In all of 2015, perhaps no mobile device was as massively polarizing as the flagship which Samsung launched in March. The Galaxy S6 and its svelte sibling, the Galaxy S6 Edge, eschewed just about every Samsung-staple there was. Gone was the liberal use of polycarbonate plastic and a heavy-handed TouchWiz user interface.
Along with these changes however was the controversial decision to remove support for both microSD and a user-replaceable battery; two things that came together and caused a commotion. In the months that proceeded, Samsung only served to further alienate key constituents when it released the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+.
There has been much speculation about what next year’s flagship will bring: everything from the release date to the design to the specs have been rumored. Last week a report out of Korea suggested that the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge will have “little overhaul” and instead focus on internal hardware component updates.
Today we have what may be the first CAD images of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge courtesy of case manufacturer IT Skins. Prepare for some surprises:
Let’s break each of these images down and dissect what we may be dealing with provided they are accurate.
Picture 1: the front
Based on the above render, four things can be gleaned:
- This image suggests the Galaxy S7 will make use of USB Type C. Taking a look at the bottom side of the device shows a clearly symmetrical, elongated ovular port for charging. While some had speculated the Note 5 would include USB-C, the S7 would be the first Samsung device to include it. Unfortunately the third image (located 2 below) directly conflicts with this assertion as a standard USB 2.0 port is clearly visible.
- The image suggests the home button will be an elongated rectangular shape. The Galaxy S6 had used a larger, more ovular button. It is all-but-confirmed that a fingerprint sensor will be present, once again given the S5 and S6, and possibly even lower-end models come next year.
- The image suggests that the overall front design of the S7 will be essentially the same as that of the S6: the glass looks to be 2.5D with a metal perimeter and separated volume buttons.
- The front camera will be located to the extreme right side of the upper bezel.
Picture 2: the back
Based on the above render, we can observe the following:
- The Galaxy S7 will once again have a side-loading SIM tray. Located on the right side of the device, towards the bottom an elongated ovular structure is clearly visible. While some may initially see this as a dedicated camera button, the third render (below) clearly shows a pin-hole for ejecting what would be the SIM tray. In addition, the S6’s SIM tray is in the same location.
- The camera module will protrude from the device. The “bump” actually looks somewhat larger than that on the Galaxy S6. The Korea Times’ report of higher priority on internal components, as well as recent claims by various sources suggesting the S7 will have an improved camera suggest that Samsung will no doubt be keen on making photography a critical selling point of this device.
Picture 3: the “complete”
Based on the above full-device render, we note the following:
- The Galaxy S7 will have an IR-port. This issue in particular became a sore spot for those who purchased – or had planned to purchase – the Galaxy Note 5, and the Galaxy S6 Edge+. Samsung’s decision not to include an IR port gave rise to rumors the company was ditching the component entirely, and even prompted criticism from software studios that rely on the component’s presence. In particular, the fact that the S6 Edge had IR but the S6 Edge+ didn’t was “damning evidence” of such a belief.
- The bezels on the sides are extremely small.
- The rectangular home button can once again be seen.
- A USB 2.0 port is clearly visible.
Case manufacturer IT Skins has unfortunately taken down the link from which these renders originated. Thanks to GSM Arena however, who was first to report on this story, we have additional information involving the measurements of the device, which were apparently posted along with the renders.
There will be a standard sized Galaxy S7 measuring 143.37 x 70.8 x 6.94 mm. This is virtually the same as the Galaxy S6. There will also be another model, the Galaxy S7 Plus, which measures in at 163.32 x 82.01 x 7.82 mm. The larger model is suggested to come with a 6-inch screen.
Analysis and Speculation
Now that the noteworthy news is out in the open, let’s analyze what maybe may be.
The Galaxy S7 Plus
Perhaps the largest bombshell here is that which isn’t pictured at all, but which is…just large. Literally so. That Samsung would make a Galaxy S7 Plus in and of itself does not come as a surprise given the Galaxy S6 Edge+ which released in August. That the device may have a 6-inch display on the other hand, is somewhat surprising. The company has long demonstrated that it doesn’t wish to approach such sizes with its flagship smartphone offerings and thus 2016 could potentially be a big year indeed.
