Reviews

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

Samsung took the best bits out of their last year’s flagship and turned it into the fantastic Galaxy S7 Edge. This latest package comes with a similar curved display and fits well in a normal sized phone, even though some may call the phone a phablet, but we still think this is the ‘new’ perfect size for having a smartphone. Let’s just get one thing straight – we love the phone. And we want you to buy it. This is the one flagship you are looking to buy right now. Why? Is it the gorgeous display screen, the bigger battery life or that best-ever camera in a smartphone? Let’s take a deeper look into the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

The first thing you notice of the phone are the beautifully curved edges. It is very much alike the Galaxy S6 Edge. We saw a dramatic shift in design last year when Samsung launched two new versions of their flagship phone. One had the flat design while the other one was the ‘Edge’ version. Of course, people loved the new Edge version over the flat one because of the amazing design — and it was a joy to use the phone every time you take it out of your pocket. Samsung built over the same design and aesthetics this year, improving things by a significant margin and adding in features that were felt missed out in the Galaxy S6.

 

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We have written our views about the phone below after the jump, after putting the phone extensively through its paces over the last two weeks. But first, let’s go through the technical specifications first of the phone.

Galaxy S7 Edge: Technical Specifications

  • Display: 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display (1440 x 2560 pixels), Gorilla Glass 4, Always On Display
  • Processor: Exynos 8890 Octa (Quad-core 2.3 GHz Mongoose + quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A53), Mali-T880 MP12 GPU
  • Camera: Rear: 12 megapixels, OIS, auto HDR, 1/2.6″ sensor size, 1.4 µm pixel size. Front: 5 megapixels
  • Video: 4K video recording
  • Memory: 4GB RAM, 32GB internal storage + ROM, supports microSD card up to 200GB
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth v4.2, NFC, A-GPS, microUSB 2.0
  • Other: Fingerprint scanner, 3.5 mm jack, Microsoft apps, 100GB free OneDrive cloud storage, dual-SIM support, heart rate monitor, fast charging, wireless charging and much more.
  • Battery: 3600mAh Li-ion battery, non-removable
  • OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow – Samsung TouchWiz

Galaxy S7 Edge: Unboxing

Every Samsung flagship device has come in a similar neat packaging with the name of the phone on the front side, and the some specifications and highlighted features at the back. You can read more about the unboxing and our initial impressions about the phone when we started using it: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: Unoxing and Initial Impressions.

Inside the box, you will find the following items:

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
  • User guides
  • SIM ejection pin
  • Micro USB cable
  • Fast charger adapter
  • Earphones
  • USB OTG connector (we love this!)

Here are some pictures we took while unboxing the Galaxy S7 Edge and all the contents that come inside the box:

Galaxy S7 Edge: Design and Hardware

Samsung has clearly shown they have the best designs when working with the glass and metal combination. We saw a similar story with the previously launched Samsung Galaxy A7 2016, and the same goes for this Galaxy S7 Edge. If you are looking for a flagship phone with just the best features and power, then you can get the Galaxy S7. But if you want a phone that along with being a power house is also a style symbol and is known for the gorgeous curved design at the edges, Galaxy S7 Edge is the way to go. And not to forget, the bigger battery that comes with the bigger size.

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This is not the first phone with curved edges by Samsung. We have seen the Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note Edge, but this new Galaxy S7 Edge feels much more organic. It doesn’t feel like the curved edges have been forced upon the phone that should have had a flat display. This is what we instantly fell in love with when we started using this phone.

We have heard people objecting the use of glass (instead of metal) at the back side of the phone that it looks less premium. Even though we feel otherwise, the use of glass at the back allows Samsung to have better and faster wireless charging.

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Galaxy S7 Edge feels as compact as possible in the hands. Sure, it’s a phone with a 5.5-inch display screen, but the smooth edges at the front and rear sides allow the phone to feel much smaller because of almost no bezels at the side. Keep this phone side-by-side with an iPhone 6S or any of the 5.5-inch phones and you will know what I’m trying to say. Samsung has been able to create a much compact phone with a larger battery. Also, you can compare this phone next to a Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P. Galaxy S7 is tall enough to match the size of the Nexus 6P, but wide enough to be of the same size as the Nexus 5X.

Not to mention, the camera bump at the back has been greatly reduced to almost nothing. Could be because of a slightly thicker phone than last year’s, but we love it nonetheless.

The display screen is simply outstanding. The best display we have ever seen on a smartphone! Yes, the same amount of pixels have been slightly stretched across a larger display area when compared to the Galaxy S7, but you can never notice the difference. This Super AMOLED display with a 2,560 x 1,440 QHD resolution is pin-sharp with dark blacks and rich colours. Going through pictures or watching videos on the phone is an absolute delight! Galaxy S7 Edge has set a new bar for auto-brightness controls. The screen can go from very dim to super bright in seconds when you step out in direct sunlight.

