7 things you need to know about the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge

Patrick O'Rourke

March 11, 2016 12:06pm

Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and Galaxy s7 hits store shelves today in Canada, but we’ve had our hands on both smartphones for the last few weeks.

While the South Korean company’s new flagship devices are largely an iterative upgrade over the S6, the phone includes a number of features some people might not have heard about yet.

Here’s everything we think you should know about the S7 and s7 edge.

Mind the bloatware

If you’re considering picking up the S7/S7 edge, or have just purchased one, it’s important to be aware that, like most Android devices, the sleek-looking smartphone comes packed with a significant amount of bloatware.

Microsoft’s full suite of Office apps, for example, are pre-installed on the smartphone, though these applications can be disabled with the quick swipe of a finger (they unfortunately can’t be completely uninstalled).

Bloatware related to your carrier of choice will also be included on the device. Thankfully in most cases, these apps can be disabled by dragging them to the garbage bin. Telus’ My Account app, which was installed on our review device, can’t be removed but is easily disabled.

Other apps like Suretap, a digital payment solution, and Amazon’s digital storefront app, also come preinstalled on the smartphone, but can be removed with a few quick swipes. Even other proprietary Samsung apps like Knox, the company’s recently launched mobile security app, can easily be deleted from the phone.

In an industry full of pre-installed bloatware, it’s refreshing to see that Samsung has at least given S7 owners the option to remove unwanted apps, though it would be better if apps that are only able to be disabled could be completely uninstalled.

How to tweak the always-on display

Both Samsung and LG are touting their smartphone’s always-on displays, though at the outset, the S7’s take on the technology isn’t as useful as it could be thanks to a lack of customization options. Hopefully this is something that changes in the future. Also, despite Samsung’s claims to the contrary, in our tests, the always-on display affected battery life more than just one percent per hour.

Still, Samsung is the first manufacturer to allow users to tweak the settings of a smartphone’s always-on display (found by navigating to settings>display>aways-on display>). There are seven different clock combos to choose from, two different calendar modes, and even a few more art-focused image-only styles as well.

The downside is the always-on display is only capable of displaying information from Samsung’s suite of apps like the S7 and S7 edge’s dialer and text messaging app. This means you won’t be able to add inbox, Gmail or Google Calendar notifications to the smartphone’s always-on display. Hopefully this is a feature that’s expanded in future updates to the company’s TouchWiz Android skin.

Take advantage of that expandable storage

Fans asked Samsung to bring expandable microSD storage back with the release of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, after dropping the feature with the S6, and to the surprise of many, the company actually listened.

The S7/S7 edge’s internal storage is upgradable up to 200GB, which means, at least in Canada, users can scale up to 232GB of storage, a massive amount of space.

A downside to this new feature is Samsung decided against supporting one of Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s top features, adoptable storage. This means that MicroSD and internal storage can’t be morphed in to a single block of memory for installing all of your content.

Thankfully, however, navigating to storage settings allows uses to change the storage location of apps, as well as to move them to the SD card.

Yes, the S7 is water-resistant

With the release of the S7, Samsung has brought back another popular S5 feature, in this case, the smartphone’s waterproof casing. Unlike the S5, however, all of the S7’s ports are sealed, which means the phone doesn’t require protective flaps like the Galaxy S5.

So yes, according to Samsung, both the S7 and S7 edge are IP68 rated water-resistant when submerged in 1.5 meters of water for a 30 minute duration. It’s worth noting that this doesn’t mean you should stake the phone in the ocean on your next tropical vacation given the fact that salt water destroys and corrodes electronic devices.

Despite what you’ve heard, the S7 is a nighttime warrior

Galaxy S7
By: Igor Bonifacic

When the S6 launched last year, its camera felt like a revelation. The combination of optical image stabilization, 16 megapixel sensor and f/1.9 lens allowed S6 owners to take superb shots in a variety of situations.

What’s surprising about the S7’s is not so much the fact that Samsung added an even better camera package to its latest phone, it’s that the S7’s camera excels in situations where smartphone cameras have traditionally trailed behind more expensive DSLRs and point-and-clicks.

Galaxy S7 sample shot

Shot with the Galaxy S7.

