The new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is the edgier among the two new flagships from the South Korean company. This year’s range has essentially been used by the firm to address what little complaints people had with the S6 models. That’s evident from the fact that the design and other basics have been kept the same, with just some nifty little additions having been blended into the devices. For one, we now have a microSD card slot which is something that Samsung fans unanimously shouted for when the S6 models ditched it. Waterproofing is no longer the sole property of the company’s Active variants, as this feature too has jumped into the S7 range. And there’s a larger battery than on last year’s model, which is always a plus. If you’re on the edge – please excuse the pun – on whether to buy the Galaxy S7 Edge or not, read further to know exactly what it brings to the table. Or you can even skip to the video review which has been posted right below.
– Display: 5.5-inch dual edge AMOLED, QHD 1440 x 2560 pixels
– OS: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
– CPU: Octa core Exynos 8890 (4 x 2.3GHz custom cores + 4 x 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 cores)
– GPU: Mali-T880 MP12
– Memory: 4GB RAM, 32GB storage (expandable up to 200GB)
– Battery: 3600mAh
– Camera: 12MP rear, 5MP front
– Dimensions: 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7mm
– Weight: 157gms
– Connectivity: Dual SIM, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, NFC, A-GPS, Bluetooth v4.2, microUSB v2.0
The move from plastic to glass and metal worked brilliantly for Samsung last year, and it would have been foolish to change that design approach this year. The company has increased the display size of the Edge variant to 5.5 inches, but it’s just a 0.4-inch increment which shouldn’t bother fans. This effectively means we won’t be seeing an Edge+ model coming out in 2016, with the September slot only having being reserved for the next-gen Note phablet. Anyway, the bezels of the Gorilla Glass 4-protected Super AMOLED display on the Galaxy S7 Edge are almost invisible due to the curved nature of this panel. Although slightly, this increases the display’s ability to immerse you deeper into the visuals.
On the outside, everything is the same which is no surprise given how much the design of the S6 range was admired. One drawback to this glass-heavy construction still remains though – the phone is an unforgiving fingerprint magnet. These marks will appear just minutes after you wipe it clean, leaving you to just accept the fact that it’s going to be smeared with fingerprints all the time. The metal railing on the sides has no such effect of course. It houses a new hybrid dual SIM slot at the top, in which you can insert your much loved microSD card, but only when you’re not using a second SIM. That’s good enough, considering last year’s models didn’t even have a microSD card slot in the first place.
The volume rockers and the power button sit on opposite sides and are made of metal as well. At the bottom, the micro USB port reminds you again that Samsung is still not ready to switch to Type-C, while the lone tiny speaker beside it makes one wonder if it’s adequate for good sound. More on that later. Apart from a set of sensors, a earpiece and a 5MP selfie camera, the front of this device also houses a lightning fast fingerprint scanner. The Galaxy S6’s ugly camera bump on its rear has gone now, and has made way for a much more low profile camera module. No more wobbling of the device when placed on a table.
The smooth metal surface on the S7 Edge’s sides makes it a slippery phone; so a case is definitely recommended. The slimness of the device is worth appreciating, but what might not meet the naked eye is the fact that this year’s model is about 0.7mm thicker than last year’s. That’s because a larger 3600mAh battery is nestled inside it. It’s great to see the focus shifting from slimness towards something that’s worth sacrificing it for. Lastly, this year’s flagship smartphones from Samsung have been granted IP68 water and dust resistance. And it’s commendable that the devices can survive underwater journeys without the need for additional protection. This is achieved by granting a full waterproof coating to the open portions like the headphone jack and the charging port. A sensor in the latter also warns you when it’s moist, so that you don’t end up connecting the charger and causing a short circuit.
Display and audio:
AMOLED is without a doubt the best display technology out there, and Samsung has always been at the forefront of implementing it on its handsets. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge gets a 5.5-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED panel which has dual curved edges to justify the phone’s name. This panel excels in delivering extremely vivid visuals.
The colors pop effortlessly, and the stunning 534ppi pixel density makes it impossible to spot any pixels. Great viewing angles have become a standard these days on all high-end phones, and this one stands among them proudly. The high amount of brightness that this display can generate gives its outdoor visibility factor a huge boost.
But there’s something more to this panel than all that. It has been gifted with an always-on functionality for quickly glancing at stuff like the date and time. While exciting, this feature lacks versatility. You can choose from a set of different analog or digital clocks or have a month view of the calendar show up on the screen when it’s idle.
There’s even an option of having dark images appear on the always-on display, except they are limited to just three options. Another limitation is that unread counts appear only for missed calls and text messages. Samsung can easily improve this by throwing this feature open to third-party apps, and we’re not sure why it hasn’t done that.
Coming to the main concern of battery consumption now, it’s safe to say that the always-on display doesn’t warrant a second thought while you’re turning it on. It consumes very little power thanks to the fact that it’s working on an AMOLED panel which is capable of lighting up individual pixels rather than the entire screen.
