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Galaxy S7 display defaults to Full HD after Nougat update, but you can switch back

The Nougat update to the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge introduces a new display scaling option that lets you reduce the screen resolution as a way to conserve battery life. With the update, you can now choose between three modes — WQHD (2560x1440), FHD (1920x1080), and HD (1280x720). While it's a nifty feature to have, the display on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge is automatically defaulting to Full HD for those that have installed the update.

The display on the S7 and S7 edge looks great even on Full HD, and for the most part, there isn't a lot of difference when viewing text and images in Full HD when compared to QHD. As we've seen when the feature first rolled out during the Nougat beta test, it is likely Samsung is defaulting the screen to Full HD to extend battery life and improve performance. Fortunately, you can easily switch back to the native Quad HD resolution by navigating to Settings -> Display.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

52 Comments
  • It would be nice if you could do a battery life comparison between the three resolutions.
  • I have always been interested in how screen resolution affects battery life daily longevity as well. Could this three use case test be added to this article please? Battery life remaining at midnight after three identical days of use would be an excellent Android-Central only result as far as I can tell.
  • At least we would know if the resolution change is a feature to actually increase the battery life or just a placebo effect.
  • I have no idea the effects on an S7, but I used to lower the resolution on my super old devices, like my Galaxy s1, and it would significantly improve performance, so I'd believe there's some truth about increased battery life.
  • It has to increase battery life to some extent. But it's also gonna increase general performance too
  • I think we're reaching a point of diminishing returns in terms of performance (aside from VR). Even if the performance is increased, the GS7 is a powerhouse already in 1440p. I'm not in the need of more performance (my SD801 Xperia Z3 Compact is speedy enough). But I'd love some more battery life.
  • Good thing
  • There is a way of comparing how the settings affect battery life. Use QHD for one day and check what the power consumption was, then use FHD the following day and check consumption again.
  • ^
  • Of course. Thing is, I don't own a GS7 to do the test myself.
  • ^^
  • I hope this feature will get ported to other samsung devices when they get nougat.
  • I doubt it will. Samsung doesn't tend to add newer features to older phones (because the want you to buy the new ones). I had hopes for the one-handed mode, which began with the Note line but made its way into the S7, to come to the Galaxy S6. It never did.
  • The S6 does have one-handed mode.
  • Got any proof? I had a Galaxy S6 and it definitely didn't. At least one review noted that it was one feature that they excluded when they slimmed down TouchWiz for the S6.
  • S6 Edge+ has it. Have no idea about other S6-s.
  • Not really relevant, since we're talking about the S6, specifically about Samsung' unwillingness to add new features to older models. I'm guessing the S6 Edge+ had one-handed model at launch, just as the Note 4 did. My point was that the S6 launched with an intentionally simplified version of TouchWiz, which excluded the one-hand mode. They never brought one-hand mode to the S6, even though other Samsung phones before and since have had it.
  • I have a S6 and it had this feature in Marshmellow as well I just installed nouget today and it still has it.... you were ovisally not looking in the right place.... or maybe you were on lolipop.. can't confirm if it was on there... but suspect it was as its been on here since the s5.
  • Perhaps it's available in some markets and not in others, or on certain carrier models only. It definitely wasn't ever on my unlocked international G920I model. If you do a Google search for "Galaxy S6 one-handed mode" you will find a number of forum posts that say it was omitted from the S6 when Samsung simplified TouchWiz, and a few people saying it's there somewhere, but nobody seems to have any proof. They say "go to settings -> one handed operation and enable it," but that's nowhere to be found in settings.
  • Settings->Advanced features->At the very top "One handed operation." I have a US T-Mobile Galaxy S6. It may be specific to certain firmwares if you don't see it.
  • My S5 had this mode as well.
  • Note 7 had this out the box at launch
  • This is a good move by Samsung. Because of the Pentile matrix screen, it's not really capable of displaying 2560x1440 anyway.
  • ha, ha!
  • Very true, it has the effective resolution of about 1080p, so might as well render a 1080p image. Would've been even better if they just used an RGB 1080p panel.
  • It seems like the lack of competition is preventing them from improving their AMOLED tech or something, I remember around the time of the Note 2 or so they released an RGB AMOLED display on one of their phones. I thought that was the future but I guess not. AMOLED displays have too many issues for my liking. The burn in is a bad one, pentile makes text and certain colors look weird, and there is always consistency issues like with banding or with the displays being brighter on the top vs bottom or with a color shift from top to bottom. Give me a good IPS any day over AMOLED.
