Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge evaluation: Samsung's best get extra polished
After years of trafficking in plastic flagships, the glass-and-metallic Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge proved Samsung nonetheless knew methods to make jaw-dropping telephones. Ah, however there was a rub — a number of of them, actually. The expandable reminiscence slots have been gone. Neither telephone was waterproof. The S6 Edge’s flat again and slim sides felt awkward. Curvy screens apart, each telephones have been similar. The shortcomings have been few, however they have been notable.
Somewhat than begin anew, Samsung’s designers as an alternative set about refining final yr’s components, smoothing tough edges and making the brand new S7 and S7 Edge really feel meaningfully totally different. Spoiler alert: It labored, and anybody even contemplating a brand new Android telephone wants to think about proudly owning certainly one of this stuff. And but, for all of the sprucing Samsung has carried out, these S7 siblings fall in need of recreation-changer territory — this can be a yr of cautious, logical upgrades.
- Improved fashion and ergonomics
- Prime-tier efficiency
- Lovely display
- It is (principally) waterproof!
- Digital camera is usually a combined bag
- Barely underwhelming battery
- SIM/MicroSD tray is flimsy
One other yr, one other Galaxy S. Whereas the brand new Galaxy S7 is not as dramatic a shift because the S6 was, it advantages immensely from a yr’s value of refinement. It is extra highly effective, to not point out much more lovely than the S6, however Samsung hasn’t attained perfection simply but. Then once more, Samsung has come fairly damned shut: a extra constant digital camera and extra modest energy consumption would have made this nice telephone one for the historical past books.
- Appears and feels superb
- Edge panels are getting extra succesful
- Principally superb efficiency
- It is (principally) waterproof!
- Display reveals a slight inexperienced forged
- Barely underwhelming battery
- No should-have Edge panels
- Flimsy SIM/MicroSD tray
This yr’s Galaxy S7 Edge is what Samsung’s Edge household ought to have been all alongside. It combines first-price horsepower (minus the occasional hiccup) with a stunning show, all wrapped in a cushty, engaging package deal. The factor is, the Edge’s huge draw continues to be its pretty appears — the software program that tries to benefit from the curved display nonetheless feels gimmicky.
For all their bodily variations, the S7 ($650 and up with out contract) and S7 Edge ($750-plus) share most of the similar internals. Thrumming inside each US variations is one in every of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 chipsets, which matches a pair of two.15GHz processor cores with two different 1.2GHz cores. You’d naturally assume the worldwide variations of the telephone, with an octa-core Exynos chipset, would run smoother, however Samsung insists that the efficiency variations between these variants are principally negligible. I can not affirm that till I get my palms on a world S7, however you needn’t fret a lot: The Snapdragon 820 and 4GB of RAM we’re getting within the US gives lots of energy to work with.
Samsung is especially pleased with its intelligent new 12-megapixel digital camera, which is featured in each the S7 and S7 Edge. Oh, and this time Samsung did a greater job integrating these cameras into the telephones’ our bodies; ugly digital camera lumps are a factor of the previous. Most necessary, Samsung took to coronary heart our complaints about final yr’s fashions: The S7 and S7 Edge are IP68-rated water- and mud-resistant and settle for microSD playing cards as giant as 200GB in addition. That final spec goes to be particularly necessary. Whereas Samsung is certainly making variations of the S7 with 64GB of storage, you will solely be capable of discover 32GB fashions right here within the States. It is a disgrace that the mixture SIM and microSD card tray is so flimsy — getting each playing cards in place typically required as a lot as talent. And since safety is extra essential than ever today, each variations of the S7 come fitted with fingerprint sensors. All it takes to set them up is a surprisingly quick fingerprint registration course of, and each of them do a fairly good job recognizing my prints. Nonetheless, I feel Huawei had the appropriate concept with its rear-mounted sensor placement on the Nexus 6.
Gallery: Samsung Galaxy S7 assessment | 17 Pictures
Proper, so these are the broad strokes. All issues being kind of equal, let’s dig into the usual S7 first. Do not let the phrase “normal” idiot you, both: Simply because that is the smaller of the 2 telephones doesn’t suggest it is any much less worthy. Samsung’s technique this yr was all about refinement, so the few bodily modifications are minor. The truth is, nobody might blame you for those who glanced on the S7 and mistook it for an S6.
