Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge In Depth Review
- Drool-worthy Design
- Top of the line processor and graphics
- Edge Display with extended functionality
- Sharp Display with QHD resolution
- Amazing Camera performance with Dual Pixel autofocusing technology
- Can be quite difficult to maneuver with one hand
The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is definitely a contender for phone of the year with all the new and fortified features that Samsung manages to stuff into its sleek and drool-worthy design. With great camera performance and expandable storage on top of its amazing performance, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is very compelling. However, its one Achilles heel is the pricing Retailing at RM3099, some would find a laptop more compelling. That said, if you’re looking for a phone that will last, this is one that we can recommend – if you have the bank for it.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, is arguably the South Korean tech behemoth’s coming of age. Many consider the device an incremental “S” update of the S6 but, it feels more like the culmination of years of commercial testing on Samsung’s part. The device brings together a whole plethora of improvements and brings Samsung’s flagship series into true flagship territory.
The design of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is undoubtedly one of the sleekest and most beautiful designs we’ve seen in a while. Taking an approach that’s was abandoned by its largest competitor, the South Korean company boasts proud that it truly knows how to bring form and function to masses in an undeniably appealing package.
The design of the Galaxy S7 edge brings together the much sought after metal body with a glass finish that brings a sense of style and sophistication that not many manufacturers bring to the table. In addition, the dual curved edges of the Galaxy S7 Edge make the phone’s large 5.5-inch display more palm-able. This makes it that much easier for users to reach the other end of the screen with one hand. That said, the dual edge screens may truly be the one stumbling block on the Galaxy S7 edge. Using the device in one hand can be frustrating for those with meatier palms or smaller hands. This is due to the edge display being triggered when it comes in contact with your palm. During our review, this happened a few times and things like texting or taking quick notes in one hand became rather infuriating as the touch either triggered the zoom gesture or made the typing go into continuous input mode.
That aside, the S7 edge’s body is definitely one to drool over. The way the edges melt into its metallic frame gives the phone an elegant finish. It’s glass front and back also give it a more premium feel compared to its predecessors.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge’s specifications are not to be taken lightly. It comes with top of the line hardware. However, as we’ve seen in previous iterations and in other devices, the hardware doesn’t necessarily guarantee excellent performance.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge comes in two variants, the Snapdragon version which is available in the US which comes with a Snapdragon 820 and an Exynos variant, which the rest of the world is getting. We got to review the Exynos variant. The specifications are listed in the table below.
|Processor||Exynos 8890 Octa (8 Cores)
Quad-core 2.8 GHz + Quad-core 1.6GHz
Expandable with MicroSD (Max. 256 GB)
|Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)||Mali-T880MP12|
5.5-inch (~534 ppi)
Quad HD (1440 x 2560 pixels)
Dual Curved Edge
Corning Gorilla Glass 4
|Operating System||Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow) with TouchWiz|
|Battery||3600mAh (Claimed 27h talk time on 3G connectivity)
Qualcomm Quick charge compatible
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
Bluetooth 4.2, LE
Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)
Phase detection Autofocus
Video recording at 2160p (30fps), 1080p (60fps), 720p (240fps) with HDRFRONT:
Samsung TouchWiz UI
As we mentioned in the hardware section, the hardware can only bring so much to the table when it comes to performance. The other, arguably larger, portion of the performance equation comes down to the software optimisations that the manufacturers implement in their versions of the android operating system.
TouchWiz UI has long been the bane of many Samsung Galaxy users. It has, in the past, made a name for itself as one of the worst UIs available on the market. However, with the latest iteration of the UI in the Galaxy S7 Edge, we see a whole lot of improvement, not only in the aesthetics, but also in the performance of the UI.
The first thing we noticed using the S7 edge, is the immensely reduced amount of Samsung “bloatware”. This comes as an extremely welcomed change in the UI as it returns some amount of control to the user when it comes to apps which are installed in their device. Aside from S Health, one of Samsung’s better applications, the only other Samsung applications you will have on your device are SideSync, S Voice, Smart Switch and Samsung’s Galaxy Apps store. In addition, you’ll also see Microsoft’s office suite thanks to their partnership with Samsung.
Aside from the bloatware, Samsung’s TouchWiz UI has slimmed down immensely. It’s not the RAM hungry monster it once was. The UI now runs with a very comfortable amount of RAM remaining for other apps to run smoothly. In addition, Samsung has brought a welcomed set of new features which include the Ultra Power Saving Mode which limits the UI and connectivity to conserve battery life. Another welcomed addition is the theming engine which Samsung first introduced in their Note 5. This brings a level of customisability that was sorely lacking in the previous iterations of TouchWiz. The theming option allows users to download and use predesigned themes from Samsung’s theme store. However, if you want to create your own themes, you’ll need to apply to do so by registering at Samsung’s website.
Aside from these improvements, TouchWiz brings some familiarity to returning Samsung users. That said, they can expect a higher level of polish in the icons and interface of TouchWiz. Gone are the days of clunky cartoony icons, instead Samsung’s TouchWiz icons now have a more classy, rounded feel. To help maintain the smooth running of the UI, TouchWiz has an enhancement called Smart Manager which helps optimise your apps. This includes clearing them from the background at regular intervals which can be determined by the user.
With Android 6.0 running on Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, there are integrated security measures which have their roots in Samsung’s KNOX security architecture. Samsung takes full advantage of this in the security option of the Smart Manager control panel. It integrates antimalware scanning and monitors for unauthorised changes to the system. To further enhance security for your phone, Samsung also builds in the KNOX activation into the control panel.
