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Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review

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Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Great camera in all conditions
  • Stunning design
  • Sharp, vibrant display

Cons

  • Minor lag in TouchWiz
  • Screen can be overly reflective

Key Features

  • 5.5-inch, quad-HD display
  • 4GB RAM
  • 12MP camera with improved auto-focus
  • Always-on display
  • Fast and wireless charging
  • 3,600mAh battery
  • microSD expansion
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £639.00

What is the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge?

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is the brother to the regular Galaxy S7. It’s bigger, has a longer lasting battery and is probably the best looking phone I have ever held. In terms of design, it's right up there with the HTC 10.

Samsung’s transformation in the mobile space is quite remarkable. To go from the very poor Galaxy S5 to this in just two years is exceptional. This is a real do it all phone. It’s water resistant, boasts wireless charging, an eye-catching curved display and top-of-the-line specs.

The result is a fantastic, so close to perfect device that will prove tough to beat. There's big competition coming, I expect, from the Apple iPhone 7, but I'd stick my head out and say nothing this year will be quite as eye-catching as the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

Video: Check out our review of the Galaxy S7 Edge

Related: Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – Design

Metal and glass build, curved display, IP68 water resistant, available in black or gold

Design hasn't always been Samsung's strong suit. Just two years ago, Samsung released the Galaxy S5. The handset was the most powerful phone available at the time, but it wasn’t a looker. Last year’s Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge signalled a much needed change for Samsung, and the change is only more obvious with the S7 Edge.

Related: Best smartphones 2016

s7 edge 11

The Galaxy S7 Edge is downright gorgeous. In my eyes, it’s the best looking phone ever and makes the iPhone 6S Plus look blocky, boring and dated.

On the surface, the S7 Edge looks just like its predecessor. A metal rim is sandwiched between two slabs of Gorilla Glass 4, with a lock switch on one side and separated volume keys on the other. The back is almost completely clean, with a now flush camera sensor, heart rate monitor and a Samsung logo.

Along the top is the repositioned sim-tray, which now pops in a microSD slot too, plus a microphone. The bottom houses the headphone jack (this should always be on the bottom, can other manufacturers please take note), another microphone, a tiny and frankly disappointing speaker, plus a microUSB port for charging.

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Rumours suggested Samsung was going to make the switch to the new, reversible USB–C connector that’s already being used on the Nexus 6P, OnePlus 2 and LG G5, but it hasn’t panned out that way. This isn’t really a bad thing, in fact USB–C is more of a hindrance than a help at the minute. Especially as it means getting rid of all those microUSB cables you’ve accumulated over the years.

The front is almost as clean as the back, and features an elongated home button set under the display, plus another Samsung logo – does it really need two?. Unlike the HTC One A9, the front control is a physical button, not a capacitive pad. The front button houses the Galaxy S7 Edge's fingerprint sensor, which is just as fast as all the others on the market now.

Samsung has once again decided not to use on-screen buttons, so glowing ‘back’ and ‘multitasking’ keys light up when needed. Ditching virtual buttons gives you more screen space, but this phone could be even more compact if Samsung went down that route.

Samsung's also redesigned the Galaxy S7 Edge's camera module. Unlike the S6's, the S7 Edge's module sits flat on the phone's back. This might sound like a small change, but it makes a big difference. I can now tap out a text with the phone flat on my desk without it jumping and rocking from side to side.

Related: Best Android smartphones 2016

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But, the biggest change between the S6 Edge from last year and the Galaxy S7 Edge is the size. Instead of simply keeping both the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge the same, with just the Edge sides to differentiate them, Samsung has positioned the Edge as the ‘higher-end’ device, pushing up the screen size from 5.1-inches to 5.5-inches.

When I first heard Samsung made this changed, I was a little annoyed. There was something unique about having a fully-powered phone with a screen that was on the small and compact side. It’s a rarity these days. Pick up the S7 Edge though, and you might have to double to check the spec-sheet, surely this phone doesn’t have the same size screen as the iPhone 6S Plus?

Yet it does. Somehow Samsung has managed to cram a large screen into the body of a much smaller phone. Next to the iPhone 6S Plus, the S7 Edge is narrower, shorter and much lighter. I can even use it comfortably in one hand, stretching my thumb from one corner to the other without too much trouble.

