Samsung: What To Expect From The Upcoming Galaxy S7 – Seeking Alpha
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On February 21, Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) will release its new Galaxy series, aiming to revert the unsatisfying sales of the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S6.
The last series had various issues that forced customers to look somewhere else: lack of an SD card expansion slot, the camera module excessively protruding, low battery life and low capacity, lack of water resistance, RAM management issues and the bloatware presence are all issues that undermined the Korean company’s solutions.
Even the offer composition was quite confusing:
- Galaxy S6 Flat 5.1″
- Galaxy S6 Edge 5.1″
- Galaxy S6 Edge+ 5.7″
- Galaxy Note 5 5.7″
We see two couple of devices with the same screen sizes, where the Galaxy S6 Flat and Edge are superimposed, and the same issue happens with the Edge+ and the Note 5. As regards the Note series, Samsung faced a lot of criticism due to its wrong choice in terms of confining that product to the US and South Korean markets only.
But given the massive number of “granted” rumors, we can affirm that Samsung has learnt its lesson, at least on some aspects.
Image Credit: TechnoBuffalo
The SD card expansion slot has always been quite problematic for Android users, for example for those who need or want a local backup beyond the cloud one. There are those users who need tons of gigabytes for their media content, or those who prefer to save money choosing the lowest-capacity option, while using a 64 or 128 GB micro SD card. There are also various countries that do not provide economic 3G/4G tariff plans, forcing users to exploit local mass storage. The Galaxy S6 series could not meet these expectations in a lot of markets.
However, it is already known that the Galaxy S7 will have an SD card expansion slot, providing a higher grade of flexibility.
The Galaxy S6 came equipped with a protruding rear camera that has been highly criticized on grounds of design and ease of use. The prominence of the new rear camera has been quite reduced by increasing the battery capacity and thus the overall smartphone thickness. The result is that the design of the smartphone back cover is smoother, more linear and generally consistent.
In addition, Samsung decided to change its camera sensor, reducing the MP resolution, exploiting the BRITTCELL technology and adopting a better optic (from 1.9f to 1.7f). While it has to be seen how the BRITTCELL performs in relation to the better optic, the previous Galaxy products showed best-in-class photographs, therefore, good results are expected (mostly in low light conditions).
Battery life is probably the most problematic issue affecting smartphones and Android smartphones in particular. The Galaxy S6 was affected too, since the SoC is powerful and the screen is quite big (5.1″ and 5.7″). Last year, Samsung decided to equip the 5.1″ Flat/Edge version with a 2550/2600 mAh battery, while the 5.7″ Edge+ is equipped with a 3000 mAh battery.
But various sources claim that the Galaxy S7 Flat 5.1″ will be equipped with a 3000 mAh battery, while the Galaxy S7 Edge 5.5″ will be equipped with a 3600 mAh. This implies that the S7 Flat will have a consistent battery boost, but it is the Edge version that is the most interesting, because it receives a boost of 600 mAh in relation to a 0.2″ screen reduction that will obviously affect the battery life positively.
The battery boost has been achieved by an increase of the smartphone’s thickness, as already mentioned in the previous section. While it remains to be seen how consistent the battery life boost will be, the upgrade is welcome and expectations are obviously high on this aspect.
Murtazin showed that the Galaxy S7 is able to play videos for 17 hours and to run for 48 hours with normal usage. Obviously, the test has been run in a controlled way, with few applications and few syncs, but the achievement is quite remarkable and really promising.
The only real issue is that the battery will probably be non-removable, but this is on account of the need for water resistance and the use of fine metal/glass materials. While a lot of users will get mad about this, the trade-off for a beefed-up battery could be more than sufficient to attract new/ex customers.
The design changes in the S6 series also meant it did not have certification as being water-resistant. Samsung claimed that the lack of IP certification was due to the use of aluminum and glass for the chassis and the back, but the upcoming Galaxy is likely to come with IP 68 certification, as is already shown in a list of “waterproof” components for the Galaxy S7.
While it remains to be seen which kind of protection will be featured, the IP certification is certainly another welcome characteristic for Android users.
Samsung is also willing to change the top-end offer mix. It looks like that the Edge version will be cancelled, while the Edge+ will be renamed Edge, and its screen size will decrease from 5.7″ to 5.5″ inches. At the same time, the Note 6 will be a 5.7″-6.0″ phablet, and it will be released not only in the US and South Korea, but also in other big markets, for eg., the European market (at least in UK).
The company claimed that the European market is not suitable for the Note series, because Europeans use phablets only for entertainment and web navigation, not for professional use. But it looks like it is considering changing this assumption.
