Google’s latest version of Android – version 7.0 Nougat – has been out for half a year, and Samsung has long since announced that its current and previous flagships, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S6 families, would be receiving it. Lately I’ve been reviewing a different phone (see the ZTE Axon 7 review next week) so I’ve been neglecting Samsung. But last night I switched on the Galaxy S7 and checked for updates. Yes, there was an update, and yes it was a biggie. Around 1.2GB from memory.
I pressed “Go” for the download and went to bed.
This morning I let the update happen, and then left the phone to run through its processes for half an hour. Then, finally, it was done. The phone was sitting there with its “Always On” screen function showing the wrong time and more icons than usual.
A quick check of the settings menu showed that the phone was running Android 7.0, not the latest version, which is 7.1.1.
As usual, something not working right had me trying to fix it. Why was the time not right on my phone? The minutes were right, but it was three hours slow.
Three hours? Oh, of course. I was in Perth – three hours behind here at home – when I switched my SIM to the new review phone. And it’s still in that phone (due to go back into the Samsung some time today). The auto network time feature apparently depends on synching with the network provider, which requires a SIM.
Easily fixed: Settings, “General Management”, “Date and Time”, switch off “Automatic date and time”. That discloses the adjustments you can make. Change “Select time zone” from Perth to the east coast, then switch back on “Automatic date and time”. Fixed!
The “Always On” feature is Samsung’s rather than Google’s, so the additional icons are an enhancement it has simply bundled into the one big update. That enhancement is that now all your notifications will be shown on the “on while off” display. Not the details, just a mail icon, for example, to let you know that there’s new mail. Basically, the same icons you see across the top of your phone’s screen.
There’s a lot of under-the-bonnet stuff provided by Nougat, such as improved power management and, in theory, the ability to integrate microSD card memory with the main phone storage. The latter isn’t implemented in Samsung phones, presumably because Samsung is frightened of the complaints about performance and malfunctions when people start integrating shonky, cheap memory cards into their phones. The seamless system update function might be good. We’ll have to wait for an update to see.
And, of course, there’s now the system wide split screen mode implemented at the system level, rather than Samsung’s own one which required suitable aps.
The three most obvious changes are kind of cosmetic. First, there’s the “blue light filter” which makes the display slightly yellower (presumably by filtering out blue light!) This is to allay concerns that using a phone near bed time might somehow make it harder to get to sleep. I can’t offer a useful opinion on that one as I don’t have trouble getting to sleep, even after using a filter-less phone.