Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review

Introduction


Last year we saw the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, the first time in the Korean-based company’s history to complement a flagship with another variant. While the S6 and S6 edge featured the same specifications, the difference between them turned out to be the slicker aesthetics that accompanied the S6 edge – as well as its unique edge features, and heftier price too.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Having two very similar options to choose from makes for tougher decisions amongst consumers, but this year’s offering is substantially more ambitious. The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge isn’t just an S7 clone with a dual-curved screen. Oh no! Rather, it’s a bigger sized smartphone this time around, which should help to differentiate the two right from the onset, as there’s now more of an incentive (given its cost too) to eventually go for the S7 edge.

Samsung knows the importance of variety, evident in how they brought out the larger Galaxy S6 edge+ back in the fall to give consumers another option to think about. But with the introduction of the S7 edge, Samsung is replacing both the S6 edge and S6 edge+, leading us to believe that this year, it'll be the S7, S7 edge and Note 6 that are going to form the company's high-end line-up: three phones spanning three different sizes; unlike last year, when we had four phones covering just two sizes.

The package contains

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
  • Rapid wall charger
  • microUSB cable
  • SIM ejector tool
  • Stereo headphones
  • User guide


Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Design

Improved premium design made better with a water-resistant construction.

From the surface, it might not appear as though there are remarkable changes to the S7 edge’s design, but there are in fact several subtle refinements that carefully address some of the shortcomings with last year’s design. First and foremost, the same premium design is present once again here, boasting that attractive metal and glass package that ceremoniously elevated Samsung to a totally new level last year. Our particular unit, a gold platinum Verizon variant, shimmers in a distinctive gold hue when it’s tilted in the sunlight. However, it’s still something that attracts nasty baddies such as fingerprints and smudges – so a lot of care and wiping is necessary in keeping it clean.

Of course, the same slick aesthetics are achieved thanks in part to how its dual-curved edges just makes it look great near and far. The most notable change here with the S7 edge is its size, one that finds itself in middle of the S6 edge and S6 edge+. For a 5.5-incher, though, Samsung’s engineers continue to trim as much of the fat off the phone, almost giving off the illusion that it’s a _phone_ with a smaller sized screen. In fact, its 76.09% screen-to-body ratio is recognizable when it’s placed alongside the iPhone 6s Plus, which boasts a 5.5-inch screen as well, but looks considerably larger due to its lower screen-to-body ratio of 67.91%. In comparison with something like last year's LG G4 and its 72.46% screen-to-body ratio, the S7 edge's compactness isn't all that impressive, but it still comes across as remarkably narrow and easy-to-handle device considering the screen size.

Believe us when we say that the S7 edge doesn’t look like your typical 5.5-incher! And it’s quite revealing when we hold the _phone_ in our hand, as we’re able to grasp the entire width of the phone without having that feeling of stretching our hand more to compensate its size – such as the case with the iPhone 6s Plus. Sure, people with smaller sized hands will feel it’s still quite goliath in size, but we’re digging how they’re able to keep its frame within the bounds of reasonable.

Front view | Side view
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches
150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm
5.54 oz (157 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
6.08 x 2.98 x 0.27 inches
154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9 mm
5.40 oz (153 g)

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+

Apple iPhone 6s Plus
Apple iPhone 6s Plus
6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches
158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
6.77 oz (192 g)

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

LG G5
LG G5
5.88 x 2.91 x 0.29 inches
149.4 x 73.9 x 7.3 mm
5.61 oz (159 g)

LG G5




Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
While its size is what’s arguably the most different, we will note, however, that Samsung has drastically improved its feel in the hand. The last generation suffered from excessively sharp metal edges that made the phone unpleasant to hold, but this year, Samsung has finally polished those edges, putting an end to in-hand discomfort with the S7 edge. Throw in the fact that it also adopts the same curved edges on the back of the phone, something first introduced by the Note 5, the S7 edge’s in-hand feel is substantially improved.

Looking around the phone, everything from before is in its familiar location. From the power button on the right edge, to the volume controls on the left, and the speaker grill, mic, microUSB port, and 3.5mm headphone jack all positioned on the bottom, nothing is out of order with its placements. The fingerprint sensor, which is incorporated into the home button, is still just as quick and responsive as before. Interestingly, though, the button itself doesn’t protrude as much – it's almost flush with the surface, in fact. Meanwhile, the camera lens on the back is not as protruding as before.

