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Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

90%
Awesome

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Specifications

→ 5.5in 1440x2560 AMOLED display at 534ppi
→ octa-core Samsung Exynos 8890 processor (four 2.6GHz cores and four 1.59GHz cores),
→ Android 6.0 Marshmallow
→ 4GB RAM
→ 32GB built-in storage expandable up to 200GB via microSD
→ 12MP rear camera with LED flash and OIS
→ 5MP front camera
→ 3,600mAh battery
→ 151x73x7.7mm, 157g

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  • Design

AFTER TAKING Samsung’s latest Galaxy S7 Edge for a spin, we think we’ve found the Android King of 2016, albeit only March.

It’s everything that made the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge such a beautiful handset to behold, just amped up to an even greater degree.

Design

Last year’s Galaxy S6 Edge was just about the most beautiful handset Samsung had ever crafted, in our opinion. However, just one year later, and we’re finding it somewhat jarring to go back to that model from its successor.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

The 2016 iteration is curvier, smoother and ultimately edgier. If you’re familiar with the S6 Edge you may be surprised by just how different it feels.

First thing’s first; the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is unfortunately just as fragile. The glass back remains, and our gold-coloured sample still picks up fingerprints and grease after heavy usage.

Size-wise it packs a lot into its 150.9×72.6×7.7mm, 157g shell. It’s slightly larger than the Galaxy S7’s 142.4×69.6×7.9mm frame, but it manages to shave a few millimetres off the thickness.

For comparison, last year’s Galaxy S6 Edge came in at 142.1×70.1x7mm and 132g, while the Galaxy S6 Edge+ measured in at 154.4×75.8×6.9mm and 153g.

Samsung claims that the Galaxy S7 Edge meets IP68 certification for water resistance to a depth of 1.5m, and it can survive submersion for up to 30 minutes. It’s a useful safety feature, but more for your peace of mind rather than to aid would-be divers.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

The microSD is a welcome addition, although you’re going to take a performance hit if you install apps onto anything but the fastest flash memory cards. You can’t default to expandable storage either, as Samsung instead prefers you to individually move apps through a somewhat laboured process.

At the time of writing, the Galaxy S7 Edge is only available in a version with 32GB internal storage, which isn’t ideal as you’re left with a less-than-generous 25GB to play with. The good news is you can expand this up to 200GB. But this is Samsung; there are bound to be 64GB/128GB models on the horizon. It’s not a case of if, more when.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

Meanwhile, for those users hoping that Samsung would replace the single mono speaker found on the S6 with dual-facing front speakers, be prepared for disappointment. It’s still capable of cranking out a decent volume but no amount of fancy effects are going to mask the mono output.

We’d recommend strapping on a pair of your favourite headphones where the UHQ Upscaler, Surround and Tube Amp Pro filters will have a more noticeable effect.

Samsung has also given the USB Type-C port a wide berth, and has instead opted to stick with the tried-and-tested micro USB for charging/data transfer purposes.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

Performance

There’s been some confusion regarding the CPU found in Samsung’s 2016 Galaxy line-up, with the US receiving Snapdragon 820-powered handsets and the rest of the world getting Samsung’s own Exynos 8890 CPU. If you buy your Galaxy S7 Edge in the UK or Europe, you will get this variant.

The Exynos consists of eight cores: four running at 2.6GHz and the other four at 1.59GHz, arranged in ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture where the slower cores are used for less demanding tasks and the faster cores kick in when maximum performance is called for. These are paired with a Mali T880 GPU and backed with 4GB of RAM.

Inside there’s a water-cooling element and even with multiple apps open, Netflix streaming, downloading Spotify playlists, and a good few hours of intensive gaming, we detected only a minor temperature increase. Happily, and very much like Iron Man’s Hulkbuster Armor, our activities hardly put a dent in the Galaxy S7 Edge’s battery.

Putting the S7 Edge through our standard benchmarking software it returned the following scores:

Kraken 2557.5
Sunspider 316.2
PCMark work performance score 4670
3DMark 2185

The most interesting however were gleaned from AnTuTu, where Samsung’s Exynos 8890 chip wiped the floor with the competition.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

Camera

Considering the competent but underwhelming cameras seen on last year’s Galaxy S6 line-up, we had high hopes for the S7 range. The Galaxy S7 Edge places a 12MP Dual Pixel Sensor on the rear while your selfie needs are catered for with a 5MP front-facing sensor. The camera sits almost flush with the phone’s body, with only the smallest (0.42mm) bump. Pleasingly a double-tap of the Home button acts as a handy shortcut to fire the camera into action.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

The Dual Pixel sensor aids in autofocusing, making it one of the fastest phones for pick-up and shoot we’ve ever had the pleasure of using, demonstrating an ease normally associated with high-end DSLR cameras.

Despite the lower pixel count, the larger 1.4um pixel size means the sensor lets in more light when compared to its predecessor. The f/1.7 aperture makes for brighter images, and it also works a treat at night-time and in low-light situations.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

Our test shots resulted in reduced grain despite the lack of natural light available. The below were all taken in a darkened room under artificial light.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

And this one was at dusk as daylight was fading.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

Alongside that, you’ll find LED flash and Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) tricks.

If we had to angle one criticism at the camera, we encountered one instance of the screen freezing up after launch. But this only happened the once, and later that night received a small (1MB) bug-bashing update. Spooky timing.

Display

The 5.5in AMOLED screen of the Galaxy S7 Edge packs in a QHD resolution of 2560×1440 which is both bigger than 5.1 in screen found on both the Galaxy S7 and last year’s Galaxy S6 Edge, but a fraction smaller than the 5.7in display on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+.

