Welcome to my review of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. This review is going to take a slightly different spin to previous reviews as I am going to look at the overall “experience”.
We live in a world whereby phones leap forward in specifications. But does that translate into a good phone? In my experience not always. So what have Samsung managed to achieve? Well if you own a S7 or S7 Edge you can tap into the world of virtual reality with Samsung’s Gear VR. This is really a low cost way of accessing virtual reality. Gaming takes on a new pleasure with the Game Launcher. More later on that. Then you have Gear S2 smartwatches which really are one of the best smart watches out there. Finally, Samsung include Hi-Res Bluetooth and wired music upsampling. You can experience the best of this using their Level One Pro Bluetooth headphones.
The Samsung S7 Edge is beautiful. That alone should be a good enough reason to own it. But it gets better. It is dust and water resistant to IP68. It includes a lovely QHD 5.5 inch screen that fits in such a narrow near bezel less frame. This means that despite being a 5.5 inch screen it is a breeze to hold. The in hand grip and feel is further improved by all the curves on the back. The mix of glass and curves is stunning. Samsung added back the micro SD card along with a base internal storage of 32gb. This is excellent as my 200gb Sandisk micro SD card holds my photos and around 90gb of music. But I cannot stress how beautiful this phone looks. Just make sure you wear gloves as its a fingerprint magnet.
The User Experience
Samsung is still using Touchwiz on its phones along with Android 6.0.1. With the S7 Edge this takes a lighter affair. The look is totally customisable with its skin deep themes. I recommend 2 themes. Android 6.0 and Flatron. Android 6.0 theme creates a Nexus style look and is my current favourite. The Edge panel is included but now becomes useful. I use this to access my most used apps. I spent time adjusting the position of the tab on the Edge screen so it is perfectly lined up with a thumb swipe.
This will be the first phone whereby I won’t be installing a third party launcher like Nova. Touchwiz is better in many ways especially the deep level theming.
When I first got my S7 Edge I nearly threw it out of the window into the trash bin. I got the dreaded camera failed message when launching the camera. This was a conflict with the Smart Stay option in settings, which has now been resolved with the last software update. Apart from that its been a wonderful experience. The attention to detail is superb.
Samsung include their Ultra Power Saving mode. So should you run short on battery, you can switch to this mode and with just 1% battery get 10-13 hours more run time. This is on a restricted basic. Only 6 apps will work and you only have a very limited choice. My setup includes the Phone, SMS, WhatsApp and Twitter. The standard power saving mode is available too.
However, the 3,600mAh battery is a powerhouse. I posted last week a screen shot of my battery status at 53%. This was at 9pm. Click HERE. I had managed just under 5 hours screen on time. So based on the estimations provided I was on track for 9 – 10 hours screen on time. Remarkable. Normally I get 6 hours screen on time but it is increasing. Is this voodoo magic? Not really. I have bluetooth, WiFi, NFC, push email x 3, and use all the social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Flickr and more. I have also installed 110 apps/games. So how does the S7 Edge manage such high screen on times. It includes automatic power saving options for every app. I let the phone manage these automatically. The power app saving doesn’t happen until you have had an app installed for 3 days.
Samsung also features an always on display which is slightly adjustable. I have turned this off as I found it too bright and consequently annoying. It also only displays notifications for Samsung apps. At night I do use the night clock option which runs along the curved edge. This is not too bright and perfect for checking the time at night.
After three weeks of using the S7 Edge, you realise just how well the software integrates so tightly with the hardware. This is the best phone Samsung has EVER produced.
Samsung pretty much include the kitchen sink with this phone. But they have removed some features that were present on the S6. The most noticeable is the infra red blaster. However, throwing videos and photos on to my TV via WiFi actually worked with no errors whatsoever. More impressive is that I don’t own a Samsung TV.
