringing back a MicroSD card slot, which was axed when the S series moved from version 5 to 6 last year, and keeping the camera fully ‘in’ the body instead of leaving the lens protruding.
There are two more important improvements, both in the build and styling.
First, the phone is now water resistant with IP68 certifications.
Secondly, the old platicky build is gone and is now replaced by a mix of glass and metal, lending a premium feel.
Another small change is the company’s decision to offer the option of keeping the main screen ‘on’ all the time to show you all kinds of notifications (except when it’s in your pocket.) This consumes about 10% of your battery through the day, but many people may find this an acceptable tradeoff.
Finally, of course, one has to come to the pricing part, where no surprises are expected. According to what we can gather from distributors and partners, the prices won’t be very different from last year’s levels, which implies a tag of Rs 50,000 for the S7 and Rs 59,000 or so for S7 Edge.