One key thing to note that’s missing this time is the IR blaster, something that Samsung has decided to scale back with its devices. Say what you will about this decision, it’s something that we’ve been accustomed to seeing in many flagships, so to find it omitted is rather telling about its worth to consumers.

The return of water-resistance & microSD slot


While the changes to the S7 edge’s design might be perceived as subtly refined, there are actually two notable changes that are worth mentioning. First and foremost, the nanoSIM slot on the top edge of the phone now doubles as a microSD slot as well, bringing back expandable storage to Sammy’s flagship. Another feature that went missing with last year’s S6 line, a water-resistant construction, makes its comeback in a stunning fashion.

With its IP68 rating, the Galaxy S7 edge ups its game by fashioning a water resistant construction to a premium looking smartphone. This means that it can be submerged in up to 5 feet of water for 30 minutes with no compromise, ensuring that minor accidents, such as spills, will no longer be of concern to this prized handset. Best of all, there’s no worry about having to close up ports and such, much like what you have to do with many of Sony’s Xperia phones, seeing that it’s been treated for water resistance.

Not only does the S7 edge look stunning and feels incredible in the hand, but the reintroduction of a water resistant package just completes its no-compromise stature. Many phones have impressive designs, but few go to the same length as to what Samsung achieves with the S7 edge.

 

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Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review

Display

It’s a bigger screen, with those signature dual-curved edges that give it one slick look.

By now, we’re accustomed to Samsung’s expertise when it comes to displays. Each successive device thus far has been equipped with a better display. For the S7 edge, they’ve obviously fashioned a larger, 5.5-inch 1440 x 2560 Super AMOLED display – putting its size right between the two previous edge phones.

While it seems like we’re reaching that threshold, especially when Quad-HD resolution is the standard amongst high-end phones, we have to look at some of the other aspects of the screen to distinguish its superiority. Most notably, when set to Basic screen mode, this AMOLED display exhibits colors that are very close to the standard sRGB colorspace, which is always a good thing. And, being AMOLED, contrast and brightness are remarkably preserved when viewing the display at an angle. The same doesn't go for color accuracy, though, as things get dramatically shifted depending on the angle you're viewing the screen from.

The only minor thing to change here with the display is its peak luminance and color temperature. Specifically, the S6 edge managed to produce a potent 553 nit luminance, but the S7 edge’s potency has lessened to 493 nits. On paper, the discrepancy might be thought of as grand, but in reality, the S7 edge’s screen is still more than visible on the sunniest of days – thanks in part to how it cranks up the contrast when it’s on automatic brightness. As for its color temperature, it’s actually an improvement at 6586K, besting its predecessor’s mark of 6799K. A color temperature close to 6500K means that color balance is spot on.

Overall, there’s very little to complain about the S7 edge’s display. When we look at it, the same amount of iridescence put out by it continues to be a major drawing factor. And when you combine its dual-curved nature, it only helps to enhance its allure in the space – wherein it’s still a rare sighting for any phone to feature a curved screen.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 593
(Excellent)
5
(Excellent)
1:1407
(Excellent)
7018
(Good)
2.19
2.32
(Good)
2.76
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 502
(Excellent)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6658
(Excellent)
2.12
2.59
(Good)
3.12
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 493
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6586
(Excellent)
2.03
1.47
(Excellent)
2.62
(Good)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 68.6%
50%
unmeasurable
6.8%
0.5%
197.3%
185.5%
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 73.5%
0%
unmeasurable
14.8%
0.9%
67.2%
150.3%
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 84.7%
80%
89.2%
1%
11.9%
15.1%
46%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review

Introduction


Last year we saw the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, the first time in the Korean-based company’s history to complement a flagship with another variant. While the S6 and S6 edge featured the same specifications, the difference between them turned out to be the slicker aesthetics that accompanied the S6 edge – as well as its unique edge features, and heftier price too.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Having two very similar options to choose from makes for tougher decisions amongst consumers, but this year’s offering is substantially more ambitious. The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge isn’t just an S7 clone with a dual-curved screen. Oh no! Rather, it’s a bigger sized smartphone this time around, which should help to differentiate the two right from the onset, as there’s now more of an incentive (given its cost too) to eventually go for the S7 edge.

Samsung knows the importance of variety, evident in how they brought out the larger Galaxy S6 edge+ back in the fall to give consumers another option to think about. But with the introduction of the S7 edge, Samsung is replacing both the S6 edge and S6 edge+, leading us to believe that this year, it'll be the S7, S7 edge and Note 6 that are going to form the company's high-end line-up: three phones spanning three different sizes; unlike last year, when we had four phones covering just two sizes.