  • I agreed completely. I went from a Galaxy S6 to a Xiaomi Mi 5 with a IPS display, and I don't miss AMOLED at all. The brightness is just as good, and the black levels are actually good enough that I hardly ever notice any "glowing" blacks. The biggest difference for me is that I no longer have to feel like I wasting battery life every time black text appears on a white background. Newer LCD screens don't have quite the same contrast ratio as AMOLED, but when you get up to 1500:1, it really doesn't matter at all in day-to-day usage. Samsung already makes the best AMOLED screens, so they don't have much reason to improve, but still they do improve every year. The screen on the Galaxy S7, even though it's the same resolution as the Galaxy S6, is still an improvement in terms of brightness and power usage. They might go full RGB on the GS8, at least that's the rumor. I still prefer LCD though. Sure, you can get a decent AMOLED screen on Samsung's $700 phones, but that's about it. The OnePlus 3 screen is okay for $400 or so. You can get pretty good full-HD IPS screen on sub-$200 phones now, which is much more significant achievement as far as I'm concerned.
  • Yes. You get it. My LG G4's 2K IPS is fine. Sure, the colors aren't as saturated as an AMOLED and the blacks not quite as black but there have been huge strides made in the day-to-day quality of mobile LCDs since the early days of off-axis washout and gray blacks. I don't miss AMOLED either.
  • You and me, brother. I regularly get into fights with people who think that all LCD screens are junk compared to AMOLED. They're so wrong. AMOLED might be the future, but good LCDs are so good and so cheap now that I'm starting to think that the AMOLED future might be farther away than most experts think.
  • Other than the blacks, I definitely preferred the screen on my LG G4 to my current S7 overall. It was sharper and you get that weird colour shift shimmer effect with AMOLEDs too
  • The Galaxy S2 had an RGB SAMOLED display.
  • So did the Galaxy Note 2. At low resolutions like that it's an absolute necessity. At resolutions above 1080p it becomes a lot less important, at least when when it comes to sub-6" phones. There's nothing particularly BAD about the Pentile matrix on the Galaxy S6 or S7, because high-res screen means that the pixels are small enough that you need a magnifying glass to see them. The only real drawback is that, despite being called 1440p, they're not appreciably better than true 1080p, and battery life takes an unnecessary hit. I'm glad that Samsung is basically admitting all this with the Galaxy S7 update.
  • Agreed. In addition to the marketing reasons (bigger number means better to most consumers), I think there's probably a technical reason they don't. For example, it might be easier to make small green AMOLED dots than blue or red ones, so it's possible to fit twice as many green pixels in the space a single red or blue dot would take up. One reason the early AMOLED screens looks SO bad was that the green dots were way brighter than the other colors, which made the screens of phones like the Nexus S look sickly and green all over.
  • Care to expand on that tidbit?
  • Pixels are supposed to have 3 sub-pixel colors: Red, Green, and Blue. So the screen under a microscope looks like RGB-RGB-RGB. On Samsung's Pentile AMOLED screens, they only have two colors, and they alternate like this: RG-BG-RG-BG. In order to make a pixel turn white (for example), you need all three colors. So when a red-green pixel needs to turn white, it has to "borrow" the blue from the neighboring pixel. Ultimately, this means that AMOLED screens of this type (which is almost all of them) are not capable of displaying at their "native" resolution, and their effective resolution is 1/3 less in one dimension or the other. So, 1440p AMOLED screen is only slightly better (in terms of effective resolutions) than a 1080p LCD screen, which has proper RGB pixels. This isn't a big deal when you're talking about pixel densities around 500 PPI. But if you go back and compare the 720p screen of the Galaxy S3 and compare it to a 720p LCD, the "Super AMOLED" screen is noticeably less sharp. This was pretty controversial back in the day.
  • I had an S3 back in the day and was still using it a couple years ago. This is a good explanation of the pentile matrix used in the S-AMOLED Displays. You are still missing one key point. It's pretty clear that the S3's display is much blurrier than equivalent 720P LCD Panels. Same goes for the S4 versus other 1080P LCD Panels. It's an obvious difference. However, Samsung has vastly improved the sub-pixel arrangement in the past few generations. If comparing my OnePlus 3T's latest-gen S-AMOLED Display to the S4, the S4 looks much blurrier despite the higher pixel density. The drop off versus other 1080P LCD Panels is also not as bad. There is a difference in text rendering, but it's obviously not readily inferior as it was a few generations ago. It should also be noted that chroma subsampling in virtually all video available online and in even Blurays means that the effective chroma (RGB) resolution across the board is 540P for 1080P videos. In other words, having an AMOLED panel won't adversely affect videos and definitely not YouTube.
