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Samsung unveils new Galaxy S7

Samsung showed off new Galaxy S7 smartphones featuring upgraded components and the return of a popular feature, in the latest attempt to breathe life into its premium line and wrest ascendancy back from Apple.

The S7 sports a 5.1-inch screen, with a larger 5.5-inch Edge model equipped with the same kind of wraparound display the company debuted last year.

While the new phones look almost identical to the S6 line, Samsung is bringing back a memory-card slot and adding a longer-life battery after the absence of a removable power unit alienated fans last year.

Kiwis can order the phone from today with the phone due to ship to customers on March 11. The S7 will cost $1199 (32GB) while the S7 Edge will cost $1399 (32GB).

Samsung's efforts to win back customers from Apple and Chinese vendors saw it keep the form and shape of last year's models while fixing its shortcomings amid a weakening global market for smartphones.

With earnings sliding and the shares battered by three straight annual declines, South Korea's biggest company needs a hit product after the S6 failed to set the records that had been predicted.

Samsung abandoned removable batteries and a memory card slot from its marquee phone last year as it sought to make its devices thinner and use more premium materials such as metal casings, like Apple does.

The move backfired as it eliminated two key ways in which the company's devices were differentiated from iPhones. Samsung cut prices on the S6 smartphones in July last year, just three months after launch.

The new S7 models are waterproof for as long as 30 minutes in water 1.5m deep and come in gold, silver, white and black.

Realising that the megapixel count alone doesn't necessarily translate to quality images, Samsung is reducing resolution in the new phones to 12 megapixels from 16.

That allows individual pixels on the sensors to be larger, thus capturing more light. The new cameras also allow the camera's aperture to open wider, letting in more light. Together, the shutter needs to stay open for a shorter time, reducing the blurring that sometimes mars indoor and night shots.

Samsung also says its new phones will have a faster focus, which it says will improve performance at low light.

And for the selfie camera, Samsung is turning the screen into a flash, similar to what Apple introduced last year.

Also included is wireless charging and Marshmallow, the latest version of Google's Android operating system.

Samsung is also pushing new peripheral devices, including a spherical camera that can be connected to the S7.

The Gear 360 features two back-to-back fisheye lenses that each can capture a 180-degree image that can be streamed to the S7, earlier S6 models and the Note 5.

Samsung has been offering more wearable or portable electronics products that can be paired with its phones and moving up its product releases as it struggles to keep Apple at bay.

Source: AP, Bloomberg
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