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The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Smartphone Review

We hope you enjoyed our extensive coverage of the new Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon), from the preview, our first opportunity to try it out with the Gear VR and the smashing launch with Korean superstar, Lee Kwang-soo. But nothing beats having the real thing at hand, and today, we will share with you our comprehensive review of the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge smartphone!

 

Unboxing The Galaxy S7 edge

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) comes in a very classy black cardboard box, with the storage capacity and colour printed on a gold-coloured label on the upper right corner. In this video, we open up the Galaxy S7 edge box and take a look inside.

Inside, you will find the following items :
  • One Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) smartphone
  • One Samsung 15 W adaptive fast charging travel charger
  • One micro-USB to USB 2.0 cable
  • One USB OTG adaptor
  • One pair of Samsung earphones with spare set of earbuds
  • One SIM card slot extractor
  • One Quick Start Guide (in English and Mandarin)
  • One set of Warranty Cards & Regional Lock Guide
  • One OTG adaptor manual (in English and Mandarin)
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Specification Comparison

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) comes in two variants – the SM-G935 (US) variant powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor, and the SM-G935F/FD (Worldwide / SEA) variant powered by the Samsung Exynos 8890 octa-core processor. Let’s compare their specifications with their predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

SpecificationsSamsung Galaxy S7 edge (Qualcomm Variant)Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Exynos Variant)Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
Display5.5" Super AMOLED dual-edge display
- 1440 x 2560 pixels (534 ppi)
5.1" Super AMOLED dual-edge display
- 1440 x 2560 pixels (577 ppi)
ProtectionCorning Gorilla Glass 4 (front & back panels)
Operating System (At Launch)Android 6.0 MarshmallowAndroid 5.0 Lollipop
System PlatformQualcomm Snapdragon 820 (MSM8996)
- 2.15 GHz ARM Kyro x 2
- 1.59 GHz ARM Kyro x 2
- Qualcomm Adreno 530 GPU
Samsung Exynos 8890 Octa
- 2.3 GHz Samsung Mongoose x 4
- 1.5 GHz ARM Cortex-A53 x 4
- ARM Mali T880 GPU
Samsung Exynos 7420
- 2.1 GHz ARM Cortex-A57 x 4
- 1.5 GHz ARM Cortex-A53 x 4
- ARM Mali T760 GPU
Memory4 GB LPDDR4 SDRAM3 GB LPDDR4 SDRAM
Storage Options32 GB / 64 GB internal flash storage
One microSD slot (shared with SIM 2) - supports up to 200 GB
32 GB / 64 GB / 128 GB internal flash storage
No microSD slot
Front Camera5 MP sensor with f/1.7 lens5 MP sensor with f/1.9 lens
Rear Camera12 MP Sony / Samsung (1.4 µm) sensor with f/1.7 lens, optical image stabilisation (OIS) and LED flash16 MP Sony / Samsung sensor (1.1 µm) with f/1.9 lens, optical image stabilisation (OIS) and LED flash
Dual SIM capabilityHybrid dual SIM (dual active capability)
- SIM 2 + microSD shared slot
Hybrid dual SIM (dual standby capability)
- SIM 2 + microSD shared slot
None, single SIM only
ConnectivityNetwork : LTE Cat. 12/13 (600 / 150 Mbps)
WiFi : 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz & 5 GHz), MIMO (2 x 2)
Bluetooth : Version 4.1 LE, ANT+
Others : USB 2.0, NFC, GPS
Network : LTE Cat. 8 (450 / 50 Mbps)
WiFi : 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz & 5 GHz), MIMO (2 x 2)
Bluetooth : Version 4.2 LE, ANT+
Others : USB 2.0, NFC, GPS
Network : LTE Cat. 6 (300 / 50 Mbps)
WiFi : 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz & 5 GHz), MIMO (2 x 2)
Bluetooth : Version 4.1 LE, ANT+
Others : USB 2.0, NFC, IR Remote, GPS
SensorsAccelerometer, Proximity, RGB Light, Geo-magnetic, Gyro, Fingerprint, Barometer, Hall, HRM
Water & Dust ResistanceIP68None
Battery3,600 mAh lithium-ion battery (non-removable)
- fast charging capability (wired & wireless)
- wireless charging (Qi and PMA)
2,600 mAh lithium-ion battery (non-removable)
- fast charging capability (wired only)
- wireless charging (Qi and PMA)
Dimensions150.9 mm tall
72.6 mm wide
7.7 mm thick
142.1 mm tall
70.1 mm wide
7.0 mm thick
Weight157 g132 g
Colour OptionsBlack Onyx, Silver Titanium, Gold PlatinumWhite Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Green Emerald

