“The Korean giant’s best phone yet”
The successor to the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, the S7 Edge is a slightly bigger brother to the new Galaxy S7 and is probably one of the best looking phones you can buy in 2016. There is tough competition coming from Apple in the form of the new iPhone 7, but, odds are that the S7 Edge will be the more eye-catching device.
Samsung has really transformed after the Galaxy S5 from two years ago which was widely panned for its plasticky body and average design, among other things. This one, on the other hand, is an exceptional device on paper with a unique curved display, water resistance, wireless charging and other top-of-the-line features.
Just like its predecessor, the S7 Edge is a stunning piece of design. This 5.5-inch device (larger than the 5.1 inch S7) looks very compact and has a metal rim which is sandwiched between two Corning Gorilla Glass 4 slabs. There is a lock switch on one side and volume keys on the other, and the back is almost completely clean. The overall design with the sloping glass sides makes the Apple iPhone 6S look almost block-like in comparison. Unlike the S6 Edge, the new version is easy to hold for extended periods.
The top houses SIM/MicroSD tray and a mic with the bottom having another mic, a headphone jack, the speakers and a microUSB port. Samsung has avoided the temptation to follow other flagships like the OnePlus 2 and the Nexus P and switch to a USB-C port.
Another small tweak in the design compared to the Samsung S6 Edge is the camera module. It is now flat on the device’s back meaning that you can now type with the phone flat on the surface and not worry about it rocking around. The S7E also has an IP68 water resistance rating as well.
Stunning is an apt word to describe the S7 Edge’s display. Even though there isn’t a lot of change from last year’s model, it continues to be one of the best screens on a smartphone.
Samsung has not gone 4K and stayed qHD (2560×1440). A 4K display makes sense only when VR is involved, and with the technology picking up, that might happen next year. The pixel density of 534ppi easily outmatches that of the Apple 6S Plus and Samsung has stuck to a Super AMOLED display which is more vibrant and has deeper blacks than LCD panels.
There is also an ‘Always On’ mode which shows the date, time and other bits of information when the phone is on standby without using a lot of battery. The company claims that it uses only 1% extra battery per hour. It is a nice feature but the lack of support for app notifications means that is not very useful.
Even though it is brilliant overall, the display is not perfect. There is a slight tinge when viewing things on a white background, which is noticeable in apps such as Gmail but not when viewing images. Because the display is AMOLED, viewing angles are not the best either.
Compared to the Galaxy S6, the S7 Edge has fewer megapixels (12 MP vs 16MP), but there are plenty of improvements. The Dual Pixel sensor has optical image stabilization, f/1.7 aperture and LED flash. The Dual Pixel technology is aimed towards improving lowlight performance and helps the camera focus much faster. This does work and focusing is almost instantaneous. Combined with a larger aperture, shots in low light now look brighter than before.
There isn’t much of an improvement is daylight performance but that shouldn’t be taken as an issue since the S6 had one of the best smartphone cameras anyway. Images are fantastic and full of details. Colors are vibrant and realistic and the camera captures skin tone well. There is a ‘Pro’ mode which lets you adjust settings manually and a ‘Live Broadcast’ option which allows you to upload videos directly to YouTube.
It supports 4K video as well. But you’ll get features like HDR, tracking auto-focus, etc. only with 1080p video.
There isn’t any major change in the front facing camera. The 5MP lens is wide angle, allowing you to cram more faces in and even though there is not front flash, the display can act as one like the iPhone 6S.
Samsung switched from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon to its own Exynos chip with the S6, and this continues in the S7 Edge (in certain markets, it still has a Snapdragon SoC). It has an octa-core Exynos 8890 CPU (with four cores running at 2.6GHz and the other four at 1.59 GHz), Mali T880 GPU, 4GB RAM and 32 GB storage (expandable).
In terms of sheer performance, it is the best smartphone you can buy. In synthetic benchmarking tests like Geekbench and AnTuTu, it leaves all its competition far behind. It runs every app you can throw at it, including games like Lara Croft Go, Hitman Sniper and Asphalt 8, with ease. However, there is a bit of lag when using the TouchWiz UI which speaks more about Samsung’s software than the hardware itself. The company has even added a ‘water cooling’ system to the phone which seems to be effective. It does warm up a bit when pushed, but not as much as you would expect.
The phone has a 3600mAh battery which is much larger than the 2600mAh cell which was found on the S6 Edge. It also supports both fast charging and wireless charging and you can fully charge a dead phone in about 90 minutes. However, battery life is by no means perfect.
With moderate use, the S7 Edge leaves around 25-30% charge after a long workday. But, charge decreases rapidly when performing system intensive tasks like 3D gaming. Standby time is exceptional though with the device losing only 2% charge when left overnight.
- Excellent camera performance
- Eye-catching design
- Vibrant display
- TouchWiz UI has minor lag issues
- Reflective screen
If you are looking for the best Android smartphone than money can buy, then the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is currently the one for you. It is absolutely brilliant, and while there are a few niggles, all of them are minor when compared to the rest of the package.