I am a Samsung user (not fan anymore) for several years now. Like any normal and not fanatical human being, I change my phones every two years. Which means that I am skipping one model in between. I started with a S1, then S3, followed by S5 and now S7.
The Galaxy S1 Era
It all started with my Samsung Galaxy S (1). It was one of my first “real” smartphones and at first I was excited but in a month time the slowness and bugs came. I know that every Samsung user has experienced the blackouts, the slowness that eventually comes and all the “hard” resets by removing the battery and putting it back on. Well Galaxy S1 was all about that. Really not a pleasant experience. The most annoying of all – the phone is ringing but i cannot wake it up. The screen remained black and I had to remove the battery and start the phone again, often losing the trail of who actually called me. I rate my experience with the S1 – awful.
The Galaxy S3 Era
So almost 2 years and i finally threw my S1 away. Actually no one wanted to pick it up and use it so I still don’t know what happened to it. It was time for the supreme Samsung Galaxy S 3. At that time it was a huge upgrade to the S1 and there was happiness there.. I admit it. Unfortunately, only after 1/2 year of usage it became so slow that i had to factory reset. It worked for a bit but then the slowness came back. With all the glitches and the bugs. I’ve had to remove the battery off and on on the S3 as well. Shame. At some point people stopped hearing me well when on call. I think the microphone went bad. Actually I want to get back to the design again. It was as poor as S1, even worse. The back case was so terrible that my Samsung letters on the back all fell off without any excessive falling or hitting. This is when the whole world realized that you can’t run against the iPhone while your own phone looks as plastic dump. I hold no good feelings from my time with the S3 and I rate my experience with it Awful to medium.
The Galaxy S5 Era
Again 2 year span and not losing faith in Samsung and my next phone was Samsung Galaxy S5. It was in April 2014 so it was the “modern” times. Insane upgrade over the S3. It had a wonderful camera, finally a better design and 2GB of RAM and a quad-core processor. Not to mention the new features like the IP67 Water/Dust resistance and the Ultra Power Saving Mode. I threw my money at Samsung and plunged into these magnificent waters. I was bragging to my friends who are all Apple users, how good my phone is, how water resistant it is, how I can make it stay alive with the Ultra Power Saving mode when theirs just died and couldn’t even make a call. For the time being, I was also the king of camera shots. Wonderful, high resolution shots and 4k video. I even did a couple of underwater shots which were a hit and also forgot my phone inside my trousers before throwing them into the washing machine. The phone was untouched after 40 minutes of water and Ariel. It was a good journey. The 4.4.2 KitKat Android finally ran smoother, less bugs and a lot faster. I still think that if it wasn’t for the disastrous 5.0 update, this phone would have remained a wonderful device. But yes, it all ended when they pushed the 5.0 Lollipop update. The phone just froze solid after. It started running like my old S3. Glitches, bugs, unresponsiveness. They eventually pushed for a performance update which was about to address all this but it didn’t happen, at least not for my phone. It never got back to the previous speed even after a factory reset. So it was becoming worse and worse as an experience. The flap that was protecting my microUSB port got snapped and i couldn’t effectively glue it back together. On top of that for almost 2 years of usage I could never get used to inserting my USB charging cable into the phone when it’s dark in the room. Sometimes it was taking me minutes to pull it off, making me going to bed angry and upset about my phone. Who needs 2 ports beneath? The battery also amazed me. The S5 was marketed as the biggest battery to that day. Biggest? So what? I still had to charge every night. Not to mention that if i heavily used it, it could last short of 6 hours. The storage was not enough as well. At some point with only around 100 pictures in my Gallery, i was at 96% storage of 16GB. I got myself an microSD card but i went to the mountain once, tried to make a video of me skiing and holding my phone, pretending to be a GoPro, and then the microSD got corrupted, probably because of the cold. The 4k videos were a good marketing strategy but practically unusable due to the sheer size of the videos. 1 minute of 4k video was around 500 MB. Also most of the features were off when you record/take shots in 4k.