Water is not an issue for the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. The phone is waterproof (IP68 standards!) which means it can stay under water (1.5m depth) for about 30 minutes. And there are no flaps or plugs this time that you need to cover before going into the water. One drawback this feature brought to the phone was a tightly covered speaker grill and lower sound quality if you are one of those who like to listen to music on the speaker of your phone, but come one, the phone is now waterproof. You don’t have to worry about little spills, saving you on your pricey phone investment.

Galaxy S7 Edge: Performance

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Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is available with two different processors: Samsung Exynos 8890 Octa-core processor and Snapdragon 820. The later one is known to be performing a lot better in benchmarks, the GPU in particular. In the US and few other regions, Galaxy S7 Edge will have the Snapdragon 820, Qualcomm’s most powerful processor till date. Samsung’s Exynos processor is for Europe and the UK. Our review unit sports the Exynos processor.

This is the snappiest phone we have ever used. With all the crazy specs this phone comes with, one would expect it run without any hiccups or lag. And it sure does! We have never been a fan of Samsung’s modified version of Android which is called TouchWiz because it slows down things a lot, but not the case with the new Galaxy S7 Edge. This phone comes with a 4GB RAM and Android 6.0 Marshmallow (plus Samsung’s modifications). Anyone who disliked TouchWiz in the past, is soon running out of excuses for not buying this phone. Marshmallow in the S7 Edge is still heavily skinned, but you will not notice any slowness anywhere while using the phone.

There is not much to talk about the performance as this phone is capable of running and doing everything you throw at it. From graphically intensive games to apps to QHD videos! Attached below are screenshots from some benchmark apps:

Galaxy S7 Edge: Camera

Samsung has had very good cameras over the past few years in all their flagship devices, but the one on the Galaxy S7 Edge is without any question the best camera on any smartphone. Camera is one feature of every smartphone that is extensively used, and that is where the Galaxy S7 Edge blows past all the competition.

The resolution has been dropped to 12 megapixels, but this drop has made up for much better features like the crazy fast auto-focus and impressive low light performance. Overall, the final output you get from the Galaxy S7 Edge camera is blur free pictures with rich colours. The low light performance clearly lives up to the expectation. The camera is capable of producing stunning close-up shots and with that bokeh effect where you blur out the background in nice colours — works well for portraits or pictures of objects. Food photographers like me will love the camera!

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Camera app is one of the most powerful ones we have used. It is basic enough for any newbie to understand and use the camera app like a point-and-shoot camera, but it can open up advance options for pro photographers who like to have some extra control. There are tons of features that you can spends hours exploring and trying out in the built-in camera app. And not to forget, you can also take pictures in RAW that you can edit the way you want later (or use an app like Snapseed that allow you to manipulate RAW photos right on your phone).

There are plenty of modes and filters that you can use while taking pictures or if they are not enough, you can even download more from the Galaxy Apps store.

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You can quickly start the camera by double-tapping the Home button which is great for moments when you want to capture something really fast. There are some other shortcuts as well using the Edge screen i.e. one-tap camera access to take a selfie.

Here are some sample pictures that we took in our normal day-to-day use of the phone:

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Front camera of the phone is a bit disappointing. It is a 5 megapixels camera on the front side, but it lack fine details and have softer colours. They look washed out, specially after using the rear camera for a long time. Out of the box, various ‘beauty modes’ and selfie features are turned on by default. This is something you might want to get rid of at the very beginning because the result may turn you in your selfies like a plastic alien. The selfies taken with the S7 Edge’s front camera may look much better to some with all these features on as it also helps smoothing over blemishes, but once you take that image out of your phone, you may consider otherwise.

Galaxy S7 Edge: Fast Charging, Battery and Connectivity

There is nothing more annoying than running out of phone battery when you need it the most. This is where the Galaxy S7 Edge excels with its 3600 mAh battery. This is the fastest charging phone we have seen so far — even faster than the Nexus 6P which we previously thought was the fastest charging phone. The new Galaxy S7 Edge doesn’t come with the new USB Type C, but it still supports Adaptive Fast Charging and Wireless Charging (the glass back helps with that).

With the fast charger adapter that comes inside the box, you can charge the Galaxy S7 Edge at the rate of about 1.5% per minute speed. This means, you can roughly get about 50% of battery life charged in just 30 minutes of charging. This is really fast! Long gone are the days when you have to put your phone on charging for hours to get up to 100% of battery.

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On the other side, the battery consumption has been greatly improved in terms of day-to-day usage. We have been easily able to get about 20 hours of battery time after charging it to 100%. This may well be due to the fact that this phone comes with a lot less bloatware.

