Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge: Hands-on impressions

Alex Kidman 22 February 2016


Samsung has launched the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge at Mobile World Congress. Here are our early impressions.

Mobile phone launches are always about hype, which can make it tough to properly appraise any given handset, because the manufacturers only want to talk about the upsides, and there’s not a whole lot of time to actually test out features and functions.

That being said, I’ve tested out every single Samsung Galaxy "S" series phone right back to the original model, so I’m more than familiar with the family as a whole. From a very small amount of controlled hands-on time, here are my initial impressions of where the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge perform well, as well as where there may be pitfalls.


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Samsung Galaxy S7/Galaxy S7 Edge: Upsides

  • Waterproofing is back -- finally!
    One of my major disappointments with the S6 era phones was the omission of waterproofing. I don’t want to go swimming or have my phone in the bath -- and strictly speaking, the IP rating on the S7/S7 Edge refers to fresh water immersion anyway -- but knowing that if I do drop it in H20 it won’t be game over is a very welcome step, especially as it doesn’t involve a flap to protect the charging plug in any way.
  • Expandable storage is also back!
    Again, this is a hangover from the shift to the Galaxy S6 generation from the Galaxy S5. Samsung cited design reasons as to why the S6 generation didn’t have expandable storage, instead suggesting consumers head to the cloud. The Galaxy S7 can take both approaches, with a SIM card slot that also incorporates either a secondary SIM card or microSD expansion. It’s not a new idea -- phones from makers such as Oppo and Huawei have had dual use slots for a while now -- but it’s a good implementation in a desirable device.
  • Small design changes
    Ostensibly the Galaxy S7 doesn’t look that much changed from the S6. One small but very welcome change that Samsung has put in place is a small curve on the rear of the phone back. This makes it slightly more comfortable in the hand, but more impressively during my brief hands-on time, it was nowhere near as slippery in the hand. If you’ve ever had that heart-in-mouth moment of having a phone slip out of your hand, you’ll appreciate why more grip is better.
  • Water cooling is cool
    Again, not an original idea -- Sony’s Xperia Z5 and Microsoft’s Lumia 950 lines also have water cooling pipes in them -- but my inner geek squeals at the inclusion of tech usually seen in high-end PC gaming rigs in handsets. A personal failing, if you will (as long as it works).
  • Open development for Galaxy S7 Edge
    Samsung’s never been quite sure what the edge on its curved phones was for, which has meant that they’ve only gradually expanded the edge area functionality to include things like quick app and contact launching. The S7 Edge has that, with the possibility for two columns in some edges, which is nice. Beyond that, however, it’s also opening up development for new Edge apps to other developers, which means that there’s a prospect of others coming up with genuinely innovative Edge features that could shift it from a cute gimmick to a must-have feature.


Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge from Samsung

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Samsung Galaxy S7/Galaxy S7 Edge: Downsides

  • No removable battery
    The LG G5 manages it, but while the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge can handle expandable memory, a removable battery is a step too far. That’s probably at least partially to keep it watertight, which I do like, but it would still be a bonus step to be able to change batteries, especially if you plan on owning the Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge for multiple years.
  • No radical design reinvention
    Samsung has pretty much played it safe when it comes to the Galaxy S7’s design. Given how critical fashionable design is to a premium smartphone’s appeal, it does make me wonder how much wide appeal the S7 will have overall.
  • Less app appeal
    Samsung hasn’t gone massively out of its way to load the Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge up with its own custom apps. On one hand this means you don’t end up with rubbish apps you might not like, but on the other hand, they’d be ideally suited to build apps that talk specifically to the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge’s hardware. Games optimisation is nice, as long as you’re a gamer, but otherwise at first glance this is very much business as usual.
  • Will the device cooling work?
    As noted, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge use water cooling pipes to keep the phone’s processor cool during times of extreme processor load. It’s a neat idea, but not an original one. The issue here is that the Xperia Z5 range uses water cooling, but can still run very hot in the hand. There’s only so much space for a water cooling pipe in a smartphone, which limits the overall effectiveness, and there wasn’t any time to stress out a Galaxy S7 to see how effective Samsung’s take on water cooling actually was.
  • No white model for Australia
    The Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge will come in black, silver, gold and white, but in Australia Samsung won't sell the white model at launch, citing consumer preference. If you're a fan of white phones, you're out of luck unless you want to use a direct importer to get a handset.

Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge: Hit or miss?

A short appraisal time is no time at all for a proper evaluation of a handset; these are merely preliminary thoughts based on a very short time with both phones.


I’m interested and excited to see how well the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge actually perform outside of controlled launch environments. Samsung has largely played it safe with the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, refining away the rough edges of the S6 series to develop a smartphone with a lot of potential. It could well be a hit if it lives up to the hype.

Check out all of our coverage from Mobile World Congress 2016.

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