Last year, Samsung released a device that blew almost every device released that year out of the water. The Samsung Galaxy S6 was sleek, refined, and introduced a new version of Touchwiz which cut out a lot of the bloat that had plagued previous versions. Omitting the horrendous battery life, Samsung dropped a bombshell on the mobile industry in 2015. This year, the company took an almost perfect device and edged it even closer towards being the ultimate handset. With a faster processor, better battery, and ip68 waterproofing, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are shaping up to the the early winners in 2016.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge features a 5.5 inch 1440p Super AMOLED display, packing a pixel density of 534 pixels per inch, which is slightly more than last year’s S6 Edge+. The device features a new panel, which, according to Dispaymate, is the most accurate on any smartphone, featuring a higher brightness and more accurate contrast than last year’s model. Another large selling point of the phone is the new “Always On” display, which can be configured to feature a clock, calendar, and other things. Since the device is using an AMOLED panel, the phone only illuminates the pixels it uses, which helps the device to hardly sip battery life while sitting idle.While the curve on the device isn’t my favorite, as I have been tapping on the screen pretty consistently when I don’t want to, it is a better implementation than last year, and will hopefully be developed even further to move towards phones with flexible displays.
Speaking of battery, Samsung’s new generation of devices have had their life extended tenfold. The S7 Edge features a non-removable 3,000 mAh battery, which, while smaller than the slightly larger S6 Edge +, handles it much better. The standby time on the device is fantastic, and can survive for days while idle. Even with the brighter, more accurate display panel, screen on time has been significantly improved since the S6 Edge + was released, and that’s quite a relief, considering it was one of the primary criticisms of last year’s model. If you were worried about picking up the device due to battery alone, go ahead. You won’t be disappointed. Paired with Marshmallow’s new Doze feature, you should be getting easily a day and a half or two days from the device.
The body on the device is almost completely identical to last year. Surprisingly enough, Samsung actually slightly increased the body size on the device to accommodate for a larger battery. That’s a welcome surprise in this day and age, when every manufacturer is trying to make their devices as thin as physically possible. And even though the device is .03 inches thicker than last year’s model, the edge display continues to leave a bad taste in my mouth, primarily because there is really hardly a grip in the sides of the device. The edge display has certainly gotten better this year, having a higher screen to body ratio, and almost melting over the side of the phone, but there remains barely a grip for the user to hold. Sadly, I feel like a case for this device is absolutely necessary, since it is so obscenely slippery. Using it without a case, I find myself almost dropping it constantly while using it on a daily basis, and consistently slipping out of my pockets while driving. While the body is refined and gorgeous, I can’t find myself finding it useful, and I think Samsung went with form over function in this case. This isn’t completely surprising, as phones have been becoming more geared towards appearance, but it would be nice if Samsung put a little more thought into user experience instead of making the most beautiful device they could. The phone is also ip68 waterproof, which is pretty crazy for a device like this. You can get it wet while in the rain or doing the dishes, and shouldn’t have to worry about any issue. While you can technically take the phone in the shower with you, I don’t exactly recommend it, mostly because it just feels plain wrong.
I have extremely mixed feelings about the speakers on this device. If you watched my review of the galaxy s6, you saw that I was a bit bummed out by the fact that the noise was almost completely canceled out by holding the device in a natural way. Especially when watching a video or viewing content, you’re going to have to watch the on a flat surface if you want good audio quality, because holding it while viewing content isn’t much of an option. Like I said before, it’s very difficult to hold the device on the sides due to the edge display, and the only other option while in landscape mode is to hold it on the bottom, where the speakers are. Overall, they sound great, especially for a single set of downward firing speakers. Unfortunately though, the placement continues to hinder my use, and I can’t use it effectively in my car mount on my way to work, which is a big issue for me. I give quality an 8/10, placement a 3/10.
I found the camera to be reletively hit or miss on this device. The slightly thicker body has helped to reduce the metallic hump housing the camera on last year’s phone, and it’s nice that it lies more flush with the rest of the phone’s body. This year, Samsung opted to reduce the mega-pixel size down to 12 from 16 to accommodate for the larger pixel size in the phone. These pixels allow for more light to enter the camera’s aperture, and while it should do better in low light situations in theory, I found that it tends to make images look like pastel paintings, adding a sort of “beauty effect” to shots. The camera does much better in higher lighting situations, but over saturated colors a bit. While most people will enjoy this feature, more serious photographers will likely prefer to do editing themselves and handle more “true to life” photos. Samsung definitely isn’t targeting photographers though, so it’s easy to see why they would want their cameras to be more saturated for the average consumer. Though this isn’t my favorite camera in the world, it does snap pictures extremely quickly, and sometimes I don’t realize it took the photo at all. That’s definitely a desirable feature for a device, since photo-based social media has been absolutely exploding over the last couple of years. Overall, the camera is great, but not the best. Here’s a number of photos I’ve taken over the last couple of weeks so you can decide for yourself.
The user experience of Touchwiz has gotten much better since it’s infancy. Though it’s still not as stock as I would like it, Samsung has done a lot of work to make the user experience better. It’s not too laggy, and doesn’t feel as bloated anymore by hoards of widgets constantly sipping your data for information. As with the last generation, they were also very light with the bloatware they added to the device, so that’s always nice to see. Overall, the user experience has gotten quite a bit better, and I actually wouldn’t mind taking touchwiz for a spin for a while longer. Samsung have also added additional edge functionality to the UI, and while this isn’t s7 specific, (comes stock on the device with marshmallow). These are actually starting to get useful, and it’s nice seeing Samsung moving towards a functionality standpoint instead of just saying “because we can”.
Thank you thank you thank you for bringing back SD card expansion! I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to be limited to the storage you purchase at launch, and micro SD support fixes that issue. They even placed it where I asked in my s6 video! Thanks Samsung.
Overall, Samsung seems to have taken the elegant design of the Galaxy S6 and evolved it into something even better. If you’re currently on that device and are thinking of upgrading, however, I really don’t think it’s necessary. You’re getting essentially the same device with slightly updated specs, SD expansion, and waterproofing. If those are something that you absolutely need, then be my guest, but don’t expect anything major. I did find the device to be quite a pleasure to use, however, with it’s bright, crisp display and great battery life. With the right case, I wouldn’t mind taking this for a run as my daily driver for a while.
So what do you think about the device? Looking to pick one up?
Huge thank you to AT&T for the device! Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at the camera.
Let us know.