There’s a single speaker at the bottom of this handset which we aren’t quite happy with. It seems to be a downgrade over what last year’s models had. This is perhaps a result of all the waterproofing that has gone into the Samsung Galaxy S7 and its Edge sibling. The speaker does well to deliver basic sound.
But it fails at rendering clarity and even has less overall volume. Sound coming through the headphones though is exactly the opposite. If you do all your listening on your headphones, this weakness shouldn’t be a bother to you at all.
Until last year, Samsung’s phones used to ship with previous-gen Android versions but the S6 range changed that and the tradition is now being carried forward by the S7 models. Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow is the version that’s infused into the handsets, covered with the company’s trademark TouchWiz user interface. Although extremely versatile and feature-rich, this interface is often criticized for its heavy nature and the toll it takes on the overall speed of the handset. This too was addressed by Samsung last year by making several backend changes to speed up the interface and also by severely cutting down on unneeded apps. It was a move that was well appreciated by fans, and has hence carried over to the S7 range.
All that aside, let’s talk about the new features that have been introduced with the S7 models. There’s now a Game Launcher which clubs all your downloaded games together in a special folder and gives you a useful set of extra features to go along with them. There’s a button for disabling notifications while you’re playing a game and even buttons for rendering shortcuts to stuff like snapping a screenshot, recording a gameplay video, locking recent and back keys and more. Game Launcher is a brilliant idea, and will be well appreciated by those who use their Galaxy phones for gaming a lot. One small gripe we had with it is that when a new game is installed, this feature adds it to the Game Launcher folder as well as creates a fresh icon of it on the homescreen, which is not required.
Better Edge screen:
We now come to the main aspect that differentiates the software on the S7 from that on its Edge version – the Edge screen functionality. We have to say Samsung has expanded this feature in a big way with this year’s handset. There are a number of new additions onboard, which only need a little getting used to before making your lives easier. A trait we love is the Tasker-style panel which lets you create shortcuts for particular functions of apps rather than the apps themselves. For instance, you can add a Create Contact button or a Take a Selfie button, and tapping on these will launch that task immediately. The catch here is that you can only choose from a set of tasks that Samsung has already predefined. The ability to create our own tasks with third-party apps would have been superb.
One-tap call shortcuts can be easily set on this edge panel, while there’s even a My Places option that allows you to automatically alter your settings when you reach a particular location. The latter is yet another Samsung attribute that resembles the offerings of the much loved Tasker app. Yahoo News and Yahoo Sports panels are available to be placed on the edge screen, but you can even opt for a CNN panel if you’re inclined towards the said news source. It’s the result of Samsung allowing other developers access to this functionality, and this has also given us a Twitter edge panel which is great. You can download a number of other such third-party utilities, the likes of which include a RAM Usage Manager, a Data Usage Panel and more.
If you’re a hater of the TouchWiz user interface, you’re going to find it incredibly hard to continue doing that. Samsung has acknowledged complaints and changed things for the better. It has even made small tweaks like changing the color of the notification area to white rather than green to sort of adapt to today’s design standards. All this has been done while keeping old features like Multi Window, the Ultra Power Saving Mode and others alive. You also get the forced Microsoft apps package, though the bloatware on these phones is less by miles as to what it used to be before the S6 range came along. We have to say, Samsung’s decision to revamp its TouchWiz software has worked brilliantly for the company, and we can see it being made better with each year now.
When the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge were announced, most of the attention was focused on their camera modules since they are huge game changers these days. Early demonstrations showed us that the ‘Dual Pixel’ image sensor and f/1.7 aperture lens combined to deliver stunning low-light shots. We’ll come to that in a bit.
First, we’d like to tell you that the jump from 16MP to 12MP doesn’t cause any noticeable difference to the camera experience of the Galaxy S7 range. In fact, the camera on the back of this year’s models is way better than that of last year. The lower resolution is more than made up for by the large pixel size, just like on the latest Nexus handsets.
This is a dream camera for point-and-shoot enthusiasts, mainly because it can focus, click an image and be ready for the next one in lesser time than it takes to blink an eye. These ridiculously low autofocus times are made possible by the Dual Pixel image sensor that has gone into the Galaxy S7 smartphones.
It basically makes use of a more advanced and complex technology for phase detection autofocus. The addition of an f/1.7 aperture lens makes two things possible – achieving extremely shallow depth of field and increased capture of light in dim conditions. Photographs clicked from the 12MP rear camera of the S7 Edge are unbelievably good.
You’ll find your pictures to be slightly brighter due to the different technologies at work. This is not always a good thing because some images do tend to get overexposed when there’s too much light around. However, it is a blemish we’d gladly expect in return of a crazy fast camera which captures highly detailed, precisely colored photographs.