Other connectivity features are also included in the phone, just like one would expect from a flagship phone. We loved the fact that there is a OTG connector included in the box. That makes data transfer really easy and a lot faster when you just want to quickly copy a couple of files to a USB flash drive. In the past with other flagships from Samsung, they have always been OTG compatible, but you had to buy the OTG cable separately in order to use it.

Galaxy S7 Edge: Software

Like we mentioned earlier, Samsung has always modified Android with their own skin and gimmicky features. Galaxy S7 Edge is powered with Android 6.0 Marshmallow with an overlay of TouchWiz. Samsung has been criticized many times over the years about their TouchWiz that it makes their phones slower, full of bloatware and brings in useless features. Samsung has always said these modifications are for the better, but from a consumer point of view, this is for the worst.

Android on the Galaxy S7 Edge has been great customized like always, but it is not bloated. There are customization features and options that will make you feel at home even if you just moved from a Nexus-level clean Android phone to this one. The OS runs super smooth without any problems. Most of the useless and gimmicky features have been hidden under a settings menu called “Advanced features”. Some of the “Galaxy Labs” options are experimental features that Samsung may add or remove without notice, and is even open to feedback from users. This is a good thing!

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There are plenty of options for customizing your phone, not to mention, themes support. You can download and choose from thousands of themes from the Galaxy Apps store to customize the look and feel of your phone UI. Not much to say about the software as everything else is similar to what we have been used to looking at with Samsung phones.

Bundled Samsung Apps:

File Manager is a simple but mandatory app available in the Galaxy A7 (2016). It functions to provide you access to all of your stored media and data. OTG connections also show up in this app.

Galaxy Apps lets you install proprietary Samsung apps which aren’t listed or available on the Google Play Store like the S Note app.

S Voice is a personal voice-powered assistant. You can control your phone hands free through S Voice and perform different actions otherwise not available in Google Now.

Ultra-Power Saving mode if you are running on low battery and cannot charge your phone, you can access this mode. It cuts down on all of the different features and animations while still letting you access the basic ones.

Private Mode works with the fingerprint scanner in locking different sorts of data and encrypting it. Once locked, no one will have access to it except when you authenticate with your fingerprint.

Galaxy S7 Edge: Edge Screen, Feeds, Lighting

Let’s now look at the various features the new Edge screen brings along with it:

Edge screen

Samsung has finally made that curved edge screen useful with the Galaxy S7 Edge. Those curved edges are no longer just a design element in the phone. Till last year with the Galaxy S6 Edge, all you could do with the edge screen was pull up your favourite contacts and quickly call them. Now, the screen is much more useful with plenty of panels.

Let’s look at some of the various panels you get to have when swiping from the edge of the phone:

  • Apps edge: You can now access your most frequently used apps quickly via the Edge screen. You can have up to 10 apps for quick access.
  • Tasks edge: Similarly, you can have a list of quick tasks right from one of the edge panels of your phone. These tasks can be like a one tap access to taking panoramas, composing a text message, creating a new calendar entry etc.
  • People edge: This panel is similar to last year’s for having easy access to your most frequently contacts.

There are also some plugins by Yahoo! that provide you with quick notifications and updates: Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Sports, Yahoo! News

Moreover, this list doesn’t end here. You can download more plugins from the Galaxy Apps store. We didn’t find the plugins that we were looking for, but this is a good start to making that edge display screen a lot more useful that what it used to be in the past.

Edge feeds

These are small updates and notifications that you can get on our edge screen while the phone screen is off, thanks to the Always On Display of the phone. You can get notifications like: a missed call, a text message, sports updates, number of steps walked today etc. To view Edge feeds, swipe your finger along the Edge screen and back in one quick motion while the screen is turned off.

Edge lighting

For those who are used to keeping their phones turned over while on a table or sitting during a meeting, can find this feature useful as it helps to notify you of any upcoming notification or calls while the phone display is down.

This feature sets the Edge screen to light up when you receive calls or notifications while the device is turned over. Handy, eh?

Galaxy S7 Edge: Verdict

Like we said earlier, this is the phone you want. It is an absolute powerhouse, a gorgeous package of metal and glass that comes with the best of cameras. It may be priced a bit higher as compared to the competition, but all that is well worth it. It is the best smartphone as of today that money can buy. We may see more flagships coming later this year, but the bar has been set very high already.

Galaxy S7 Edge: Screenshots

Galaxy S7 Edge: Gallery

Our gallery of all the pictures of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge from every side and corner. Just look at how beautiful the curved glass looks.

About the author

Haris Nadeem

He lives on everything Android; has countless devices, apps and games to play with everyday. Currently serving as the Chief Editor at Team Android.

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