Samsung Galaxy S7 edge: The phone that everyone wants
Design & Features
Every year, smartphone manufacturers put their earnings on the line with the launch of flagship smartphones, which is a pretty scary affair, considering it's a hit-or-miss game. For Samsung, the flagship Galaxy S series has been, for the better part of the last five years, filled with some impressive hits (the Galaxy S2, S3, and the S6), and others that received considerably lukewarm response, like the Galaxy S5.
But despite the odds and the accompanying poor sales figures of some of its less-than-successful flagships, Samsung’s tenacity and persistence to create a better smartphone is a feat that the company should be given credit for.
During MWC 2016 earlier this year, and less than a year after the modest success of the Galaxy S6 series, Samsung lifted up the curtains on the new Galaxy S7 series, and needless to say, all of us were pretty much elated.
Shortly after, Samsung Malaysia then launched its much-anticipated Galaxy S7 edge in the country, and for the last month or so, we’ve had the pleasure of being able to put the phone through its paces.
Without further ado, here’s our review of Samsung’s new masterpiece.
Overview and design
Common sense and logic would indicate fairly well that smartphones aren’t exactly the easiest things to make. Why? Besides being built to satisfy the needs of consumers that demand a smartphone that is lightweight and fitted with a big display, keeping a smartphone’s physical design fresh and original has been an issue that has vexed and dogged designers persistently.
Samsung’s idea of keeping its smartphone design fresh emerged some years ago, with the introduction of their flexible and curved display. First introduced and implemented with the Galaxy Note Edge, it became clear to the Korean giant that its initiative was vastly appealing to the masses here in Malaysia.
As you would imagine, the end result of this endeavor were phones that could truly and honestly be classified as “different from the rest”. Much like its Galaxy S6 predecessors, the Galaxy S7 edge speaks, no, screams out its difference in its design, compared to the rest of the competition out in the market.
Even when faced down on the table, the glossy, glass-made rear of the Galaxy S7 edge is immediately recognizable, making it a phone that many would want to show off.
Inside, the phone is fitted with Samsung’s Exynos 8890 SoC, 4GB of RAM, and a massive 3,600mAh battery, and all that is crammed into a phone barely 8mm in thickness. Now, to answer a question that some of you may not know the answer to: Yes, Samsung does indeed have a Snapdragon 820 variant of the phone, but unfortunately, that model is only available in the U.S.
The camera, which once jutted out and stuck out like a sore thumb from the back, and rendered the phone unable to lay itself down flat and parallel to a table, has had some work done to it. However, instead of a 16MP sensor, Samsung has had to reduce the camera’s sensor down to a smaller, but definitely more impressive 12MP DualPixel ISOCELL sensor, which as you’ll see later in this review, proves to be very capable in low-light photography.
But far from a redesigned camera sensor and a big dual-curved display, the Galaxy S7 edge also marks the return of a few key features that were noticeably missing from its predecessor.
Considered as an absolute must-have feature, Samsung had it in its good sense to reinstate an expandable storage option. It’s almost impossible to understand what possessed Samsung to negate this crucial feature from the Galaxy S7 edge’s predecessors, but we are genuinely glad that the phone once again has an external storage space for keeping certain apps and files out of the phone’s internal storage space, and thus freeing up its digital real estate.
In an indirect relationship to the expandable storage option, the Galaxy S7 edge is also the first major flagship from Samsung that features support for more than one carrier, thanks to the dual Nano-SIM tray. But alas, as with the majority of smartphones that utilize this feature, there is a trade-off. To keep what you already know short and sweet: If you’re looking to use the second SIM card slot while you’re overseas, you’ll need to remove the microSD card from the second slot to make space for it.
A new feature that Samsung has introduced with the Galaxy S7 edge is the Always On function. Much like how Microsoft's Glance function works on Lumia smartphones, the Always On function displays the time, date, and notifications of missed calls and messages on the screen, even when it is essentially not in use.
And of course, while there have been multiple posts on how some people have been able to make this hybrid slot accommodate both Nano-SIM cards and the microSD card, the methods used to achieve this feat isn’t what we would call practical, and it could cost you a SIM card and a microSD card. On that note, we really don't recommend you trying this, at all.
SIM cards and microSD cards notwithstanding, the one returning feature, which was last seen on the Galaxy S4 Active and Galaxy S5, is the IP68 water- and dust-proof rating. With the return of elemental protection, we got relatively gung-ho in dunking the phone into bowls of water, simply for the fun of it.
Alas, if there is but one caveat that we found with the Galaxy S7 edge, it would be its beautiful, dual curved, 5.5-inch display. As beautiful as the screen is, its dual curved display is, if you’ll forgive the pun, a double-edged sword. Without an additional layer of physical protection (e.g. a casing, screen protector, etc.), contact with either side of the edges are unavoidable. The nature of the phone’s design is such that no matter how you hold it, your fingers will come into contact with it.
This also affects the interaction with the phone. While using the phone as our daily driver, forcing ourselves to be extra dainty with the phone was a given. More often than not, we’d accidentally activate one or more functions on the phone, particularly the apps and widgets' settings.
Sometimes, our fingers would pull open the apps or Tasks edge functions by mistake as well. This brings us to the subject of the edge menu: considering that the edge menu has been out for close to two generations, one would think that Samsung has updated or at least added more functionality to this menu, but alas, beyond the Contacts edge, the Tasks edge window barely supports any apps beyond Samsung’s own for the quick access bar.
And another thing: if you’re planning on getting the Galaxy S7 edge, you’re going to need to get yourself a cover, not so much to protect the phone from scratches, but more from all the pocket activity that will be in your pocket. Seriously, the phone’s Home button-cum-fingerprint sensor was having a field day in our writer’s pocket at one point of the review, and the only time he knew something was going on was due to the ticks that all smartphones make when an app is activated.
In terms of performance though, the phone handles itself like a dream, as we’ll explain in the next page.