Galaxy S7 Edge, six months later


In 2016, Samsung made it clear it likes curves so much, it will basically bend its displays wherever it can. The Galaxy S7 Edge was the phone to set the tone early this year, and its unveiling at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona signaled a commitment to continue being edgy.

For a company that can be persistent in pushing its various visions to see what ultimately sticks, the curvy strategy appears to be a winner. In what ways is sometimes unclear, anecdotally speaking, since there are no real metrics measuring engagement, only sales figures to indicate the device’s popularity.

The Galaxy S7 Edge reared back into the spotlight — at least somewhat — because of the Galaxy Note 7 recall. Anytime one of your flagship handsets is considered unexploded ordinance and called out singularly on an airplane before takeoff, you have a public relations nightmare. These days, only Samsung and Apple (Bendgate, et al) could emerge from such a fiasco more or less unscathed. Time will tell.

No such issues have afflicted the S7 Edge, which continues to hum along as the ‘safe’ bet for Samsung and consumers who may prefer the device’s form factor.

The device

s7edgeteddy

I’ve had a lot of time with the S7 Edge since it launched in Canada in March, and I took it as an opportunity to let the edged display grow on me, if it could. I like curves as much as the next guy, but the practicality of the edged display and the interface it harbours has always left me feeling like something is missing.

With the Galaxy S6 Edge last year, that missing element was obvious — the interface did next to nothing of any intrinsic value. Samsung poured much more into it this year, offering numerous shortcuts and contextual information, which I’ll get to a little further down.

What truly helped the company’s standing with this device was what could be viewed as a corrective approach; one that brought back the microSD card slot and water-resistance that was abandoned last year.

It also slightly curved the back edges, contouring the device on both sides for better handling. The glass back remained the same fingerprint magnet it has always been. Curiously, though, white and blue were abandoned in Canada, with black, silver and gold the preferred options instead.

With Samsung choosing to harmonize the chipset with the Note 7 by using the same Snapdragon 820 in both Canada and the United States, the S7 Edge was the opposite. Only the U.S. variant had Qualcomm’s chip, whereas all others used Samsung’s own Exynos 8890 octa-core processor. Whether there was a significant difference in performance wasn’t patently obvious to me.

Then there was the camera. A less protruding lens certainly helped, but it was the internals that were to make a difference. With a wide f/1.7 aperture lens and superb image sensor that included larger micron pixels, the S7 Edge was poised to become one of the shooters to beat. It has earned its keep in my books, offering some of the best composition I’ve seen in Auto mode to date.

The software

gs7 edge software.jpg

Samsung has wisely chosen to continue the process of dialing back its previous software excess and gimmicky nonsense, and focus on lessening TouchWiz’s impact on Android to make navigation that much easier. The settings probably benefit the most from that because the layout is simpler (though I prefer how it was done on the Note 7), save for the visual elements that make it appear different.

Of course, that wasn’t really the focus here. The edge interface was, and by stripping down on the other side, it rained an abundance of features to the edge to make it more of a general usability go-to. For me, at least, this required self-training and the will to try it, even when it didn’t seem necessary or prudent to do so.

That’s generally not a good start for any piece of software, but it isn’t even the biggest issue. Third-party support, or lack thereof, has been the gaping hole that keeps this interface from turning a corner to become something indispensable. Much of what’s available is driven by Samsung and its partnerships. There’s a decent level of choice, yet the pickings are still slim.

Take the Tasks Edge screen, for instance. In theory, it’s a sound idea — create shortcuts to specific app functions. Except, in practice, it’s limited to core apps and little else. The lack of support from others could be rationalized for any company that isn’t Samsung, but when you’re at the top of the heap, it’s logical to assume developers would want to play ball. Any sort of grace period for that is effectively over after six months on the market. Where are the cool task shortcuts for apps like Sonos, Gmail, Spotify or Instagram?

