Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review: Samsung’s best phone yet
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is Samsung’s most expensive smartphone to date, but you do get a premium device for your money.
Where the Samsung Galaxy S7 is intended to be the mainstream but premium device in Samsung’s Galaxy S range, the S7 Edge tweaks it just that little bit further with a larger display, curved edges and an increase in battery capacity. For those improvements Samsung commands an absolute premium outright price, although it’s also perfectly feasible to pick the Galaxy S7 Edge up on contract as well.
If you prefer your Galaxy phones without curved screens, make sure to check out our Samsung Galaxy S7 review.
|Device||Samsung Galaxy S7||Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge|
|Processor||Octa or Quad Core (2.3Ghz Quad+1.6Ghz Quad or 2.15Ghz Quad + 1.6Ghz Dual)||Octa or Quad Core (2.3Ghz Quad+1.6Ghz Quad or 2.15Ghz Quad + 1.6Ghz Dual)|
|Resolution||2560 X 1440||2560 X 1440|
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge from Samsung
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Upsides: Why you’d want the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
- Strong premium design
Whether you like a particular phone’s design is obviously a subjective matter, but having had the time to tweak its curved design through the S6 Edge and S6 Edge Plus, Samsung’s done a lot of ostensibly good work with the S7 Edge. It feels comfortable in the hand without being too slippery, while the curved design gives it the kind of premium look you’d expect at this price point.
- Standout performance
We were seriously impressed with the Samsung Galaxy S7 when we tested it, which meant that the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge really had to work hard to do even better given the price difference. Samsung ships two variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge worldwide; one with a Snapdragon 820 processor, and one with its own Exynos 8990 processor. It’s the latter we saw on our review samples, which brought with it the prospect of lower performance. We need not have worried, as the S7 Edge performs quickly and admirably both in regular anecdotal app usage as well as our benchmark of choice, Geekbench 3.
Handset Geekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better) Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better) Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 2169 6446 Samsung Galaxy S7 2156 6240 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ 1492 4893 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge 1324 4626 Google Nexus 6P 1251 4597 Samsung Galaxy S6 1347 4569 Apple iPhone 6S 2540 4410 Apple iPhone 6S Plus 2491 4391 Sony Xperia Z5 1358 4134 LG G4 1190 3313 Google Nexus 5X 1188 3198
Like the Samsung Galaxy S7, we also ran 3DMark’s Ice Storm Unlimited on the Galaxy S7 Edge, although here the S7 actually slightly outperformed it. It’s still an impressive score, however:
Handset 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result Samsung Galaxy S7 28903 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 28402 Google Nexus 6P 24703 Sony Xperia Z5 19197 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus 17981
Benchmarks never tell the full story of a phone’s performance, but the practical upshot of these scores is that the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge has a lot of headroom for running just about any app you throw at it.
- Apps and Tasks Edge make sense
When Samsung first started developing phones with curved sides, it didn’t really have a good concept of what you’d use such a thing for besides looking cool. The new two icon deep app, task and people edges work a little better than previous implementations, and the fact that Samsung is more open about app development in this space via an open SDK gives hope for even more refinement from third parties. It’s still not a killer application, but there is promise.
- Fast and responsive camera
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge shares the same camera as the Samsung Galaxy S7, which means a technical drop down to 12MP, but with a faster f1.7 lens with larger individual pixels, it’s a better performer for it, particularly in low light. Yes, if you push it hard you can get grainy pictures as you could with any smartphone camera, but for most uses it will be more than adequate, and may even expand your photographic abilities in ways you hadn’t anticipated.
- Always on Display is quirky but cool
Samsung’s approach to Android software used to be a near complete redesign of the Android experience, which was rather painful matter unless you absolutely adored what they did. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge doesn’t go down that road much, save for the Always On Display feature, which sips at the power in return for a permanent clock or calendar display. It’s not a vital feature, but if you’re not a fan of wearing a wristwatch, it’s a neat way to quickly check the time without having to fully power up your phone.
