We review the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge’s 12-megapixel ‘Dual Pixel’ rear camera and 5-megapixel front-facing selfie camera, to test their performance in everyday life, complete with a gallery of photo samples and video samples.
Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge both pack another world-class mobile camera, a 12-megapixel ‘Dual Pixel’ snapper that boasts of excellent low-light photo results. We’ve fully tested the Galaxy S7’s camera, using it as our full-time everyday camera, and here’s our in-depth review.
Samsung’s Galaxy S7 camera explained: What is Dual Pixel?
Samsung’s Dual Pixel sensor is quite complicated photography tech, with every single pixel on the image sensor containing two photodiodes instead of just the one found on standard smartphone cameras. This means that every single pixel is working together to focus on your subject. As a result, the S7’s camera can focus and shoot a photo in mere milliseconds, capturing a sharp, clean image when it really counts.
Samsung Galaxy S7 camera app review
The Galaxy S7 camera app isn’t the cleanest we’ve used, cluttering up the screen with all manner of options that could have been hidden away (something the LG G5 and Motorola’s mobiles manage well). So while you get fast access to the likes of HDR mode, the flash toggle, resolution settings and filter effects, we find ourselves only very occasionally needing these.
The Galaxy S7’s camera automatically focuses on whatever is centrally positioned, or you can manually focus with a tap on the screen instead. You can also zoom into your shot digitally with a pinch of your fingers, a quick and clean action. Then, when you’re happy with the shot, just tap the shutter button to take your photo.
You can swap between the front and rear cameras almost instantly with a tap of the reversal button, positioned just underneath the shutter button. And there’s also a dedicated video record button, so you can quickly shoot a movie when needed.
Finally, at the bottom right of the S7’s camera app you’ll find the Mode button, which allows you to switch between the various special camera modes (as does a swipe right across the screen). This includes Panorama, Selective Focus, Virtual Mode and even a mode designed for snapping your food, if you absolutely must. Check out our full review of the S7’s special camera and video modes for more info.
Read next: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs HTC 10 vs LG G5
Samsung Galaxy S7 camera performance review
The Galaxy S7s Dual Pixel sensor certainly seems to help with focusing. The camera is just as fast as the Sony Xperia Z5’s at locking onto your subject and keeping them sharp, as long as they aren’t moving about. From the moment you bring up the camera app you can snap away, and there’s practically no delay at all between tapping the shutter button and the photo being taken. Capture certainly feels instantaneous.
On full auto mode, you’ll find that your photos are almost always sharp and packed with detail. Even in tricky lighting conditions, the S7 copes very well with dodgy contrast and produces well-balanced snaps, with no ugly, murky areas. Artificial light is handled admirably too and our indoor photos boasted realistic skin tones.
Of course, the big appeal of the Galaxy S7’s camera is its low-light performance thanks to those large sensor pixels. We took plenty of shots in various dimly lit environments and were very impressed by the end results, with more detail captured than many rival cameraphones under the same conditions and not too much grain to spoil our photos.
However, the S7’s camera isn’t completely infallible. If your subject is moving around too much (for instance, a hyper child or manic cat, both of which we tried and failed many times to capture), then you can expect little more than a colourful blur in your final photo. And even in our everyday street shots, random pedestrians walking from side to side across our photos came out very blurry.
Samsung Galaxy S7 camera photo samples
Here’s our Samsung Galaxy S7 camera photo gallery, so you can see the kind of everyday results to expect.
And here are some of our better attempts to snap a manic cat who was moving around a lot:
Samsung Galaxy S7 camera special modes
Check out our review of the Galaxy S7’s special camera and video modes, which explains what each of the major bonus modes does. In our tests, most of them were unsurprisingly a bit pointless, and unlikely to be used by most S7 owners.
Samsung Galaxy S7 video performance review
The Galaxy S7 of course performs strongly when it comes to video recording too.
Your standard video resolutions are Full HD 1080p as well as QUad HD and 4K and you can switch between the two quickly and easily in the settings. In all modes, our sample videos were again packed with detail. The S7’s camera lens works well as expected when you’re switching from near to far focal points and vice versa, as well as changes in lighting conditions. And you can happily shoot and walk at the same time thanks to the decent built-in image stabilisation, which is as strong as most rivals such as Sony’s Xperia Z5.
You also get Slow Motion and Hyperlapse modes if you want to get funky with your home movies.
Samsung Galaxy S7 camera video samples
Here are some sample video clips shot using the Galaxy S7’s camera.
Full HD Galaxy S7 video sample with image stabilisation enabled:
Full HD Galaxy S7 video sample at 60FPS with image stabilisation enabled:
Quad HD Galaxy S7 video sample with image stabilisation enabled:
4K Ultra HD Galaxy S7 video sample with image stabilisation enabled:
Samsung Galaxy S7 5-megapixel selfie camera review
On the front of the Galaxy S7 you’ll spy a 5-megapixel selfie camera which can be used to snap your gorgeous mug. There’s the usual Beauty mode which evens out your skin, removing any blemishes and other signs that you were out far too late the night before. We always find the results a little plasticky, but the S7’s efforts are among the best.
You also have the ‘Selfie Flash’ feature to take photos in clubs, bars and other dark environments. All this does is light up the screen, which in turn illuminates your face, but it’s definitely powerful enough to do the job; in fact, it’s a little too powerful. Even with our eyes still accustomed to light, the Selfie Flash mode almost always blinded us, even when we held the phone as far from our faces as possible. Still, there’s no denying that it works, if you don’t mind looking constipated.
There’s also a new wide-angle selfie mode which captures a 120-degree snap with the front-facing camera. All you need to do is pan the camera left or right to get your entire posse in shot, although you need to do it perfectly right or you’ll get motion blur and other issues; not great if you’ve already had a skinful.
Big thanks to Carphone Warehouse for our Galaxy S7 review sample. You can grab the S7 from Carphone now, from £36 per month or £569 SIM-free.