Photo 2016-03-10, 10 38 13 PM

Shot with the iPhone 6s.

Specifically, the S7 performs exceptionally well in low light situations. In my time with the phone, I was constantly surprised by how capable the S7 was at capturing nighttime shots. If you’re the type of person who likes to go to a lot of concerts or on nights out with your friends, then the S7 is a perfect companion. Unless the phone has absolutely no light to work with, you’ll never get a noisy mess of a photo.

Moreover, the addition of phase detection autofocus (and Samsung’s own speedy silicon) help make the S7’s primary camera one the fastest on the market.

Smartphone makers often talk about how consumers won’t need a dedicated camera when they buy one of their device, but with the S7, there may finally be a shred of truth to that statement.

Make sure to tweak the Do Not Disturb options

One of the great features added with Android Lollipop was Do Not Disturb. With its Marshmallow skin of TouchWiz, Samsung has given users a lot of options to tweak exactly when and how their phone starts bombarding them with notifications.

When you first get your new S7, make sure to spend some time adjusting in the Do Not Disturb menu of the settings. Initially, it seems like you can only turn Do Not Disturb on and off from the notification shade – which is a step back from stock Android where it’s possible to tweak the feature directly from the shade. But once you hop in the settings and find Do Not Disturb — it’s among the orange coded options — you’ll find a plethora of options.

One of my favourites is the option to schedule when Do Not Disturb automatically turns on and off. I’ve got my S7 edge set to automatically turn Do Not Disturb on when I go to bed at 10:30 and off when I wake up at 5:30 in the morning.

With the proper tweaking, Do Not Disturb well help you feel less overwhelmed at the end of the day.

The edge is actually useful this time around

When the S6 edge launched, its curved screen was a beautiful novelty. It was cool to look at, certainly, but ultimately didn’t add much functionality to the device.

In the year Samsung has had to iterate on the edge, the company has thankfully built a more compelling case for the curved display. If you do decide to spend the extra $100 to get the edge, you’ll want spend some time tweaking the edge screen options to get the most out of the S7 edge.

To access the edge screen, pull in from the right side of the screen. To then access the setting menu, tap on the cog icon on the bottom left of screen. From there you can add additional Edge panels, including the edge’s signature vertical widgets. Between these widgets, Tasks edge, people edge, you can access a lot of the edge’s functionality with a single hand, which is exceptionally helpful with a device that measures in at 5.5-inches.

At launch, the edge supports up to nine Edge panels, so make sure to put all nine of them to good use.

Related reading: Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge review: An act of refinement

  • Andrew English

    I am waiting for the Note 6 before I decide.

    • mido123

      smart, I almost purchased it today and completely forgot about the NOTE line! thanks!

  • downhilldude

    Actually, only one thing you really need to know: It kicks a*s!

    • Igor Bonifacic

      It’s true.

  • Sean-Paul

    Can’t wait for the S7 Edge to arrive. It’s gonna be a great phone imo

  • Brett Arnold Allard

    Just got the edge this morning and I’m extremely impressed with the performance and the camera.

    • Eric M.

      Lucky you I was told today by Best Buy that sorry but the phone you pre-ordered was not received yet…. 🙁

    • Brett Arnold Allard

      I did a hardware upgrade at bell as usual.. They had alot in stock and from what I can tell all the other carriers had them in as well.

      This is here in Winnipeg at Polo Park mall.

  • Longtin

    I love how it’s release day and customers can get the phone for $49 S7 or $149 S7 Edge on a 2-yr term. – If they are eligible to upgrade that is. The big 3 is offering all kinds of credits too offset the upfront cost. It’s actually a great device. If you need the latest and greatest it definitely feels like it is in your hands.

    • Eric M.

      Huh really? Where are you getting this kind of pricing seeing that the GS7 Edge is $500 on contract… ?

    • Longtin

      If you trade in your old phone they give you $50 bill credit , they give you a $100 bill credit if you have a 2.5GB plan or more and they also give up up to a 200 bill credit if your a tenure customer or have to upgrade the phone within 2-3 months.

    • Eric M.

      I have not seen this anywhere got the link to the info?

    • Longtin

      Just go to your carrier’s website and click on where it said promotions , it should be all listed there.