Instead, it’s the Edge Panels that make up most of the outside support, where some developers have been offering their own apps specifically tailored to the interface. Most cost something, ranging in price from $1 to $2, and include panels specific to popular apps, like WhatsApp, Spotify, SoundCloud, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Netflix and TuneIn. It’s nice to see tools like these emerge, though it’s not clear how well they’re selling or how many are using them.

The always-on display that was first seen in Motorola’s devices, was on by default, displaying the date, battery level, time, and basic notification icons in plain white text on the black display. A low-powered way to constantly have contextual information at hand, I found it to be useful enough to never turn it off. It just would’ve been nice if more context could be added to the notifications with a simple tap.

The camera

The 12-megapixel rear camera would have seemed like a step backward with a lower megapixel count, but the truth was that this turned out to be a noticeable upgrade in many ways. Larger micron pixels and a wider f/1.7 aperture lens were a big one-two punch in letting in more light for better images in low-light and night situations. I’m a bigger fan of the Pro mode for the manual controls, but there are few smartphone cameras I’ve tested that can shoot this well in a variety of settings in Auto mode. In Pro mode, it only gets better.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that it takes seconds to launch the camera, focus on a subject and snap a photo. Double-pressing the home button launches it in only 0.7 seconds. Fast focusing seems almost immediate, and snapping a photo can be done with the camera icon or by pressing either of the volume buttons.

At the time of its launch, the S7 Edge obliterated the iPhone 6s in low-light performance. Now, with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus having answered back, the fight has gotten more interesting. To me, the LG G4 was the best overall camera of 2015, but the S7 Edge has earned that crown so far, especially in Auto mode. Competition is fierce, though. The LG G5, HTC 10 and even some other emerging phones stepped up this year, and Apple is only the latest to do so.

The fact that the flat Galaxy S7 and Note 7 use the exact same camera means the performance of the S7 Edge is not exclusive to this one device. That’s all good for synergy from Samsung’s perspective, but it doesn’t make the camera the most distinctive feature here. That goes to the edged display.

As it stands…

s7edgeted-2

 

There’s an irony about the S7 Edge in that it is probably more popular than its flatter sibling, yet is much harder to find a good case or screen protector for it. The curved glass already makes it more delicate. Forget a long drop shattering the screen, a short one of less than two feet on a hard surface is enough to crack it. That goes for the back of the device, too.

Fast Charging and wireless charging help lessen the impact of the battery drain, which is nice when dealing with a 3600mAh non-removable battery inside. Even six months later, the device can last for a full day, though standby life has taken a hit along the way. I could leave the phone alone for two days and it will be completely dead. Why, I’m not sure, because there shouldn’t be anything going on in the background.

Not that I’m shocked. One of Samsung’s shortcomings is that its batteries don’t always hold up extremely well over time when usage is regularly above moderate. I’ve generally found iPhones do a better job, though Apple does have the advantage of optimizing its own operating system and hardware.

For Samsung, this phone is part of a wider ecosystem it wants consumers to embrace. The new Gear VR headset is compatible with the S7 Edge, thanks to an adapter that works with the microUSB port. The S7 Edge works just fine with the  camera, as it does with the Gear Fit2, Gear IconX and Gear S3 smartwatch.

At the time of launch, the S7 Edge was $1,100 outright. Today, it’s about $100 less through the carriers. Even on two-year contracts, the device is regularly $400 or more. Samsung is now selling it outright and unlocked for $850. By the time its successor comes next spring, headphone jacks may continue to disappear and USB-C could be further cemented as the next industry standard, making the S7 Edge feel older than it really is.

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

Comments

  • Mike Lovell

    Why not mention it no longer is running the latest version of Android and probably won’t until spring? Seems like an important detail to leave out.

    • JD

      Because it’s not relevant

    • I tend to agree. I feel like it’s pretty standard and well known that only Nexus devices have access to Nougat. Android update issues are more than a problem for just the S7.

