MWC 2016: Galaxy S7 Edge hands-on review

BARCELONA: THE GALAXY S6 EDGE made its curvaceous debut alongside the Galaxy S7 at Samsung’s MWC press conference on Sunday. 

The Galaxy S7 is largely similar to the S6 before it with a 5.1in QHD screen, but the Galaxy S7 Edge takes things up a notch with a bigger 5.5in display and Edge screen functionality. It’s also received the same tweaks as its smaller sibling, offering waterproofing and a microSD slot.

The Galaxy S7 Edge has a design similar to that of last year’s model but, much like the smaller Galaxy S7, offers a curvier rear for more comfortable one-handed use. It’s slimmer than the Galaxy S6 Edge by 3.4mm, no less, despite having a larger 5.5in display and beefier internals, and offers a much glossier design reminiscent of Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge design

The smartphone is IP68 certified, which means it can withstand a drop in the toilet without any bother. We were unable to test this feature, but Samsung claims that it can withstand up to one metre of water for 30 minutes.

The return of the microSD slot is much welcomed, especially given that just 20GB of the handset’s 32GB of storage is available to the user.

Last year’s S6 Edge had the same 5.1in display as its non-Edge sibling, but the Galaxy S6 Edge has a larger 5.5in AMOLED screen with the same 1,440×2,560 QHD resolution. The larger screen size doesn’t make for a less pixel sharp experience, though, as everything appeared just as vibrant and crisp as on the smaller-screened Galaxy S7.

Galaxy S7 Edge display

The display’s edges curve around the side of the smartphone and make for a striking aesthetic experience and unmatched viewing angles. Samsung has added some extra functionality to the Edge screen, including the ability to turn the side of the screen into a makeshift news ticker and to add your own choice of third-party apps. 

Software and performance
The Galaxy S7 Edge runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and Samsung has stuck its TouchWiz interface on top. We’ve never been huge fans of Samsung’s custom software, but it’s definitely not as bad as it used to be. The firm still coats icons in its own, not-as-attractive skin and adds its own tweaks to the software throughout, but gone are the days of ugly widgets. 

There are still plenty of custom apps, though. You’ll find a bundle of Microsoft apps, including Word, Excel and OneNote, alongside a hefty bunch of Samsung’s own apps, including S Health, Galaxy Apps, Samsung Gear and, er, Candy Crush Jelly.

A couple of welcome additions, though, are Samsung Pay, which is set for a launch in the UK next month, and Game Launcher, a new feature that lets you halt notifications while playing a game and enables the easy recording and sharing of in-game footage.

Things get confusing when it comes to performance. Samsung seemed unsure which processor the model we tested was equipped with, but explained to us that some models will ship with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chip and others with Samsung’s similarly-specced octa-core offering. Whichever it was, Samsung claims that the Galaxy S7 Edge is 30 percent faster than its predecessor while offering a near 65 percent boost in GPU power.

We’ve yet to run benchmarks but can confirm that the Galaxy S7 Edge is blazingly fast, and didn’t show any signs of slowing down no matter what we threw at it.  

The Galaxy S7 Edge has the same camera set-up as its S7 sibling, i.e. a 12MP sensor on the rear, complete with f/1.7 lens and a larger 1.4um pixel size, which, combined, makes for 95 percent brighter images, according to Samsung.

Galaxy S7 Edge camera

Unfortunately, despite Samsung’s claim of improved low-light performance, we were able to test the camera only under the bright lights of the firm’s MWC showroom. Still, images snapped under the luminous lighting were perfectly detailed and sharp enough, and the souped-up autofocus is incredibly fast. 

First impressions
The Galaxy S7 Edge is, much like its smaller sibling, hard to criticise. TouchWiz isn’t to everyone’s tastes, but with its gorgeous curved screen, IP68 rating, microSD and beefy battery, the iPhone 6S Plus faces some serious competition. µ 

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