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S7 Edge was my first edge-device.
I gave it a miss last year when I skipped the S6 Edge and preferred the normal S6 for my use and review.
This time, I was keen to try and explore the edge-feature.
So I have been using the Galaxy S7 Edge flagship by Samsung for nearly two months now. This is my third and the last article on this smartphone. I will wrap up my views about this giant and summarise its key strengths and weaknesses from an average consumer’s perspective.
If you are thinking of buying or comparing this smartphone to others, this review will give you a real life feedback from someone who has personally used the device for nearly two months now as a daily driver.
Be ready for a no-fluff and no-nonsense review.
I will be blunt and real about how I see this top-player in day to day use. Don’t forget that so far in 2016, I have already used and reviewed the other key flagships such as LG G5, HTC 10, and OnePlus 3 and this review will have an element of comparison with those built into it.
The handset I own and use is an Onyx black Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (Global). This model, SM-G935F is running an Exynos 8 Octa 8890 chip and 4GB RAM. For full detailed specifications, check out the GSM Arena page.
I am not going to make you feel bored with the specs, this article will only cover the key strengths, weaknesses and average-performers of the device.
To give you a flavour.
First Strength – An Excellent Camera Experience
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge camera quality and overall camera experience were excellent.
In my detailed review of the S7 Edge camera quality, I summarised it as one of the best cameras in 2016 for a common user.
Most of the pictures came out with punchy colours, rich details and balanced exposure. The auto mode was a treat to use with no-hassle controls and quick results. The focus was generally fast and the optical image stabilisation (OIS) worked very well to reduce image shake and blurriness.
If you are interested in knowing more and comparing a few sample shots taken with the S7 Edge, check out my full review here.
The area which I believe lacked the depth was its low-light performance. Despite the fact that it is touted as one of the best cameras in low lighting conditions (thanks to its f/1.7 aperture), I found the picture quality to be below expectations in this particular scenario.
“Overall, if you are after a smartphone which doubles up as a decent smartphone-based point and shoot camera, S7 Edge should be high in your list of options.”
For me personally, it sits alongside the LG G5 near the top of the competition when I am writing this review.
Samsung has consistently given us excellent cameras in its flagships and this time it is no different either.
Second Strength – The 5.5” Super-AMOLED Display is Bright and Sharp
Generally, I am not a huge fan of the AMOLED displays.
Although they are sharp, bright and produce blacker blacks, the “whites” are pale and unreal. I found the colours to be over-saturated and extra-vivid in the past.
However, in S7 Edge I quite enjoyed using the 5.5” super-AMOLED display with curved edges. The overall experience was immersive and enjoyable. The 534 pixels per inch (ppi) is just too good for a human eye.
The screen was bright and easily usable in outdoors which is another big tick in the box. I have used some excellent LCD displays recently but when taken outside in bright light, the screen is barely usable and not bright enough. No such issues with the S7 Edge. I loved the bright and punchy screen quality in this device. Well done Samsung.
Another plus point worth mentioning is the overall footprint of the screen (and hence the device) due to curved edges. It does not feel like an awkward-to-handle phablet, instead, it feels comfortable in hand with a large 5.5 inch crisp and clear screen.
If you enjoy watching videos, pictures and other media on your smartphones, you will love the S7 Edge’s big, bold and bright display.
Third Strength – The Stand out Feature – IP68 Rating
Nowadays, the standout features are important.
They create a wow-effect in the device which is a huge factor in overall user experience.
One such feature in the Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge devices is the IP68 water and dust resistance capability. This is a maximum protection you can get in the flagship smartphone market at the time of writing this article.
I have personally not tried this feature to death. In fact, the only time I found it useful was when I was in the pool and needed to check a few important emails on my phone. I did not immerse the phone fully in the water but it did get wet for a short period of time. No problems whatsoever.
Do check that what it means to have your Samsung S7 Edge as IP68 rated and act accordingly. There are limitations and you need to understand them.
Even then, it is a great strength of the device to be water and dust proof in a day to day scenario.
No more accidental spill worries or dropping your phone in the pool etc.
You are covered.
The Only Weakness – Too Expensive for the Specs and Features
I am a huge believer in “value for money” in personal technology.
The ratio between the price and the specs/features it offers is important for me and many other Android users.