The package contains

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
  • Rapid wall charger
  • microUSB cable
  • SIM ejector tool
  • Stereo headphones
  • User guide


Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Design

Improved premium design made better with a water-resistant construction.

From the surface, it might not appear as though there are remarkable changes to the S7 edge’s design, but there are in fact several subtle refinements that carefully address some of the shortcomings with last year’s design. First and foremost, the same premium design is present once again here, boasting that attractive metal and glass package that ceremoniously elevated Samsung to a totally new level last year. Our particular unit, a gold platinum Verizon variant, shimmers in a distinctive gold hue when it’s tilted in the sunlight. However, it’s still something that attracts nasty baddies such as fingerprints and smudges – so a lot of care and wiping is necessary in keeping it clean.

Of course, the same slick aesthetics are achieved thanks in part to how its dual-curved edges just makes it look great near and far. The most notable change here with the S7 edge is its size, one that finds itself in middle of the S6 edge and S6 edge+. For a 5.5-incher, though, Samsung’s engineers continue to trim as much of the fat off the phone, almost giving off the illusion that it’s a phone with a smaller sized screen. In fact, its 76.09% screen-to-body ratio is recognizable when it’s placed alongside the iPhone 6s Plus, which boasts a 5.5-inch screen as well, but looks considerably larger due to its lower screen-to-body ratio of 67.91%. In comparison with something like last year's LG G4 and its 72.46% screen-to-body ratio, the S7 edge's compactness isn't all that impressive, but it still comes across as remarkably narrow and easy-to-handle device considering the screen size.

Believe us when we say that the S7 edge doesn’t look like your typical 5.5-incher! And it’s quite revealing when we hold the phone in our hand, as we’re able to grasp the entire width of the phone without having that feeling of stretching our hand more to compensate its size – such as the case with the iPhone 6s Plus. Sure, people with smaller sized hands will feel it’s still quite goliath in size, but we’re digging how they’re able to keep its frame within the bounds of reasonable.

Front view | Side view
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches
150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm
5.54 oz (157 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
6.08 x 2.98 x 0.27 inches
154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9 mm
5.40 oz (153 g)

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+

Apple iPhone 6s Plus
Apple iPhone 6s Plus
6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches
158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
6.77 oz (192 g)

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

LG G5
LG G5
5.88 x 2.91 x 0.29 inches
149.4 x 73.9 x 7.3 mm
5.61 oz (159 g)

LG G5




Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
While its size is what’s arguably the most different, we will note, however, that Samsung has drastically improved its feel in the hand. The last generation suffered from excessively sharp metal edges that made the phone unpleasant to hold, but this year, Samsung has finally polished those edges, putting an end to in-hand discomfort with the S7 edge. Throw in the fact that it also adopts the same curved edges on the back of the phone, something first introduced by the Note 5, the S7 edge’s in-hand feel is substantially improved.

Looking around the phone, everything from before is in its familiar location. From the power button on the right edge, to the volume controls on the left, and the speaker grill, mic, microUSB port, and 3.5mm headphone jack all positioned on the bottom, nothing is out of order with its placements. The fingerprint sensor, which is incorporated into the home button, is still just as quick and responsive as before. Interestingly, though, the button itself doesn’t protrude as much – it's almost flush with the surface, in fact. Meanwhile, the camera lens on the back is not as protruding as before.

One key thing to note that’s missing this time is the IR blaster, something that Samsung has decided to scale back with its devices. Say what you will about this decision, it’s something that we’ve been accustomed to seeing in many flagships, so to find it omitted is rather telling about its worth to consumers.

The return of water-resistance & microSD slot


While the changes to the S7 edge’s design might be perceived as subtly refined, there are actually two notable changes that are worth mentioning. First and foremost, the nanoSIM slot on the top edge of the phone now doubles as a microSD slot as well, bringing back expandable storage to Sammy’s flagship. Another feature that went missing with last year’s S6 line, a water-resistant construction, makes its comeback in a stunning fashion.

With its IP68 rating, the Galaxy S7 edge ups its game by fashioning a water resistant construction to a premium looking smartphone. This means that it can be submerged in up to 5 feet of water for 30 minutes with no compromise, ensuring that minor accidents, such as spills, will no longer be of concern to this prized handset. Best of all, there’s no worry about having to close up ports and such, much like what you have to do with many of Sony’s Xperia phones, seeing that it’s been treated for water resistance.