    • Mike Lovell

      Well, if sites like this one are going to give up on taking companies to task for their lack of updates, I guess it will not be a problem (for the companies). Just because it is a bigger problem than just Samsung, it does not mean it is not still a problem (for the user). This is an article about what it like to own a device over time. Update expectations are part of the experience for all users. The audience for this site is pretty broad as it is not only tech experts that read the biggest mobile site in Canada. I can not agree, but thank you for your response.

    • Fair enough. We’ll keep that in mind in the future. I’ll also talk it over with our team because I think a more in-depth story specifically delving into Android’s update issues might be more suitable for discussing a serious but still widespread issue like that.

    • JD

      Sites like this aren’t even a blip on Samsung’s radar. Don’t like Samsung’s/Android’s update policy just vote with your wallet.

    • Perhaps Samsung global, but we’re Samsung Canada’s go-to Canadian tech news outlet. http://mobilesyrup.com/2016/09/21/samsung-canada-note-7-recall-statement/

    • JD

      Well then… I expect more of you guys.

    • In what respect?

  • panzival

    The outright price of the S7e is $850, not $1000 (as per the Samsung website). $650 if you trade in an old phone.

    • Jamma

      If he says that the people might not buy an iPhone..lol

    • Ted K

      Thanks for pointing that out. We’ve edited the story to reflect the pricing options.

    • Zbiba

      Just a small thing, but the edit wasn’t complete:

      “At the time of launch, the S7 Edge was $1,100 outright. Today, it’s about $100 less through the carriers.[…] Samsung is now selling it outright and unlocked for $850.”

      Should be 250$ less not $100.

      I like the idea of these 6 months later articles, but as some have stated the update problems have to be addressed somewhere. I got my S6 6.0.1 update a month ago, which actually means it was 10 months after its initial release… And that’s not right.

    • Ted K

      Thanks for your feedback. The $100 refers to what the carriers have done with pricing, whereas the price directly from Samsung is $250 lower, as you noted.

    • Zbiba

      Ohhhh yeah you’re right! My bad completely misread the thing.

  • Jamma33

    I have no problem with my S7 Edge six months later. I’m still amazed how long the battery last.
    Switched to the Note 7 but we all know what happened there 🙁 so went back to S7 Edge. Was thinking I should try something else but the camera and 4K videos on the S7 edge is second to none.
    People are amazed at how good it looks and can’t believe a phone camera can do that and I’m talking hardcore Apply folks.
    I know people who switched from iPhone to buy the edge after seeing the pics…Oh lets not talk about the screen. Apple retina LMAO.
    Sorry Mobilesyrup I just take your reviews with a grain of salt…just always Apple this and that…SMH

    • Ipse

      Same here…I would also add that for those on MM, having THEMES (and by that I mean REAL black ones, that help the AMOLED screen save power) is a huge plus. Not sure if Foogle will ever add dark mode properly implemented.
      Using a fast wireless charger I top up mornings and evenings and can still keep it in the sweet 30-80% sweet spot.
      I do agree with the case/screen protector comment…it’s almost impossible to find the right combo.

    • Sorry you feel that way about our reviews. We’re fans of good products, whether they’re iOS or Android. Check out our V20 and Note 8 review if you’re interested in reviews of stellar Android devices.

    • Eric Rabell

      Hey Patrick, the Note 8 isn’t out yet 😉

      Great review, I completely agree with bringing Apple into the mix considering it is the most popular smartphone ever. Take comments like Jamma’s with a grain of salt. How are you supposed to compare to other products without mentioning other products?

    • In my defense, the Note 8 may never come out after this fiasco 😉

    • Arman

      Wish V20 had an Amoled screen.

