While we were pretty openly in love with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, it had its faults. Battery life was poor, there was no expandable storage, and it was very late to the Android Marshmallow party.
In the Galaxy S7 Edge, it looks like Samsung have fixed all those complaints and more.
Galaxy S7 vs S7 Edge
Firstly, we should mention that the S7 Edge isn’t the only version of the phone. As with the S6, there’s a ‘vanilla’ version without the curved screen. It’s cheaper, it’s probably less smashable, and it’s also a whole lot duller. The flat S7 is to the S7 Edge what frozen yoghurt is to Ben & Jerry’s. We get why people buy it (it’s less money) but if we’re looking for the most exciting ‘droid on the planet, you’d better believe we’re looking at the curvy one.
Upgrades and extras
As we’d expect with the newest version of any flagship, the S7 Edge has received incremental upgrades to all its key components. The battery capacity’s gone up from 2600 mAh to 3600 (the vanilla S7 has 3000), the lens hump at the back has been thinned so it barely sticks out at all, and while the main camera technically has fewer megapixels (16 > 12), it has bigger pixels and a wider aperture, which means it takes much better photos in low light. It also focuses insanely fast (we’ve tested it).
But it’s not the upgrades we’re excited about. It’s the additions.
Water and dustproofing
The Galaxy S7 Edge is waterproof. We last saw this in the S5, which could be submerged up to 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes as long as you kept the little protective cap in place. The S7 Edge has no caps, and has the highest possible water and dustproof rating (IP68, where the S5 had IP67).
We tested it (obvs), and you can indeed get it wet with no apparent adverse effects.
This means you can perform one of our favourite Android party tricks: “accidentally” dropping your phone in your drink in front of an iPhone person and watching them flip out. Muahahaha. [Gadgette takes no responsibility for damage or breakage as a result of such shenanigans].
In addition to the waterproofing, Samsung have done what we all hoped and prayed for and added a microSD slot. It’s situated in the SIM tray and can accept cards up to 200GB, meaning it doesn’t matter nearly as much whether you pick the 32GB or 64GB version.
The battery’s still not removable, but that’s the case with most manufacturers these days – with the notable exception of the new LG G5. It’d be properly tricky to pull off with the curved sides, so we’ll let it go.
New Edge functions
As we said in our S6 Edge Plus review, the curved edges on Samsung’s phones receive a lot of criticism for being “pointless” (the point is to look cool, FYI) and it seems Samsung have taken this to heart with a range of new features for the curve on the S7 Edge. You can now use the edge as a compass, a ruler like on the Note Edge, a torch with variable brightness, and add third-party Apps Edge widgets to get the news or play games, for instance. We still think it’s all a bit unnecessary when the curved edge is clearly just an aesthetic choice (and a perfectly valid one – no one bashes Apple for making things that look nice), but a nice-to-have nonetheless.
Game tools menu
Gamers will be pleased to see the new floating Game Tools menu, which lets you take screenshots, turn off alerts, record the screen and lock the Back and Recents keys during gameplay. Considering mobile games make up 85% of app store revenue, catering to gamers is a smart move.
Samsung have also added an always-on display to show you the time and date and other such handy info without you having to unlock the screen. Since it’s an AMOLED (or Super AMOLED to use Samsung’s marketing language), Android can control individual pixels on the screen, showing information without lighting up the whole panel to save battery. Samsung say the always-on display is designed to use less than 1% battery per hour – but while that sounds ridiculously low, remember that if you get up at 8am and go to bed at 10, you’ll still lose 14% of your day’s battery to it.
Amazingly, the S7 and S7 Edge feature water cooling, something PC users have had for a long time. It’s essentially a way of using sealed containers of liquid to cool down the components of a phone during intensive activity, and while it’s not the first time it’s been seen in a smartphone, it’s still a very impressive feature to cram into such a slimline phone. Most people won’t care, but we think it’s cool.
Another exciting announcement at the S7 launch was the news that Samsung Pay is coming to the UK this year. Hooray! We’ve had Apple Pay for bloody ages and Android’s alternative is still nowhere to be seen. This gives an alternative for us beleaguered ‘droid users – but of course still leaves the rest of the ecosystem out in the cold (get on it, Google).