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge model we have is the South East Asian model – SM-G935FD. Like the SM-G935F (Worldwide) model, it is powered by the Samsung Exynos 8890. The difference is the FD model has a hybrid dual SIM slot, instead of a dedicated microSD slot in the F model. Now, let’s take a closer look!

Next Page > Video Primer, Double Curves, Hybrid SIM Slot

 

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The Galaxy S7 edge Key Features

Before we go into the details of the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon)‘s key features, here is a primer video that gives you a quick tour of those features. Take a look :

 

Double Curves

Superficially, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) looks very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge (Amazon). The Galaxy S7 edge is taller and slightly wider, and has double-curved edges. Its double curved edges actually allows for a slightly more comfortable grip

.Just like its predecessor, it has the Volume buttons on the left, a Power button on the right and a Home button which doubles as a fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor is more accurate and works faster than the Galaxy S6 edge‘s fingerprint sensor.

 

Hybrid SIM Slot

The SIM and microSD card slot is located at the top, but the earphone port is located at the bottom, near the USB 2.0 and microphone ports. This is due to extremely slim profile of the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon).

This is the South East Asian model (SM-G935FD), so it has a hybrid SIM slot, instead of the standard microSD slot. The hybrid SIM slot can be used to install a second SIM card (SIM 2), or a microSD card.

This gives you some flexibility – you can choose to use either a second SIM card, or a microSD card. However, you can’t use both at the same time. This has led to some disgruntlement although practically everyone agrees that Samsung made the right decision in bringing back the microSD slot which supports microSD cards of up to 200 GB in size.

 

Faster Cameras

Samsung improved the front camera, giving the Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) a faster f/1.7 lens for better low-light performance. The rear camera also comes with f/1.7 lens, but drops the 16 MP sensor for a 12 MP sensor with Dual Pixel autofocus technology. That doesn’t mean the sensor is capable of delivering twice as many pixels of resolution though.

Dual Pixel technology is actually an autofocus technology that uses the dual photodiodes in every pixel on the image sensor for phase-detection autofocus. This allows for faster and more accurate focusing, because it uses many more autofocus pixels, instead of just a few dedicated pixels (usually less than 5% of the total).

Samsung uses either a Sony IMX260 sensor, or their own Samsung S5KL1 ISOCELL sensor in their Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) smartphones. Our model came with the Samsung S5KL1 sensor. Both are virtually identical in performance – 12 MP of resolution with Dual Pixel autofocus technology and 1.4 μm pixels – 25% larger than their predecessors. This means much lower noise levels, and better image quality overall.

The new 12 MP rear camera still has a bump, but it is far less pronounced than the 1.7 mm tall camera bump on the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge (Amazon). Earlier leaks claim that it is 0.8 mm, but in reality, it’s just 0.46 mm. That’s virtually imperceptible if you lay it on a flat table, and only noticeable if you slide your finger over it.

Next Page > Water Resistance, Liquid Cooling, Bigger Battery, Faster Charging

 

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Water Resistance

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) is IP68-rated for dust- and water-resistance. Best of all, you don’t even have to prepare it in any way before you dunk it into water! For more information how how Samsung achieved this feat, take a look at our Samsung Galaxy S7 IP68 Engineering Explained.

Officially, the Galaxy S7 edge can withstand complete immersion in water up to 1.5 m in depth, for up to 30 minutes. That means you can take it for jogs in the rain, reading in the shower or soaking in bath. Heck, you can even take it for a swim!

There are some caveats though. The IP68 rating applies to a specific set of test conditions : 15-35 °C, 86-106 kPa, 1.5 metre, 30 minutes. Even so, water may enter and damage the Galaxy S7 edge if it is exposed to “water moving with force“, like running water from a tap or waterfall, or ocean waves.

In other words, this is not a waterproof phone like the Kenxinda ruggerdised smartphones. It is IP68 water-resistant, so you need to be gentle with it. You can read more about this in our article – Samsung Galaxy S7 IP68 Engineering Explained.

