Samsung’s newest flagship Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones arrived in my home office this past week for reviews, and I must admit that initially I wasn’t too excited.
The reason for my first reaction was that I’m still using a 3-year-old Samsung Galaxy S4 phone as my main mobile device, and its grossly underwhelming performance apparently has desensitized me to Samsung phones.
Well, that’s the way I used to feel, at least, because the new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are both giant improvements over my three-generation-old S4 handset. In between, I checked out the former S5 and S6 Galaxy devices in the last 18 months at various press events, but I didn’t do full reviews so I had no real idea how far the company’s smartphones had come since my S4 model was new.
Wow, what a difference three generations of technology improvements and refinements can make.
After using both the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge models this past week, my impressions are mostly positive about their bright and fast displays; spectacular cameras, particularly in low-light situations; adequate battery life and good all-around performance.
Two huge features that returned to the Galaxy S7 line from the former S5 model are removable microSD storage cards and water-resistance—and both are very much appreciated. Removable storage should be mandatory in smartphones so that users can add whatever storage they need to the phones they are using. The lack of removable storage was a key reason for my decision to replace my old Apple iPhone S4 two years ago. And while I have never ruined a smartphone by getting it wet, the idea of not having to worry about accidental splashes destroying the phone is very nice and will be welcome to many users who have had bad experiences with water exposure with their phones.
My daughter dropped her iPhone in a sink not too long ago, and her device was ruined. It’s a costly accident that needn’t happen if all smartphones were water resistant in the first place.
The best feature in both the S7 and the S7 Edge is their amazing cameras. The main 12-megapixel rear cameras are shared by both models and include Samsung’s first dual-pixel technology that delivers great images even in very low light. This past weekend I took photos using the S7 Edge inside a dark old train caboose inside the huge Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, Pa., and I was able to capture incredible, bright and finely focused images without any flash. The images look as clear as if I had been taking photos outside in full daylight.
I’ve also recently been using an LG V10 smartphone and thought that its main camera was amazing as well, but the main cameras in the S7 and S7 Edge definitely eclipse the V10’s hardware. The performance of the newest Samsung cameras is truly that impressive.
I also really like the new “always-on” displays featured on both models, which provide important information to users at a glance, without having to activate a button to view the main displays. The Galaxy S7 features a 5.1-inch quad-HD Super AMOLED display (2,560 by 1,440), while the Galaxy S7 Edge features a 5.5-inch quad-HD Super AMOLED display (2,560 by 1,440).
Comparing the two Galaxy S7 handsets, I personally prefer the S7 Edge for its larger display and its better “feel” in one’s hand. I also prefer the Edge’s curved screen edges, which to me seem to offer more grip.
In fact, grip is definitely an issue with these handsets, and it’s where my most unfavorable comments come into play.
Why, oh why, do Samsung and other smartphone makers—including Apple and its iPhones—insist on designing and selling expensive, delicate smartphones that have super slippery backs that make it easy to lose one’s grip and drop the things? You can’t place the S7 or S7 Edge on an incline on any surface without it sliding off, whether it’s a sofa, a car seat, a chair or even your pant leg. Not a good situation in the real world, I am afraid.
Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge Phones: Improved but With a Few Drawbacks
This is something I don’t like about the new S7 devices, although because the S7 Edge is larger and has curved side edges, it appears to be less of a problem. The danger of the slippery phone became a real-life issue when I accidentally dropped the Galaxy S7 from a height of about 18 inches onto a ceramic tile kitchen floor as I went to open a cabinet while holding the phone.
When the handset fell, the bottom-right glass corner of the display cracked about one-quarter-inch from the edge of the device. I was not happy, and I was disappointed that it apparently didn’t take much to crack the display. I reported the damage to Samsung and they told me they had not received similar damage reports from anyone else. I’m waiting to hear back from Samsung to find out if such a crack means that the handset might now lose its water resistance, which would be even more unfortunate.
Would it be too much to ask for some kind of thin coating on the back of a device that will make it less likely to slip on every surface in homes, offices, cars and everywhere else?
The LG V10 I am using has a textured back cover that prevents exactly this kind of slippage and it doesn’t require an additional case to protect it. I really appreciate the LG’s textured back, which is a great and simple design feature.
If I owned an S7 or S7 Edge, I would immediately buy a protective thin rear skin or a case to keep the handset from sliding and subjecting itself to potential damage, but that makes the phone thicker, which some users might not like.
The slippery backs of these devices mar what is an otherwise excellent pair of smartphones that incorporate good performance, a nice set of features and useful upgrades that set them apart big time from earlier S-series Galaxy handsets.
The S7 devices, which Samsung unveiled in February at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, went on sale in the United States on March 11.
Both Galaxy handsets are powered by Qualcomm quad-core 2.15GHz and 1.6GHz processors for U.S. users and include 4GB of LPDDR4 memory, 32GB of built-in storage and microSD expansion slots that support storage cards up to 200GB. The Qualcomm processors provide performance that is as much as 30 percent faster than the processors they replace in the earlier Galaxy S6 handsets, according to Samsung. Both handsets are built with metal chassis and both run on the Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system.
The Galaxy S7 has a 3,000mAh battery, while the Galaxy S7 Edge is equipped with a 3,600mAh battery, which both seem to provide adequate all-day battery life in my testing. In addition to 4GT LTE connectivity, the new S7 handsets also can be used with WiFi 802.11, MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2 and near-field communications connections.
Samsung Pay capabilities also are included in both devices, as well as wide-ranging Samsung KNOX device security and fingerprint-scanning features.
The Galaxy S7 phone is 5.6 inches long, 2.74 inches wide, 0.31 inches thick and 5.36 ounces. The Galaxy S7 Edge is 5.94 inches long, 2.85 inches wide, 0.30 inches thick and 5.53 ounces. The Galaxy S7 is available in Black Onyx or Gold Platinum colors, while the Galaxy S7 Edge is available in Black Onyx, Gold Platinum or Silver Titanium.