Samsung\u2019s flagship Galaxy launches always manage to make a big splash, and this year\u2019s Galaxy S7 was certainly no exception. That is even when the refresh is much more of an evolution. Case in point, the new Galaxy S7 is almost a spitting image of last year\u2019s Galaxy S6.\r\n\r\nSamsung\u2019s approach was that of refinement, building on its newest design. Fortunately, the Korean giant did listen to many of the market\u2019s criticisms\u00a0last year. Let\u2019s check out if Samsung perfected its flagship in our Galaxy S7 review.\r\nOverview\r\nPrice:\u00a0$672 on Verizon\r\nAvailable: Now\r\nModel:\u00a0Galaxy S7\r\n\r\nWhat We Liked:\r\n\r\n\tBright and vibrant S-AMOLED display arguably the best on a smartphone\r\n\tDual Pixel camera auto-focus is lightning fast and impressive even in low-light\r\n\tSamsung reintroduced microSD expansion and IP68 water\/dust-proofing into the Galaxy S line\r\n\r\nWhat We Didn't:\r\n\r\n\tThe glass construction makes the Galaxy S7 one of the more fragile smartphones out there\r\n\tSamsung's TouchWiz user interface still bogs down the software experience\r\n\r\nSamsung Galaxy S7 Specs\r\n\r\nDesign\r\n\r\n\r\nIf you\u2019ve checked out\u00a0last year\u2019s Galaxy S6, the new Galaxy S7 will look very familiar. The design\/build are almost identical. We have the same rounded metal frame, which is sandwiched by glass panels on the front and back. That means that the body is slippery as ever and collects fingerprint smudges like there's no tomorrow. Additionally, the same 5.1" display size is maintained (at least, on the standard Galaxy S7), therefore, the phone's footprint is\u00a0nearly identical.\r\n\r\nRead: [Best Smartphone 2016]\r\n\r\nOne notable difference is that the sides of the glass back\u00a0curve into the frame. Samsung introduced\u00a0this design cue on the Note5 and has carried it over to the Galaxy S7. The curves look fantastic\u00a0and make for a better feel in hand, so we\u2019re glad that Samsung\u00a0has done it.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAnother improvement on the back is the reduction of the camera protrusion. Many users weren\u2019t a fan of the noticeable\u00a0camera hump on the Galaxy S6. Samsung accomplished this by\u00a0reworking\u00a0the sensor and making the phone slightly thicker. The module isn't completely flush with the chassis, but it's really close.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSamsung does a great job with minimizing bezel; the display dominates the front with a 72.1% screen-to-body ratio. As the front glass nears the metal frame, it too curves. The 2.5D contour is of course not as\u00a0drastic\u00a0as the sloping edges on the S7 Edge variant, but those who take notice\u00a0will like the subtle eye-candy.\r\n\r\nOn the bottom, we have the familiar physical Home button that doubles up as a fingerprint scanner. Samsung has ever-so slightly increased its size\u00a0from the S6 (the\u00a0fingerprint recognition now works better than ever). And as usual, the Home button is flanked by a capacitive Back button on the right and Recent Apps button is on the left.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nYou'll also still find the Power button on the right side of the frame and the volume rocker on the left. The tactile response of the buttons is just right; they are neither too hard nor soft to press.\r\nPerformance\r\nSamsung renews its partnership with Qualcomm on the Galaxy S7, at least in some markets, such as the U.S. (other markets have Samsung\u2019s latest Exynos chipset). That means that the bleeding edge Snapdragon 820 system-on-a-chip lies under the hood. Qualcomm\u2019s current highest-end processor is a quad-core beast and uses the company\u2019s newest graphics chip, the Adreno 530. It is also coupled with a whopping\u00a04GB of RAM.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIn short, this means that the Galaxy S7 is blistering fast. It eats up UI navigation, apps, and multitasking with ease. However, the performance is\u00a0not 100% consistent. You do run into\u00a0slight hiccups here and there. That\u2019s assumingly not due to the hardware, but because Samsung\u2019s heavy TouchWiz user interface (which we\u2019ll discuss in the review\u2019s Software section). The Nexus 6P, which runs on the older Snapdragon 810 chipset and stock Android, performs noticeably smoother\/more fluid overall.