The idea of a 6-inch S7 also addresses one of the chief criticisms some raised about the Galaxy S6 Edge+, that it was released too late in the year. Many of these comments argued that the proper timing for such a large screen variant would have been a simultaneous release with the S6 itself, or else immediately following. By offering a large variant from the get-go, although there is no indication Samsung would actually do this, it would enable the major choice to be made from the start, instead of surprising customers with it next summer.
The Galaxy S7 Edge
None of the information leaked provided any details about the Galaxy S7 Edge, widely believed to be in development. Given the extreme similarity the Galaxy S7 renders have to the Galaxy S6 that released, it would be a logical conclusion to assume the Galaxy S7 Edge will thus closely resemble its predecessor as well.
The real question, perhaps, is with respect to the aforementioned S7 Plus: will there be two variants of the device made, or will Samsung forgo releasing an S7 Edge Plus?
No USB Type C
Perhaps the largest surprise here is the suggestion that next year’s flagship Galaxy will not include USB Type-C. The format, which allows for faster data transfer speeds and an end to “one way only” plug insertion annoyances, has been adopted by several OEMs in China – OnePlus included – and even by Google’s own pair of 2015 Nexus devices, the Huawei Nexus 6P and the LG Nexus 5X.
Many had speculated the Galaxy Note 5 would debut the format (given that the Note 3 had USB 3.0 first) however it now seems Samsung may be curiously forgoing the format for yet another year, at least as far as the “mainstream” flagship is concerned.
No microSD slot
The other major surprise is the lack of a microSD card slot. This issue in particular severely angered some Samsung-loyal and – along with the lack of a removable battery – arguably prompted some shift to LG’s G4. There are rumors suggesting the S7 will have support for microSD, however at this stage it will clearly not be accomplished by a dedicated “door” on the phone.
These days however, especially with metal-framed phones, it has become standard to include the microSD with the SIM tray thus it’s important not to make any definitive conclusions yet.
An IR Port
If the renders are to be believed, Samsung will be including IR support on the Galaxy S7. Given the company’s decision to forgo it on not only the Note 5 and S6 Edge+ but also the Galaxy Tab S2, it can be assumed there was a change of heart. It’s impossible to say if this is a result of companies like Peel’a appeals or else consumer feedback.
A rectangular Home Button
The home button has been a Samsung standard since the original Galaxy S, with just about every one of its smartphones including it, the Galaxy Active series and a few carrier-specific S1/S2 variants notwithstanding. Even the Galaxy S4, which had an elongated narrow button, still had relatively curved sides. This button however, is clearly rectangular. Why Samsung has made this decision is unclear.
While some may be upset at the prospect of a “Galaxy S7s” the suggestion of a near-identical design to that of the Galaxy S6 is not surprising. Samsung’s smartphones have been facing tough competition in recent times and the company has made a pledge to change, even going as far as replacing J.K. Shin from his position as the head of Samsung Electronics. If cost-cutting is crucial, there is arguably little point in spending untold amounts of cash reserves to develop a new design when even the mainstream media and tech collective near-universally praised that which the S6 was.
It goes without saying, and should be explicitly reiterated, that the renders in this piece are in no way, shape, or form, official propaganda from Samsung. Likewise, the fact that the source, IT Skins, removed the content entirely suggests the entire leak might have been a mistake. (At the same time, it also could be a cleverly calculated tactic by any of the parties involved with this theoretical product). It should also be stated that the content described in this piece is speculative and therefore should not be taken as fact until confirmed by Samsung itself.
Perhaps, if there is anything that can actually be “confirmed” from this leak, it’s that the “drip season” for Samsung’s new phones has now started in earnest, and is likely to last until just before the device(s) are officially unveiled, whenever that may be.
With that said, we are eager to hear your thoughts on these first renders of the Galaxy S7, and the idea of a 6-inch Galaxy S7 Plus. Are you excited? Disappointed? Surprised? Saddened? Please take the surveys below and then drop down to the comments to let us know!