    • Zbiba

      I also think bringing Apple into the mix is a necessary thing to do. iPhones are the best selling phones every year, and will probably be for a while. They may not be the best, but they do provide a great overall experience for people looking for that kind of experience. I’m personally an Android only user, and I don’t see myself switching ANYTIME soon, because there are some elements of iOS that I simply can’t stand (the biggest one being how closed it is)

    • I agree, especially considering even Samsung wants it’s devices directly compared to Apple’s smartphones. Both manufacturers are competing in the high-end space.

  • apuri

    This review is for the S7 Edge, but all the pics are of the S7. Maybe he isn’t even basing this on an actual edge variant. This article…..meh. Mobilesyrup has definitely dropped in quality over time.

    • Connor

      Something has changed, can’t quite put my finger on it.

    • h2oflyer

      Possibly why Daniel Bader left. This site just churns out ads and doesn’t seem to care about it’s reputation.

    • From where we stand at MobileSyrup, nothing has changed since Daniel’s departure. In fact, we have a much larger team now and are producing at least three times the amount of interesting features and videos at an increased level of quality.

      We value our community, so if there are certain topics or stories you’d like to see covered more, feel free to reach out to me via email at patrick@MobileSyrup.com.

    • apuri

      Patrick,

      First of all, Id like to say thanks for engaging with your readers. Its not common enough. Secondly, Id like to just say that I have undoubtedly noticed the increase in content on the site, but the difference is that it not as passionately delivered like some ex-author’s big pieces who have left MobileSyrup (MS).

      That is not to say that none of the team is passionate, rather that thorough works are not as elaborate and emotion filled. There aren’t good video reviews paired with written reviews. I wasn’t a HUGE fan of Bader’s work, but I can’t deny that his talent has developed immensely during his time at MobileSyrup. I have been a reader of MS since its launch – in fact, I even contacted Ian to advertise on the site (with no response) – but there is no doubt that MS is in a rut and could use some changes.

    • Interesting perspective for sure. I think we likely have different definitions of what it means to be passionate about a story, but we’ll definitely keep your comments in mind in the future.

    • The photos? They’ve certainly changed 😉

    • apuri

      Thanks for updating those. And I also appreciate you guys checking in and updating the post.

    • JD

      Heavily agree. Its like I’m reading a Canadian version of BGR but at least they brought in fresh blood like Rose that knows what she’s talking about

    • Sorry you feel that way. What would you like to see discussed more in our “Six Months Later” series next time?

    • Photos have been switched around, sorry for the confusion! The story is indeed about the S7 Edge.

  • fred

    The main issue with the Edge is the Edge display. It’s a gimmick and doesn’t bring any added value, while making cases harder to fit.

    • JD

      It feels good in hand to hold but yeh in use it doesn’t help

    • Eric Rabell

      I don’t think you’re understanding the point of the edge display. It’s not designed to be a gimmick like last year’s model. This year you have a larger battery, larger screen size AND software to go with it. I can 100% see the added value for 100$

    • fred

      Larger screen and larger battery I get it.

      But the edge display is still a gimmick, I’d rather have a non-edge display.

    • Eric Rabell

      And that’s why they released two phones. One for you – with the smaller and flatter screen, and one for me – with a larger battery and screen.

      That’s the game, don’t make one phone that only 50% of the population wants. Make two so everyone is happy.

      That’s why apple has three phones

    • fred

      I don’t think more than 1% of the users want a curved display after they spend more than 1 day with it. Except bragging that you have a curved display, there is no benefit.
      They should have released two flat devices.

    • Eric Rabell

      Although it is a niche market, it’s a top-seller phone and I’ve never seen anyone return it at a level-A store, where I work. Try it and if you don’t like it, that’s fine 🙂

    • fred

      You don’t seem to understand.

      People keep it because of the larger screen and battery. Not because of the curved screen. Also, it’s very hard to return a phone (you must have used less than 50 MB and very few minutes).