That’ll change when you decide the factor up. The S7’s 5.1-inch Tremendous AMOLED show is roofed by a really barely curved pane of Gorilla Glass four, lending it a “3D” impact that softens the transition from the display to the telephone’s metallic physique. Since we’re speaking about curves, the S7 has rounded edges just like the Galaxy Notice 5, making the telephone rather more snug to carry regardless of being barely thicker than final yr’s mannequin. That plumper waistline is partially because of the S7’s greater three,000mAh battery, and Samsung deserves credit score for taking our energy considerations critically with out compromising on the general design. I praised final yr’s S6 for feeling seamless and full, however man: The S7 manages to at least one-up it.
Gallery: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge assessment | 12 Pictures
For all the great this refinement did for the S7, it is the S7 Edge that basically advantages. I can not overstate how a lot better this yr’s model of the Edge feels. It is a night time-and-day distinction. Keep in mind, the S6 Edge paired a superbly curved display with a totally flat rear enclosure, forcing your fingers to arch over the again as an alternative as you gripped these slender edges. This time, although, the S7 Edge is curved on each side, which means we have lastly acquired an Edge system that nestles properly into the hand.
That is saying one thing, too, because the Galaxy S7 Edge is the larger of the 2 S7 units. Whereas the S6 and S6 Edge have been virtually carbon copies of one another, the S7 Edge packs a 5.5-inch Quad HD Tremendous AMOLED display and an enormous three,600mAh battery. Thankfully, these beefier specs did not get in the best way of a significantly pretty design; I used to be shocked at how a lot slimmer and sleeker the S7 Edge feels in contrast with the iPhone 6s Plus, which additionally has a 5.5-inch display. That is, fairly merely, what the Edge line ought to have appeared and felt like all alongside.Show and sound
There is no level in being coy: The Galaxy S7’s 5.1-inch display is superb. That should not come as a shock, contemplating simply how good the S6’s show was, and Samsung clearly did not really feel like messing with a lot right here. That is nice by me. The identical nice viewing angles and tremendous-vivid Tremendous AMOLED colours are again, and since this show runs at Quad HD decision, you possibly can overlook about making an attempt to select particular person pixels in textual content and pictures. The extent of readability right here is exceptional, simply as you’d anticipate from a tool with a pixel density of 577 ppi. In truth, by dint of getting a smaller show, the S7 is much more pixel dense than its huge brother, although the distinction is close to unattainable to see with the bare eye.
Talking of the S7 Edge’s 5.5-inch, curved Quad HD panel, these shows are extra totally different than you’d assume. For one, the Edge’s display is not as properly saturated as the usual S7’s out of the field; colours appear richer on the smaller display, which can also be barely brighter. My S7 Edge evaluate unit additionally has a barely inexperienced forged to it, although you would be onerous-pressed to identify it until you had educated eyes or a traditional S7 sitting proper subsequent to it. You’ll be able to override a few of the display’s shade tendencies within the settings, although, the place you possibly can go for the punchy AMOLED Cinema and the extra subdued AMOLED Photograph modes, relying in your style. I doubt that delicate distinction in colour temperature can be a deal breaker for, nicely, anybody, nevertheless it’s admittedly arduous to un-see after you’ve got been made conscious of it.
And truthfully, curved screens simply will not work for everybody. As an example you are holding your telephone in a single hand and also you stretch your thumb throughout the display to faucet an icon. Should you’ve acquired meaty palms (like yours really), there is a good probability that a few of your hand-meat will hit the aspect of the display and launch one thing you did not intend to. Or stated hand-meat might contact the display and maintain the telephone from detecting different contact inputs — say, faucets out of your finger. I ultimately received fairly good at angling my thumbs to keep away from these contact points, however they nonetheless occur sometimes, and I roll my eyes each time.