Playing games on the Samsung is so enjoyable because Samsung added another piece of functionality called Game Launcher. As you install games they all appear in the Game Launcher app. Game Tools are available which include no alerts during gaming, locking recent and back keys, minimise and keep alive, screen shot and recording your game play with your voice too. You can of course connect a game controller. I use my Moga Pro Power. So now you can share with the world your gameplay, or simply play games without being interrupted. This is attention to detail again! Moga haven’t updated their app yet for Android 6.0 so you need to use a workaround which I provided details of HERE. If you want to view the quality of the game launcher recordings of me playing a couple of games, click HERE.
And what about the 12mp dual pixel f/1.7 camera?
The camera on the S7 Edge is superb at doing one thing and one thing only. Capturing the moment every time and perfectly every time. It has one of the fastest focus systems on a phone. It is practically instant. Not only that to launch the camera is just a double press of the home button in any app or even with the phone off. The burst mode takes 100 shots in a few seconds. When it takes the 100th shot, my iPhone 6S Plus had reached 40 burst shots. That is just how fast this phone is at taking pictures. Video is exemplary. Post processing does over sharpen the photos slightly. However, I am finding that the photos do not need any idea and are perfect for sharing.
I have reviewed the camera already. Click HERE. This includes loads of photo samples too.
The loudspeaker is a few db quieter than the iPhone 6S Plus, but still maintains a decent quality for listening to podcasts. USB Audio is fantastic. Using USB Player Pro app and my iBasso D-Zero MK2 with any of my headphones was superb. Using the S7 Edge headphone jack is a mixed bag. The quality is excellent again, but the headphone amp is not that powerful. Therefore, you will need some efficient headphones. I do recommend using third party music apps Poweramp or Neutron which improve the sound quality over Samsung’s own music app. Bluetooth includes APT-X and also Hi-Res Bluetooth via Samsung’s UHQ system. UHQ works only with Samsung’s official app and Google Play Music so far. Samsung’s Level One Pro headphones are compatible with UHQ. The Level One Pro headphones will be reviewed separately. I also used my Plantronics BackBeat Pro Bluetooth headphones and the output was crazy good. I have a theory that Samsung have focused the music quality deliberately towards bluetooth connections as inserting headphones could over time weaken the waterproofing. Bluetooth volume was really powerful and loud.
Samsung’s latest smartwatches the Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic work perfectly with the S7 Edge. I will be publishing my review of the Gear S2 shortly.
The icing on the cake is the virtual reality experience. Connect the S7 Edge to the Gear VR and get ready to blow your mind. This will also impress your friends big time. However, the Gear VR can make you feel queasy. It does with me, so despite the wow factor and experience, I won’t be using it that much.
So let’s recap. Samsung have produced a phone with great battery life, great power saving modes to save your skin when you have just 1% battery left, a stunning camera with super fast focus speeds, superb audio especially via bluetooth, a gamers paradise, dust and waterproof, support for a micro SD card slot, excellent software and hardware integration, theming, an introduction to virtual reality and so much more, and then wrapped this up in a gorgeous piece of hardware. Samsung then let you choose from a range of accessories including cases and more.
Samsung nailed it with the S7 Edge. However, the market place does include other choices from the Xiaomi Mi-5 and soon to be released LG G5, HTC 10, iPhone 6S Plus and Huawei P9. So Samsung really had to make sure their new flagships were perfect.
In just over 30 days we will see how HTC, LG and Huawei compete against the S7 and S7 Edge. May the battle commence!
At the moment, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is “amaze balls”.
Update – Android Pay and Samsung Pay haven’t arrived yet in the UK. But in addition to NFC, the S7 will also work on non contactless payment card machines. Another plus point.
Update 2 – And 30 mins after writing this review I started having an issue which arose when deleting photos in quick succession in the gallery app. Basically, the speed of deletion ground to a halt after deleting 2 in a row. I am using a 200gb Sandisk micro SD card with about 50gb used. Anyway, after some experimentation with some other micro SD cards, it seems there is another bug/issue I have found which arises when you have a lot of photos/music on your micro SD card. Tomorrow I will be discussing this issue with Samsung and will advise if there is any solution.