    • Eric Rabell

      Not sure who your comment is for but you are right. Please note that the return policy is 14 days after the date of purchase. Sales people do not understand how return policies work with the new rules so:

      If you CANCEL with the company within the first 14 days, if you use more than 50 MB, 30 texts or 30 minutes they will charge you a first and final bill. If you do not use more than those limits, they will not charge you a first and final bill.

      Returns or exchanges are unaffected by those usage limits but you only get 14 days.

      It’s in your paperwork but most people misinterpret what it means 🙂

  • KiwiBri

    LOVE this camera. The reason I bought this phone. Great daily battery life and also fast charging is awesome.
    Thanks Samsung. Now just get Nougat out for it please 🙂

  • jellmoo

    I still like my S7 edge well enough. I have no real complaints about the device. The battery life is good, though it will occasionally get a weird wake lock and drain faster on stand by than it should. The phone is responsive enough, takes great pictures and has a great screen.

    The only thing that really holds me back from loving it is the software. Samsung has come a long way, don’t get me wrong, but it’s still just trying to do too much. It has too many features that just seem half baked, or are answers to problems that don’t exist. I’d much prefer a cleaner version of Android, rather than the kitchen sink approach of Samsung.

  • JD

    They would be stupid to get rid of the headphone jack. Just because other companies do stupid things (like get rid of the SD card or removable battery[im hoping the latter makes a come back in the S8])doesn’t mean Samsung has to. Here’s there chance to be a market leader and not a follower of what Apple does (they’ve lost their way clearly, and it’s not the first time. Can they find their way back is the question).
    The ridiculously poor standby drain? Don’t blame Samsung blame Google for their ever more intrusive background data mining.

    • Eric Rabell

      I disagree. Getting rid of unnecessary or old components has been extremely common in the tech world. When we moved from VHS to DVD EVERYONE threw a fit because everyone has VHS and not enough people has DVD. We then got rid of HDDVD in order to use Blue-Ray instead. Don’t even get me started on Floppy disks – or as kids call them, ‘3D printed ‘save’ icons”.

      If Sammysung was to get rid of a feature that we love, we will let them know through the lack of sales and increase in complaints. THat’s how we got the S7 and S7 edge with SD card and water resistance.

      Embrace change 🙂

  • aaron

    I just got this phone and I get a lot of compliment on the design whenever I pull out my phone.

  • Arman

    Its $800 if you buy it from eBay unlocked and brand new. Not sure how the warranty would work though since its coming from US!?

  • Bizzarosupes

    One thing about the S7 Edge… I would suggest to be wary about taking advantage of the wireless charging feature. Both the charge pad and phone get warm, which in turn causes that glass back to crack. Happened to mine..

    • h2oflyer

      I had the same situation with my S7 and the regular wireless charging pad. The fan never came on during fast charging and the charging pad and phone got very warm.

      Took it back to Best Buy for an exchange and none of the fans worked on the regular charging pads. Had to switch to the wireless charhing pad with stand to get a working fan. The cooling fan is supposed to run when on fast charge….charger and phone run cooler now.

      Samsung does make some great products ,but their QA seems iffy.

  • jay

    i bought the phone two weeks ago after that apple disaster. was waiting for apple to announce a new iPhone which i would like but Samsung gave me a good deal. 760$ including tax.

    when it comes to updates i am not sure why they are important? i just use a different launcher and good. put a new theme on the phone and again it feels different. if someone looking for a new phone that is the one to get. maybe is the budget tide get the iPhone 7 which is still good.

  • Rose

    I’m using S7 edge and bought it October 2016 and first time Samsung user,around January 2017, my phone is acting weird, like restarting on it’s own, sometimes heating up in my pocket without charging or using it and also got frozen (even though I pressed and hold all the buttons) and will have to drain the battery first and charge it to turn it back on. The rest of it’s features are good except for these issues. I went to the Samsung store for replacement of a unit, they won’t allow me according to them,what they can do is they can send away your phone to their technical support team up to 4 weeks. It’s just not making any sense, why is it only me suffering these kind of issues?