Galaxy S7 And S7 Edge Reviews: Samsung’s Slow March To Victory

Print Version
Share to a friend

While it’s not Samsung’s final throw of the dice, the Android-powered Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge handsets

represent a significant moment in the financial year of the South Korean company’s mobile division.

Following lacklustre sales of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge and a reliance on mid-range handsets to keep

revenue flowing (albeit with falling profits), these two new handsets need to capture the imagination of

the consumer, the awards from the critics, and the dollars from the marketplace.

 

Forbes’ Ian Morris has posted his early review of the S7 Edge handset, and many other reporters have

posted their reviews and impressions of the device. Overall the Galaxy S7 family represents two of the

best Samsung devices, but are serious challengers for being the best smartphone today. There are issues

around performance, and many of the changes are merely iterative, without any new vision.

 

The Galaxy S7 is a great upgrade which is still packed full of new features and upgrades.

Many would label Walt Mossberg as one of the patriarchs of hardware reviews, and his thoughts on the

S7 family can be found on The Verge.

 

The design of the costlier and larger Edge model is especially impressive. Its screen’s curved edges seem

to melt into the aluminum case, and the bezel is so thin as to be almost invisible. Partly for that reason, it

is noticeably narrower and shorter than the rival iPhone 6S Plus, though both have the same sized

screen. All told, the S7 Edge has a footprint that’s about 11 percent smaller than Apple’s 6S Plus.

 

That means that people who found the big iPhone too large to hold comfortably may feel differently

about the Edge. I personally still found the Edge a bit too large for my taste, but your mileage may vary.

 

Both handsets run the latest version of Android. Marshmallow is still making its way through the various

sign-offs required for an over-the-air update to be installed on older devices. That makes the Galaxy S7

and S7 Edge some of the first handsets to ship with Marshmallow available out of the box. That offers a

number of new features, and gives a solid feel to the handset.

 

Suffice it to say, though, it feels like the most complete version of Android to date. Now, after hearing us

all complain about TouchWiz for ages, Samsung has spent over a year trying to streamline that bane of

my existence. So far, the work has been surprisingly promising! The S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ and Note 5

all shipped with Android Lollipop, along with a version of TouchWiz that felt lighter and more responsive

than ever before. This year, the changes to Samsung’s software formula are pretty minimal.

 

Waterproofing and microSD card support return to the S7 handsets after their omission from the S6

design. That’s good news for S5 owners who are nearing the end of a two-year cycle and looking for a

new handset to upgrade to.

 

I even dropped the phone in a sink full of water after overcoming what I can only describe as an innate,

heart-pounding fear of purposely destroying such an expensive gadget. Though the S7 is near useless

when submerged (water activates the screen’s capacitive sensors), it’s a million times better than being

out $700+ and having a sore throat from screaming endless obscenities. While using the S7 Edge, I kept

my phone perilously close to the edge of a sink or shower and didn’t need to worry about water damage.

 

The company left out a key feature from the latest version of Android. Flex Storage, also known as

adaptable storage, allows Android devices to treat external SD cards like built-in storage. That means

you can hold more than photos and videos on the card itself, and it encrypts the SD card and links it to

the specific device, so it’s much more secure.

 

Let’s talk about the camera. Geoffrey Fowler and the Wall Street Journal have put it through its paces,

along with a number of other smartphones, to test out the low light capability. That stresses the smaller

megapixel count, the image processing software, and the full imaging chain. The result? The Galaxy S7

and S7 Edge are the handsets to beat for photography.

 

The reason we take blurry shots of city lights and people in dim restaurants is that phones’ tiny sensors

have a hard time seeing in the dark. The Galaxy S7’s new 12-megapixel camera is lower resolution than

the Galaxy S6’s camera, but that’s a worthy trade-off, because each pixel can now capture 95% more

light.

 

I could really see it when I hiked at sunset to my favorite hilltop overlooking San Francisco, armed with

the Galaxy S7 and a stack of other smartphones. The S7 was able to focus and snap immediately

(example here), while the iPhone 6s Plus—with Apple’s best camera—kept struggling to find its spot

(example here). Across dozens of shootouts, the Galaxy S7 photos and video had a much more pleasing

dynamic range, pulling out detail in places the iPhone just left dark, without blowing out the highlights.

No question, I’d rather carry around the Galaxy S7 camera than any other.

 

With a 3000 mAh battery in the Galaxy S7 (and 3600mAh in the S7 Edge, thanks to the larger screen

size and internal volume), the Samsung flagships should keep you running through the day. Thanks to

optimizations in the hardware and software, you’ve got more than a full day in the office if you need it.

 

Battery life has been decent. I’d say acceptable. Jumping from 2,550 milli-amp-hours in the Galaxy S6 to

3,000 in the GS7 isn’t a huge change — about a 17 percent increase. But that combined with the

Snapdragon 820 processor and its power usage improvements, and we’re not scrambling for a charger

nearly as fast as we were with the GS6. Between 12 and 15 hours of moderate use isn’t out of the

question, and that’s without employing any of Samsung’s battery-saving tech.

 

It’s not all beautiful bouquets for the Galaxy S7 family, there’s already signs of a sting in one tale. Thanks

to the dual nature of each device the S7 and S7 Edge come in two different System on Chip flavours – the

Snapdragon 820 or the Exynos 8890.

 

Unlike the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, which only used Samsung’s Exynos 7420 chipset, the Galaxy

S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge are split between the Exynos 8890 (the 7420 successor) in some regions and

Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 in others. And as the benchmarks show, while CPU performance is close, the

Snapdragon 820 has dramatically superior graphics performance to the Exynos 8890.

 

Ken Yeung sums up the general feeling of these first reviews. The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge represent

Samsung at the top of its smartphone game, but it’s only got there through extensive iteration and

there’s very little passion or flair on show – just dogged determination to win through by being slightly

better than last year’s model and making sure that’s enough to beat the competition.

 

After a week of using the devices, I can say the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are great phones to

have. However, I believe that the upgrades are incremental, so unless you absolutely must have the

latest and greatest, haven’t gotten a new phone lately, and/or are fanatical about gaming and camera

technology, you could probably wait.

 

If you held back on getting the S6 or S6 Edge because of the lack of a removable battery, option for an

extra SD card port, and water-resistance, the S7 has answered most of those concerns.

 

Forbes will be bringing you more coverage, comparisons, and reviews of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7

Edge over the next weeks and months.

 

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2016/03/08/samsung-galaxy-s7-s7-edge-review/#18519c8981be