Not only does the S7 edge look stunning and feels incredible in the hand, but the reintroduction of a water resistant package just completes its no-compromise stature. Many phones have impressive designs, but few go to the same length as to what Samsung achieves with the S7 edge.


Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review

Display

It’s a bigger screen, with those signature dual-curved edges that give it one slick look.

By now, we’re accustomed to Samsung’s expertise when it comes to displays. Each successive device thus far has been equipped with a better display. For the S7 edge, they’ve obviously fashioned a larger, 5.5-inch 1440 x 2560 Super AMOLED display – putting its size right between the two previous edge phones.

While it seems like we’re reaching that threshold, especially when Quad-HD resolution is the standard amongst high-end phones, we have to look at some of the other aspects of the screen to distinguish its superiority. Most notably, when set to Basic screen mode, this AMOLED display exhibits colors that are very close to the standard sRGB colorspace, which is always a good thing. And, being AMOLED, contrast and brightness are remarkably preserved when viewing the display at an angle. The same doesn't go for color accuracy, though, as things get dramatically shifted depending on the angle you're viewing the screen from.

The only minor thing to change here with the display is its peak luminance and color temperature. Specifically, the S6 edge managed to produce a potent 553 nit luminance, but the S7 edge’s potency has lessened to 493 nits. On paper, the discrepancy might be thought of as grand, but in reality, the S7 edge’s screen is still more than visible on the sunniest of days – thanks in part to how it cranks up the contrast when it’s on automatic brightness. As for its color temperature, it’s actually an improvement at 6586K, besting its predecessor’s mark of 6799K. A color temperature close to 6500K means that color balance is spot on.

Overall, there’s very little to complain about the S7 edge’s display. When we look at it, the same amount of iridescence put out by it continues to be a major drawing factor. And when you combine its dual-curved nature, it only helps to enhance its allure in the space – wherein it’s still a rare sighting for any phone to feature a curved screen.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 593
(Excellent)
5
(Excellent)
1:1407
(Excellent)
7018
(Good)
2.19
2.32
(Good)
2.76
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 502
(Excellent)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6658
(Excellent)
2.12
2.59
(Good)
3.12
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 493
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6586
(Excellent)
2.03
1.47
(Excellent)
2.62
(Good)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 68.6%
50%
unmeasurable
6.8%
0.5%
197.3%
185.5%
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 73.5%
0%
unmeasurable
14.8%
0.9%
67.2%
150.3%
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 84.7%
80%
89.2%
1%
11.9%
15.1%
46%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all

Interface and Functionality

The "edge screen" features have been enhanced with additional functionality, while TouchWiz has gotten a facelift.

After playing around with the new Galaxy S7 edge, we became increasingly aware of how this years’ TouchWiz flavor doesn’t necessarily make any huge gains over last year’s interpretation. Generally speaking, the look, feel, and execution of TouchWiz all remain unchanged – save for the fact that it’s running on top of Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, carrying along all the new features of this most up-to-date version of the platform.

Visually, however, the iconography of the homescreen and app drawer has transformed into what Samsung dutifully refers to as ‘squircles.’ The name implies its look, blending a circle and square together to form this so-called ‘squircle’ icon shape. It’s rampant amongst the native apps, but doesn’t apply to third-party apps. It’s a small change that most will probably overlook, but it’s nevertheless a slight alteration.

Functionally, Samsung doesn’t deviate from the recipe it followed with last year’s interpretation. In a time when many other competing custom skins have scaled back with their features set, TouchWiz remains a packed one that appeals to a broad set of users – including power users! Staple things like Multi Window, one-handed mode, quick launch camera, and many of its other smart features are all present once again with this iteration of TouchWiz.

As much as it might come off as being an advanced, complex interface, Samsung has kept the same streamlined experience we’ve come to appreciate. No doubt, all of TouchWiz’s features won’t be used by everyone, but the beauty in it is that it’s not overly complex or convoluted. By default, many of its advanced features are turned off, but they can be enabled by traversing through the options.