On the plus aspect, although, the screens on each the S7s have gained a neat trick. Like Samsung’s Gear smartwatches, they now have an all the time-on mode so you possibly can see the time and date at a look. As soon as it is enabled, you will have a handful of clock and calendar types you’ll see even when the display is in any other case off. If helpful info is not your factor, the telephones include three photographs (two of outer area, one among timber) to maintain them wanting fairly whereas idling. I want Motorola’s strategy, whereby you progress the telephone or wave a hand over it to deliver the so-referred to as lively show to life. That stated, Samsung’s setup works properly too, and appears to have a negligible influence on battery life.
Now, I’ve all the time been a sucker for nice telephone audio system (thanks, HTC), however my expectations nowadays are fairly low. Individuals who care about cellular audio high quality are virtually all the time utilizing headphones to take heed to their tracks, leaving telephone makers to, nicely, telephone it in the place audio system are involved. The only, backside-mounted audio system within the S7 and S7 Edge, nevertheless, are a pleasing shock. Although removed from superb, they’re nonetheless louder and crisper than most single-speaker setups. You are clearly nonetheless going to be higher off with a pleasant pair of earbuds, however both telephone will do a surprisingly good job together with your YouTube movies and audiobooks.Software program
The S7 and the S7 Edge each run Android 6.zero.1 Marshmallow, so anticipate permissions pop-ups every time an app tries to do one thing new, to not point out informational context playing cards once you invoke Now on Faucet. Since I already gave Marshmallow the complete evaluation remedy, I will not dwell on what it brings to the desk. Suffice it to say, although, it seems like probably the most full model of Android so far. Now, after listening to us all complain about TouchWiz for ages, Samsung has spent over a yr making an attempt to streamline that bane of my existence. To date, the work has been surprisingly promising! The S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ and Notice 5 all shipped with Android Lollipop, together with a model of TouchWiz that felt lighter and extra responsive than ever earlier than. This yr, the modifications to Samsung’s software program formulation are fairly minimal.
For one, the entire thing is rather less … blue than earlier than, when Samsung forged the Fast Settings panel in a subdued shade of teal. Now it is a crisp white, with blue icons and accents that stand out properly towards the pale background. Samsung additionally ditched the blue background in its app folders, which at the moment are additionally a pleasant, flat white. Leap into the settings and you will see some empty area for shortcuts; this area used to return pre-populated with choices like Themes, Knowledge Utilization and Show, however now you need to add them your self.
Gallery: Samsung's up to date TouchWiz interface | 23 Pictures
And whereas the times of a separate app launcher appear to be numbered, Samsung nonetheless felt the necessity to fiddle with it. You possibly can nonetheless organize apps in alphabetical order or prepare dinner up a convoluted scheme of your personal, however now you even have the choice of looking for a selected app from the highest of the display. The identical goes for the Settings web page, truly: Because of Marshmallow, you possibly can simply seek for choices as an alternative of rooting by way of every thing.
The record goes on, however Samsung’s strategy to TouchWiz is obvious: It is principally beauty modifications that do not symbolize an enormous departure from earlier variations. That stated, I am additionally a bit involved concerning the impact TouchWiz has on the S7s’ general efficiency; the telephones are usually very snappy, apart from sporadic (and puzzling) instances of interface lag. Swiping into Flipboard Briefing — a information-heavy residence display that is off by default — may be jerky as all get-out, and typically swiping by way of house screens results in noticeable stuttering.
In order that’s TouchWiz in a nutshell. For those who’ve picked up a Galaxy prior to now 12 months, you will really feel proper at residence … although this yr players are getting extra consideration from Samsung than typical. One new function, Recreation Launcher, consolidates all of your video games right into a single spot for straightforward entry. It is a easy sufficient idea, however it may be a bit of dumb, particularly when it tries to routinely detect put in video games. Whereas I used to be establishing each new telephones for testing, Recreation Launcher added the messaging app Slack for causes I could not fairly perceive.
Past the occasional match of stupidity, Recreation Launcher well presents quick access to well-liked YouTube gaming movies, and movies associated to the video games you’ve got put in in your telephone. From there, Recreation Instruments takes issues a step additional. After you’ve got enabled it and began enjoying a recreation, a small purple button will hover in a nook of the display. Faucet it to convey up an inventory of handy choices, from a kill change for alerts and a lock for the telephones’ contact keys to shortcuts for taking screenshots and recording in-recreation footage. I am about as far faraway from the Let’s Play era as a 27-yr-previous might be, however I can already inform various individuals are going to love this.
