A lot of people thought that the decrease in megapixels on the Galaxy S7's camera was a bad thing. Though it's finally nice to see companies understand that more isn't necessarily better proposition when it comes to cameras. Battery-size, yes. Camera, no. But how good is the new 12MP camera on the S7. Is it any better than that awesome 16MP camera on the S6 and Note 5? Well, let's find out.
The new sensor behind the lens is a 12MP 1/2.6-inch sensor. The pixel size is roughly 1.4 microns which is about 30% larger than the pixel size found on the S6. What that means is the pixels will accept more light, which should be very helpful in low-light conditions. Also, we still have optical image stabilizaiton and for the first time ever on a Galaxy device, active autofocus from a technology called Dual Pixel Autofocus. Every single pixel on that sensor is a focusing pixel and while it doesn't mean that each pixel will function as that, they all have that capability to track objects in a shot.
When all that is pieced together, what you get is the S7 camera. And it performs nearly flawlessly. The photos the S7 can take are pretty much unbelievable. In broad daylight, the camera performs really well. Perhaps a bit too much saturation but dynamic range is on point. You can really gather a lot of detail in the shadows in just about all the photos you take and impressively, the camera is really good in full auto mode with dynamic range. Detail is also very good. The sensor is big enough and there is enough resolution to see some crazy detail even off in the distance.
When the light gets sparse, you'd think the larger pixels will kick in and you should have amazing low-light. But the honest truth is, it's not that great. You can definitely make it work in manual mode but in low-light, the image isn't exactly fantastic-- a bit of noise, some artifacts here and there, and autofocus is considerably slower and less precise. One thing you can do is decrease the shutter speed which the built-in OIS should help with reasonable shutter speeds, kind of like 1/25th of a second or 1/15th of a second. Anything slower than that will require some doctor-steady hands or a tripod.
Over to 4K UHD video. 4K videos still lack true OIS in the video and it does have that robotic strange digital stabilizaiton that phones have been implemented over the past few years. It's as robotic as you remember and the quality when compared to the S6 or Note 5 looks pretty much identical and still stunning. I honestly believe Samsung has probably the best mobile 4K option in any cellphone.
Now taking a step away from the images themselves, let's talk about the camera application. The camera app itself hasn't really changed since the S6 or Note 5. Some things have been re-organized and made it to look a little bit better but it's still a mess in my opinion. Some of the order kind of makes sense at times but sometimes, you might run into things that just seem really out of place. Manual mode is a bit redesigned and a bit more easy to use for anyone who's a novice and the controls are right there where you need them.
But overall, the camera on the S7 isn't exactly a huge upgrade over the S6 or Note 5. I think the image quality is fairly similar and while low-light is improved, it's definitely not a low-light killer. It still has its noise in the image, just like the S6. So if the camera is the sole reason why you're thinking of upgrading to the S7, then let me be the one to tell you it's not worth it.