You wouldn’t know it, but there are a few new additions to the TouchWiz experience, especially to this dual-curved screen wielding phone…

Edge UX


Samsung tried to convince us that the Galaxy S6 edge’s edge screen functions were all relevant in enhancing the overall experience, but we found them to be nothing more than just novel ideas. Since then, they’ve naturally brought on additional enhancements to the S6 edge+, but for the S7 edge, it seems like there’s finally a real purpose for those slick dual-curved edges. Well, at least superficially, since pretty much all of the "edge" functionality takes place on the main screen of the device.

As before, Edge UX on the Galaxy S7 edge acts like a hub with shortcuts to apps and contacts, among other features. But it is now wider, with room for more to fit into the edge panel – 550 pixels to be exact, so our fingers aren’t left to teetering on the brink of going over the edge. You could say that many of the edge features last year were novel at best, such as how the edges would light up whenever there were incoming call when the phone was placed down on its screen. Thankfully, more thought and careful planning has been invested into the Edge UX experience here with the S7 edge.

Speaking of edge panels, there is a multitude to choose from. Some are mostly informational, showing things like weather details, the latest headlines, sports game scores, and stocks prices. There are also panels acting like shortcuts to favorite applications and web bookmarks. And the Tasks edge lets you have shortcuts to specific modes inside apps, such as the Panorama mode in the camera, or the stopwatch in your Clock app. Best of all, there’s room for expansion because additional edge panels can be downloaded through the Galaxy Apps portal. At launch, there are a few third party ones, such as those from CNN and Twitter, but you can bet that the catalog will be diversified as the year goes on.

Even though it looks like Samsung has finally done justice in this area, it still would be nice to see the dual-curved edges be utilized in other native apps – like in the camera, similar to how it’s implemented by the Galaxy Note Edge. Regardless, the improvements are considerable enough to make it more practical to use on a daily basis, as it’s more than just another alternative to multi-tasking or getting quick peeks at certain information.

Always-On Display


Borrowing a useful feature from its line of wearable devices, the Always-On Display feature of the S7 edge keeps a small portion of the screen always on to show relevant information such as the time, date, and some notifications. Some new and upcoming phones have their own interpretation for this process, such as LG’s G5, but for the most part, the always-on display feature is very new and limited in its availability. It's a definite advantage for the Galaxy S7 at this point.

Better yet, there are several different styles to choose from if the default one isn’t up to your liking. Beyond the clock, there are options for different calendar styles, as well as pre-selected stock images. Now if you’re the type that’s conscious about power consumption, you can choose to disable this feature altogether – albeit, Samsung tells us that they believe it’ll use about 1% or so of the battery in a day. So far, we really don’t notice this feature critically impacting the battery from a day-to-day basis.

Game Launcher


Gamers know the pain of being engrossed in a game, to suddenly being interrupted abruptly due to some sort of notification – whether it’s something minor like an email notice popping up, or having it crash because of an incoming phone call. Samsung understands this kind of annoyance that hardcore gamers face, so that’s why they’re introducing Game Launcher. Turning it on, the feature places a folder on the homescreen that populates with all the games currently installed on the phone. It’s pretty intelligent in sniffing out the gaming titles that are installed, but the listing can be manually arranged as well.

Interruptions are annoying while you’re deep into a game, but a floating ‘game tools’ icon is accessible at any time to set certain rules and permissions. For example, we can set it so that there are no alerts whatsoever during a game, or lock the recent and back keys to prevent accidental presses. There’s even an option to record gaming footage, which is something that gaming fans will surely appreciate, since it allows them to share their replays, victories, and much more.

System Performance

The Snapdragon 820 screams at a ferocious rate, so there are plenty of smooth moves with this.

Last year’s Galaxy line was a unified bunch that exclusively harnessed Samsung’s homemade Exynos chips to power its devices. This year, however, they’ve reverted back to a familiar strategy that splits up the load. For US-bound Galaxy S7 edge devices, like the Verizon one in our possession, they’re being powered by Qualcomm’s latest and greatest in the Snapdragon 820. As for everyone else, some international variants of the S7 will have the Exynos 8890, while others will again utilize the Snapdragon. Samsung promises equal performance between the two.

Either way, the Galaxy S7 edge is complemented with a whopping 4GB of RAM – the dual-channel variety to ensure things operate smoothly. And that’s exactly what we’ve been seeing thus far with this Snapdragon 820 powered S7 edge, producing all the buttery goodness speeds you’d expect from a top-tiered smartphone. Normal every day operations perform with a tight response, so there has yet to be any instance of delay.

