A GEARVR NEWS SPECIAL REPORT
The Samsung S7 Unpacked Live Event took place a few short hours ago and it was actually not as long as I expected. It was short and sweet to the point. And from what I’ve seen so far, the S7 will likely crush the iPhone … at least in the near term. Apple always has a few aces up their sleeves.
Strangely, I found myself wishing the event planners had given this event a bit more time. That they’d allowed us all a bit more meat to chew on, because some of the important detail I’d been hoping to hear about were not released or explained at the event, which focused on some features that were pretty cool and pretty surprising. There was, for example, no mention of screen resolution being 4K. But there were some other pretty cool surprises, too. (Later this morning, details that came out on Samsung’s website indicated no change to 4K for now).
Return of the SD-Card Slot Confirmed
This one came as no surprise as, after all of the complaining, if Samsung hadn’t listened to their user base calling for the SD Card’s return, they would have been fools. But they listened and I’m sure many fans will be pleased.
Samsung Announces New Android Gaming Features
Samsung’s CEO DJ Koh was the introductory speaker. He talked about a lot of new features for gamers. Not just VR gamers, but Android-Phone gamers as well. There will be a feature that suppresses text messages while gaming, and this software won’t let us accidentally press keys and suddenly drop our games anymore. There will be some online features … for broadcasting your game to a friend Twitch-style.
New CPU/GPU SPECS
There were a few really cool confirmations here as well. Other speakers came onstage to discuss the phone’s CPU and GPU. They confirmed +30% speed increases on the CPU and a +60% increase on the GPU for game rendering. And there’s a new gaming API called “Vulkan” that raises the bar on what mobile-phone games can be expected to render now. The video they showed of their real-time engine was so amazing it literally made my jaw drop (image below). There were dozens of cube-reflected spheres rotating and being moved around by his finger in real-time with explosions and particle effects at orders of magnitude greater numbers than previously capable.
The phone’s CPU/GPU speeds aren’t the only mitigating factors here, it’s also this new Vulkan-API code base (and the incredible efficiency) being introduced here that carries the S7’s capabilities so much further.
The Presenter of this video said that the video was being broadcast live from a person sitting in the audience playing this demo directly to the Presentation. So they were demoing their Twitch-style broadcasting service right in the Event! It was flawless, too.
Phone Sizes the Same as Before
On Samsung’s Website, the S7 is now being shown. The phone’s resolutions are confirmed as identical to the S6. Those stats being: 577 PPI for the smaller 5.1 phone and 534 PPI for the larger S7 Edge versions. The Event showed off a myriad of colors for the phones, from black to white, silver, pearl, blue and a kind of olive green. However, there was one new surprise (that a few leaks did speak to) but it is that:
Waterproofing Is Confirmed
The waterproofing works by sealing the inside now instead. An entire redesign was needed to accomplish this feat, which serves to give the s7 an IP68 rating. This means it can be submerged up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes without concern. Talk about being able to take photos underwater!
The whole interior of the phone now incorporates custom molding which seals in the internal parts instead of trying miserably to seal the external parts. Apparently water can get into the USB ingress without damaging that portion or the phone within. No more water-damaged phones from accidental toilet drops from flinging one’s self onto the can half asleep!
Even more practically, no more concern while walking and talking in the rain in Seattle or Hong Kong. This one water-resistance feature will be a game changer for many people alone. When traveling on a boat, tie your phone to a small flotation device. Even if you drop it and it sinks beneath the surface a few feet before springing back up to the surface, it will be recoverable and it will still be fine when you do. Amazing!
The S7 now knows when you have it in your pocket or are not using it and turns off the screen. But if you have it out in front of you, it remains on, displaying the time, date, and any messages you have configured to show up there. At a glance, you can check key information without having to look at your watch or flip your phone on in front of guests, letting them know you are thinking about leaving or have somewhere else to be.
New and Improved Edge Feature Set
Samsung’s research into the Edge features discovered that most people use one hand to hold their phone and operate the Edge features, even their phones icons. So the software was redesigned to let you operate the phone with one hand more ably, so a second hand would not be needed, or at least needed far less often. And now that the phone is dual-Edged, righties or leftees can now benefit from the Edge features. That’s a clever use of these new features and makes the phone more compatible for leftees. Well done.
Confirmed 4GB RAM & Longer Battery Life
The S7 has a 3000 mAh battery. The S7 Edge has a 3600 mAh battery. The Presenter went on to say about these batteries that you could watch one entire season of Game of Thrones in one sitting (on one full charge). That’s incredible. They managed to increase battery power while shrinking it’s size. Again: very cool, especially for GearVR which normally sucks battery power pretty fast. That’s an extra 45 minutes to 2 hours in your favorite game, at least! Then they revealed another new feature….
You can use your S7 to take the new Panoramic Photo. But when you play it back on your phone, there is video embedded which plays as you rotate your phone around you. It’s like having a living 360 photo. There wasn’t much detail, but it seems fascinating. Or is it just a gimmick? I guess it depend on the user and if they will ever use it or not.
I use the S6’s “Virtual Photo” all the time. You can walk around a tree or a cool car and it captures one frame every 3 degrees or so. Try to keep the camera centered on your target when filming as you walk around the car or else the video turns out bumpy. But once the Virtual video is stitched into the movie live on your phone, you can hold your phone and turn it back and forth, making the video animate as you do. It’s really cool when done right. So I am curious how this new feature will benefit me, if at all.
