Samsung Galaxy S7
The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge now have the substance to match their style IBTimes UK

The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge may not look like major upgrades to last year's S6 family. But it's what's on the inside that counts, and while the design is left almost completely unchanged, the performance and features of Samsung's flagship duo have moved the game on significantly. If 2015 brought style, 2016 added substance.

Where Samsung was criticised for putting form before function with the S6, removing the S5's waterproofing and expandable storage to create those killer looks, the S7 and S7 Edge aim to restore the balance. There is waterproofing - 30 minutes at a depth of 1.5 metres in clean water - and a SIM card tray which includes space for a microSD card.

Only the S5's removable battery remains on the missing list, but by boosting capacity from 2,550mAh in the S6 to 3,000 in the S7, and from 2,600 in the S6 Edge to a massive 3,600 in the (larger) S7 Edge, Samsung has seriously upped its phone's stamina.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
The Galaxy S7 Edge has a 5.5in screen, 0.4in larger than the regular Galaxy S7 IBTimes UK

Another area of marked improvement is the rear camera. Firstly, the unsightly bump of the S6 is almost completely gone, shaved down to just 0.5mm it is now barely noticeable. But the improvements on the inside are better still. The megapixel count may have dropped from 16 to 12, but the S7's pixels are larger, let in more light, and help the new phones to autofocus more quickly than ever.

Samsung used its massive press conference in Barcelona to directly compare the S7's camera with that of the iPhone 6S Plus and, if its examples are to be believed, the Apple stumbled away with a bloody nose. During my brief hands-on time with the S7 and S7 Edge, I found the cameras to be absolutely fantastic; perhaps not as fast as the iPhone at taking consecutive pictures, but the Samsung is quicker to launch and the autofocus speed and ability to balance lighting is simply staggering.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
With larger pixels and faster autofocus, the Galaxy S7's camera is truly spectacular IBTimes UK

Samsung didn't talk much about the S7's software. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Google's latest operating system, but on the whole it is very similar to what S6 owners will be used to.

Having said that, the S7 Edge gets a few nice tweaks. First of all, the phone's screen has grown from 5.1 to 5.5 inches. It retains the same Quad HD resolution of 1440 x 2560 (shared by the S6, S6 Edge and S7), but the larger size means its curved edges are larger. Swiping over the right edge now brings up a range of shortcuts to apps, contacts and more. It still feels like a gimmick, but it's still a thoroughly gorgeous one which many will pay a premium for.

Samsung Galaxy S7
Both phones have a Quad HD resolution of 1440 x 2560, but the S7 measures 5.1in and the S7 Edge is 5.5in IBTimes UK

Another software update is an always-on function. Both models of the S7 can display the time, date, calendar and unread notifications on their lock screen. However, the phones know when they are turned face down or in your pocket, and only show these nuggets of information when the phone thinks you can see it. Glancing at your phone to check on missed calls is now completely hands-free.

An update which Samsung steered clear from was USB Type-C. Chosen by LG for the G5 and Google for the Nexus 5X and 6P, the port will undoubtedly become the standard in years to come, but for now Samsung reckons it can hold onto microUSB for another year. That way, the Galaxy S7 can still connect to the company's Gear VR virtual reality headset. A product which, by the way, was used extensively during the S7 launch and was even the subject of a surprise guest appearance by Mark Zuckerberg, who revealed Facebook and Samsung are now working together on VR.

Samsung Galaxy S7
Both models of S7 feature always-on displays which show useful information when the phone is locked and asleep IBTimes UK

The S7 and S7 Edge are both thoroughly beautiful products with a design which, dare I say, makes the iPhone look a little dated. The sharp edges married to a curved screen (and curved back, new on both models) are evidence of a company which has its design team in gear. That was true with the S6 too, but now the S7 has added substance to the style.

Both phones go on sale on 11 March, but there is no word yet on prices. The only detail Samsung has given so far is that all pre-orders will include a free Gear VR. I suspect Samsung's push on virtual reality is going to be truly massive in 2016.