Synthetic benchmarks indicate that the Snapdragon 820 is at the top of its game, reaching new heights in several tests. There’s no compromise with its graphics processing prowess either, seeing that the Adreno 530 GPU shows incredible finesse in dealing with all of today’s graphics demanding titles. Its strong real-world performance is indicative of its superiority, but for those who are still skeptical about battery drain, especially for a device with a sizable Quad-HD screen and blazing processing hardware, its support of the Vulcan API allows for high-performance graphics processing with lower battery consumption.

As it currently stands, Samsung is only offering a single storage option for the Galaxy S7 edge – 32GB to be exact. Although that’s more than a generous amount, it’s still bewildering that no other options are being made available at launch. Still, it should be noted that the reintroduction of the microSD slot adds that level of utility that went missing with last year’s Galaxy S6 line.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 128191
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 69306
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 58664
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 3198
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 2461
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 4840
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 5120
Sunspider
Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 612.3
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 675.2
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 218.2
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 52
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 37
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 59
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 28
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 15
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 38.4
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 1761
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 1790
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 2032
Geekbench 3 single-core
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 2318
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 1503
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 2526
Geekbench 3 multi-core
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 5433
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 5134
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 4404
View all

Camera

It’s a true low-light master!

Oh man, this is where things get really juicy for the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge! In true fashion, the Galaxy line has always been relevant when it comes to camera performance – so there’s no treading away from that distinguished fact. While it’s certainly no surprise to us that a camera’s performance isn’t indicative solely on how many pixels are crammed into it, many people are led to believe otherwise, crazy as it may seem. Based on its track record, you’d think that Samsung would be reluctant to change that trend, since each successive device since the beginning kept on upping the amount of megapixels. That, though, changes here with the S7 edge.


Going from a 16-megapixel sensor last year with the S6 edge, Samsung has decided to go down a notch, and instead, focus on the size of the pixels themselves – while also being more attentive where cameras struggle the most – low light. With that in mind, the S7 edge features a fresh 12-megapixel 1/2.5” sensor with large, 1.4 micron pixels, which, in combination with the very wide aperture of f/1.7, are able to collect 95% more photons than the previous generation Samsung camera. All of this indicates an improvement in picture quality with low-light scenarios.

Not only that, but the new sensor also employs a Dual Pixel technology for faster and more accurate autofocus – the type of technology that could only be found in some premium DSLRs so far. This is made possible thanks to the fact that now each pixel of the camera sensor features two diodes that assist with the camera's focusing process. The previous generation Galaxy S smartphone also had focus pixels for phase-detection AF, but those were way fewer – less than 5% of its camera pixels were used for focusing. Now, a total of 100% of the sensor pixels are used for focusing, which makes the process much faster. Meanwhile, the front-facing camera seems to have been left out of the specs love because it’s still a 5-megapixel snapper.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Funny we mention that, just because the camera interface doesn’t see a dramatic facelift in how it operates. That’s not a terrible thing per se, since it’s rich with various shooting modes that consist of selective focus, panorama, video collage, a live YouTube broadcast (first introduced by the Note 5), slow motion, virtual shot, food, and hyperlapse. And not surprisingly, there’s the Pro mode that hardcore shutter bugs will be delighted to find once again. However, the ability to customize advanced parameters is still only available to snapshots – there’s no true video manual mode yet for the Galaxy line.

The beauty about the S7 edge’s camera is that it works exceptionally well on the automatic – the way that most people go. There’s never a missed opportunity, especially considering how unbelievably fast it is at running the camera app via the quick launch camera feature, to pressing the on-screen shutter button to take the shot.

Sometimes, though, our fingers rest closely to the small portion of the display that gently slope around its dual-curved edges – causing some registration issues with hitting the on-screen shutter key. It’s not a rampant issue, but we need to remind ourselves to just move our fingers a bit away.

Image Quality


Absolutely breathtaking! That’s the consensus we have after combining over the samples we’ve captured using the S7 edge’s brand new 12-megapixel camera. Everywhere we look, there’s no shortage of beautiful compositions filled with plenty of fine details, bold looking colors, and a nice handling of dynamic range. The S7 edge lives up to its purported claim of being a stellar performer.

First, let’s talk about the samples taken under the ideal conditions – you know, those with plenty of sun outdoors. Compositions appear crisp and attentive, but there’s still an adequate amount of fine details that permit cropping later on without a huge loss in quality. It even does a bang up job in dealing with exposure, as highlights and shadows are properly compensated to deliver well-exposed shots. Cementing its superiority, colors come out vibrant and radiant – though, compositions tend to exude a greenish hue.