Then there’s all the things else. The fling with Microsoft that noticed Workplace apps preloaded onto Galaxys appears to be over, as they’re nowhere to be discovered on our evaluate models. These specific models are meant to be used on Verizon (Engadget’s mother or father firm), which suggests there is a folder filled with eight preloaded apps, which some will undoubtedly discover ineffective. Oh, and Verizon’s Go90 video streaming service is right here too, which is problematic for a couple of causes. I do not need to watch something on it, for one, and Verizon is not charging Go90 streaming towards clients’ knowledge caps, which would appear to run afoul of internet neutrality rules.The S7 Edge
The S7 Edge, in the meantime, has all of that after which some. As all the time, the most important software program distinction is the Edge UX, also referred to as “that menu factor you need to swipe the sting to entry.” By default, you will have 4 panels able to go. Apps Edge will really feel lots acquainted to individuals who had the final-era mannequin; you will nonetheless use it to shortly entry apps you employ regularly, however Samsung doubled the dimensions of the panel to accommodate ten shortcuts as an alternative of simply 5. Individuals Edge nonetheless solely has room for 5 shortcuts, although it carries over the OnCircle function from the S6 Edge+ that most individuals by no means used. Nice!
Duties Edge is a captivating addition to the combination. Fairly than offer you fast entry to apps, it enables you to carry out particular actions inside these apps with a single contact. The “take a selfie” process launches the digital camera and switches to the entrance-dealing with shooter; all that is left so that you can do is hit the shutter button. It really works surprisingly nicely for sure conditions, however I hoped we would be able to create our personal duties involving third-get together apps, like crafting macros for PCs.
Alas, whereas I can create an e-mail addressed to my boss with a single contact, I might have to make use of apps like Tasker to cobble collectively extra complicated actions. Rounding out the default Edge panels is Yahoo Information, which shows tales in a scrolling stream. There are a couple of different Edge panels ready for you too, like a compass, calendar, climate report, inventory costs and sports activities scores from Yahoo.
Personally, I discover a few of these panels straight-up ineffective, however a minimum of Samsung is making an attempt to broaden what its curved display is sweet for. We’re beginning to see third-social gathering builders construct their very own Edge experiences, too. A group referred to as Sally Labs has a couple of out there already, together with useful screens for RAM and knowledge utilization. Just a few huge-identify corporations, like Twitter and CNN, have constructed Edge panels, with a scrolling listing of trending subjects for Twitter and a type of vertical information ticker for CNN.
The Edge retains its unique curved-display tips too, like permitting you to view your notifications by rubbing an edge whereas the display is off. Including your folks to Individuals Edge nonetheless assigns them a shade that makes the telephone’s sides glow in the event that they name whereas the gadget is facedown. It is a neat trick, however my neurotic nature retains me from ever leaving a telephone facedown on a floor anyway.
Samsung’s determination to make the S7 Edge a bodily distinct telephone was a sensible one: It is totally different sufficient from the common S7 that folks will need one for causes past the curved display. Nonetheless, make no mistake: The S7 Edge’s huge benefit over rivals nonetheless principally comes right down to its appears. These new Edge experiences are inching nearer towards precise usefulness, nevertheless it’s not like Samsung had some superb software program concepts that would solely shine with the assistance of a curvy show. No, it is apparent that Samsung is making an attempt to prepare dinner up software program to raised justify the display’s existence. So far as I am involved, although, there’s nothing mistaken with designing one thing lovely for the sake of magnificence.Digital camera
Do not let the dip in megapixels idiot you: The 12-megapixel cameras within the S7 and S7 Edge are not any slouches. I spent a lot of my week testing the S7 siblings towards the iPhone 6S Plus. The comparability appeared particularly apt, since Apple additionally just lately bucked the excessive-megapixel development; its latest iPhones have 12-megapixel sensors, whereas many different telephone makers are aiming for sixteen megapixels and past. Anyway, in most straight shoot-outs, the S7 household did a greater job capturing superb element, from the lumps on a slapdash paint job to the meticulous fur etchings on a tanuki statue.