In this way, the company will be able to better differentiate the three products, avoiding any real superimposition.
The Galaxy S7/Note will be powered by the Exynos 8890 or the Snapdragon 820 (US). These SoCs are built by Samsung foundries, and there are already a lot of benchmarks showing fabulous performances from both of them. From this point of view, Galaxy S7 is granted to be a top performer, and if Samsung adopts a well-engineered dissipation system, we could see significantly lower power consumption and greater performance consistency over the long term. Since Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has already undertaken the advanced cooling route, it is not unlikely that we see a similar adoption by Samsung for its top-end devices.
Other Hardware Features
Here you can see the remaining hardware-related features:
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB or 64GB of NAND
- 4G modem will be a CAT12 (Snapdragon 820) or a CAT12-down and CAT13-up (Exynos 8890)
- WQHD Super AMOLED displays
- Always-On function
- Fingerprint scanner
- Pressure-sensitive display (maybe)
There is still a detail that could be problematic, which is the USB connector. There are various sources that claim that the Galaxy S7 will adopt a micro USB port, while other claim that it will adopt a USB Type-C port. There are also some “official” renders that show the older connector.
While the adoption of the older connector doesn’t trigger the annoying cable transition, at the same time it looks to be quite an anachronistic choice given that a lot of new devices (laptops and smartphones) are already adopting the new connector type.
It looks like Samsung decided to intervene exactly where it failed with the 2015 Galaxy series, but it doesn’t mean the upcoming devices will necessarily be successful.
First of all, the high price target could still overshadow the hardware and software upgrades, reducing the device rate adoption in the first weeks after the launch. Since the devices will probably be positioned in the range of +€700 (at least for the EU market), Samsung will have to provide a well-refined device without any relevant software issue. The Galaxy S6 was affected by various problems – for example, bad RAM management – which has been heavily criticized. Therefore, the software development team has to work very hard in order to obtain a smoothly functioning device for the release date.
Samsung also needs to improve its software, avoiding too many pre-installed proprietary apps (making them simply facultative, ready to be downloaded and removable). It needs to improve software stability, to increase the TouchWiz performance and to improve the phone’s overall power consumption. The exploitation of Android MM will obviously serve the purpose.
It is clear that the biggest obstacle to overcome is the software part, and the company needs to provide software applications and functions able to attract users. The issue is that it has managed to do so only with the Note series so far.
Image Credits: Samsung
The company is scheduled to release the new series on February 21 at similar prices as last year. The products look to be competitive, and to have resolved a lot of the issues that affected the Galaxy S6 series.
Samsung has also been awarded a contract to build the Snapdragon 820, which will probably sell quite well given its strong optimization, performance and modem integration. This contract will be helpful to scale the 14nm foundry production, while Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) will be able to partially counter the general decline caused by the competitors’ SoCs (Samsung, Huawei, Media Tek (OTC:MDTKF) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) in 2H 2016/2017 maybe).
Scalability is a very important factor for Samsung foundries. In fact, the company is going to produce other additional SoCs, like the Exynos 7580 or the Exynos 7870 (14nm), for the mid-end market: this strategy has a double aim, which is to increase process foundry scalability (hence, cost reduction) and continue gradually detaching from the Qualcomm SoC business. Samsung has an additional trump card: the recent earthquake that partially ruined TSMC (NYSE:TSM) fabs may force the Taiwanese company to heavily slow down Apple A10 (NASDAQ:AAPL) production, which is produced in the FAB14. FAB14 showed more heavy damages than forecasted, and this could push Apple to take either of two decisions. It could order Samsung to make some A10 SoCs and make it a future supplier in order to avoid issues like this. It is also possible that Apple could chose Intel foundries for the future A11 in order to exploit its real denser 10nm process. Anyway, Samsung is set to earn a lot from this environmental issue.
The company has to provide a solid and consistent flagship series in order to regain some high-end market share by eating up that of competitors (mostly Apple’s). And if it is able to do it, the company could exploit a partial leverage effect on the mid-end and low-end markets. To achieve this, Samsung has to improve its software base, making it more solid, smooth and functional. The introduction of Samsung Pay in UK may be the right track path to improve its software base.
In any case, we will have to wait out the first reviews and weeks to verify whether Samsung has managed to solve both the hardware/design and software issues. If the first hands-on and reviews are positive and show improvement, expect a price per share increase for both Samsung and Qualcomm in the first days following the presentation. For what we have seen till now, the Korean devices look very promising, and Samsung stock deserves a speculative short-term long position.
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Samsung: What To Expect From The Upcoming Galaxy S7 – Seeking Alpha