Samsung Galaxy S7 Reveals New Flagship Smartphone

Michael Song, Feb. 22, 2016, 9:14 a.m.

Samsung Electronics Co. officially introduced new flagship smartphones on Sunday (Spain time), along with a virtual reality (VR) device, in an effort to tap deeper into the segment as the next growth engine for the mobile business. During Samsung Electronics' "Unpacked" event held ahead of the Mobile World Congress that runs in Barcelona this week, the company unveiled two smartphones: the Galaxy S7 and its sister Galaxy S7 Edge.

The two Galaxies come with metal cases, while the curved lines of the Galaxy S7 Edge make it easier to hold. The Galaxy boasts a 5.1-inch display, while that of the quirky sister stands at 5.5 inches. During the showcase event, Samsung also introduced the Gear 360, the company's first camera made exclusively for virtual reality (VR) content, in line with its bid to take the lead in creating the segment's ecosystem.

The round Gear 360 allows users to take videos through two lenses that cover 180 degrees. It links to not only the Galaxy S7 series but previous high-end smartphones released since the Galaxy S6 as well. The photos taken via the Gear 360 can be shared using Google Inc.'s Street View and other social network services through an application. LG Electronics Inc., meanwhile, also showcased its own VR camera, as well as a VR headset that connects with smartphones through a cable.

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of the social network service Facebook, also attended the showcase event, adding the company aims to forge deeper ties with Samsung, allowing more users to share 360-degree video content online. The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, meanwhile, will come in four colors: black, gold, white and silver. Samsung said it has adopted what it calls a "dual pixel sensor" for the cameras of the two models for the first time in the industry, which will enhance the quality of photos to the level of high-end cameras. The technology allows users to take vivid photos even in dark conditions.

The camera also took a step further than the Galaxy S6 series, as users are now allowed to take not only photos but videos as well. In terms of battery, the Galaxy S7 boasts a capacity of 3,000 mAh, up 18 percent from the predecessor. That of the Galaxy S7 Edge jumped 38 percent to 3,600 mAh, the company said. They can all be charged wirelessly. While Samsung Electronics maintained the built-in battery system for the two smartphones, it allowed users to expand the data capacity by up to 200 gigabytes through micro secure digital cards, a feature that had disappeared for Galaxy S6 models and been missed by Samsung fans.

Also as shown in teaser advertisements, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge boasts what it calls IP68-level water-and-dust resistance, allowing smartphones to still function after being completely submerged in water, even with USB slots open, for up to 30 minutes. The Galaxy S7 series also come with an "Always On Display," as shown on LG Electronics Inc.'s flagship G5, which displays core information, such as battery status continuously.

The new devices reflect Samsung's bid to tap deeper into the mobile gaming industry. A user set up an interruption-free mode that optimizes the phone for playing games, while making it easier to take snapshots of the screen. The Galaxy S7 series also aims to further promote the company's mobile payment platform, Samsung Pay, around the globe, with the service scheduled to reach more countries this year.

Samsung Pay supports magnetic secure transmission technology that works on traditional credit card machines. Like rivals Apple Pay and Android Pay, it also supports near field communication technology that requires a separate transaction device. Sales of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will begin around mid-March, Samsung added. Shares of Samsung Electronics fell 1.26 percent on the main bourse to 1,175,000 won (US$952) on Monday, while the market edged up 0.01 percent. In contrast, LG Electronics, which showcased its flagship G5 smartphone hours ahead of Samsung, advanced 2.8 percent to 62,500 won.

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