There’s something else the size increase helps too: those gorgeous, sloping curved edges. The Galaxy S7 Edge is the fourth Samsung phone to use this design trait, but it’s the best implementation I've seen yet.

Related: IP68 – What does it mean?

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The S6 Edge was difficult to hold for an extended period, while the Galaxy S6 Edge+ was simply too big. The Galaxy S7 Edge, though, is just right. There’s enough space between where the curved screens stops and the back starts to grip, while the newly curved back – reminiscent of the Galaxy Note 5 – slips nicely into my palms. In short, it feels great to hold and it’s an impressive feat by the Samsung design team that these slight changes have made such a big overall difference.

Just like the microSD slot, Samsung has brought back another fan favourite from the Galaxy S5; an IP68 rating for water-resistance. While this is by no means a vital feature, it’s admirable that it has been added without any noticeable loss to the design. There are no flaps covering the ports, no added thickness and no extra space between the display and glass.

What does an IP68 rating mean? Well, you’ll be able to dunk the Galaxy S7 Edge into one meter of water for up to 30 minutes without damaging the phone. Basically, you can use it in the rain without issue and even watch some YouTube in the bath without worrying about an accidental slip. Not that I did that, honest.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – Screen

5.5-inch quad-HD panel, dual curved edges

If the design of the S7 Edge is stunning, then the same word can be used to describe the display. Not a whole lot has changed from the outgoing flagships, but this still holds up as the best screen on a smartphone for a number of reasons.

First up is the sheer amount of detail here. Samsung didn’t try and go all-out with a 4K display, but really when quad-HD (that’s 2560 x 1440) looks this good I don’t think there’s much of a need for more pixels. Maybe it would help make VR even better with the Gear VR headset, but that’ll probably come next year.

Related: Best apps and game for the Samsung Gear VR

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Everything from images to films to games look beautiful, with pixels completely invisible to the naked eye. The 534ppi (pixels per inch) density beats the iPhone 6S Plus and means the S7 Edge easily outmuscles Apple’s phablet in the display department.

Samsung has stuck with its Super AMOLED tech for the Galaxy S7 Edge and that’s not really a surprise. AMOLED screens are much more vibrant than the LCD counterparts. Oversaturation isn’t as much of a problem as it was on older Samsung phones, and personally I like a bit more ‘oomph’ to my colours. But for those that like a cooler look there are options to tone things down.

AMOLED displays are also much better at showing off blacks than LCDs. Instead of looking slightly grey, the blacks here are inky deep. You’ll easily notice this when watching media and it’s hard going back to an LCD afterwards.

Now, there are a few niggles I have with the display on the Galaxy S7 Edge. There’s a really strong blue tinge on the two edge sides, especially when viewing content with white background. In both Twitter and Gmail I can pick this out and while it won’t come across in pictures, it’s annoying.

Viewing angles also aren’t the best. But, that’s really one of the sacrifices you get when you don’t use an IPS LCD panel. Tilt the phone to an angle and the sides become bright white, but the rest of it looks like it’s masked in a grey fog.

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The new ‘Always-on Display’ mode, is also cool but needs some work. The Always-on tech takes advantage of the fact AMOLED screens don't need to light up the whole display all the time and can instead select individual pixels to charge. This means the S7 Edge can still show the time, date and a couple of bits of other information on the lock-screen when the phone is off without eating through too much battery.

Samsung says having the ‘Always-on display’ switched on will only use up an extra 1% of battery per hour and those claims stand true during my testing. Samsung also says you should save battery because you don’t unlock the phone as much with Always-on activated, but I disagree with this.

Yes, the Always-on mode shows the time, but it will only alert you to notifications from Samsung’s default apps like Messages, Mail and Phone. Use WhatsApp? Or Gmail? Tough, these won’t show up.

I’d also like a bit more control over the mode. You can’t alter the brightness, which causes some problems when you’re in a darker room, and aside from choosing whether or not you want a calendar showing, there isn’t much customisation allowed.

It’s a nice start and a feature that has potential to be very useful, but it needs work.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

LeeTronix

March 1, 2016, 11:33 pm

Not feeling this or indeed Samsung anymore but I am sure it will go down well with those who do like Samsung and their Edge models.

