When we recently took a look at Samsung’s Galaxy S7, we said that the “best just got better” and that it was the finest Android phone you could currently buy. Well, we did forget to add a footnote to that statement, because in fact the S7 has a slightly bigger brother, the S7 edge and we’d now have to say after trying it out that it too is the best you can buy. I know, seems confusing, but that is because other than the screen size (and that it’s curved) the S7 and S7 edge are practically identical.
Now you may have already seen our “All Hands on Tech” article and video about the S7 edge, in which ITBusiness.ca editor Brian Jackson also praises the Galaxy S7 edge, so we’re not going to duplicate what’s been said there. Instead, we’ll detail its specifications and performance, and take a little deeper dive into one of the S7 edge’s core features, its “Edge panels” that work with its curved display.
|SAMSUNG GALAXY S7 EDGE SPECIFICATIONS|
|Screen||5.5-inch dual edge curved Quad HD Super AMOLED @ 2560 x 1440 (534 PPI)|
|SoC||2.3 GHz/1.58 GHz Octo-core Samsung Exynos 8890|
w/Mali T880MP12 GPU @ 650MHz
|RAM||4 GB DDR4|
|Storage||32 GB UFS 2.0 NAND, microSD (up to 200GB)|
|Battery||3,600 mAh (non-removable) with wireless Qi/PMA charging|
|Rear Camera||12 MP 1.4μm Sony IMX260 Exmor RS sensor or Samsung ISOCELL S5K2L1 sensor w/OIS, PDAF & object tracking AF, f/1.7, 28 mm, LED flash, 4K UHD video|
|Front Camera||5 MP, f/1.7 up to 120-degree wide angle, WQHD (1440p) video|
|LTE Bands||Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/18/19/20/25 29/30/38/39/40/41 (Cat. 9 LTE up to 450 Mbps)|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4G + 5GHz (2×2 MU-MIMO), Bluetooth 4.2 LE, micro USB 2.0, NFC|
|Build Materials & Colour||Metal frame and Gorilla Glass 4.|
Available in Black Onyx
|Element Protection||IP68 certified water (up to 1.5m deep for up to 30 min) and dust resistant|
|Dimensions & Weight||150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm (5.94 x 2.86 x 0.30 in),|
157 g (5.54 oz)
|OS||Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow) with Samsung TouchWiz UI|
|Availability & Pricing||Bell, Eastlink, Fido, Koodo, MTS, Rogers, SaskTel, Telus, Wind Mobile, Videotron and Virgin Mobile. Starting at $300 on a 2-year term, $1000 outright.|
What we like
Because the Galaxy S7 edge has so much in common with the Galaxy S7, we’re not going to go into any detail about features we like duplicated across both phones. Anything we liked in our S7 review applies to this review too.
The big difference, of course, between these siblings is size and that the edge’s screen is also curved on both sides. When it comes to dimensions, the S7 edge is naturally going to be a bigger phone than the S7 simply due to it having a 5.5-inch display, but for a phone with such a large screen, it’s surprisingly compact, especially when compared to its predecessor, last year’s Galaxy S6 edge+.
The QHD AMOLED screen is curved on both sides, a feature almost exclusive to Samsung, with the BlackBerry Priv the only other smartphone with similar tech. The curved edges allow you to swipe across them to bring up the Edge panels, a unique software feature we cover below.
Like the Galaxy S7, the S7 edge is waterproof, a very handy feature for Canadians, not just to prevent water accidents, but also to protect your phone if you accidentally drop it in the snow. Internally, as you can see from the specification table above, the S7 edge has the same components as the S7, so its testing results below are within the margin of error to have identical performance.
|Galaxy S7 edge||Galaxy S7||iPhone 6S||Galaxy Note 5||Nexus 6P|
|Overall System: Antutu v6||131,136||130,066||N/A*||83,944||N/A*|
|CPU: Geekbench 3 Pro Multi-Core||6,527||6,504||4,456||5,324||4,498|
|GPU: 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited||28,735||28,641||28,319||25,159||26,148|
|GPU: GFXBench Manhattan Off-Screen||38 fps||38 fps||40 fps||N/A*||N/A*|
|PCMark Battery Life Test||8 hr 51 min||7 hr 38 min||N/A*||8 hr 6 min||7 hr 12 min|
(*no data available/these tests are not available on iOS)
Where the s7 edge does surpass its sibling is in battery life, thanks to the huge 3,600 mAh cell Samsung somehow managed to squeeze in there. The edge’s almost nine hours of runtime in our test that keeps the screen on continuously was very impressive, especially considering that with normal use you should be able to get at least double that. The Galaxy S7 edge has outstanding battery life, coming close to dethroning last year’s duration king, the Moto X Play.
Again, as with the hardware, the S7 edge’s software is practically identical to the S7’s. It runs Android 6.0.1 with the Samsung TouchWiz UI on top of it and uses Samsung’s Knox for Enterprise security and management. What is different are the Edge panels, accessed by swiping from the edge of the curved display no matter where you are on the phone, not just from the home screen. The first panel that is displayed is the “Apps edge” that contains shortcuts to your favourite applications.
Above are three more panels, Tasks edge for customizable shortcuts to common phone functions, Yahoo! Finance that shows stock prices, and Quick Tools that displays a compass. These are three of 12 panels that come installed on the phone. The others include People edge with shortcuts to your top contacts, Yahoo! News, S Planner for calendar reminders, Weather, CNN news, My Places, Yahoo! Sports and internet bookmarks.
Although you can only have nine panels available at the same time, there are also 36 more paid and free panels downloadable from Samsung’s store. The placement (left or right side of the curved screen), size and transparency of the Edge panels can be easily adjusted. A much more limited version of this feature was available on last year’s edge devices, and we are glad Samsung took the time to improve it and make it useful.
What we don’t like
Like with the S7, we don’t have that much to complain about. Yes, not having a USB Type-C port means that the Galaxy S7 edge isn’t as future proof as some of 2016’s other smartphones, but on the performance and specification front, the S7 edge is almost perfection.
The first concern we have then is with one of the aspects we also like the most about the s7 edge – its curved display. It looks amazing, and the Edge panel feature is quite useful, however with the curved glass sides exposed (even in a case) in a fall the S7 edge is likely to be considerably more fragile than other smartphones. Its pricing is also very high. With it starting at $350 on a 2-year term and being $1,000 outright, getting an S7 edge will take a big bite out of your wallet (or company’s budget).
In the sibling rivalry, the S7 edge ekes out a win
If we thought the Galaxy S7 was a case of the best got better, then the Galaxy S7 edge is a phone that’s just ever so slightly better than the best! With bigger phones in our opinion offering a superior smartphone experience, the edge is the S7 to get, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s curved display simply just looks sexier than the flat panels of every other smartphone. Its beautiful design, stellar performance, outstanding battery life, excellent software, and very capable camera now makes the Galaxy S7 edge the smartphone to buy today.
The Galaxy S7 edge is available now, starting at $300 on a 2-year term from Bell, Eastlink, Fido, Koodo, MTS, Rogers, SaskTel, Telus, Wind Mobile, Videotron, and Virgin Mobile.
Highs: Beautiful metal and glass design with a curved display, powerful hardware, excellent performance, outstanding battery life, water and dust resistant, best smartphone camera currently available, Samsung Knox for Enterprise MDM.
Lows: Exposed curved sides of the screen more susceptible to damage, no USB Type-C port, expensive.
Design and hardware: 9.5/10
Battery life: 9.5/10