\r\n\r\nThe on-board storage options are not expansive anymore (The Galaxy S6 was available\u00a0with up to 128GB). Many carriers only offer\u00a0the 32GB version, but a 64GB model\u00a0does exist. Fortunately, microSD expansion makes a glorious return into the Galaxy S line. Users can add up to 200GB extra via a microSD card. The slot is built into the SIM tray on the top of the phone.\r\n\r\nYet another feature that makes a considerate return is water\/dust-proofing. The Galaxy S7 is far from being a \u201crugged\u201d phone, but an IP68 rating certainly helps. This means that the phone can supposedly survive submersion in up to 1.5 meters\u00a0of water\u00a0for 30 minutes.\r\nDisplay\r\nThe Galaxy S7 continues to use Samsung\u2019s leading Super-AMOLED display. Samsung manufacturers the panel itself and somehow manages to improve it each time. In other words,\u00a0it\u2019s as stunning as ever to view.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe color reproduction is balanced between vibrancy and accuracy. The screen can get impressively bright, so outdoor visibility is no problem (something that plagues lower-class AMOLED panels). Viewing angles are also second-to-none. There\u2019s no quality degradation whatsoever when looking at the screen at even the most extreme angles. That means that anyone who glances over at your phone will catch the screen\u2019s brilliance.\r\n\r\nThe Galaxy S7\u2019s display remains at a 5.1\u201d size. The pixel count is also still set at QHD resolution (2560 x 1440 pixels), so the image quality is crisp and clear as ever. This time around, Samsung finally joins the Always-On display club.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAs implied, the Always-On feature leaves information on the screen when the phone is on standby, like the time, date, and battery percentage. Because the S7 has an OLED display, the impact on battery life is minimal (only the pixels that display the information are lit). It's certainly a convenient feature, but we wish that it showed more notifications. As it currently stands, you'll only see missed phone calls and text messages (that is, if you use Samsung's messaging app). There are a vast array of other notifications that we can get in a day that Samsung's Always-On display doesn't show.\r\nCamera\r\n\r\n\r\nOne of the Galaxy S7\u2019s main upgrades from last year was the camera. The Galaxy S6\u2019s camera was already impressive, but that didn\u2019t mean that Samsung was going to stop. Two improvements that were focused on were low-light and auto-focus performance.\r\n\r\nThe new module lens size was increased from a f\/1.9 aperture in the Galaxy S6 to f\/1.7. But that\u2019s not all. The pixels were also made larger. They\u2019re now 1.4\u00b5m, as opposed to the standard size of 1.12\u00b5m. This means that the pixels are able to capture a lot more light than before.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSamsung calls its newer\/faster auto-focusing technology Dual Pixel. Essentially, each and every pixel in the sensor is split in half and can assist in focusing. In a typical sensor, only a handful of pixels do this. This makes the Galaxy S7\u2019s auto-focus lightning fast. You can\u2019t even see it happen in most conditions, it\u2019s crazy fast.\r\n\r\nThe reproduction produces very sharp and colorful results. In order to pack the extra technology, the capture resolution had to drop to 12MP (from 16MP in the Galaxy S6). Although, that\u2019s still plenty. Here are some camera samples.\r\n\r\n\r\nBattery\r\nAn example of the Galaxy S7's battery usage over 21 hours. One of the biggest complaints about Samsung\u2019s previous Galaxy S was the battery life. But that should now be a thing of the past. The Galaxy S7 packs a considerable 3,000 mAh capacity. That is in fact the same amount as the 5.7\u201d Note5. Impressive.\r\n\r\nTherefore, this is a phone that should consistently get most people through a day, with a little to spare. And if you're really in a bind, there are two tiers of power saving modes that reduce the phone's background activity.