I have to admit though. I have never removed the battery in order to “reset” my stuck S5. It never happened. I have to give it to them. The phone has far greater stability than its predecessors. Overall I rate my experience medium to awful. I had a great start but it all went downhill in the end. When the Galaxy S6 got out, so different from the current models, with the Edge version, I was so mad at Samsung that i didn’t even consider buying the S6. Actually I almost converted to Apple when the iPhone 6 came out. Beautiful piece of art. The design appealed to me and the copyrighted quickness of the apps which i missed so much in my Samsung. When the iPhone 6S came out, I actually tried buying one which eventually went to my girlfriend so I had the perfect opportunity to see if I can become an Apple fan like all my friends and see if the overall experience will pull me towards the iPhone. The iPhone 6S actually had some decent features I liked. The live pictures were catchy, the front camera had a sort of a flashlight. The live preview was also not a bad idea. However, there are 2 major factors that prevented me from buying an iPhone 6S for myself. I didn’t like the restrictiveness of the iOS and I didn’t like the coloring of the screen. I know it’s a Retina screen but the AMOLED display, even the one on my S5, gave me gorgeous pictures and colors. The iPhone seemed a bit blunt. Also, the iPhone 6 was now a couple of months out and people started talking about the iPhone 7. This made me feel that buying an iPhone6 is not really a good option several months short of the release of iPhone 7. On the other hand I desperately wanted to change my S5 so this is how I decided to give one last shot at Samsung so i went there and bought myself a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. You can read my review of here.
Time for a sincere and honest Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review. The phone was released yesterday and I got my hands on one at the very first day (11.3.2016). I’ve extensively played with the phone for hours and I have a grasp of what are the expectations vs reality. You have read some reviews by now probably and they are all shiny and no one tells the truth as probably they are paid to say nice things about the phones they review. Well I am not being paid by anyone so my opinion is sincere and is one of a Samsung user with years of experience.
First, something about my use of Samsung
Like any reasonable and not fanatical follower of a brand, I’ve changed my phones every 2 years instead of every one year when a new model comes out. This is why my Samsung experience is with Galaxy S1, S3, S5 and now S7. My story with the brand is interesting and you can read about it here. It is even relevant to the main story – The Galaxy S7 Edge.
If you don’t have the time to read it (6-7 min). This is what my experience with the Galaxy S series is:
Samsung Galaxy S1 – Awful. I liked the design a bit, it was a proper smart phone for these times but the bugs and slowness and unresponsiveness – too much. I am sure that every Samsung users have had these “hard” resets on their Galaxy phones when you remove the battery off and on so you can make the phone alive again….
As any non-fanatical user I change my phones every 2 years so this makes me skip through one model every time. This meant that my next phone was:
Samsung Galaxy S3 – Again bad design, really plastic. All my Samsung letters on the back fell off without hitting or dropping the phone. It ran OK for a brief moment and then it became slow and unresponsive. Camera not impressive, video not impressive. Microphone went bad and people stopped hearing me when on call. On times I had to remove the battery to get out of a bad freeze, same as the S1. Shame. Overall experience. Awful.
Samsung Galaxy S5 – Awesome experience and in the end downhill. I was King for a period of time. Better pictures than my iPhone friends, Dust and Water resistance, Ultra Power Saving Mode. All handy features. 4k Video although it was practically unusable because of the sheer size of the videos. It had somewhat better design than its predecessors but still felt plastic. I’ve had really great experience with the phone up until the 5.0 Lollipop update. It all went downhill after. Slowness, bugs, quite often some unresponsiveness but never had to take my battery off and on to reboot the phone. I have to hand it to them. The phone is a real upgrade of its previous models. Too bad all was ruined with a single update. I would rate my experience medium because of the rough ending.
So it all seems a bit negative, does it not? Well, Yes. But for some reason I like the Galaxy Series. Due to some bad timing of a potential iPhone 6S purchase and the desire to give one more chance to the Galaxy series, I decided to give it a try with the Galaxy S7. For one last time. If this one fails me – I am out. And this time I wanted to change my perspective so I picked up the Edge version. Let’s get to the real review now.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review
Since I have some issues with my previous Galaxy experiences and because I don’t make a review of a phone that has not come out yet, I trust myself that my point will be honest and if needed – heartbreaking. All of the reviews I’ve read so far before the purchase seemed to be quite sales oriented. It’s like people are getting paid not to say bad things about the new phone (Yeah). Well, I am not being paid and I have no problems admitting that some parts of our favorite phone are shit.
