The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a phone that instantly impresses the second you pick it up, bringing with it a similar feeling the first time you fondled HTC’s One M8, one of the best-looking phones on the market.
Where the ‘normal’ Galaxy S7 is far too similar to the previous year’s model, the S7 Edge takes a surprisingly successful smartphone in the S6 Edge and adds in some decent changes to make it worthy of the upgrade.
The changes are almost entirely cosmetic (apart from some welcome changes to the camera and battery) – but given you’ll be using this phone tens, if not hundreds, of times a day, the way it feels in the hand is hugely important.
Samsung has priced the Galaxy S7 Edge at Rs 56,900 in the Indian market.
The main difference is on the back of the phone. The Galaxy Note 5 was the first Samsung phone to use the new curved back, and that’s been improved on the S7 Edge. The result is a smart, glossy phone that sits in the hand like a polished pebble, begging you to spin it around and enjoy the lack of sharp edges that lived on the S6 Edge and S6 Edge+.
The reason I’ve compared it to both of the above is that the S7 Edge sits somewhere in between them in terms of spec. The QHD Super AMOLED screen is back once again – not an upgrade, but then Samsung had already crammed in too many pixels, so the sharpness is excellent and capable of dealing of nearly any content on the web and rendering it well.
But the screen has been extended to 5.5-inches, up from the 5.1-inch display on the smaller screen on the S6 Edge, and slightly under the 5.7-inch choice on the Edge+. However, what’s impressive is Samsung has managed to make the new S7 Edge not feel much larger than the smaller of the two devices mentioned, despite the big increase in screen area.
The effect is the same as on the S6 Edge – it’s a nice novelty to have, and makes the phone look wonderful when sat on the side, but in reality doesn’t add a huge amount of functionality.
That said it seems enough people were impressed with last year’s model to want to buy it, so improving that element seems like a smart move.
Thankfully, Samsung’s not making a big deal of the edge display when the screen is turned off, as it was a completely useless feature of the S6 Edge – you needed to rub the screen almost erotically at the side when the screen was off, and hope that it might show the time and weather.
The edge display has been upgraded now though, with more features added to the interface to make it more useful.
You’ve now got double width information when swiping in from the side of the screen, giving you updates on your friends, football scores, news and even a compass and torch option as well. These features are coming to last year’s S6 Edge duo as well, so it’s not going to be a headline feature, but it’s easy to swipe into and adds to the sheen of the curved display.
Like the Galaxy S7, there’s another big feature coming to the Edge: an always on display. The clue is in the name: the screen will be on permanently to show off the time, a calendar or just a general pattern to make the phone look more premium. It does do that, and looks really slick, but in reality this feels like more of a gimmick.
Sure, having the phone on your desk means you can glance at the time, but saving vital seconds just to not have to fire up the screen feels a bit much. It’ll also come at the cost of about 15% battery life over an 18 hour day (according to Samsung, which has promised that the always on display will consume less than 1% per hour) so it’s a feature you’ll need to really think about using.
In terms of interface, the Galaxy S7 Edge is very similar to last year, but once again it’s refined the UI to make everything flatter, cleaner and, well, more Google-y. It’s taking the Marshmallow design language and used it to strip back Touchwiz (its proprietary overlay on top of Android) even more, which is going to please a lot of fans.
It skips around pleasingly under the finger, and while it still has the extra flourishes in places like the notification shade, it doesn’t get in the way.
Talking of things those fans will love: the microSD slot has returned. It’s located in the SIM tray at the top of the phone, so you’ll need a tool to get it in and out, but Samsung believes it’s finally got the performance to the point where it can handle a memory card without worrying it’s going to slow the phone right down.