In the past, Samsung has equipped its Galaxy devices with different hardware for different regions, generally preferring Qualcomm SoCs for the North American market and its own Exynos chips for other regions. Last year, Samsung decided to use its Exynos 7420 SoC, the first to use a 14nm FinFET process, exclusively for its Galaxy S6 phones, avoiding the Snapdragon 810 and its thermal problems. With Samsung developing its own custom 64-bit CPU for the Exynos 8890, along with a new high-end Snapdragon from Qualcomm, it would not be surprising to see Samsung revert back to dual-sourcing SoCs for the Galaxy S7. While Samsung has not specified what chip will power its new flagship globally, we do know that the S7 will use Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 820 for the North American market.
Featuring four of Qualcomm's new custom 64-bit Kryo CPUs arranged in a heterogeneous dual-cluster configuration, with one cluster optimized for higher performance and the other optimized for lower power, the 820 focuses on improving single-threaded performance. In our performance preview of the Kirin 950, we found that Kryo holds an instructions per cycle (IPC) advantage over the Cortex-A72 CPU in both integer and floating point operations. However, octa-core SoCs such as the Kirin 950 can perform better when running multi-threaded workloads. The 820, coincidentally, uses Samsung’s second-generation 14nm LPP (Low Power Plus) FinFET process that enables lower power consumption at a slightly higher frequency than the first-generation LPE process used for the Exynos 7420.
Samsung pairs Qualcomm's SoC with 4GB of LPDDR4-1866 RAM, which should help alleviate the memory pressure problem that limited the Galaxy S6’s multitasking performance.
All of the Galaxy S6 phones include two or three options for internal storage capacity, with the S6 and S6 edge offering up to 128GB. The Galaxy S7 and S7 edge come in only one configuration, however: 32GB. If that's not enough, the internal UFS 2.0 NAND can be supplemented with a microSD card.
The Snapdragon 820 includes an integrated X12 LTE modem capable of Category 12 download speeds of up to 600Mbps and Category 13 upload speeds of up to 150Mbps. The Galaxy S7 also includes support for 802.11ac MU-MIMO Wi-Fi, with peak theoretical throughput of up to 867Mb/s, and Bluetooth 4.2 LE.
Hardware support for Samsung Pay, the company's wireless payment system, first appeared on the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, with software and vendor support rolling out late last year. Like Apple Pay, it uses the fingerprint scanner to authorize payments at terminals supporting NFC. Unlike Apple Pay, Samsung's solution works at most traditional magnetic stripe credit card terminals too, making it a far more useful solution.