 

Liquid Cooling

One of the biggest complaints about the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge (Amazon) was how hot it gets during heavy use. This is particularly pronounced when it is used to record videos.

Samsung mitigates this issue in the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) using a “liquid cooling system” to keep its internal components cool. Samsung was not forthcoming with the details, but ifixit tore it down to reveal the liquid cooling system as a small, thin copper heat pipe.

A heat pipe is used to very efficiently remove heat from a hot surface on one end, and conduct it to a colder surface on the other end. It does this using a working fluid (like water) that turns into vapour on the hot end, and condenses at the cold end.

The Galaxy S7 edge’s heat pipe can be seen to run across the 4 GB Hynix LPDDR4 (which lays over the Snapdragon 820 / Exynos 8890 processor), and 32 GB Samsung MLC flash chip, as well as several other chips before terminating on the back cover.

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Bigger Battery, Faster Charging

Samsung also corrected another major complaint by Samsung Galaxy S6 edge (Amazon) users – battery life. The Galaxy S6 edge only came with a 2,600 mAh battery. Samsung gave the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) a large 3,600 mAh battery1,000 mAh or 38.5% more than its predecessor!

How much more battery life can we expect from this larger battery? We tested it using PCMark and lo behold, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) lasted almost 11 hours! That is almost double the battery life of the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge (Amazon), which lasts just over 6 hours on the same test.

Officially, the Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) will fully recharge its battery (from 0% to 100%) in just 115 minutes. In our test, it took us just 86 minutes and 46 seconds to recharge the Galaxy S7 edge from 19% to 100%. If you look at the graph, you can see that its recharging performance is linear up to the 90% mark, then it tapers off. For maximum charging speed, you can charge from 19% to 90% in just under 64 minutes!

This battery recharging performance is thanks to the 15 W fast charging capability that both Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and Galaxy S6 edge support. The new Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) improves on that by adding fast wireless charging! This allows you to recharge its battery wirelessly in just 155 minutes.

Next Page > Initial Setup, It’s Alive!, Improved Edge

 

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Initial Setup

When you power up the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) for the first time, it will take about 23 seconds to boot up. If you set it up as a fresh device, it will take no more than 5 minutes to complete the initial setup. Check out our video on the initial setup process, and a quick look at some of its software features.

 

It’s Alive!

The moment the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) starts running, you will immediately be very impressed with its bright, sharp and vivid display. That’s the beauty of its Super AMOLED display that is unmatched by IPS LCD panels. The front Gorilla Glass 4 cover has an oleophobic coating, which makes for easy swiping and a cleaner display. The back lacks the oleophobic coating for a better grip. However, this means it’s very easily smudged.

You will also notice that the Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) grips better than the Galaxy S6 edge (Amazon). Even though it’s a 5.5″ smartphone, it feels no different from the Galaxy S6 edge. This is because it’s just slightly (2.5 mm) wider but 8.8 mm taller. At 15 cm tall, it may protrude out of your pocket, especially if you are wearing jeans.

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Improved Edge

Although many Samsung fans love the dual curved edges for aesthetic reasons, Samsung put considerable effort into making the edge screen even more functional than it was with the Galaxy S6 edge (Amazon). Let’s take a look!

The first swipe takes you to the Apps edge. Here you get quick access to your 10 most frequently used apps. Samsung already pre-populated 8 of them, but you can swap them or add two more from the list of apps in your Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon).

Swiping again takes you to the Tasks edge. This is where you can create shortcuts to perform your favourite tasks, like composing an image or start a stopwatch.

The third swipe will bring you to the People edge screen. This is the default screen in the Galaxy S6 edge. Here, you can add up to 5 favourite contacts, so you can quickly call or message them.

The final swipe will take you to Yahoo! News. Of course, you can swap that out (or even any of the previous Edge panels) for new Edge panels that you can download online. As of April 2016, there are 15 free and paid Edge panels to choose from.

Next Page > Memory & Storage, Camera Options

 

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Available Memory & Storage

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) comes with 4 GB of LPDDR4 memory. This is great news because the Galaxy S7 edge has quite a lot of bloat. In fact, you only have 1.7 GB of free memory to use. Compare that to the ASUS ZenFone Zoom (Amazon), which also has 4 GB of RAM but 2.2 GB of free memory to use. That’s a difference of 500 MB.

The Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) also comes with 32 GB of internal flash memory. Once you deduct 7.8 GB for the Android 6.0 operating system and apps, you have 24.2 GB of free space left to use. That is pretty decent actually, allowing you to store about 5,000 photos, or record 180 minutes of 1080p video or 60 minutes of 4K video.

In some countries, a 64 GB internal storage option is also available. However, the 32 GB model is likely to be the far more popular model because the Galaxy S7 edge comes with a microSD slot that allows you to top up storage by 200 GB via a microSD card.

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Camera Options

Both the front and rear cameras use a 4:3 ratio for maximum resolution, with small crop sizes available in the settings menu. The main camera can record videos in full 4K resolution, albeit only with electronic video stabilisation, HDR, tracking AF and video effects turned off. For those features to be enabled, you must record at resolutions of 2560 x 1440 (QHD) or lower.

Surprisingly, the front 5 MP camera can also record video with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 (QHD). with electronic image stabilisation disabled. If you want EIS enabled, you need to drop it down to 19×0 x 1080. Both front and rear cameras support additional functions via the Mode button, like a Pro mode, a Wide Selfie mode, Selective focus, Panorama, etc.

Next Page > Camera Performance, Video Recording Performance

 

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Camera Performance

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge‘s killer feature is its improved rear camera. Its faster f/1.7 lens allows for better low-light performance, which is obvious from the indoor photos we took. It also performed well, even when the weather was overcast. Its Dual Pixel technology also allowed for faster and more accurate focusing.

We have no complaints about the Samsung S5KL1 ISOCELL sensor in this Galaxy S7 edge model. We did note that it sometimes have white balance issues (the Dala horse picture above has a yellowish tinge), but nothing a quick photo edit can’t fix.

Below, you will see examples of how much detail resolution the Samsung S5KL1 ISOCELL sensor is capable of. Note the detail on the wall, and the texture of the fabric petals, as well as the intricate patterns on the bubblegum balls below.

The pictures of the fruits above show that the colours are bright and vivid. There is no doubt hat if you are into mobile photography, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) has arguably the best smartphone camera in the market right now.

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Video Recording Performance

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) is capable of recording 4K UHD videos as well as 1080p videos. Other than the resolution difference, it can only record 4K UHD videos with optical image stabilisation. When set to record 1080p videos, it supports electronic image stabilisation as well as optical image stabilisation.

To test and compare both stabilisation capabilities, we recorded two examples in both 1080p and 4K modes. The first set are of Mr. Yang I-Deun’s piano performances, while the second set are of ice skaters.


The optical and electronic image stabilisation worked like a charm, reducing or even eliminating handshake and vibration. Even at 4K, the amount of shaking was very minimal. The image quality was superb and there was reasonably good control of the exposure. Only the bright background in the piano performance set was overexposed. The audio recording was also good – clear, with reasonably good background noise control. This is definitely our favourite smartphone to record videos.

Next Page > Work Performance, Overall Performance, Gaming Performance

 

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Work Performance : PCMark

We tested the Galaxy S7 edge‘s performance using PCMark, which simulates work applications like web browing, playing video, writing text and editing photos.

 

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge ASUS ZenFone Zoom Samsung
Galaxy S6 edge
Work Performance Score
(Average)
4892 5829 5078
Web Browsing 6908 5751 6788
Video Playback 3218 4536 3091
Writing 4629 5270 5918
Photo Editing 5563 8400 5357

Surprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) was not so hot in PCMark. It was slightly faster than its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge (Amazon) in Web Browsing, Video Playback and Photo Editing, but it was significantly slower in Writing. In fact, it was much slower than the Intel Atom-powered ASUS ZenFone Zoom (Amazon) we reviewed recently, in all but web browsing.