Dead Words

March 8, 2016, 3:14 pm

Wait, why is this site so intent on defending Samsung's decision to forgo USB Type-C? If everyone waited until USB Type-C was "mainstream", then it would never be mainstream. Changing the industry standard has never been easy but USB Type-C is better than its microUSB counterpart in practically every single way. All Samsung has done is make it a longer journey for USB Type-C.
Also, the camera is not completely flush with the back.
As far as I can tell, Microsoft's Glance Screen is superior to Samsung's "always-on" display. That's not to say that Microsoft's Glance Screen is perfect. In their newer phones, they've taken out double-tap-to-wake which is amazingly useful on my Lumia 830 and it could be a bit better in a couple other ways but still better than this.
I also don't see the benefit of having Adoptable Storage, and I'm thinking maybe LG and Samsung made the right decision here.
Overall I'd say this phone is a definite improvement over the Galaxy S6 series of devices, and it's the first time I'd actually consider a Samsung device since the Samsung Galaxy Note 4...which was the first Samsung device I ever considered at all. This review is pretty well written, although I think you rushed it out too quickly. There's a lot of things that can only be seen over time. I hope you update this in a few months to let us know what other niggles you have.

Dead Words

March 8, 2016, 3:15 pm

No I certainly won't be picking one up or any Samsung but it's definitely an improvement over last year's Samsung phones and is possibly the best Samsung phone series of all time. I still hate the glass back though.

iFrank

March 8, 2016, 5:41 pm

Upside down headphone jack is the correct thing, "manufacturers please take note"
Why? Because you say so?

Was there some kind of poll involving TR readers? I must have missed that edition, that day.
If there is another vote I'll register now.

I WANT THE JACK ON TOP OF THE PHONE!

godafoss

March 8, 2016, 11:14 pm

Who gives a toss when it costs $1400 outright where I live. Biggest rip-off I've ever seen. Wouldn't even pay $800.

Neil Richardson

March 9, 2016, 1:33 pm

It's more natural for most to have the jack at the bottom. Doesn't have to go up and down when using the phone. Also I reckon the vast majority store their phone upside-down in their pocket because it matches your hand movement so having the jack pointing out of your pocket rather than into it makes a lot of sense for the majority I reckon.

iFrank

March 10, 2016, 1:38 am

Matter of opinion then.
Still don't see why this writer, or you, should determine what the rest of us get stuck with.
It's as a result of these and other silly opinions by empty headed journos that Samsung dropped the micro SD storage option, only to have to bring it back, when they remembered their purpose was to actually sell phones.

You know, the the type the public actually wants.

Neil Richardson

March 10, 2016, 6:55 pm

Ah so mine and the author's opinion is silly and yours isn't? Who knew someone could be so militant about a headphone jack? Congrats.

Also, neither the author nor I determine where a Korean electronics giant decides to place the headphone jack on their flagship phone. As much as I wish that were true.

Mr Right

March 10, 2016, 9:27 pm

I cant see any phone out there being anywhere near as good as the edge 7. a colleague pre ordered one and it really is phenomenal. Browsing and animations are butter smooth. his battery lasted 24 hours plus and he still had 30% left and we'd messed around with the VR headset and played gunjack and watched videos. he also watched youtube videos and BT Sport. overall, i'm very very impressed.
Would I buy one? I might see what the Note 6 is going to be like first alongside all the other flagships of 2016 but it really is quite something. played around with the camera, it took much brighter pictures under my desk than the naked eye can make out without acclimatisation.
Samsung seem to have nailed every single area. Design, power, screen quality, battery life, waterproofing, wireless charging, multiwindow support, best camera on a smartphone (possibly the front facing one too). Haters will hate...that's expected, but it looks like this is the benchmark for a mobile phone at the moment.

Once the Gear 360 comes out, it might help kickstart the whole VR thing though if I am honest, I don't think general phone screen resolutions are quite high enough to have VR look as nice as i'd like it to.

iFrank

March 10, 2016, 10:00 pm

Ah so mine and your opinion are without influence on a "Korean electronics giant".
As much as I wish that were not true.

The writer and others across the webosphere have influenced the manufacturers, like Samsung, with their constant parroting that the phones aren't "premium" enough.
The result has been the abandonment of replaceable batteries and storage cards with a consequent loss of core base customers until finally Samsung noticed.