While it’s a fantastic performer on the automatic, the other modes definitely diversify its portfolio, which has a deep appeal to a wide array of users. Just as before, it’s quick and effective at panning for panoramic shots – stitching them together almost seamlessly. HDR shots, thankfully, aren’t too artificialized as we’ve seen in the past, seeing that the contrast boost isn’t as overworked.

The biggest focus for Samsung, however, relates to the camera’s much hyped low-light performance. Thanks to its larger, 1.4-micron sensor pixels and wide, f/1.7 aperture, the Galaxy S7 is set to leave quite the mark when it comes to low-light photography, as these characteristics alone allow it to come up with brighter shots. Well, being brighter is one thing, but it’s another when most devices under low light tend to be compromised by the amount of noise, graininess, and splotchy details in their shots. For the Galaxy S7 edge, though, Samsung has effectively kept those usual suspects at bay – wherein it’s able to command a high level of crispness. Accompanying the appealing details, colors retain their sense of vibrancy when the lighting is minimal. If more is needed, the phone’s LED flash casts a potent punch, even at a far distance, without overexposing or distorting colors.


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Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 1.5
1.6
283
261
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 1.6
1.9
485
285
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 2.1
2.7
791
No data
View all

Video Quality


A top-performer with its still shot quality, the Galaxy S7 edge also does nicely with video recording on the automatic. Just as before, there are plenty of shooting resolutions to choose from. Whether it’s the pixel crunching 4K UHD mode, or standard 1080p at 30 FPS, there are plenty of good qualities to ogle over. Now, if details are your thing, 4K UHD is the natural choice because it captures the absolute greatest amount of details in the scene – without a whole lot of sharpening layered to the video post-process. Continuous focus is incredibly adept in adjusting on the fly, almost being too fast at times. Our only annoyance, though, relates to the noticeable rolling shutter effect, or wobble, that persists when the phone is abruptly panning left and right.

The other resolutions look pretty darn nice as well, so there’s no shortage of eye candy with them. If you love that over-motion effect, the 1080p 60 FPS is going to suit you well. Oppositely, the 240 FPS slow motion mode at 720p does even better to isolate a short period of time to produce a slick looking slow motion video. And of course, there’s the standard 1080p mode at 30 FPS, which actually produces the most natural, true-to-life results. Movement is pretty steady, as well as the stabilization, but there’s still an effective mixture of sharp details, bold colors, and crisp audio recording to round out its awesome bite.
Again, it’s the kind of phone that works on the automatic. The only thing missing in our opinion that would complete the package, is true manual controls for video recording – much like what the LG V10 offers. We were hoping for Samsung to finally bring that into the mix, but alas, that’s just not in the books.


Multimedia

A bigger screen makes for an even better watching experience.

The gallery app has all the necessities in viewing and editing stored content on the go. Arranged in layouts such as albums and events, there are still other options to make slideshows and collages with the stored content. Editing, too, is pretty much unchanged from what we were given with its predecessor – boasting the usual basic editing tools, in addition to the various filters it offers.

Gone is the TouchWiz music player that’s been a staple of the Galaxy line, replaced instead by the Google Play Music app for local play, and Samsung’s Milk Music for those who prefer that streaming radio format. Whichever one you go with, there’s one thing that becomes a bit alarming. And that, folks, is the slightly weaker output of the internal speaker than before.

Despite the weaker loudness, there’s no adverse effect to how it actually sounds. Clean and crisp, without too much of that affinity for the lower audio range, there’s a pleasant degree of neutrality – so that not one particular audio range is isolated more than others. Of course, its quality can further be enhanced by tinkering around with some of the equalizer settings that are available.

We’re not overly critical about the weaker internal speaker, because quite frankly, the 3.5mm headphone jacks sees a significant improvement because it now achieves an output of 0.707 V. That’s a big improvement over last year’s reach of 0.54 V, which means that the overall punch is stronger – made better by the fact that audio sounds delightfully clean and crisp.

