Sunday, April 24, 2016

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review

I've been using the S7 Edge for the last few weeks and I feel like I am ready to review it. The reason why I got the S7 Edge was because I was waiting for the LG G5 to come out, but multiple delays in Europe sent the date further and further back. So while I was waiting I got the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge - probably one of the most novel device I've used in a while. Let's jump right into the review.

The Specifications 

  • 5.5" curved AMOLED screen
  • Gorilla Glass 4
  • 1440 x 2560 pixels 
  • Weight 157 grams
  • IP 68 certified 
  • 4GB ram
  • SD 820 or Exynos 8890 processor, region dependent. I am testing the Exynos version
  • Android 6.0
  • Wireless charging 
  • Micro SD support
  • QC 2.0

The Design 

The design of the Galaxy S7 Edge really is one of the most incredible things I have to talk about - this device is so well built and feels so premium it makes it hard for me to really grasp that it's a phone and not a piece of jewelry. It's a metal frame that has been sandwiched by two panes of glass. The top, where the screen is located, is curved and has an "infinity" display. It really gives the illusion that you really are holding the screen in your hand rather than holding the phone itself. If you've never tried a double edged device, you should go to your local store and try it out! It's very novel and looks very cool. In the hand the device is gorgeous, feels solid, well built. No one could or would ever say that the device is poorly crafted. It comes in multiple colors: I only had the white and black models. 

On the positive side of this is that the device is now water resistant! IP68 for those of you that know what it means. For those of you who don't, that means that is both dust proof and water resistant up to 1.5 meters and up to 30 minutes at once.

The fingerprint scanner is located on the home button - in my tests it is mostly usable, very quick. I don't like that I have to press the button to make it activate (or have the screen on) when other devices are already scanning always as soon as it detects a finger on it. As long as your fingers are clean and dry, then it'll work very well! 

The display panel and screen 

The display on this device is do sharp and detailed. It is one of the highest resolution screens on the market. The display is very visible in outdoor usage and is so saturated. For those of you who don't like saturated looks, as I don't as much, there are options to tone down the display and get more lcd like quality colors.  This came in handy multiple times as I find the display sometimes to oversaturate the colors to the point that I wouldn't enjoy some of the yellows and greens. But since this is fixable by going into the display settings you can't be sad or hold it against Samsung.  

The curves on this screen are what make this device so special. Now if you think it is a gimmick, well, it is! There really is no real reason to have it. In fact sometimes it's a curse. Holding the phone sometimes presses other buttons and opens apps all on its own,  as does trying to use it with one hand. One of my favorite tech review sites also stated the same thing happening with them. Hopefully Samsung can push something out to fix this or have some kind of palm rejection similar to what other laptops and tablets have when you have a pen near the screen. 

There are very useful functions though. If the screen is off you can rub the screen and get notifications.  You can have the edge menu come up with shortcuts to people,  apps,  tasks,  compass and rulers,  etc. It's fairly customizable and many can be downloaded from the web as well. 

The always on display (AOD) is very bright and you can see it in any light setting, but I find it far too distracting - the AOD moves every 1 minute, to avoid burn in. So every 1 minute I see movement on the desk and it distracts me, so I personally have it turned off. I would have liked it to be static. Customization is very plentiful with this device with different clock styles and images, background etc. You can even show a calendar! All very handy. 

Volume and Speaker

The volume on this device is actually quite low… This is of course due to the fact that it is IP68 certified. Any phone that has been IP68 certified always sounds a little muffled, sadly. As an example, where on my LG G4 and G5 I would keep the volume at around 30-50%, on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge I would have to keep the volume at 75% or higher to get similar volume. This isn't the ideal device to share your music with someone. On the positive side, sound is good quality even though a little tinny. 

The Camera

I am a camera phone junkie. The shots produced by the S7 and S7 Edge are very well lit, and focus incredibly fast but I have to say that I wasn't too overly pleased with the quality of these photos coming from the LG G4. The rear camera has a 12 megapixel camera with f/1.7, and is optically stabilized - this means that it won't shake as much when holding it, and the f/ 1.7 aperture means that it can take some superb low light images. The front camera is a wider 5 megapixel shooter, which doesn't have OIS - to be fair, the only device that has OIS on the front camera is the HTC 10. Please see the post that I had published in a previous post comparing the camera quality between the LG G4 and the S7 Edge. I think LG have put a fantastic amount of work into that phone and its camera - sadly I can't say the same about the LG G5 since it produces very similar images to the S7 Edge (you'll have to wait for another comparative shootout, I suppose).  

The camera focuses ultra-quickly.  Its macro shots are very sharp, and you can get closer to your subject than with other competing devices (LG G4, V10 and G5). 

Low light is superb on the Samsung device. Check out the detail of these two shots:

 LG G5 to the left, Samsung S7 Edge to the right, both 100% crop

Day light shots are good, but I do feel like it is a step down from the LG G4 that I had before and was, personally, a favorite as a shooter. But every device has pros and cons, and you just need to try them both. Regardless, the biggest issue I had with the S7 Edge is that color representation wasn't very true to life.  Details were over aggressively deleted with Samsung's algorithms with over-sharpening. Here are a few examples from my shootout with the LG G5 and the S7 Edge:

 LG G5 to the left, Samsung S7 Edge to the right, both 100% crop

As you can see, colors are not as well represented and in the circled areas the colors are all blended together. 

Selfie shots are a bit wider than most other devices, but not as wide as the dual camera on the LG V10. 

Manual mode on this phone isn't as great as the LG G4 and G5, but it is much better than not having it. If you have time to fiddle with the settings you can get some incredibly beautiful, saturated and exposed images. 

When shooting in manual mode you can also shoot in RAW dng, which will allow you to take it home and edit the DNG and expose it as you like - files are very large! So be sure to get an SD card with enough space. 

Here are some sample shots taken with both manual and auto:

Battery life

I'm getting a full day with about 4-5 hours of screen on time, which is better than most devices since this phone has a 3,600 mah battery, which his huge compared to other devices. Also, software optimization has a lot to do with it. I have seen on some forums that people are getting up to 6-8 hours of SOT, which is insane. I for one don't make any exceptions for my device, it needs to work for me, so I keep radios on, brightness at the level I want, and don't disable any push notifications. This device will last 95% of people through the entire day. I can get about 2 days of battery life with more limited usage. 


I really enjoy this device. It's very novel. It feels like a piece of art. I am afraid I'll drop it and shatter it to pieces - that's why I have invested in a good quality case (a few of them in fact), and what's appearing to be problematic is finding a good screen protector that's case friendly - but that's for another day! For me the most important things are:

  1. Battery life - it has great battery life. If it had just "ok" battery life, and a non-replaceable battery then this would have been a bust for me.
  2. Camera - this phone has a great camera, but I only have 2 issues - color representation seems to be on the whiter side, and the aspect ratio. Both are OK! So no big deal, but it would have been better for me if were a more traditional ratio and more on the darker side. 
Other things? Build quality is awesome - much better than the LG G5. 

Would I recommend it? Totally! 
+Screen quality is awesome.
-Audio is weak.
+Camera is very quick, focuses VERY well and quickly with awesome macro and very decent color representation. 
+Build quality is fantastic, including the waterproofing.
+Feel in the hand is superb, and ultra-premium. 
+Battery life is great.
-Curved screen is more problematic for me than useful, but it does make your device "one of a kind" and it is useful in multiple situations.