First. Why not the regular S7? Why the Edge?
I went to the store and I brought with me my Galaxy S5. The guys there were good enough to bring me S7 and S7 Edge so I can compare how both feel in my hands. I took the Edge in my hands and powered it on. Not played much with S6 Edge, I was quite shocked about the curved edges. It was beautiful and really good resolution and colors …. but the edges were weird. I was not sure I can get used to it. I played the new Game of Thrones trailer and all I was looking for was if the video was distorted by the curves. It kind of seemed back then. So I’ve let the Edge down and picked up the S7. It felt good in my hands. It also felt more high quality compared to my S5 but the truth is that the normal version of S7 was almost identical to my S5. Sure it will run faster and have all the new good features 2 models later could offer but I needed more. Then I picked the Edge again and decided to give it a try.
The main competitor of the S7 and the S7 Edge is the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. I will compare them a lot in my review. I will also compare the S7 to its previous predecessors.
The price is really high. It depends on the carrier plan but mine was worth 654 EUR. This is similar to the price of iPhone 6S. The difference between the S7 and the S7 Edge is not so big which is surprising, around 60 EUR. One more reason to go for the Edge instead of the standard model.
The colors are Black, White, Gold and Silver. Note that in the early weeks/months there won’t be any color available. For example my only choice, and thank God, was the black one. If I wanted a Silver for example, I’d have to wait a lot. Might be just my carrier but a note to make.
The curves are absolutely stunning. Overall many people might consider the curved edges weird but I haven’t heard anyone complaining about their looks. No bad comments there. The effect is staggering. The whole phone is elegant and stylish. For the first time, Samsung made me feel that I am not buying a plastic dump. They might have managed to out-Apple Apple wit this. I’ve also heard bad comments about the curves on the S6 Edge doing weird things when you hold the phone on the sides and typing messages. Well, I’ve been told that this has been resolved in the S7 Edge and so far I haven’t had any huge problems with it. Only minor clicks here and there but yes, which indicates that an accidental click from the curved edge while typing text might still happen but very rarely.
The camera is not bulging anymore so the phone doesn’t always land on its camera – which is good. The heart rate sensor and the flashlight are now next to the camera instead of beneath it. I am neutral to this particular change. The back and menu buttons are still there but are now invisible unless touched!
The surface on the back of the phone is really reflective which also means a lot of fingerprints. Mine is absolutely foggy after just one day. One other negative I’ve found is that the back and the metal rim surrounding the phone cools a lot in the chilly months now and it gets really cold on touch.
There is one microUSB slot for charging at the bottom which is no longer covered with a flop although the phone is now Water Resistant – which is amazing. I’ve had real problems with my S5 having two slots beneath and for 2 years I couldn’t never fit the charger from the first try in a dark room. Also the covering flap on my S5 broke and fell off. Now there is nothing to fall or break there. The whole bottom of the phone looks really amazing. Hardcore fans of the Samsung will say that they hate it because it resembles the iPhone bottom a lot. I personally like it. Especially compared to previous Galaxy models.
There is a 3.5mm jack and a speaker. Now i have a negative about the speaker. The sound is not too great and with this location I most of the times put my hand on top of the speaker and mute it by accident when holding the phone in landscape.
The dimensions are:
Height: 150.9 mm. – The iPhone 6S is 158.2 mm and the S6 Edge+ is 154.4 mm
Width: 72.6 mm – The iPhone 6S is 77.9 mm and the S6 Edge+ is 75.8 mm
Thin: 7.7 mm – The phone is amazingly thin although competitors are thinner. The iPhone 6S is 7.3mm and the S6 Edge+ is 6.9 mm
Weight: 157g – Now I have to say that the phone is too heavy. Sitting on the sofa, playing with it and my arm gets tired easily. iPhone 6S is 192g (doh) and S6 Edge is 153g
Sim Card: Nano. The Sim Tray is on the top of the phone. It also contains the microSD slot.