    • Samuel Gomez Recuero

      Well fido and rogers have been down for the past 3 hours at least so no luck checking there.

    • Longtin

      They both work fine for me on my computer and my cell. It would be under the promotions tab and under wireless.

    • Techguru86

      Who wants a 100$ plan with only 2.5 gbs ? I played with the s7 today and it’s a nice phone but literally looks and feels no different then the s6, even the camera didn’t seem much better

    • Longtin

      You’d be surprised how many people have that plan because they are sharing with others so the other lines would be 65 , 55 even 40. I was just stating that it’s kind of misleading that the prices are up that high on the device or just perfect timing because the carriers are offering promos. I personally see your point with the s6 , it’s honestly for people who want the latest and greatest lol

    • Roger

      Where are you getting these prices from? That’s an amazing deal if you can find it.

    • Longtin

      Also the trade up 50 offer is the minimum; if your phone is worth more they can offset even more for example if your trading in your old GS5 they give you $90 ish which would make the device $9.99 on a 2 yr.

    • jay

      Well at least they didn’t follow apple with there exchange rate. Good price for an awesome phone. Just be careful about battery life

  • Brad Fortin

    This would be my next phone if it had the option to run stock Android, or came in a Google Play Edition.

    • Eric M.

      Humm… Not a great option, no1 you would not be able to use the edge functions and most likely all the extra features of the camera would not be available. The hardware would still be great mind you but the overall experience would not be quite the same.

    • thereasoner

      Even things like Samsung Pay may not be available on a stock version as stock doesn’t support MST.

    • Igor Bonifacic

      You can get rid most of the TouchWiz zaniness with something like Nova Luncher. Well, minus what Samsung has done with the notification shade and settings menu.

    • FlamesFan89

      Or get even closer to stock with the Google Play Launcher. I’ve been using it for some time, and it is one of the first things I install on a new device now.

    • I can attest to the fact that Igor’s edge almost looks like a Nexus (almost).

  • Longtin

    I feel like the $100 extra can be justified now finally, simply because of the screen size. The edge is pretty cool, it does shave seconds off your time every time you touch your device it’s quicker to get to most of your priority information; which can add up to saving 30 minutes or more per week.

  • Proprietary apps can be deleted? Sweet! So you can finally delete all the redundant “S” apps that Samsung forced on us before. Amazing and well done, Samsung! Just made this phone WAY more attractive

  • Very cool article! Thank you for sharing!

  • Not for you

    Credit is due for covering the topic of bloat on the Canadian phones, though it would have been better to include that in the original review.

    “The downside is the always-on display is only capable of displaying
    information from Samsung’s suite of apps like the S7 and S7 edge’s
    dialer and text messaging app.”

    FFS, it’s been three years since Moto came out with Active Display (now “Moto Display”) and it’s still yet to be matched.

    • Pigs Can Fly

      Active Display has to be one of the best feature on a phone, part of why I love my (2013) Moto X, I’ve setup a similar on my Galaxy S5 using Echo Notification Lockscreen with a black background (since black doesn’t turn on with AMOLED displays) and has been working well.

  • Gumbopudding

    It is a shame about not supporting adoptable storage, but I understand why. I figure most have slow SD cards, so if they use them it will be way slower than normal which in turn make the phone seem slow. They don’t want the world to think their phones are slow.

    It would be nice if they gave a big warning that unless you have a xx speed SD card you will notice slow downs though, but I guess they are worried about their rep.

    Of course this is just a guess, could be other tech reasons.

  • marshallpower

    My life will be so miserable because of a few programs on my phone…

    It’s a great phone and the camera is just too good to be true…I don’t regret one thing about it.

  • jay

    Unlocked bootloader? Processor? Custom Rom? Lol happiness

  • willy

    This site is a joke ha ha ha ha……………………………………

  • Out2late

    “Samsung Labs” is currently not an option under “Advanced Features” on Canadian or US variants.

  • h2oflyer

    They’ve copyed every saleable feature from other phone makers, except the profit part, which is why prices are going up.

    Their profit per unit of $23 is even lower than Sony’s $26 with minuscule sales. Of course, they will never see the $184 profit per unit that Apple sees.

    Source. Xperia blog