The curved screen is Samsung’s new headline design trait, and it’s using it more and more frequently. The S7 Edge is the very best variation of it yet, I haven’t spent enough time with all the Galaxy Note 7 just yet, plus it makes for an iconic mobile. It’s more eye-catching than the regular Samsung Galaxy S7, too.
It doesn’t just impress in the looks department, though; this is an all-around stunner. It has the best optics, crispest display, and even Samsung’s software has taken a step back. The sloping display might make it more difficult to hold for some, but it’s never become an issue for me.
It’s high-priced, it’s constantly going to be, but you’re getting a lot of phone for your money.
• Excellent camera in all conditions
• Stunning layout
• Sharp, vibrant screen
• Minor lag in TouchWiz
• Screen may be overly reflective
Samsung retained the same design as it already seemed great in the first place. We think the 5.5-inch display size is just about right. Large enough real estate screen but still good enough to hold with one hand and more comfortable to the clasp.
The power button is on the right, volume controls on the left, while they moved the SIM card that is nano up top. Speaking of the SIM card, there are two slots and one tray now supports a microSD card up to 200GB, an attribute lot of people missed in the previous Galaxy series. With that, however, the storage options are now down to merely 32 GB and 64GB. You’ll now select your SIM configuration to either using two SIM cards or using the second tray to get extra storage via a microSD card.
Samsung decided to remove the IR blaster in the S7 Edge, a feature which has been with the Galaxy series for a very long time. We’re going to miss that IR blaster which we often use as a universal remote for plenty of home appliances.
At the bottom is the micro-USB charging port. They didn’t put in the newer USB Type-C interface but it’s alright since it’s going to be a hassle ensuring that we consistently bring that single USB Type-C cable everywhere we go.
As for the screen, Samsung is sticking to the tried and tested. There’s no indication of 4K here (which would be daft, let’s face it); instead, the S7 Edge has “merely” a 1,440 x 2,560 display. As usual for Samsung handsets, this uses Super AMOLED technology, which means it appears lively, colorful and in-your-face.
Given Samsung’s previous record with smartphone screen quality, it’s no surprise that the Edge’s display performs brilliantly. Under the inspection of our X-Rite i1display Pro colorimeter and with auto-brightness switched off, the brightness range runs from 1.7cd/m2 at its dimmest to a maximum of 503cd/m2; both are tremendously remarkable results.
What’s different here is that Samsung is finally taking advantage of the OLED technology’s strengths by implementing an always-on display. This displays the time and recent notifications on the display, even when the phone is on standby, and there’s a selection of different designs to choose from, including several different clock types, calendars, and images.
The Galaxy S7 Edge packs a 3,600 mAh battery that’s considerably larger than the disappointing 2,600 mAh cell sat inside the Galaxy S6 Edge and it performs so much better for it.
Battery life still isn’t perfect, though. The iPhone 6S Plus can go a few hours longer and the Moto X Force will last another half a day, but you shouldn’t have to reach for the charger until bedtime, even if you’re a significant user.
With moderate to high daily use the S7 Edge tends to leave me at the end of the day with around 25-35% battery life. It drops substantially more suddenly during intensive jobs – 30 minutes of Hitman Sniper took it down 15% – but it has special standby time. Leaving it unplugged overnight only ate through 2% thanks to Android Marshmallow’s excellent Doze attribute.
2MP Dual Pixel sensor, f/1.7 aperture, LED flash, 5MP selfie detector, OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation).
Megapixels no longer matter, there are more critical indicators in making a great mobile camera.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge truly has fewer megapixels (12-megapixels as opposed to 16) than the Galaxy S6, but you wouldn’t believe that looking at the results. There’s a load of improvements here, while the actual amount of pixels in the sensor is less.
The greatest update is geared towards improving low-light performance, something most mobiles really suffer with. Samsung’s using a new-fangled tech called Double Pixels here, also it helps the autofocus work fantastically well. Instead of just one, each pixel in the detector has two ‘photobodies’ and this basically means the camera can focus much quicker, and more precisely, than before.
Advertising speak is one thing, but it actually lives up to the bill. This is actually the best autofocus I’ve ever seen on a cellphone. It’s quick, almost instantaneous, and moving from one focus point to another does the sensor and cause jarring like on so many devices that are competing won’t stump.
The other big improvement is low light operation. And again the changes make a significant difference.
The aperture now stays at f.1/7, brighter than before and this makes your nighttime shots seem less cloudy and considerably more visible. There’s less graininess in the results also and you can pick out details that you wouldn’t have been able to before.
Considering it was already one of the top cameras on any Android cellphone that is n’t so much of an issue, although I wouldn’t say there’s a tremendous development in general daylight picture quality from the Galaxy S6 Edge to the S7 Edge.
As well as testing screen sizes with the Galaxy S6 models, Samsung may have also been seeing which storage capacity consumers prefer by matching the iPhone 6S with 32-, 64- and 128GB versions. The Galaxy S7 edge, as mentioned before, heralds the return of expandable storage. Correcting the lack of a Micro-SD card slot on the previous model is the right move and likely to be why Samsung is just making the Galaxy S7 border in a 32GB capacity.
This is really a key advantage for the Galaxy S7 in the battle against the iPhone along with the MicroSD slot can support up to 200GB cards. However, despite running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the phone doesn’t allow for Adoptable Storage – a feature which enables a memory card to be viewed as internal storage, united with the built-in storage.
It appears that Samsung has made this decision, in part, to avoid confusing users. It’s a shame but not the end of the world; you’ll only have to carry on utilizing the memory card in the old fashioned way. You can move apps to SD card on the Galaxy S7 edge via the storage section of the setting menu. Navigate to the programs section of internal storage, select the apps, hit change and choose SD card.
There’s no change on the fingerprint scanner front, it’s still hidden inside the physical house button which sits below the display. As it no longer has a silver rim around the border the button is more discrete.
It’s possible for you to register a fingerprint to unlock the phone with (using a backup password, PIN or pattern) during the initial set up. Thereafter, you can head into the settings to add more of your digits – doing at least both your thumbs will likely be useful and also you could add up to four in total.
The disappointment here is that we’ve not found the fingerprint scanner on the S7 edge really quick or reliable. We frequently get messages such as ‘no match’ or ‘keep your finger on the home key a little more’. So you will need to be quite careful about how you touch the detector that’s a problem we didn’t even find with the Galaxy S6 it essentially is somewhat picky. It is by no means unusable but definitely frustrating at times.
If the same happens to you, try re-registering your fingerprint. After doing this, we have seen things improve a little. Interestingly, it is not an issue we have encountered on the routine Galaxy S7.
Best in class camera, layout and functionality make the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge the Android mobile to beat in 2016.