Using this control panel is further simplified with the integration of a widget which you can place your home screen. The widget summarises the features and allows users to perform actions without going into the app proper. This includes giving a summary of disk space usage and RAM utilisation. Clicking on the RAM and disk space allows users to quickly clear background processes and also free up disk space.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is no slouch when it comes to benchmarks either. The device can definitely compete with the more popular Snapdragon processors. While benchmarks are a good indication of hardware performance, the actual performance of the device really depends on how the user actually utilises it and the amount of apps on the device itself.
As we’ve mentioned in the preceding parts, the performance of any given device is dependent on multiple factors, particularly the hardware in the device and the software optimisations that the manufacturer has implemented. We’ll be looking at the performance of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge in a few aspects: multitasking, call quality and connectivity, and gaming.
Call Quality & Connectivity
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge comes with all the bells and whistles you would want in a smartphone; from Bluetooth connectivity, WiFi to 2G connectivity. The question is, how does the device perform on these connectivity options.
Overall, the S7 Edge performed really well across the board; call quality was good, connectivity was stable and data transfer was quick and easy.
The main reason someone would buy the phone is to make calls, or in the Malaysian context, to use messaging services such as WhatsApp, WeChat or LINE. In our testing of the S7 Edge, we found the call quality to be really good. The speaker sounded warm and was very clearly audible. Callers on the side also stated that we were clearly audible and there was little to no background noise.
The Galaxy S7 Edge was able to connect to WiFi connections on the b/g/n and ac wavelengths making connectivity very accessible. In addition, the quality of the connectivity was generally stable. Samsung’s smart network switch feature helped as well. The feature allows the device to jump seamlessly between mobile internet and WiFi connections.
Connectivity on mobile was relatively stable. Where 4G network was not an issue, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge has little issue with surfing and downloads. Of course, using Samsung’s download booster feature, larger files downloaded quite quickly.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is the first device on the market which brings with it the new Vulkan API which allows for better gaming performance and higher quality graphics. In addition, Samsung’s new Game centre application makes fine tuning the phone’s performance during gaming a cinch. The new Game Center app also allows you to block notifications from interrupting your game. While blocking notifications is a welcomed feature, the game optimisations other than the high performance mode can render game play a little slow. In fact, on power saving mode, the games were unplayable. Samsung would need to address this issue if it wants the power optimisations to actually be useful. However, the slowing down of the processor does help to an extent but it become pointless when you can hardly play the game.
Samsung’s approach to multitasking is rather stock Android. However, some optimisations introduced by Samsung are welcomed additions. The ability to use 2 apps in the multi-window feature is a real boon especially if you’re trying to be productive by searching and typing notes or an article. Memory management while multitasking has been improved, largely due to the memory management aspect of the new Smart Manager we went through earlier in the article.
Battery life is pretty finicky with every device, as usage differs from user to user. That said, the battery life on the S7 edge is not going to blow your mind. It will, however, last you at least a day without charging. In our testing we got about 9 to 10 hours with regular use which included calls, emails, texts, gaming and surfing. It’s probably best to indicate here that our test areas had pretty good cellular coverage and WiFi. Keep in mind that the more processor intensive apps you use, the less your battery life will be.
The name sake of the Galaxy S7 Edge is its unique dual edge display we first saw in the S6 Edge and Edge+. However, the design is complemented further with the curved back Samsung has adopted. The edge display also brings with it software features which Samsung has enhanced.
The first noticeable change you will see not only involves the edge display but also the whole phone. Samsung has built in its version of the Always on Display which shows you the clock, time and a few general notifications. No need to fret about battery life with the feature, our review unit still lasted a little over 9 hours when we used it.
In addition, Samsung enhances its edge display with Apps Edge and People Edge. Features which allow you to easily access your favourite apps and contacts respectively by swiping the active point on the screen. This allows you to then jump into the app immediately or text or call your contact.
Another useful feature of the Edge display is Samsung’s addition of widget support for the edge. The enhanced feature allows you to get things like your time and news widgets on the edge and also some other more useful one like notes.
Of course, you can’t mention the edge display without it’s notification feature which lights up the edge with different coloured lights when your phone is faced down. You can even customise the colours according to your contacts.
Aside from the Edge features, the Super AMOLED screen of the Galaxy S7 Edge is a beauty. The contrast and colour reproduction is really rich and saturated. While not all people enjoy the saturation, I find that it brings images and videos to life with more vibrant energy. The sharpness of the resolution ensures that image and video quality is also crisp.
The cameras on the Galaxy S7 Edge are great. The images that are captured definitely pop and do have a vibrancy to it. However, many people find the vibrancy and colour saturation a little artificial. That said, in our testing, it was this feature that allowed us to post amazing quality photos in a snap onto social media.
In addition, the low light performance of the Galaxy S7 Edge is commendable. Samsung has managed to one-up the low light performance we saw on the Note 5 which in itself had really good low light performance.
The cameras also boast great autofocusing with a 0.2s autofocus time. The dual pixel auto focus which Samsung introduced really does make a difference. However, it may also depend on the lighting. Expect longer auto focus times with lower lighting.
IP68 Dust and Water Proofing
One of the features that went the way of the dinosaurs with the s6 is the water and dust resistance we saw with the more rugged s5. However, it makes it triumphant return with the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. This time, Samsung has managed to build in the water resistance without the flimsy flaps.
We tested the water resistance by immersing the review unit in a tank of water. We’re amazed that it survived our 1-hour shoot. In addition, we also “spilled” everything from coke to coffee on the device. It still functioned in all scenarios. However, thicker more viscous fluids such as coffee and milk did need to be removed before the device touch screen was usable.
Another thing you will need to note is that your sound quality will be temporarily affected after immersion. This we realised was due to the liquid getting stuck in the speaker grills. Something that is quite frankly, unavoidable.