- One of the best displays on any smartphone
- Colors are clear and crisp, contrast ratios excellent
- Good auto brightness and easy outdoor visibility
- Always on display is excellent addition
At first glance, the S7's screen appears to be the same as the 5.1-inch, QHD Super AMOLED offering on the Galaxy S6. The resolution is still 2,560 x 1,440, giving you a pin-sharp 577ppi pixel density.
That's no bad thing, as the screen on the S6 was excellent – but Samsung's made things even better on the Galaxy S7.
The folks over at DisplayMate have run independent, objective scientific analysis on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge displays, and the results show performance improvements across all tests versus their S6 predecessors. It fact, DisplayMate has said the screen on the Galaxy S7 is the best of any smartphone.
What does this all mean? The main point is the screen on the Galaxy S7 is 24% brighter than its predecessor, with improved contrast ratios to boot.
Held side by side with the Galaxy S6 I could see the Galaxy S7 screen had whiter whites, and colors appeared to be a little more natural compared to the slight over-saturation on the S6.
In short, the Samsung Galaxy S7 has a fantastic display. You're unlikely to notice much of a difference coming from a Galaxy S6, but for those looking to upgrade from a handset that's two years old your eyes are in for a treat.
That's not all the screen on the S7 has to offer – it also boasts always-on functionality, a feature that both Samsung and LG (on the G5) have employed on their flagship handsets in 2016.
Samsung's implementation sees the screen on the Galaxy S7 show a few different things when the handset is lying idle. The default option shows the clock, date and battery level, plus counters for new text messages and missed calls will also display (if you have any).
That's useful, but I was disappointed that the notifications icons were limited to just these two things. I do most of my messaging via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and not having notifications for those on the display was a little frustrating.
However, in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 these have been overhauled, with WhatsApp (and other) notifications added below the clock. Now that this handset has been discontinued (owing to all the catching fire it did) it's good to see that the features live on - users are starting to get the new software which brings more options to the always-on display.
Samsung has opened up the API to app developers, so in the future we should see more notifications come to the always-on display, but it's something Samsung could have done itself, and it's annoying that it hasn't.
Aside from the default display, the other two options you can have are a calendar view or a full-screen pattern, neither of which are particularly useful. I expected at least calendar entries to be shown in some basic form with the former, but alas you just get a view of the days in the month, and that's it.
Meanwhile the pattern, instead of using a portion of the screen, takes up the whole screen. Furthermore, there are only three patterns to choose from (although more are now incoming), and you can't customize them in any way. The hope is more will appear in time, but for now it's useless.
There are more options to play with in terms of being able to see if you've got other notifications, and with Android 7 Nougat landing that should get even better.
With the screen never turning off (although you can disable the always-on feature in the settings), there is an additional drain on the battery. Samsung claims it consumes less than 1% every hour, though, and during my time with the Galaxy S7 I didn't find it was killing the power.
It may seem like a relatively tame addition, and at first I dismissed the always-on functionality as nothing more than a gimmick.
However, as I spent more time with the S7 I became accustomed to glancing at my phone for the time and date, as well as to see if I needed to stick in the charger. Simple, yet affective.