 

Overall Performance : AnTuTu Benchmark

AnTuTu is a nice benchmark for testing various performance aspects of Android devices.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge ASUS ZenFone Zoom Samsung
Galaxy S6 edge
TOTAL SCORE 131246 65914 75222
3D SCORE 40824 16839 20579
– 3D (Garden) 17488 6976 8104
– 3D (Marooned) 23336 9863 12475
UX SCORE 42765 21371 24065
– UX Data Secure 8169 5896 5507
– UX Data Process 5966 4353 4392
– UX Strategy Games 10745 4118 6948
– UX Image Process 13878 2926 3413
– UX I/O Performance 4007 4078 3805
CPU SCORE 37882 23110 25402
– CPU Mathematics 11831 5196 7823
– CPU Common Use 10875 8699 7585
– CPU Multi-Core 15176 9215 9994
RAM 9775 4594 5176

There is no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) is a gaming king. It was practically twice as fast as its predecessor, the Galaxy S6 edge (Amazon) in 3D performance and user experience (UX) scores! It was also much faster in CPU and memory performance.

 

Gaming Performance : 3DMark

We tested the Galaxy S7 edge’s gaming performance using 3DMark, using the Ice Storm Unlimited test.

Samsung
Galaxy S7 edge
ASUS
ZenFone Zoom
Samsung
Galaxy S6 edge
Gaming Score 28650 21372 21166
Graphics 33685 21748 23298
Physics 18810 20152 16031
Graphics Test 1 162.9 fps 112.6 fps 120.6 fps
Graphics Test 2 133.1 fps 81.5 fps 87.3 fps
Physics Test 59.7 fps 64.0 fps 50.9 fps

There is no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) is an astoundingly fast smartphone for 3D games. It proved to be 35% faster than its predecessor, the Galaxy S6 edge (Amazon), which is itself a very fast smartphone for games. The Galaxy S7 edge will take any 3D game thrown at it and then some.

Next Page > Our Verdict & Award

 

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Our Verdict On The Galaxy S7 edge

Superficially, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) looks like an evolutionary upgrade of the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge. Like its predecessor, it is a work of art – a beautiful combination of glass and metal. It sports the characteristic curved edges in the front, which is now complemented by slightly curved edges in the back.

Users of the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge (Amazon) though will be familiar with the downsides of the curved edges – accidental triggering of the touchscreen when you hold the Galaxy S7 edge. Samsung appears to have improved this but it will still occur. The curved edges also prevent the use of the popular tempered glass screen protectors, with TPE screen protectors being your only choice. Of course, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) is protected on both front and back by the latest Corning Gorilla Glass 4, so you can probably do without screen protectors.

The Galaxy S7 edge‘s Super AMOLED display is sharp, brilliant and vivid with a pixel density of 534 ppi. Even though it is no different from the slightly smaller Super AMOLED display used in the Galaxy S6 edge (Amazon), it remains the best smartphone display in the market. Even though this is a 5.5″ smartphone, it doesn’t feel that large. This is because it is taller, and only a little wider. It fits our hands very well although single-handed use is quite a stretch.

Even though the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge swapped a 16 MP sensor for a lower-resolution 12 MP sensor, it has a much better rear camera. Due to the larger pixels and a faster f/1.7 lens, it has better low-light performance. The new sensor also supports Dual Pixel technology, allowing for faster and more accurate auto-focus performance. This is arguably the best smartphone camera in the market today.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge‘s killer feature is probably its IP68 rating for dust- and water-resistance. You can dunk it into water without any preparations – it will survive depths of up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes. However, it is not waterproof. You have to be careful about subjecting it to water under pressure. We have a more detailed article on its IP68 certification in our article, Samsung Galaxy S7 IP68 Engineering Explained.

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Another feature that was warmly welcomed was the reintroduction of the microSD slot. That was a misstep in the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge (Amazon) and the Samsung Galaxy Note5 (Amazon). The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) introduced it in the form of a hybrid SIM slot, allowing you to either use a microSD card or a second SIM card, but not both at the same time. This is not as convenient as a dedicated second SIM slot and a dedicated microSD slot, but it beats having a single SIM card slot with no microSD slot.

We are also glad to report that Samsung corrected another weakness in the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge – its short battery life. The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) comes with a large 3,600 mAh battery – 1,000 mAh (38.5%) extra capacity over its predecessor. That allowed it to last almost 11 hours of non-stop heavy use in our stress test!

There is no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) is the best smartphone Samsung has ever made. They took the best features of the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, corrected its weaknesses and added dust- and water-resistance. What’s not to like? We love it so much, we are awarding it our coveted Editor’s Choice Award! Congratulations, Samsung!

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