Today we got our first look at what might be the back of a Samsung Galaxy S7. The handset seems to have broken cover over on Vietnamese site ReviewDao, appearing substantially curvier than its predecessor, with an almost dome-like back panel. That's in contrast to the flat back of the Galaxy S6 and the left-to-right curve of the Galaxy Note 5. Hours later, the front of the Galaxy S7 edge surfaced on Chinese social network Weibo, showcasing a similar curve around the front.
This might not be a design revolution for Samsung, but it is an interesting step up from its first metal and glass efforts. So what could it all mean? We've assembled a few initial thoughts down below.
A chunkier design
There's mounting evidence that the Galaxy S7 will be a bit thicker than its predecessor. French leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer recently published wireframe images of the GS7 based on factory schematics, demonstrating that the flat GS7 is indeed a little thicker than the equivalent GS6. The result is that the camera protrudes a little less from the surface of the back.
A curved back would be an obvious way to disguise an increase in thickness across the rest of the chassis, as we've already witnessed in the Note 5. And a slight curve around the top section could add extra visual flair with minimal impact on the available space in side the phone.
A bigger battery
So if the Galaxy S7 is thicker, then what's taking up the extra space inside? The obvious candidate is a larger batter. The Galaxy S6's dismal battery life was one of that phone's biggest weaknesses, and rumors have already surfaced suggesting the regular GS7 will sport an upgraded 3,000mAh cell, with the GS7 edge purportedly getting a hefty 3,600mAh battery.
It's also worth paying attention to the rumors of water resistance coming as standard in the GS7. A chunkier chassis would also allow more space for the silicone gaskets required to protect the phone's internals from water damage.
More vulnerable to drops
In most phones, a metal or plastic trim provides some protection from drops and other impacts. Exposed glass edges — like those on the front of the Galaxy S6 edge or the back of the Note 5 — can be a structural weak point if a phone is dropped. That being the case, things could become sticky for the Galaxy S7 if its back is curved top-to-bottom as well as left-to-right. Those raised glass curves, unprotected by the metal trim, would likely be a point of impact if the phone is dropped, making it likely that the entire panel could become cracked.
That's discounting the possibility of Samsung employing some kind of shatter-resistant secret sauce, of course.
A nod to Samsung's older design language
Finally, a curved back (or front, in the case of the GS7 edge) would by no means be a first for Samsung. Samsung veterans will remember the Galaxy S3's "nature-inspired" design. The GS3 mainly used plastic, not glass to produce a smooth pebble-like design, free from sharp corners or flat edges. Whether the Galaxy S7 will be quite as curvy as its four-year-old precursor remains to be seen.
However it is possible someone at Samsung has figured out how to bring the core of its 2012 design language up to date with more premium materials. The result, if successfully executed, could be quite striking.
What do you think about the possibility of a curvier Samsung Galaxy S7 design? Any thoughts on today's leaks? Shout out in the comments!