\r\n\r\nEveryone has different smartphone usage, so the battery usage graph isn't completely telling. My usage was split between Verizon's network and WiFi, while using common apps like Chrome, Maps, Camera, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Play Music, Feedly, and Messenger throughout the day. The battery drain was consistent and I had battery to spare at night. I would've expected the Galaxy S7 to do a little better on idle (that smooth slope on the graph above was while I was sleeping), but it's not terrible.\r\nSoftware\r\nThe Galaxy S7 packs the latest version of Android - 6.0.1 (Marshmallow). That means that some of Google's recent goodies are now on board, such as Now on Tap and Android's new permissions system. Albeit, in traditional fashion, it\u00a0comes heavily skinned with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface (UI). It too is a familiar experience if you've used a recent Galaxy\u00a0device, but Samsung continues to refine and optimize its software's efficiency.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe far left panel still holds Samsung's Briefing news widget, powered by Flipboard. It's a nice touch if you love to have the news handy. Although, we wish that Samsung put a quick way to jump to the top after you've scrolled through all the content. The app drawer is a fairly standard, horizontal scrolling set of panels. Apps rack up at the end of the list as you install them. You can order them in alphabetical order with a button, but the setting is annoying not hard-set (meaning, you have to press it each time more apps come in).\r\n\r\nUI navigation is fluid for the most part. However, I'm still getting the sense that it should be smoother in some instances. For example, scrolling in the browser or Google+ shows slight stutters here and there. It's no way a laggy experience, but I feel like TouchWiz is holding back the capability of the\u00a0processor. The pure, stock Nexus 6P (which uses last year's Snapdragon chipset) is ever-so smoother overall.\r\n\r\nSamsung copies Google's Recent Apps carousel and adds a split-screen function for supported apps.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTouchWiz is as colorful as ever. You get some nice animations about the UI. The top notification pull-down expands out a few of the quick settings, and there's a down arrow to show the multitude of available functions (which Samsung allows the user to rearrange).\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nLong pressing\u00a0on a home screen panel gives you shortcuts to setting wallpapers and widgets. However, this is where the custom functionality in TouchWiz really starts to show.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSamsung allows you to adjust the grid size of the panels, between 4x4, 4x5, and 5x5, depending on how many icons you like at a time. TouchWiz also has a Themes engine and a vast library of overhauled looks to choose from. Themes\u00a0drastically change the aesthetics of UI; elements like the icons, fonts, and backgrounds can all get a distinctive style.\r\n\r\nNumerous software tricks lie under the surface that many users may miss. Multi-Window can split the screen in half between two apps (only ones that are supported) for some serious multitasking.\u00a0Swiping down from the top left or right corner will shrink the app down to a one-handed-friendly size. A nifty shortcut to quickly launch the camera is double tapping on the Home button. There's also a couple convenient interactions, such as bringing the phone up to your ear to initiate a call or putting your hand over the screen to\u00a0silence the phone.\r\nSamsung Galaxy S7 Review Final Thoughts\r\n\r\n\r\nIt may not seem like it on the surface, but the Galaxy S7 is a fantastic update. Last year's Galaxy S6 was a great phone, but not without faults, and Samsung made all the right corrections to push the package closer to perfection. The\u00a0sub-par battery life and lack of storage expansion are now thankfully a thing of the past, and the performance of the new camera blows even further past the competition.\r\n\r\nAlthough, we can't help feel that TouchWiz is still holding Samsung back. Even with a beast of a chipset, the UI is not as smooth as it can be. Samsung has supposedly lightened it up, but that fails to be seen. In its defense, TouchWiz does bring some nifty\u00a0features that stock Android is missing, like Multi-Window and theming.