Continuing to be a great thing for video watching, the S7 doesn’t disappoint mainly due to how its iridescent screen, combined with its fantastic viewing angles and saturation, keeps our eyes glued to what videos are being played. Choosing to go with the adaptive display mode, the screen’s contrast and saturation are automatically adjusted by the phone to reach those ideal viewing levels. And boy is it stunning! Not surprisingly, too, there’s still that multi-tasking aspect with its pop out play mode. It might be regarded as a minor feature for some, but nonetheless, the option to do this is something we appreciate.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 0.986
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 0.766
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 0.707
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 69.1
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 73.1
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 72.9
View all

Call Quality

Vastly improved over its predecessor, there’s a ton of emphasis on clarity.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Adopting yet another feature first presented to us by the Note 5, the S7 edge now offers an ‘extra volume’ mode for those times when it’s noisy around. Without it enabled, the volume is still plenty loud for our liking, more than capable of accentuating every word and syllable uttered by our caller. Appropriately so, the addition of the ‘extra volume’ mode is there if you’re somehow hard of hearing.

Voices thankfully pack a lot of substance through the earpiece, clean and without any distortion. It’s actually an improvement over last year’s quality with the S6 edge, so we’re elated by this. The good fortune extends to the other end of the line as well, where the microphones in the phone help to produce voices to our callers that are audible and distinctive.

Moving onto the final piece of the puzzle, the speakerphone’s quality is that proverbial chink in the armor. Sure, the ‘extra’ volume’ is at our disposal even with the speakerphone, but it doesn’t seem to do a whole lot to amplify the speaker’s initially weak output. Voice are discernible nonetheless, however, it only becomes problematic when there’s a ton of ambient background noise – where it then starts to fade.

Battery

One of the few areas where more work is needed.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
We understand that a bigger battery is present here with the Galaxy S7 edge, since it’s a bigger sized phone to start off. In comparison to its predecessor, which sported a 2600 mAh battery cell, the S7 edge is greeted to a monster sized 3600 mAh one. We’ll applaud to that reality, right?

Well, not so fast! The phone powers us through the usual one day of normal use in our experience thus far, which is an average result for most things nowadays. What's more, its performance in our custom battery benchmark test is also about average. Resulting with an on-screen time of 7 hours and 18 minutes, it’s almost a full hour down from its predecessor’s tally.

On one hand, we’re concerned by all of this, but it'd have been worse if its real-world performance reflected such a drop. Luckily, it doesn't. And that’s what matters more to us. While it might lean towards the S7 edge requiring frequent charging, especially for power users, Samsung has successfully improved the handset’s charging efficiency. Requiring only 99 minutes to get back to full capacity, it’s actually more efficient than the S6 edge – so even for a short period, it’ll give the phone a solid chunk of charge. That’s something good if you can spare something like 15 or 30 minutes.

And lastly, the S7 edge continues to be understood as the Swiss Army knife of smartphones because it continues to offer the convenience of wireless charging – something you won’t find with many of its competitors.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 9h 29 min (Excellent)
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 9h 11 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 7h 18 min (Good)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 80
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 165
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 99
View all

Conclusion


Pricing wasn’t particularly on the side of the Galaxy S6 edge last year, mainly because for a phone that matched the S6 on paper, its added $100 premium cost on top of the S6 didn’t seem justifiable. Not surprisingly, though, the S7 edge’s pricing follows the same strategy by being accompanied with an additional $100 cost over what most of the domestic carriers will be selling the S7 for. That tally makes the S7 edge roughly $800 wherever you look, which by itself is an undeniably exorbitant cost.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Review
Thankfully there’s more reasoning behind the $100 separation between the two devices, as the S7 edge features a larger size – and therefore, a bigger screen, and larger battery. The added new functions of the Edge UX also play into its higher cost, something that now feels a bit more complete, as opposed to the novelty that last year’s phone seemed to exude. So, the more we think about the $100 added cost that’s needed to be put toward picking up the S7 edge over the S7, the more we realize that it’s far more forgiving that last year’s reasoning.

Aesthetically, the S7 edge shines with the same drawing factor that its predecessor managed to muster up. It’s a worthy successor in almost every facet, as Samsung has managed to address most of the shortcomings of the old model – while also reintroducing expandable storage and a water resistant construction. When we look at the total package, the incentives brought on by the S7 edge all make sense, despite the costly investment that’s needed in buying it.

If money is no concern to you, or you simply want to stay on the bleeding edge of technology right now, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is a noteworthy phone rich in both the experience and performance – with a price point that’s justified against its sibling. Rarely do we have a phone that packs so much cutting-edge technology into one single device, but we do have it here. The only thing to consider here is whether or not the size of the phone is to your liking.



Software version of the review unit: Android Version: 6.0.1; Build Number: MMB29M.G930VVRU1APB1

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