News: Security enhancements aim to place Android as an enterprise mobility competitor to Apple.
As expected, Samsung has announced the new Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, slated for a mid-March launch.
Some of the features are par for the course. A better Dual Pixel camera, a new more ergonomic design and the inclusion of Qualcomm’s more powerful Snapdragon 820 chip mean that in general performance terms the new device is ahead of its predecessor.
The devices run on Android 6.0, have octa core and quad core processors, with 4GB RAM and 32 or 64GB storage. Samsung has obviously heard the complaints of S6-owners over its lack of expandable storage and has introduced a 200GB microSD card slot.
Other features are closer to step-changes in the industry. There has been much focus on the VR capabilities of the phone. The introductions of ‘fast-wired’ and wireless charging technology come as no surprise, but are aiming to address a long-standing consumer frustration with mobile devices; as the power of devices increases the battery life has to fall down.
Samsung is ahead of its rival Apple here, which has yet to introduce wireless charging, although there are signs that Apple is trying to perfect the technology before it is introduced. According to a recent Bloomberg report, Apple is developing wireless charging technology that will allow its devices to be charged from further away than the mats currently necessitate.
The focus on durability shows a move towards addressing the basics rather than adding flashy new features. The device has IP68 water and dust resistance.
New software additions include Edge UX in the edge model, which provides shortcuts to most used functions. There are also some add-ons specifically for the growing mobile gamer market.
While the S7 are primarily consumer devices, Samsung is making its boldest grab yet for the enterprise market, which has traditionally been dominated by Apple.
Android is often looked over in the enterprise environment because of its reputation for having worse security. The devices are coming pre-equipped with McAfee virus scan and anti-malware technology.
However, Samsung is attempting to expand its care-taker role beyond simply selling devices with its Enterprise Device Program and other initiatives.
The new devices will feature Android for Work hardened by Samsung KNOX.
"We believe that the robustness of Android, along with the award winning security benefits of Samsung KNOX will help bring a new level of productivity for businesses that cannot be matched," said Dr. Injong Rhee, Executive Vice President of mobile communications at Samsung.
It has also taken a step towards Apple’s more carefully controlled security environment by extending its monthly security updates.
Generally Android updates have been issued at the whim of mobile network operators, but with a cavalcade of Android vulnerabilities making the news in 2015 vendors are moving to exercise tighter control over the system.
The other key aspect of this is the two-year device purchase programme, which will allow enterprise customers to purchase the same device model up to two years from its market availability. It aims to simplify how customers manage device lifecycles.
Nick McQuire, Vice President of Enterprise at CCS Insight, said that the device showed good signs of greater alignment with Google over security.
However, he added that the S7 and S7 edge are "still premium devices and enterprise still needs a mid-tier device that does these things."
The standard S7 costs £569 outright while the S7 edge costs £639.
"You are not going to see this deployed in big roll-outs to thousands of employees," said McQuire, "but the improvements are a big step forward for enterprises."
Adam Mayer, Android Team Leader at mobile consultancy and enterprise app developer, Mubaloo, said: "It’s no surprise that Samsung’s B2B unit will be offering services, custom apps and other products to surround its devices. This is reinforcing the fact that no company today can be competitive, without having a mobile equipped workforce."
Mayer said that the security updates will "add reassurance to business customers that data on Samsung’s enterprise programme devices are secure."