Colours additionally got here out punchier with the S7 and S7 Edge, although by no means to the purpose of being imprecise. The truth is, most of my check photographs seemed vivid, even when the solar was hiding behind some clouds. We will peg a part of that on how the S7 and S7 Edge course of photographs, however the f/1.7 aperture lens and the bigger pixels on the sensor itself deserve some credit score too. Mixed, these two options improve the quantity of sunshine the sensor absorbs, leading to brighter, extra interesting photographs. Oh, and the 5-megapixel selfie digital camera made me really feel engaging, so there’s that.
The S7 collection cameras additionally targeted quicker than different units I examined them towards. Somewhat than use, say, a laser autofocus module, Sony — the corporate behind this so-referred to as DualPixel sensor — introduced a classy focus system to a smartphone. To make an extended, jargon-crammed story brief, each pixel on the sensor has two diodes which might be used to assist work out the right way to concentrate on the topic. The result’s loopy-quick focus speeds — my finger was barely executed tapping the display earlier than the digital camera completed locking onto my goal.
Gallery: Galaxy S7 + S7 Edge digital camera samples | forty five Photographs
I used to be feeling fairly nice about issues till I began evaluating the S7’s outcomes with some pictures shot with the Galaxy Notice 5 and its sixteen-megapixel digital camera. Its larger decision allowed it to select up much more nuance in statues, landscapes and human topics, whereas matching the S7 on shade copy. In sure circumstances — often brilliant pure mild– the Notice 5 took extra interesting pictures. The commerce-off right here is that whereas the S7 and S7 Edge lack the sting (ha!) in decision, they’re each noticeably higher than the iPhone and Notice 5 in low-mild environments. Keep in mind, they’re undoubtedly not going to exchange your Sony A7s; you will nonetheless see plenty of grain, and most photographs really feel a bit of overprocessed, however I used to be capable of persistently depart the flash off and nonetheless obtain outcomes ok for Fb and Instagram.
Luckily, the digital camera interface hasn’t actually modified because the Notice 5 got here out, which suggests you do not have to do something to get good-wanting photographs. There is a Professional mode in case you need to fiddle together with your publicity values and shutter speeds, and the standard selective focus, video collage, digital shot and reside broadcasting modes are again too. New here’s a Hyperlapse mode, which does precisely what the identify suggests.
There’s additionally one thing Samsung calls “movement panoramas.” Principally, when the function is enabled, the digital camera shoots a panoramic video as well as the standard tremendous-lengthy photograph. Then, once you play it again, you possibly can rotate or transfer your S7 or Edge to see the panorama come to life in entrance of you. Helpful? Perhaps. I’m wondering how many individuals truly hassle capturing panoramas. Is it neat, although? You guess. The video expertise is usually fairly pretty right here, too — ensuing footage was crisp, vibrant and nicely saturated, although you lose niceties like monitoring autofocus if you leap into 4K. All informed, the digital camera expertise on the S7 and S7 Edge is extra of a combined bag than I hoped. The sensor powering every part is one hell of a technical achievement and provides each telephones low-mild and autofocusing superpowers. Nonetheless, just a bit additional decision would have been good.Efficiency
Samsung has traditionally been good about balancing polish with technical progress. As for this yr’s fashions, it is arduous to argue with the quad-core Snapdragon 820 chip and 4GB of RAM used right here. Throughout my week of testing, the Galaxy S7 dealt with something I threw at it with grace. That was virtually all the time the case with the S7 Edge too, besides the few occasions it wasn’t. Occasionally, I bumped into some lag that made navigating residence screens, popping into Flipboard and switching between apps really feel unusually jerky.
I can not inform what’s inflicting this weirdness both. It is perhaps some situation with TouchWiz, or perhaps some overzealous CPU throttling. For what it is value, the S7 appeared immune to those technical hiccups; solely the Edge had occasional stutters. These points popped up sometimes on the S6 twins too, however I used to be actually hoping Samsung would have ironed out the kinks by now.