The phone is surrounded by a metal rim. I personally like it a lot.
CPU: 8-core CPU but it’s not really an octa-core. It is Quad-core 2.3 GHz Mongoose + quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A53
RAM: 4 GB LPDDR4
GPU: Mali-T880 MP12 up from Mali-T760MP8 for S6 Edge+
Chipset: Samsung Exynos 8890
Storage: Internal storage of 32 GB / 64 GB. With the S7 we have a microSD slot and it is up to 200GB!
Quad-HD Super AMOLED 16 Million Colors
5.5 inches but this time (~76.1% screen-to-body ratio) which is more than competitors
Resolution is 1440×2560 which is considered 2K and the pixel density is ~534 which is a lot higher than the competitors. iPhone 6S Plus is 401 and S6 Edge Plus+ is 518
Protection is Corning Gorilla Glass 4. There is also a new feature on the display called Always-on display which I will discuss in the “The New Features” section below.
I think that the most spectacular thing about this phone is the insanely beautiful colors and high resolution. The phone is one big display. They have packed the phone with very little bezel above and below the display. You look at the display and you can’t believe how pristine everything looks. It is a bit reflective and of course a lot of fingerprints.
The Operating System:
The first Samsung to be shipped directly with the new Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Right now everything runs super fast and smooth. I can only pray that as with all the predecessors, over time or with an update, the usual slowness of the Android will not kick in. I will keep this up to date if I encounter anything. The phone is reported not to get hot but in my case it got hot when on google maps usage for navigation.
Now, what we’ve seen so far is bigger and bigger MP cameras. But this time they have actually lowered the MP from 16 to 12 but have increased the pixel size from 1.12 µm to 1.4 µm. The results? This is supposed to be the best camera out there now. We will see.
Front (selfie camera):
The selfie camera is 5 MP with Auto HDR. It is supposed to be as good as competitors but probably worse than the king of selfies – the iPhone.
I’ve taken the liberty to give it a try. But please make a note that this is just one try.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge vs iPhone 6S selfie:
Now the iPhone 6S selfie appears to be from a bit closer which might distort the quality but in general the Edge selfie is quite pristine.
When iPhone 6 and 6S came out, they were with the fastest AF on the market. It is marketed that the S7 will be even faster. I am only to find out this and complete my review when time goes by. I once thought that the S5 which was marketed as a king of photos was going to be amazing but there were times I was thinking I am taking pictures with a potato.
Remember the Ultra-HD (UHD) resolution is good marketing but in reality you might be better off with doing 1080p because a lot of the good features of the camera are not available on UHD resolution such a HDR, the improved AF and video effects.
Now some nerd stats:
Primary camera: 12 MP, f/1.7, 26mm, phase detection autofocus, OIS, LED flash 1/2.6″ sensor size, 1.4 µm pixel size, geo-tagging, simultaneous 4K video and 9MP image recording, touch focus, face/smile detection, Auto HDR, panorama. You remember the cool new feature of iPhone 6S the live pictures? Well we got them here but they are called Motion Photo.
Selfie camera: 5 MP, f/1.7, 22mm, dual video call, Auto HDR
I didn’t know this but the front camera has a flash, just like iPhone 6S, it lights up the display.
The battery is of course the biggest so far. 3600 mAh non-removable. It’s a lot bigger than competitors and let’s hope the consumption doesn’t go up as much, otherwise we still have the same duration of the battery. I don’t expect much to be honest. I still think we are going to have to charge every night. Wireless charging is available and the new feature called Adaptive Charging or Quick Charge 2.0. I have gone into detail below.
When I took the phone and set it up, I charged it to full. This is my breakdown 1 day later. Not insane use but I’ve done some playing with the phone and even some Games.