It really isn't "just a headphone jack".

John Smith

March 13, 2016, 10:40 pm

Another classic from Untrusted Reviews, an irrelevance in the tech world these days. Your scoring system is bizarre and idiotic. I don't think the best screen available should score only a 9. Maybe you think we are stupid, or maybe it's just you. Regardless of what people buy, you know full well that the Beehive system always wins, but at least try and look credible.

Tracy

March 14, 2016, 7:05 pm

S7, S7 Edge and other Samsung Phones are now available for a discount only at NewSmartphoneDeals:com

mobilemann

March 18, 2016, 1:23 pm

yeah, thanks for the good example of exactly what i was talking about fanboy

George

March 18, 2016, 8:57 pm

Dropped my S7 edge today for the first time and the whole rear glass shattered. I've never broken a phone and some of them even dropped more than 50 times with only minor scratches. I would suggest to whoever buys it, put a case! Even though imo it's ridiculous paying so much money for a phone just to put a case on it, it seems in this case there's no alternative...it's simply a glass phone! Also, Samsung asked for £180 ($260) to fix it, as they claim that the body of the phone needs to be changed altogether including the screen. Meaning any damage on the phone no matter where it is it will cost £180.

Javier Lombardo

March 20, 2016, 3:18 pm

SAMSUNG LAGG ITS A BRAND IN IT SELF
SHAME SAMSUNG

Alejandro Ponce Cruz

March 21, 2016, 12:37 am

Samsung is completely untrustworthy and their policies are garbage. I took my phone in to get it fixed, and did not have warranty but did not allow me to pay to fix the phone. I've never encountered this problem and I've had both a Nexus and iPhones. Apple will fix your phone in whatever state it is in as long as you pay. Save yourself the trouble and money, get either Google's Nexus or Apple's iPhone which both have great recovery software options and also great services for if you cannot do it yourself.

Sa Scha

March 21, 2016, 12:06 pm

they only dropped the micro sd card on the s 6 as they could not manage the wireless charging on the s6. thats why they got it back now on the s7 as they have sorted it/

iFrank

March 21, 2016, 1:56 pm

I don't believe It.

Sa Scha

March 21, 2016, 1:58 pm

Doesn't matter what you believe .. It a fact

iFrank

March 21, 2016, 5:34 pm

It does matter what I and other people who stop buying the phones believe.

And your or Samsung's feeble excuse, even if accurate, further demonstrates their poor sense of priorities.

Sa Scha

March 22, 2016, 12:55 pm

I agree o. The glass back 100% makes me conscious every time I take it out of my case. But still better then plastic back plus it's a simple reason behind the glass. (NFC . wireless charging)
Shame tho

Dead Words

March 23, 2016, 1:14 pm

My favorite combination has always been a metal frame plus a polycarbonate removable rear. High quality, yet warm and smooth to the touch. Durable and comfortable.

MrAadhishman

March 23, 2016, 7:57 pm

This phone is for people who can be sure that their phone will never ever fall from a height of a feet. Only to be used by really careful people. It is sad that i am not that lucky. My new phone fell from my bed by mistake. I know it was my fault but then the screen just tore. Be careful n think 100 times before buying this product. Make sure it doesnt fall once in lifetime........ Never ever seen such a weak phone...
This is the picture of my new phone which i opened yesterday and the other picture is the height of my bed.

MrAadhishman

March 23, 2016, 8:19 pm

And by the way i would want my phone to be stronger in those small impact than be water proof because there is 100 times more chance that my phone would drop from bed height than dropping in water... basically it would have been a good innovation if it could take those small impacts and be water proof... but right now its just a waste...

BC_Animus

March 28, 2016, 10:37 am

Based on experience with multiple devices I'd say Adoptive Storage is a MAJOR feature for a lot of Android users like myself. It is supper annoying when I have 30GB+ free on my SD card, only to be told by my device that I can't install a new app, or update an app I've been using daily for months due to a lack of space. And yes, some apps allow you to move part of their code onto the SD card, but it must be done manually for each app, and it never transfer the whole app entirely. Not to mention some apps which doesn't support saving to SD card. Or having the phone spassing out when you plug it into a PC for charging, only to find half the apps unusable due to the SD card locking to and being accessed by the PC.

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