In the meantime, our regular slew of benchmark exams level to some notable boosts in efficiency, particularly with regards to graphically intensive duties like gaming. The S7 siblings are the primary smartphones out there that play good with the Khronos Group’s Vulkan API, which ought to make for a brand new breed of console-grade cellular video games. Keep in mind Tim Sweeney’s beautiful demo throughout Samsung’s S7 press convention? Vulkan-powered video games have not hit the Google Play Retailer but, sadly, however it’s clear Samsung is taking its future in gaming critically. Within the meantime, video games like Lifeless Set off 2, Asphalt eight and Mortal Kombat X ran like butter, because of the addition of the Adreno 530 GPU. Apparently, the S7 appears to tug forward in most of those checks — you’d do properly to not rely the smaller telephone out.
Our standard battery rundown check entails setting the display brightness to 50 %, connecting the telephone to WiFi and looping an HD video. I had excessive hopes for the Galaxy S7 Edge and its hefty three,600mAh battery, however the enchancment was truly pretty modest. All informed, it hung round for 14 and a half hours, solely about forty minutes longer than the Galaxy Observe 5.
The Edge fared a lot better in combined use. I might often disconnect it from the charger at round 7:30 AM and use the factor almost nonstop till I completed work at about eight PM. Throw in somewhat mild Kindle app studying and some Spotify playlists and the Edge would often hit 10 % across the time I went to mattress. And since Marshmallow’s Doze function kicks in when the telephone continues to be, I might get up with simply sufficient juice to examine a number of emails earlier than plugging it in.
In the meantime, the common Galaxy S7 survived our video gauntlet for thirteen hours and 20 minutes, barely trailing the Word 5. Combined use additionally suited the smaller telephone higher: It’d routinely come off the plug at 7 AM and stick round till simply earlier than I fell asleep at round 1 AM. Each of those telephones confirmed decidedly above-common endurance, and can simply see you thru the day. Like I stated, although, the distinction over final yr’s fashions is delicate.The competitors
By advantage of timing alone, the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are two of probably the most highly effective, fascinating Android telephones available on the market. That stated, you need to nonetheless be aware of different choices. Take the Nexus 6P ($499 and up), as an example. Whereas it lacks the newest Snapdragon chipset, its mixture of prime-tier energy and a clear Android construct make it a potent contender for the “Greatest Android Telephone” crown.
Then we now have LG’s just lately introduced G5, which as of this writing is not out but. It pairs the identical Snapdragon silicon with both 3GB or 4GB of RAM and a 5.three-inch Quad HD IPS LCD display. That is a painfully reductive approach to take a look at the factor, although, when you think about that LG is liable for constructing a correct, modular flagship smartphone. It stays to be seen whether or not the G5, with its swappable doodads and bizarre twin-digital camera setup, will discover a foothold out there. However on some degree it does not matter: LG lastly made a extra thrilling flagship than Samsung.
The S7 and S7 Edge bear some thematic resemblance to the iPhone 6s ($649 and up) and 6s Plus ($749 and up), one other pair of units with totally different type elements constructed round close to-equivalent brains. They’re clearly not Android telephones, however they’re the spawn of one among Samsung’s largest rivals, and meld a shocking quantity of horsepower with a implausible ecosystem of apps and the type of contact-delicate display all of us thought the S7 clan would get too.Wrap-up
They is probably not revolutionary, however Samsung’s new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are highly effective and nicely constructed, making them worthy sequels to what have been beforehand its greatest-ever telephones. Extra essential, there at the moment are distinct causes to purchase every. The S7 is likely one of the best telephones I’ve ever examined, whereas the Edge has the display and battery to (principally) fulfill cellular film buffs and phablet diehards. That stated, I hoped for a much bigger increase in longevity, contemplating the dimensions of this yr’s batteries. And the cameras, whereas usually excellent, aren’t an throughout-the-board enchancment over final yr’s.
Even so, when you’re out there for a brand new, not too massive Android telephone, your search ought to begin with the Galaxy S7. And in the event you’re a sucker for type, as I do know lots of you’re, the S7 Edge does a very good job balancing energy and prettiness. Although these are simply the primary of a number of flagship telephones to reach this yr, we will already say that Samsung’s newest choices are properly outfitted to tackle the competitors.