Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review

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It wouldn’t really be wrong to say that Samsung, the biggest Android OEM, sort of found itself losing some ground in the top phone arena in the last two years or so. Whether it is because of promising Chinese Android OEMs or if it is the good old Apple rivalry, the company has been trying to refresh its flagship Galaxy S (and Note series) for a bit, this year it has tried to leverage over it. With the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, Samsung is going all guns blazing in its usual fashion for when it comes to marketing, but continuing with last year’s aesthetics in place. Let’s try and find out if the Galaxy S7 edge is really that impressive or not.

The Galaxy S7 Edge (SM-G935F) comes with glass and metal on the front and reflective back. If it wasn’t obvious by now, there’s a dual edge screen on the sides giving the phone a rather unique look, certainly capable of making the device standout in the crowded smartphone group for now. The sides of the phone seem slightly less uncomfortable and slippery thanks to little tweaking done by Samsung (better thought out curves at the back towards the side) to make the phone more grip-able, but yes, it’s still quite uncomfortable to pick from some flat surface or to have that reassuring feeling of not dropping it especially for the first few days. The phone itself, though, feels solid and quite premium to carry around. On those slim sides, you have the Power/ Lock key on the right one upper half), and separated yet tactile volume buttons on the left. The microUSB charging port is seated in the middle at the bottom, surrounded by the primary mic, loudspeaker and 3.5mm headset jack. At the front, above the 5.5-inch AMOLED, you have the 5 MP camera, ear-speaker grille, and notification LED along with visible sensors in place. Samsung continues to put physical touch keys on its phones – Recent Apps, click-ety oval Home, and back keys (from left to right). The top houses the nano SIM card slot and microSD + micro SIM card hybrid card slot tray. The phone is light yet slightly thicker than the S6 edge, making the camera bulge noticeably thinner. Oh, and the device is IP68 certified, making it water-resistant and dust-proof, which means you need not worry about occasional spills or carrying it under rains, plus washing it yourself a bit certainly helps make those smudges and fingerprints on the phone’s screen and rest of the body go away. This is a big phone but still not that huge considering the screen size and battery unit in place. Fair to judge to say Samsung has indeed come a long way from the Galaxy S5 design days also considering the Gold colour of this S7 Edge is considerably better and less gaudy to look at.

The phone sports a 5.5-inch quadHD (2560×1440) Super AMOLED with Gorilla Glass 4 over it (just like the back). Samsung is clearly the leader for when it comes to AMOLEDs on phones and it really shows with the S7 Edge. This display is really sharp, has great contrast levels with typical Black levels and great viewing angles. It can handle videos upto 1440p really well and is quite a performer for those high resolution images as well. It could do a little better in outdor visibility, but it’s not the worst out there. The only blot it has is… really the quality of those edge screens. Though glares and colour reproduction has improved from last year, I still find them lagging behind compared the the screen’s main centre part. If only the glaring issue could be solved, it could very well improve the video watching experience further. Samsung pushed a software update that made the accidental touches while watching videos in landscape or browsing the Web less frequent than earlier.

S7 Edge

On the back, there is a 12 MP (f/1.8) camera (with AF and OIS). Here are a few sample images:

The camera can take detailed and sharp images. In fact, it can be too sharp at times, probably because of overprocessing from Samsung’s software. Though the company has reduced the number of megapixel count (16 to 12 MP), it doesn’t mean lowering quality. This is really good camera that can take shots in various situations well. The speed of focus and capturing a shot is in particular improved, but low-light performance is a bit of a hit and miss, in my opinion.

The S7 Edge comes bundled with a newer pair of earphones, which have rubber eartips and more comfortable to wear. Sound quality, too, seems to have been improved a little, giving clearer audio and slightly better mids. You’re still better to invest in a dedicated pair of earphones, but Samsung’s bundled headsets are actually decent. Loudspeaker at the bottom, on the other hand, are hard to be that well ranked. It sounds quite average for videos and games and just not sufficient for most use-cases. It’s probably because of the internal rubber that runs across the body that the speaker at the bottom sound tiny and struggle to give a better output.

The phone supports 4G LTE, WiFi, GPS and I didn’t find too much of a problem, except there’s a minor software bug where the phone shows a live signal bar in the status bar even when there’s no SIM card inserted. Call reception and network quality seem all in place and meet the required bar.

On the inside, this Galaxy S7 Edge is carrying a 3,600 mAh sealed battery unit. The phone is definitely one of the better Android performers out there in terms of battery life as it lasted me a whole day more often than with moderate to heavy use. With one SIM card inserted, brightness at 40%, I found the phone to last 24 hours frequently. Samsung seems to have learnt its lesson from the S6, which had paltry battery life, plus Android Marshmallow’s Doze feature must also be helping. The bundled charger charged the S7 Edge, which supports QuickCharge 3.0, in two hours from 0 to full, and about 40 minutes from 0 to 50%.

The S7 Edge is powered by Samsung’s Exynos 8890 SoC (2.1 GHz quad core + 1.5 Ghz quad core processor, Mali-T880 GPU) along with 4 GB of RAM. The device is running on Android 6.0.1 underneath TouchWiz UI. The look and feel of TouchWiz is a little enhanced here. You can now move multiple app icons from one Home screen. The Menu launcher no longer allows you to edit pre-defined folders and only gives the option to copy an icon to the Home screen.Settings and Gallery app appear a bit better in terms of just coherence with UI components. You can say there’s less cartoon-ish colours and icons in place here than before. Performance of the phone also seems improved than earlier. Animations and switching between apps is a bit less jarring than earlier and scrolling between Home screens and Setting has also been taken care of to some extent, plus that memory management issue has been fixed. Having said that there’s still a bit of stuttering when it comes to animations in recent apps list or using Samsung’s own apps like Galaxy Apps and Phone app. The phone can handle games ccompfortably, though, playing something like Asphalt 8 meant no frame rate drops throughout the game as well as smooth touch response. The fingerprint scanner on the Home button has also been improved with better accuracy and mechanism (you have to place your finger or thumb on it instead of swiping over it), but I still prefer what Apple and HTC got in place. There’s also always-on display, using the AMOLED more efficiently – you can see time, date, missed calls and SMS alerts on it – using just a part of the display without lighting up the whole display. Edge screens seem to be improved this time – there’s less glare and Samsung has added a new feature where you can add any app shortcut to the Edge menu. The only useful thing from the edge screens I found was those – jumping straight from an app to another app without having go to your Homescreen or app launcher. Other than that, edge screens still appear a bit of a distraction while watching videos in landscape and offer little over usual at this point. Not entirely new, but a neat idea and it would be better if this always-on display can show the number of pending messages from other apps as well. I found the Samsung Theme Centre to be much better in terms of availability of proper themes and not some half-baked themes that don’t provide any more than wallpapers and sounds.

All in all, the S7 Edge is quite a performer from the house of Samsung. It marks some improvement in many departments – battery, edge screens, fingerprint scanner, and can be touted among the best smartphones out there today, there are still some loos points like Edge screens and loudspeaker, but the the overall package gets a thumbs up. If you have the budget (about Rs. 56,000), Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge is well worth your consideration while making that important buying decision.

Student. I also write a bit about phones, apps, and stuff here and there. Almost nobody.

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