Samsung Pay is coming to six countries this year: the UK, Spain, China, Singapore, Brazil and Australia. We haven’t been given a date or even a season, but it’s coming, and that’s good to know. Find out more in our dedicated feature here.
What hasn’t changed
We’re ever-so-slightly disappointed with the design of the S7 and S7 Edge. Most people only upgrade their phones every second generation (going from the S5 to the S7, for instance) and it takes a lot to persuade them to upgrade sooner. As HTC found with the One M9, making a flagship that looks like the last version doesn’t help. If you’re going to shell out for the latest model, you want it to look and feel different – it’s a psychological thing. Yes, the S7 looks like part of the Galaxy family, yes it’s still beautiful – but it should have been more visually distinct, in our view.
Also, we’re sad to see that the classic Samsung Sapphire Black colourway has been replaced by Black Onyx, which no longer has the beautiful petrol blue sheen of the S6.
The selfie camera remains the same at 5MP, and screen resolution is still quad-HD with Gorilla Glass 4. The vanilla S7 has the same size screen as the S6 at 5.1 inches, while the Edge has gone up to 5.5. This means the S7 offers the same number of pixels per inch (577) as the S6, while the Edge has gone down a bit due to the larger size: 577 to 534. Realistically, this is not a change you’re going to notice. Also, it’s a heck of a lot higher than its Apple rivals: 326 PPI on the iPhone 6S, 401 on the 6S Plus.
However, a lot of the high points of the S6 Edge are still in there. Wireless charging, fingerprint sensor embedded in the home key, excellent camera quality, and a software experience much closer to stock Android than we used to see on Samsung devices (if you haven’t had one since the S3 or S4, you’ll be pleasantly surprised). RAM remains at 4GB, which is the same as the S6 Edge Plus had (though the standard S6 and Edge had 3GB).
Interestingly, Samsung have chosen to retain the old-style micro USB-B connector rather than the newer USB-C, which is reversible (to avoid inevitably putting it in the wrong way). Phones like the Nexus 6P and OnePlus Two have moved on to the new type of cable, but Samsung are sticking with what they know – probably rightly acknowledging that we all have an insane amount of the old style of cable at home and don’t much fancy replacing them all.
The phone comes with Marshmallow out of the box, which is good news for those who like having the latest version of Android – but as with the S6, you’re unlikely to get Android N as soon as it’s available if you go for this phone. We’re not expecting it anytime soon, but it’s still worth knowing if you like to keep a phone for a year or two.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge specs
- 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7mm, 157g
- Octa core, 64-bit processor (4 x 2.3GHz + 4 x 1.6GHz)
- 4 GB RAM
- 32 or 64GB of storage, although currently only the 32 seems to be available in the UK
- MicroSD slot (supports up to 200GB)
- Curved 5.5-inch quad HD Super AMOLED screen (2560 X 1440, 534ppi)
- 3600 mAh battery
- Dual Pixel 12MP main camera with F1.7 aperture and optical image stabilisation
- 5MP selfie cam with F1.7 aperture
- Fast charging and wireless charging
- NFC and Samsung Pay
Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge UK price and availability
If you’re as excited about the S7 as we are, you’re in luck: it’s out on the 11th of March. You can preorder directly from Samsung now, and as long as you preorder before the 5th of March, you’ll get it three days early on the 8th. It costs £569 sim-free for the S7 and £639 for the S7 Edge, both in 32GB. The 64GB version hasn’t yet appeared on the Samsung site – here’s hoping we’re still getting it in the UK, but if not there’s always microSD.
Pre-order customers also get a free Samsung Gear VR virtual reality headset, worth £79.99.
If you’d prefer to get the S7 on contract, it’s available to preorder from Carphone Warehouse with an upfront cost of £79.99 for the S7 and £129.99 for the Edge, and contract prices starting at £36 for new and upgrading customers. You’ll still get the phone three days early and a free Gear VR, though Carphone Warehouse couldn’t tell us how many they’ve got to give away.
We’ll be back with a full review of the S7 Edge when we’ve had some proper time with it, but from our hands-on, we’re really excited about this phone. The Next Galaxy might just be the best Galaxy ever.