The New Features:
Yes It is a new feature. Unbelievably, the predecessors and competitors both are missing an microSD slot. Just think about it. For around 80$ you get your S7 boosted to 232 / 264 GB. There is also a downside to all this. In the battle “microSD vs better Internal Storage” the internal storage will always win. microSD cards get corrupted, also your phone will surely regularly scan the external storage, thus slowing down your phone at some point. That’s why if we choose SD card it has to be high read/write. I am fine with the internal storage. 16GB was not enough on my S5 and 32 seems a lot more reasonable. I would be quite unhappy if the lower storage version of S7 was again 16GB. It’s a foul play. Look the price between the 16GB iPhone 6S and 128GB iPhone 6S. It’s disturbingly high jump.
The Return of the IP67 certificate – Water and Dust Resistance
I have no idea why they skipped it in S6. It’s no joke of a feature. I’ve actually done some underwater pics with my S5 and I once forgot my phone in my jeans in the washing machine. 40 minutes of lashing around in water and Ariel – the phone was untouched.
Now besides just being curved for pretty, the edges have some functionality. I question whether they are going to be of great use but why not have them. News, icons of your choosing, RAM status, Twitter updates, Torch, Compass and even a Ruler. I only hope that the edges touch functionality has been figured out. I don’t want closing apps, holding calls and typing wrong letters just from holding the phone on the sides.So far it’s been OK.
A lot of debate whether this is useful or not. Samsung claims that it will take very little battery juice for the clock to stay up. Now I can see the benefits and I’ve actually liked it myself. Often, you want to look at the phone in a dark room and see what’s the time. Before, you will click the phone and it will light up almost burning your eyes. This also puts more strain on the battery as well. Last night, which as my first night with the phone. I was checking out the for the time as usual but this time I only looked at the always on screen and it was pleasant. The lightning is dim so even if you are really sleepy it won’t hurt your eyes. Also it’s not light enough to have an effect on the room’s lightning at night. I am beginning to like this feature a lot. There is a flaw to the Always On. Estimations are that it burns 0.8% of battery every hour which in 24h is a lot, just to be able to see the hour. You can always turn it off. For now I am sticking with mine. The other flaw is that it has problems with showing your notifications. You can see them only when you wake up the phone to the Lock Screen. Which is weird. Again if you are social guru and your phone produces notifications all the time and you need to see them, guess you won’t be turning the Always On on.
Adaptive Fast charging or QuickCharge 2.0 is supposed to charge the battery to full in a little more than an hour. I’ve test it myself and it’s true! Unbelievable. This is also good for emergency situations where you need to go in 15-20 min. and your battery is almost dead. Well for 15-20 min of fast charging you can go to almost 40-50% charge! The Fast charging requires:
A charger which is Fast Charging charger. The default one for the S7 Edge is Fast charging but if you have one other hanging around in your house is probably not. Plugging it into a non-Fast Charging charger will result in normal charging.
Gaming and Game Launcher
I don’t play many games on my phone but I do play one and I tend to do it every day. I play Hearthstone. Blizzard’s Warcraft card game. I’ve played it on my S5 and while no major performance issues there, it was loading slow. My girlfriend bought an iPhone 6S and installed Hearthstone on it. It runs lightning fast. I didn’t even notice some of the loading screens. Amazing. I installed on the S7 Edge. Runs better than the S5, not as good as iPhone. No performance issues but the loading times are far from the iPhone. Colors and resolution of course better than both. Now, let’s talk about the Game Launcher for a bit. I think it’s a wonderful feature. It has it’s flaws but it’s a real step ahead in cleaning the gaming experience on a phone so its next versions will surely deliver the complete experience. So, what it does?
You open the Game Launcher app and you have your game apps icons there. So you basically start the game apps through the Game Launcher now. And I mean always. Even if you go to the icon of the game itself and not through the Game Launcher, it still loads the Launcher. If you remove the game from the Launcher, the Launcher still runs 🙂 I am sure this will be fixed soon.
The Game Launcher has a Power Saving mode. This essentially limits the resolution and fps of the game. It has 2 options.
When the game starts you have a little widget called “Game Tools” sitting on the lower-left side of the screen. It has several features when expanding it. If you don’t like it you can disable it from the Game Launcher.
