Samsung’s website claims that one of the reasons to buy the Galaxy s7 Edge is because, hey “It’s a Galaxy ” because “Your Phone should give you the freedom to do more” and its the least that it should do given the pretty penny that you are investing for one. But, does it finally live up to all the marketing hype? Lets find out this and more in our Galaxy S7 Edge Review.
By now you’ve probably noticed that every time that we’ve reviewed a Galaxy flagship there is always something missing. The Galaxy s5 had expandable everything but we hated its cheap plastic, and then the Galaxy s6 brought amazing screen quality but then expandability took a back seat. Never has there been a Galaxy that has been able to balance the desires of everyone and it seems like Samsung finally got the memo.
About this Review
I (Roger Bambino) am writing this review after a week using carrier free global model of the Galaxy S7 edge, in Kampala with good signal throughout for the duration of the review. I was using the Gold 32GB model running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, Build MMB29K.G935FXXU1APB, 4G LTE model for a week.
Hardware feels smaller than it visually is
The hardware story follows the clear saying that if it is not broken don’t fix it or many be just a little. The Galaxy S7 Edge continues last year’s legacy of premium metal and glass but with many improvements. Samsung has decided to make this phone taller and thicker and it has compensated with an extra set of curves at the back for ergonomics. The result is this real feeling of holding something that seems smaller than it visually is. The glass on glass design might be prone to fingerprints and the gold version review unit covered with a protective gold glass casing looks and feels just gorgeous.
The Quad-HD AMOLED display continues to marvel with inky blacks and deep saturation it also addresses the greenish hue that we saw on the borders of its predecessor. The screen is now larger at 5.5 inches diagonal and adds to this real feeling by giving you an impression of a display without bezels. The overall effect is beautiful and it’s worth walking into a Samsung shop or local dealer and check it out if you haven’t.
Processing power is provided by either the Snapdragon 820 or the new Exynos 8890 processor depending on your region and of course ours was the Exynos kind and the 4GB or RAM and 32 GB of storage come standard. Also standard, is the return of a few oldies but goodies like the Micro SD support up to 200GB.
IP 68 water and durst resistance also returns providing protection for up to 30 minutes under water. No, you technically can’t swim with it for hours but its good for the average accident or taking a few photos in the pool. The only thing that didn’t make the cut is the replaceable battery but it continues to support fast and wireless charging and as I will discuss later there is a great deal of juice within this 3,600 mAh pack within. Here’s a full breakdown of the spec table, as compared to the direct competitor from another company, the Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
|iPhone 6S||iPhone 6S Plus||Galaxy S7/ S7 Edge|
|Processor||Apple A9||Apple A9||Exynos 7420 (2.1GHz and 1.5GHz, octa-core)|
|Memory||16GB, 64GB, 128GB||16GB, 64GB, 128GB||32 and 64GB with SD card support up to 200GB|
|Resolution||1334 x 750 (HD)||1920 x 1080 (FHD)||2560 x 1440 (QHD)|
|Front Camera||12 megapixel, with LED||12 megapixel, with LED||12 megapixel, with LED|
|Front Camera||5 megapixel||5 megapixel||5 megapixel|
|Battery Life||10 hours estimated||10 hours estimated||3,000/ 3,600mAh|
|Dimensions (inches)||5.44 by 2.64 by 0.28||6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29||2.75 x 5.59 x 0.27|
|Mobile Payment||Apple Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified)||Apple Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified)||Samsung Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified)|
|Other||3D Touch, 2nd generation Touch ID||3D Touch, 2nd generation Touch ID||Fingerprint sensor, Durst and water (IP68 ) Resistance, Edge version|
An Improved Software offering
Software is about the only thing broken that got fixed and improved at the same time. Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow is doing the leg work below Samsung’s custom skin; sometimes it’s called Touch Wiz here and there. It follows on Samsung’s legacy of visuals and includes the same customization options through the company’s theme store if you’wd prefer to pimp it out or also going for a stock Android look and feel like would prefer to set mine .
Samsung’s Always on mode also takes advantage of its AMOLED technology and stands out by allowing coloured wallpapers and different clock and calendar options on the lock screen. The only shortfall here is that it isn’t really built around notifications like on the Motorola or Nexus smartphones.
Samsung’s UI is the only way to take advantage of this phone given that it doesn’t have stock Android. It also improves on a few things that Google could do better. It continues to be the UI with most applications supporting split window multitasking, it continues to be one of the few that allow screen grid customizations for more icons on your homescreen, it is also the only way that edge will be only a curve on the display. Sliding on the Edge reveals a customizable list of panes that range from application shortcuts to contact shortcuts to tools and even to media tasks. You can be watching a YouTube video on the main screen while keeping an eye on your twitter feed on the Edge screen and also call onto the calculator when in need. Sure this was very clunky few years ago but Samsung has now matured it to a point of being useful, so useful that I continue using it on a daily basis.
The camera’s new focus pixel technology takes center stage
Samsung’s camera combo is also one of the best we have tested so far. Many complained about the reduction of Megapixels from 16 to 12 MP, but this allowed for a brighter f1.7 aperture on a wider 27 mm lens and the new focus pixel technology that really makes its camera shine in low-light. The results are simply breath-taking color and saturation are top-notch even in this rainy season.
For those who are not fans of saturation, you get manual mode in addition to a tonne of other camera modes to choose from.
Video recording also leads to a beautiful outcome with some of the best stabilization features that we’ve seen on a smartphone. And, it is also great to see that this is one of the few Android phones with a hyperlapse feature for those of you that want even more stabilization over a time-lapse. All images of the Galaxy S7 Edge in the gallery below were taken in a 4: 3 Aspect ratio on a cloudy day in Kampala.
Galaxy S7 Edge Sample picture Gallery
A User Experience we expected
The result of all this premium hardware and mature software blends into a pleasant experience in using this phone. Navigating through menus is very fluid save for the flip-board menu screen at the extreme left of the homescreen that you can always turn off. App load times are quick and so far I have been able to load a total of 14 applications on RAM before the phone decides to send any of these to sleep. Kind of a record if you ask me, allowing for seamless multitasking and rare app fresh on the go.
This experience extends to game play, something Samsung has rebuilt from the ground up with Game Launcher. You now have the option to mute all alerts while gaming, lock the soft-keys to avoid pulling you away from you game, minimize it for a quick return when you are done doing something else and you can now take a screenshot or record a video of your game. The processing power makes gameplay delightful and heat dissipation seems top-notch so far, thanks to an internal “cooling system” by Samsung.
We’ve tested the Galaxy s7 Edge on the Africell network around Kampala. During that time call quality has been rather deep through the ear piece with callers also praising the audio quality and noise cancellation.
Sadly the speaker placement manages to be one of my pet peeves but its loudness is welcome for regular media consumption. Data speeds over the Africell network were great we got 4G LTE speeds of up to 21 Mbps on average which is already good enough for a mobile device.
By far the best Battery life on any Galaxy
Now to answer the question we get most, the biggest shocker of them all is finally in the hands of the Hercules heel of very Galaxy smartphone, is its battery life. This the first time that any Galaxy Smartphone we’ve tested has reached crazy 5 hours of screen-on time, that’s at least two hours more that its predecessor and an hour above phones that have shined in this department before. This longer battery life is due to the increased capacity to 3,600 mAh and also the Android 6.0 doze mode feature that pauses apps when you are not using them especially when the phone is ideal mode.
The complement of fast and wireless charging takes over later though we are sad to see that Samsung didn’t adopt the new USB type- C standard and the faster charging protocols provided by Qualcomm didn’t make the cut as well.