At over £500 on Amazon UK (and nearly $600 on Amazon US) even after 9 months of its release is a premium price tag for this device. In the Android flagship market, it is one of the most expensive mobile phones at present (perhaps, just second to the Google Pixel range devices which are announced much later than the S7 series).
Well, you might have different views about Samsung and its flagship pricing model, I compare it to the likes of other competitors and make my personal opinion based on that. I am not hesitant to say that the OnePlus 3 and 3T in 2016 have caused major ripples in the flagship market in terms of exceptional value for money and quality.
“S7 Edge is on the expensive side of the competition and I see it as a major weakness of this phone.”
You will need to seriously consider your pocket and budget if you want to go for an S7 Edge smartphone.
S7 Edge – Average Performers (Passes)
Design of the S7 Edge
Design is close to my heart.
My philosophy is that if I am paying the flagship price for my personal smartphone, the design should be beautiful, attractive, practical and pleasant to use.
S7 Edge is a beautiful phone and there is no doubt about it. I have reviewed the device for its design, feel and look in this detailed article previously.
Looking at the competition and based on the fact that the edge-display is not glitch-free for me, I will call it a satisfactory performance and not a strength.
There are more beautiful and elegant designs available in the market. HTC 10 and OnePlus 3 are a couple of recent examples where I feel that their designs are more refined and better looking than the S7 Edge.
It is just a “pass” for me.
How Good is the Battery Life?
Comparing the battery life is a difficult task. Your nature of use and apps can be different to mine and it is difficult to put the numbers against the usage and timings etc.
Although the S7 Edge comes with a huge 3600mAh Li-Ion built-in battery (non-replaceable), the day to day usage and battery life were not much different from the rest of the competition. Don’t forget that this battery has to feed a 5.5 inch bright screen with full-HD resolution and this does make a difference to the battery life of the phone.
You will get a day easily with the full charge and light to medium use.
If you are moderate to heavy user, you will need to charge it in the evening again. Thanks to the quick-charge facility, it takes roughly 2 hours for a full charge from zero.
Again, a satisfactory performance that could have been better.
User Interface and TouchWiz Performance
I am traditionally not a huge fan of the Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay.
In Galaxy S6 last year, I liked the approach by Samsung to make the TouchWiz lighter, fresher and more pleasing to use. For me it was a step in the right direction.
This time, I was expecting more from the S7 series. A further refinement, elegance and ability to personalise the interface further.
And frankly speaking, it disappointed me.
There is still bloat that I believe could have been reduced further but more importantly it is the “lag” which was annoying for me. TouchWiz was not silky smooth and fast in the S7 Edge, it presented a slight lag, stuttered occasionally and did not give me a feel of a snappy and highly-responsive OS.
Don’t get me wrong, it is not slow or anything even close.
It is still acceptable but at this level of competition, I believe that the software interface and TouchWiz skin could have been improved further to give us a beautiful Android UI experience.
It is OK but not great.
S7 Edge Strengths vs Weaknesses – The Final Verdict
S7 Edge is a powerful phone with good design and an excellent camera.
If you are into smartphone photography, it is one of the strongest contenders for your consideration in 2016 and early 2017. Its auto and manual modes are designed with a common user in mind who likes to take good photographs from his smartphone.
At 157 grams, it is not heavy for a 5.5 inch display smartphone. With the dimensions of 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm, it is not a big footprint either. It is not a cutting edge and stunning design however, for many, it will be more than acceptable and just falling into an “attractive” category.
Performance is not an issue at all. It has a plenty of juice running under the hood to satisfy a common user on a day to day basis. It is a capable workhorse.
Fast charging and IP68 rating for dust and water ingress are commendable. The expandable memory option is a great news for many Samsung fans who missed it in the previous S6 range.
The edge-factor failed to impress me though. It is still not worth it my opinion. I will keep any eye on the 2017’s S8 Edge for further improvements and refinements.
The fingerprint scanner failed to impress again. It wasn’t the quickest and most responsive imprint scanner that I have tried in an Android.
“Overall, it is one of the best smartphones in 2016 if your pocket and budget allows you to get one. It is not the cheapest in its class but its strengths definitely overshadow its weaknesses by a big margin.”
“Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge will get my 8.0 out of 10 for overall user experience – feels extremely good.”
Where do you stand?
What is your one biggest strength or one biggest weakness of the S7 or S7 Edge that you would like to share with us?