It has the ability to stop alerts and notifications from the phone wile you play – Nice. Note that it doesn’t seem to stop incoming calls.
It has the ability to screenshot the game from the Launcher widget – Nice. Other way around was to click the Home button + Power Button for 2 secs.
It can safely minimise the game. Note that this is actually useful as I’ve seen games not handling the Home button well.
Lock Recent and Back keys – Nice! Hundreds of times I’ve been hitting these while playing.
Record – Now that’s a big one. You can actually record your play, just like Fraps does it on your PC. I’ve tried it and it works like a charm! It doesn’t seem to slow down the game, at least not Hearthstone, which i think is not an light game. The size of the videos? 1m 40 secs video – 69 MB. 11 min video – 450 MB. Not bad. The sound recording however is trough the microphone so you can hear your voice if you are speaking. This is both good and bad. The quality of the recorded sound is poor. Also I noticed that the Recording icon is visible on the recorded video – not sure why.
Here is a sample of a recorded video with the Game Launcher tools:
It is good looking
It is expensive
It is fast
It is heavy
Touching the edges locks the
screen and it acts weird
Cool new features
I suspect there might be a
display defect in the early
Seems like the phone can get hot
In my case during Google maps
If you don’t mind the money, it is a must-have phone. If you are a hardcore Apple fan, you can easily stick with the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. They are magnificent machines. But for those that are not that fond of the iOS restrictiveness and the apparent difference in colors and resolution coming from the AMOLED vs Backlit LED IPS display of the iPhone, this phone is worth trying.
UPDATE after 6 months of usage:
After 1 week of use i noticed a line on the screen. Wiped it off with my blouse and it was gone. However, when I move my finger across the display, the line appears again. I repeat, I wipe it off and it’s completely gone. I got over the spot with my finger – it shows up. Really bizarre. Conclusion = went to the Samsung Warranty shop and they are now replacing my display. Sigh….
Few days later i got my phone back. It is in great shape and it’s working as before. I am glad with the results.
I made a video of testing the waterproof of the phone, especially after the replaced screen.
I noticed a problem. When I am talking with someone on the phone I accidentally press the Hold button with my ear all the time. Annoying
Phone runs hot. If you read reviews where it says it should be cool with the new processor. It isn’t. It’s hot. Especially when on navigation
June 2016. I got a huge line of pixels on my display. Back to Samsung Warranty shop. They are replacing my screen again.
November 2016. My display started flashing all of a sudden. Turning off black when trying to do anything, back to normal when I am not touching. Some white noise like on the old TVs as well. This time i went back to the carrier and said I am not replacing the screen for the 3rd time. They gave me a shit phone so i want a new one or my money back. They are giving me my money back. Apart from the non stop problems my experience with the S7 is like no other. Phone remained beautiful and really fast. When i get my money back i will be buying S7 ( Just S7, not edge) Titanium Silver. My cousin bought one by the time I got my edge and she hasn’t had a single glitch. Most of the features, resolution and hardware are the same so the only thing i am going to suffer is the smaller display and the smaller battery and maybe looks but that’s nothing to the horrible experience i had with the Edge.
So saying bye to my S7 Edge i want to conclude what the overall result is:
Constant problems with the display (at least with mine)
Runs Hot, when phone is heavily used and especially when on navigation
Touching the two curved edges at the same time (which happens a lot if you are holding your phone with full hand) seems to be blocking the entire screen and i find myself not able to click anything. Putting a case on the phone was easing it as the phone is very very thin so the case was enlarging it a bit therefore harder for me to touch the both edges at the same time
Display sleep sensor seems to be too reactive and when i was talking on the phone instead of properly turning off the display so i don’t click things with my ear, it wasn’t do it properly so the button that was touching my ear and constantly being activated was …. Hold…. terrible
May 2017. It’s been 1 year since i bought the Edge. For 5 months now I am using the Galaxy S7 (non-edge) and it has been the perfect phone. Not a single glitch but i am still missing the edge, even though i had so many problems with it. I mostly miss the display and the size of the phone. Truly remarkable phone because i still think about it and i miss it despite having 0 problems and issues with my S7.