Samsung Introduces Samsung Pay
Samsung Pay already works in the USA and Spain (the country that hosted the 2016 S7 Unpacked Event) and is set to go live in China, Australia, Brazil and more early in 2016. This will open some amazing global payment and banking operations for more cultural interchangeability. Put money on your phone in China and buy things online with Samsung Pay from America. Or take your American phone to China and use it to pay for products in China. Something you just can’t do very easily these days; believe me, I know.
The Phone Camera Totally Re-Imagined
The S6 needed a 16MP camera because it had to make up for in pixels what it could not make up for in light sensing at that time. More pixels means more photons, but that approach was flawed as the amount of light reaching the eye was minuscule anyway, despite the 16MP size. Now, the S7 uses a larger pixel size, a dual-pixel which captures the light from two sources the way the human eyes do it.
There is only one camera (it’s not a 3D camera), but any camera has two edges (right and left) and those edges are separated by a little space. A new lense concept in the form of nano-sized digital eyes can now capture the same pixel twice (from either side of the lense) and then combine those pixels into ONE the way human eyes work. This means this camera can Auto-Focus 20 times faster than the iPhone or S6’s cameras could. And it means the amount of light coming in is 95% more than those phones, too. So night photos will really be outstanding.
S7 Compatible with New Galaxy Gear 360 Camera
This is the New Galaxy Gear 360 Camera. It takes 360 Videos in 30 Megapixels, so the video are high resolution and certainly future proofed. They are not in 3D though, which I feel is a big flaw for me personally, but it’s still pretty impressive over all.
The software links to the S7 directly and can upload all the video and lets the phone process the video (offloading the hard work to your powerful phone to do) on its CPU/GPU. It also makes your 360 videos instantly ready for GearVR viewing using Oculus’ 360 Videos app. The Gear 360 Uploads the video to the proper folder automatically so no work is needed on the S7 to get the video playing right away. Shoot, Upload to S7, Encode, and View in GearVR. That simple. I can’t wait to hear more about this hardware myself.
PHONE INNOVATION OF THE YEAR:
Now we come to the most exciting feature which I’ve saved for last. A cooling solution for S7 when using GearVR. This bit of news really blew my mind and made me almost fall out of my chair because I sat up so fast when I heard this. I have been lamenting the S6’s over-heating issues for the past 6 months almost the point of sounding like a Note4 user about not having any games for their GearVR. I really hate the S6 design and how quickly it overheats. If you use vTime on S6, you get about 15 minutes before it overheats. It really ruins my fun. I can’t bear getting to that point every time I load vTime. It makes me feel my phone is a piece of junk, despite how truly advanced as it is. (The Truth is not the always the Truth: Perception is 9/10ths of the Truth!)
I went online numerous times and wrote untold articles offering cooling solutions that I felt Samsung should try, such as water cooling. This idea was laughed off the forums. Samsung wasn’t laughing, and now I feel vindicated for my imagination. It seems Samsung listened to this idea or came to it on their own, who knows. I don’t know if they already thought of it, or if my idea helped, but either way, I can’t help feeling connected to Samsung over this. They really hit the right button with me here. This is the greatest feature on a game-rich phone yet… and I can’t believe they actually DID THIS:
This line in blue above shows a two-stage pipeline connected to the CPU/GPU area of the S7. When the vapor solution contained in it boils, it’s driven away from CPU into another area of the phone where it cools. This cool water then returns to the CPU to be re-boiled. THIS … is a liquid-cooling solution ON A MOBILE PHONE! Oh … MY … GOD!
I thought of this idea first, almost 6 months ago on Reddit! I didn’t know how it would work, I suggested the piping get taken out of the phone into the GearVR; obviously, they didn’t listen to that part. But I couldn’t have imagined that such a small segment of pipe (as what’s shown above) would really work to create an effective cooling solution. I thought it would take way more water and way more sections of pipe.
I don’t really know how this version can really even work. But I doubt they would include it if it didn’t work. Maybe this illustration is not accurate, maybe the pipe winds its way all through the empty spaces of this phone? This is just a mock up. But what happens if those pipes burst? Would that be an instant kiss of death for the S7 here?
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the Samsung Galaxy S7 GearVR phone!
The S7 is another engineering marvel, with many firsts such as Motion Panorama, Dual Pixel Photography, Always-On Display (intelligently so), better game features for standard Android (for people who don’t have GearVR but still play games), and numerous tweaks to the UI to make it easier for doing what needs doing on one hand.
The innovations are pretty impressive both in their scope and in their quality. The camera may have gone down to 12MP, but every one of those pixels is far larger photon wise than any other camera phone on the market. It’s actually water proof. And it works seamlessly with a new Gear 360 Camera at 30 MP resolution!
As well as all the new innovations and revised features, one thing that made the previous phones great has been restored: the much-desired SD Card slot. A lot of people will be relieved to know they can invest in their future with the S7 phone.
The gaming engine is revamped as Vulcan, and by the demonstration video appears to be light years ahead of the S6’s rendering engine. The CPU speed of the phone is up +30%. The GPU is up +60%. How that translates into GearVR awaits to be seen. I’m sure some of games that pushed the S6 version to the hilt will now be revised for the S7 version, to give them a much-needed boost or just let the game remain free of overheating issues. And just think of how all of this will translate to GearVR applications, too!
With all that’s going on here, the Samsung S7 promises to be maybe the best phone ever produced in the world to date. When people learn all of the value they get for their money, I think there will be a mad rush to the stores come March when the phones are actually released for sale. A mad rush to be able to own this piece of technological glory. And people who pre-order the S7 online can get a GearVR free, that’s a $100 value … FREE.
Way to go, Samsung, we spoke ... and you heard us. And S7 has almost everything we hoped for, and some things we could never have expected. Well done.
Categories: Hardware Reviews