  • To be honest it would be kind of nice if Google added this functionality to stock Android (not as default but as an option) especially as OEMs get tempted to continue increasing the pixel density. I'd love to be able to run my 6p in 1080p mode without root.
  • I've now set my S7 edge to 1080 and don't notice any difference in display at all. Unfortunately, I don't notice any improvement in battery life, either. Just got the update yesterday, so it's maybe too early to tell.
  • Because of the Pentile display, all the pixels on the 1440p display have to get interpolated, so you're not seeing a true 1440p. When you lower it to 1080, the same sort of interpolation happens, and in both cases it's on a level that's just too small to see with your eyes. In terms of the effective resolution of the display, you're really only losing only about 20%. Because you're starting with a effective PPI of close to 500, you can lose 20% and still be quite a bit higher than what Apple calls "Retina."
  • My issue is that if you're not at WQHD and try to use Gear VR it will make you go back in and change it. So no advantage to ever change it to 1080 for those who use a Gear VR. (I wish it would just auto change.. yes I guess I can also put it in performance mode for Gear VR and that would do it.. but auto would be more user friendly)
  • The sorts of people who buy a Gear VR will have no trouble navigating this issue. For the 95% of Galaxy S7 users who have never heard of Gear VR, this won't hurt them a bit.
  • TL;DR
    Go to Settings -> Display and tweak it!
  • The relationship between screen resolution and battery life is one the most misunderstood concepts. It's not as straightforward as it seems. There are two main ways a screen can use juice: Direct power consumption due to the display's power requirements
    Indirect consumption due to more GPU usage The different display types behave differently when it comes to how they directly consume power: LCD displays consume power directly in two ways. First, there's the backlight. LCDs do not give off their own light. Instead, they rely on a light behind them which they selectively allow through to create the various colors of the display. To produce black, the LCDs are completely opaque which means even if you are viewing a completely black screen the display's backlight is still on and consuming power. The amount of power that the backlight consumes is going to be related to the size of the screen. A bigger screen, on average, will consume more power via the backlight than a smaller screen, on average. Second, each LCD pixel receives a bit of electricity to maintain its state. Whether more pixels means more power depends highly on the tech. Theoretically, a given area of screen should consume the same amount of power in this regard regardless of the number of pixels in that area. In practice, however, there is going to be overhead and loss that causes some power inefficiency that is correlated with the number of pixels. In practice, this type of power consumption is going to be a tiny percentage compared to the backlight consumption. It's only the second way that directly consumes power proportional to the resolution. The backlight has no idea about the resolution of a screen it's lighting. It's simply on all the time (with some exception for dynamic dimming algorithms). AMOLED displays only directly consume power in one way. Since each AMOLED pixel admits its own light, there is no backlight. Each pixel receives an independent charge that sets its state which causes light to directly emitted. A black pixel consumes no power. Like LCD, in most cases more pixels means more power due to loss and overhead associated with each pixel. When it comes to indirect power consumption both types of display tech behave the same. The more pixels to render, the more the GPU has to work. This is likely to be the largest component in any differences in power consumption between a lower and higher resolution rendering on the same display tech with the same size screen. Going from 1440p and 1080p sounds like it would save power. Whether it does is a complex question and is likely only to be answered in real-life testing.
  • That's why I suggested to AC to do a real life battery life comparison between the three resolution modes.
  • It's your second reason "Indirect consumption due to more GPU usage" that's going to save you the energy. The pixels are all still lit up, there's no savings there unless they introduce an option for simulated scan lines, which I wouldn't hold my breath for that!
  • I'm updating my Galaxy S7 to Nougat as I type this up. Here's to hoping that with only full HD display my Galaxy S7 will comfortably last me a day instead of dying on me at 9 at night.
  • Would be nice just to see the OTA on mine :-/ 930U and still NODDA.
  • Samsung pull out of Nougat 7 update, after finding a Chinese bug in their system!
  • No Nougat, but plenty of Marshmallows, as Samsung pull out of the latest software update!
  • I switched resolutions, then noticed the stock browser wasn't displaying web content properly, then chrome developed an issue, where the web content was very large! Come on Samsung, what are you playing at?
  • Did you try restarting the device. That did the trick for me.
  • Is this setting also available to Galaxy S6 with Nougat Update?