Samsung Galaxy S7 brings back microSD slot and waterproofing

Samsung taketh away, and Samsung giveth back. That may be most succinct way to describe Samsung's Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the latest phones in its Galaxy S lineup of flagship handsets. Where the Galaxy S6 phones did away with Samsung staples like microSD card slots, removable batteries, and water resistance, Samsung says it listened to customers and brought water resistance and a card slot back to the S7 series.

The Galaxy S7 edge (in silver) and the Galaxy S7 (in black)

The flat-screened Galaxy S7 retains the 5.1" 2560x1440 AMOLED screen of its predecessor, while the Galaxy S7 edge's screen grows to 5.5" with the same resolution. Samsung has added always-on features to the Galaxy S7's software, meaning that owners will be able to see the time and customizable widgets on the screen without unlocking the phone.

These phones also come with microSD card slots for up to 200GB of storage, plus IP68 environmental certification, meaning they can be submerged in up to a meter and a half of water for up to 30 minutes. Samsung continues to use a micro-USB connector for charging and data connectivity—a bit disappointing, considering the rise of USB Type-C ports on other devices.

The phones do feature wireless charging support, though, so owners will be able to plop these devices on a compatible base station to juice them up. While swappable batteries aren't making a return in the S7 line, Samsung has pumped up the capacity of the battery packs in these devices. The regular S7 gets a 3000-mAh power pack, while the S7 Edge gets a whopping 3600-mAh unit. 

The camera in the Galaxy S7 gets a boost, too. The S7's lens now has a wider f/1.7 aperture, and the ever-swinging pendulum of resolution versus pixel size has moved back toward bigger pixels this time around. Samsung has dropped the resolution to 12MP for the S7, a choice that should let each pixel accept more photons. Samsung has also equipped every pixel on the Galaxy S7's sensor with "dual-pixel" phase-detection autofocus technology, a move that appears to let the camera focus almost instantly.

Those batteries provide power for some beefy hardware. Samsung's official specs continue to be cagey about the SoCs that will reside in the S7 lineup, but the company told The Verge that US versions of the S7 will get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC, while the rest of the world will get Samsung's own Exynos SoCs. Those chips are both backed with 4GB of RAM.

Samsung also touts these SoCs' support for the next-generation Vulkan API, and it brought Epic CEO Tim Sweeney onstage to show a purported live demo of the impressive things developers can do with that API on mobile GPUs.

The Galaxy S7 and S7 edge will be available for pre-order on February 23, and they'll hit stores on March 11.

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