- Astonishing battery life
Most phone makers will talk up how much battery life you’ll get out of a new phone, but the practical reality for most of us is that we’ll settle for a phone that you can use moderately hard without having to scurry to a power point during the working day. The Samsung Galaxy S7 had already wowed us with its battery life being the first smartphone we’d ever tested to break the ten hour battery mark in Geekbench 3’s battery test. Then the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge stepped up to the plate and went one better.
Handset Geekbench 3 Battery Test Duration Geekbench 3 Battery Score Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 11:55:00 7150 Samsung Galaxy S7 10:01:20 6013 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ 8:24:10 5041 Apple iPhone 6S Plus 7:48:10 4681 Samsung Galaxy S6 6:51:30 4115 Google Nexus 5X 7:14:20 4062 Google Nexus 6P 6:39:20 3754 Sony Xperia Z5 5:41:30 3414 LG G4 5:27:50 3224 Huawei P8 Lite 4:39:40 2768 Apple iPhone 6s 3:52:10 2321 Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 5:42:00 2276
It’s likely, although we’ve not been able to test this as yet, that the variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge that ship with the Snapdragon 820 processor may have slightly better performance but slightly worse battery life. If that’s the case, given the Exynos version isn’t exactly a performance slouch, we know which way we’d be buying.
Downsides: Why you might not want the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
- Edge is cute but not vital
We noted this above, but it’s still a downside of sorts. Samsung still hasn’t made the curved side software of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge a must-have feature, as it only really mimics things you can already do with app icons. It’s improved, but we’re yet to see a real reason to opt for it given it’s just a different access method right now.
- The Dual SIM/storage dilemma
Samsung does produce a dual SIM model of the Galaxy S7 Edge, but not officially in Australia, where it's single SIM only with micro SD expansion. If you want dual SIM you'll have to wait for the direct importers to offer it, but if you do, this involves a compromise. If you add microSD card storage you can only use one SIM card slot. If you want dual SIMs, you can’t expand the memory.
- Needs more water cooling
Like the Samsung Galaxy S7, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge uses and internal water cooling pipe to keep the device cooler under heavy loads. Neat, although in no way unique technology, but it needs more water internally if our tests are any gauge, because after a heavy load the Galaxy S7 Edge gets noticeably hot in your hand. It is IP68 rated, so you could always splash cold fresh water over it to cool it down -- but you shouldn’t have to.
- Sealed battery
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge’s design fixes a lot of things that annoyed Samsung fans with the Galaxy S6 Edge such as expandable memory and waterproofing, but you’re still stuck with a sealed battery. Right now with that great battery life it’s not a huge issue, but a few years down the track the battery chemistry will degrade -- that’s entropy for you -- at which point replacement will be a messy affair.
- Game Launcher doesn’t work quite as well
Game Launcher is the catch-all name for the software that Samsung ships with both the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. It provides several neat game-centric functions including removing most notifications, disabling the onscreen back and menu buttons and recording snapshots and video. However on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, the default position for the Game Launcher in-game icon is on the curved edge with a tiny icon. If you do want it in a hurry, it’s much harder to correctly tap.
Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge sits at the top of Samsung’s premium device tree for now, although it’s fair to bet that whenever the Samsung Note 6 appears, there will probably be an S7 Edge Plus or similar to unseat it. Still, if you’re an existing Samsung Galaxy S owner with a budget to match the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge’s asking price, it’s an easy recommendation. Equally, general fans of the Android platform will find a lot to like here.
At the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge’s asking price, you’ve got your absolute choice of any other handset you’d care to name that you could buy outright, and the same is true if you’re keen on getting a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge on contract. That includes models such as the Google Nexus 6P, Sony Xperia Z5 Premium or even the iPhone 6S Plus models. It’s likely that the LG G5 will also fall under the S7 Edge’s asking price.
Where can I get it?
You can also pick up the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge through a number of carriers; we’ve collected up all the carrier deals for the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, which you can check out here.