Unlike the S6 Edge, the screen curves around the phone entirely and makes it feel like one piece – almost like a shiny, polished pebble.

The display is nothing short of stunning. Colours stand out, and sometimes the screen is so shiny, it almost verges on dazzling. Viewing angles suffer slightly then, especially near to where the screen’s edges wraparound.

Placing the S7 Edge side-by-side with last year’s Galaxy S6 Edge, colours appear brighter and whites whiter on the new and improved model.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

Samsung wants to ensure you’ll never scramble around for the time again, thanks to the Always-on display. It’s separate to the Night Display feature first introduced last year, which lights up the screen with just a small amount of pixels to provide you little nuggets of information like day and date, battery health, as well as notifications from Samsung’s staple apps (messaging, email and calls).

Yet, you still need to wake it from sleep and unlock to see if you’ve received WhatsApp, third-party email or other messages – which seems a little strange as we don’t expect many people still use stock Samsung apps anymore. It also reminds us a little of those old-fashioned Windows screensavers you’d see bouncing around on library computers.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

Last year the Edge screen arrived as a half-baked idea, but thankfully Samsung realised it needed to put something of value on the extra real estate afforded by the lovely Edge screen. This time round, we found ourselves being drawn to the mass of information (RAM monitor, compass, data use monitor etc.) as well as the numerous app shortcuts on offer.

There’s even a dedicated Galaxy App portal to download new layouts and designs as they come available.

Software and security

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow right out of the box, yet there’s no escape from Samsung’s love-it-or-loathe-it custom software. This reviewer couldn’t care either way as in 2016 it’s relatively unobtrusive, and you can always install a Launcher if it offends you that much.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

It’s heartening to discover that there isn’t the usual Samsung-levels of bloat lurking behind the apps screen; Samsung’s own apps are for the most part tidied away into neat folders.

The fingerprint scanner makes a return, nestled within the home button. We resorted to turning it off on the S6 Edge through exasperation, and only time will tell if Samsung has managed to fix this. However, the scanner found on the Galaxy S7 Edge is fatter and in our tests never once failed to recognise a podgy thumb.

It currently lacks app integration, meaning you won’t be able to use your finger to authorise a purchase using Paypal, for example. This will change when Samsung gives the green light to Samsung Pay in UK and European markets.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

Samsung’s My Knox service is installed, a software suite described by Samsung as “a fast and simple way to secure your mobile device without the hassle of involving IT”, this creates a secure environment for all your private data and apps.

Any documents, photos, internet sessions, gameplay progress and so on used or created within the Knox workspace is kept completely separate from the rest of the phone. The service also allows remote detection, locking and deletion on the off-chance your phone should ever go missing.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

There’s a new tool to aid gamers too. The Game Launcher provides a button that floats over the top of your game. It provides options to mute and hide alerts, save power during gameplay (locking frame rate for instance) to enable distraction-free enjoyment and screen capture gameplay recording, but lacks an option for live streaming.

Android Marshmallow also brings with it a new permission-handling method – permissions are granted on an app-by-app basis which provides an extra level of control to the user.

Swipe to the left of the Home screen and Samsung’s very own news aggregation service – upday – takes the former place of the Flipboard app.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

Upday, originally only available in Germany, is fairly limited in its news offering. HTC’s BlinkFeed is superior in almost every respect, but it’s still early days so the service might come into its own yet.

Elsewhere the Advanced Features menu offers controls to improve one-handed operation. It does this by effectively shrinking the size of the display and in our tests it worked surprisingly well.

Battery

Thankfully, battery capacity on the Galaxy S7 Edge line has been increased from last year’s Galaxy S6 Edge – at 3,600mAh compared to the piddly 2,600mAh. You’ll find the same adaptive fast charging feature (provided you turn it on in the settings), but you’ll discover that both charger and phone occasionally reach toasty hot levels during this process.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

With Android 6.0 Marshmallow running the show, the Galaxy S7 Edge can benefit from the newly-introduced Doze mode. You don’t need to do anything to set it up, instead it will silently put your phone to sleep when it’s not in use.

However, Doze only works when your phone is completely stationary, so being in a trouser pocket or handbag won’t count. High priority notifications like calls or text messages will bring your phone to life again. Samsung’s Ultra mode is back too.

After hours of battering that took in Rayman Adventures, Relic Run, Marvel: Contest of Champions, and 3DMark, we still managed to end the day with a healthy 40 percent of charge remaining. This is an impressive feat for a larger display running at full brightness.

Curiously, left to its own devices that Always-On display will not sap your battery. When left overnight, we only observed a small percentage loss (in line with Samsung’s half a percent per hour prediction). You’ll also find wireless charging at the rear of the phone.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

Price

In the UK the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is available in onyx black and gold platinum. You can pick it up SIM-free from £639.99 at Carphone Warehouse, or it’s monthly from £36 with £129.99 payable upfront.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

In short

For all those who fell in love with the S6 Edge, you will undoubtedly fall for the S7 Edge’s curved appeal once more.

That said, it’s not an essential upgrade – there’s no monumental leap here. The edgy flagship is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. But with its dazzling display, unique curved design, and enduring battery life, it is our hope that the Samsung Galaxy Edge S7 wins over a whole new set of fans.

In the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, the firm’s competitors have a tough road ahead if they want to topple the undisputed Android King of 2016. Time will tell whether Samsung can last the course.

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