Besides, the added light helps when images are being clicked in low-light conditions. Despite all the niceties, considerable grain is still to be found in your low-light photographs. We are yet to see a phone camera that eliminates grain from images to an extent close to professional cameras, so this cannot be considered a weakness. On the plus side, you’re getting bright night-time images that you need not spoil by using the flash.
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Accompanying the stock Auto mode is a set of additional modes, most of which seem to have been developed solely for the purpose of competing with similar features offered by other OEMS. There’s of course the Pro mode for manual photography and the handy Live broadcast mode for creating livestreams quickly.
A Video collage mode stitches four clips onto a grid to preserve the memories of a particular day or time, whereas Selective Focus allows you to adjust focus after the image has been clicked (it’s a very half-baked iteration of the now-old concept). Other offerings like a Panorama mode and a Food mode which creates a tilt-shift effect around your food also exist on the S7 Edge.
Videos have their own modes too, in the form of Hyperlapse and Slow motion. Both of them excel in what they do, and are hence in no way a letdown. The videos themselves are bright and vivid, and can be shot in a variety of resolutions like 4K UHD, QHD, 1080p 60fps, 1080p 30fps and so on.
The front camera is the same as the one on the S6 range, so you’re still getting 5-megapixel selfies that too are pretty quick to achieve focus. The camera experience of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge has been exquisite so far. It’s no doubt one of the best smartphone cameras ever.
Performance and battery life:
Samsung has brought into India the Exynos 8890 model of the Galaxy S7 Edge instead of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 variant. The company claims both offer the same performance, however we cannot confirm this as we only have the Exynos model with us for now. This is among the most powerful mobile chipsets till date, thanks to its incorporation of an advanced octa core processor (built with 14nm process and consisting of four 2.3GHz custom cores and four 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 cores) and a Mali-T880 MP12 GPU.
All this combined with 4GB of RAM, makes the S7 Edge operate like a charm. Be it the edge panel goodies, the Multi Window feature or high-end games, this one deals with every task like a champion. We must mention though that once every few days, we did find slight lags in some apps like Flipboard but this is something we consider negligible. The phone benchmarks impressively of course. Its AnTuTu stint of 128106 managed to beat the scores of the likes of the iPhone 6S Plus among other devices.
As for 3D Mark’s Unlimited Ice Storm test, it achieved a high score of 27898 which is again commendable. Heating was the biggest issue with most flagship smartphones of last year, and companies have managed to rectify that in 2016. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge toes this line as well, for it delivered considerably cool performance all throughout. It’s only during fast charging that it tends to heat up, but the company warns about this in the Settings menu and even lets you switch off the fast charging feature completely.
Speaking about its fingerprint scanner, it’s fast as hell to recognize your imprints but the phone still needs to be woken up from sleep before the fingerprint reader can start doing its job. The smartphone industry’s obsession with thinness is finally diminishing, and this is a good thing considering that it means devices can now occupy larger batteries. We hence have no complaint against the S7 Edge being 0.7mm fatter than its predecessor, as it has a 3600mAh battery inside it rather than a 2600mAh unit.
With an octa core processor, a Quad HD display and other high-end hardware to manage, the large battery does incredibly well to deliver good backup. We won’t call the battery life excellent though, as it does need charging at the end of the day if you’re not going to charge it throughout the next day. During the course of this review, we had kept the always-on display feature turned on and used the phone at regular intervals for making calls, sending and receiving WhatsApp messages, a few minutes of gaming here and there and other daily tasks.
Battery life continued and final verdict
This resulted in around a 15 to 20 percent buffer in the battery life at the end of the day. What’s important though is that it never ever made us feel uneasy about the battery running out. And along with this, there was also the confidence of having Samsung’s mind-blowing Ultra Power Saving mode at our service all the time.
– Amazing display. We don’t know how, but Samsung manages to make Super AMOLED better every year.
– Great camera. Images and videos clicked from this shooter are superb and the lightning fast autofocus times are a plus as well.
– Waterproof design. Samsung has kept the same design approach as the S6 range, while also making the phone water- and dust-proof.
– MicroSD. Fans of the Galaxy phones were disappointed to see last year’s models not featuring expandable storage, but that has changed this year.
– Snappy performance. The S7 Edge behaved like an ultra high-end smartphone all throughout and that’s what one expects of such an expensive handset.
– Fingerprint magnet. Around 95 percent of this phone’s body is made of glass which gets covered in fingerprints very easily.
– Underwhelming speaker. The speaker on this phone is pretty low powered.
Smartphones with curved screens were being seen merely as gimmicks when they first arrived, but over time, Samsung has indeed managed to make them mainstream. The latest such offering from the South Korean firm is about as high-end as such devices have ever got. It’s meant for those who crave ultra high-end hardware and hence delivers just that. Its exquisite display sits beautifully on a swanky waterproof body that’s also adored by two brilliant cameras. It’s hence that those who wish to buy the Galaxy S7 Edge should not hesitate to spend Rs 56900 or around $790 on it. We give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.