Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review: Look elsewhere in 2018
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review: A brighter, better camera
All of which brings me to this phone’s biggest advance: the camera. Last year’s S6 camera was a belter and it remains so to this day, so in reducing the resolution from 16 megapixels to 12 megapixels, Samsung is taking a gamble.
Remarkably, it pays off. This is the same resolution as both current iPhones and the superlative Nexus 6P, so it’s not completely without precedent, and I’m glad Samsung hasn’t gone too far as HTC did when it scaled back to a 4-megapixel rear camera on the One a few years back.
The reduction in resolution means the pixels have increased in size, from 1.12um to 1.4um, although that in itself won’t make a huge difference to image quality. The overall size of the sensor is still roughly the same, increasing by only a fraction, from 1/2.6in to 1/2.5in, so the overall light-gathering capacity of the sensor is similar.
It’s the other specification changes that have the greatest impact, and the one that I’m most excited about is that it now has a brighter aperture of f/1.7 (it was f/1.9 on the S6).
What this means in practice is that the camera can, and does, shoot at faster shutter speeds and lower ISO levels in low-light conditions. This, in turn, leads to sharper shots with lower noise levels and cleaner, less blurry images all round.
The other big step forward for the S7 Edge’s camera is that it has a “dual-pixel sensor”, an advance that means faster autofocus than last year’s model.
Samsung demonstrated this at the launch by mounting an S6 Edge and S7 Edge side-by-side in an enclosed, darkened box, then moving a photograph rapidly backwards and forwards, forcing each camera to refocus at the same time.
This is a somewhat artificial experiment, but the S7 Edge did hold a noticeable advantage over the S6 Edge, which hunted back and forth a little longer before locking on.
There was no such hesitation with the S7 Edge, and that’s something I’ve found reflected in everyday use. The camera rarely missed focus and, coupled with the faster shutter speeds in low light, this makes it speedy and impressively dependable.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: Other software changes
Aside from the introduction of Android 6 Marshmallow, which is welcome but largely obscured by Samsung’s TouchWiz launcher software, there isn’t a whole lot to say about the software side of things.
The things that will make the most difference to how you use your Galaxy S7 Edge are the Edge screen features and, to a lesser extent, the Game Launcher and onscreen tools.
Otherwise, TouchWiz remains divisive as ever – you either love it or hate it – and just as chock full of features. I do like that Samsung has resisted the urge to start filling the phone with preloaded apps, though.
On last year’s S6 handsets, Samsung reduced the number of preinstalled apps dramatically and although there’s still a good selection here, including the full set of Microsoft Office apps, they fill up only a single page of the app drawer.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: Verdict
Just like its stablemate, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is simply superb. It isn’t a huge upgrade on last year’s model, but with improvements all round – a better camera, bigger screen, better Edge screen functions, that microSD slot, weather-proofing and superb battery life – it’s a big enough update to maintain Samsung’s position at the top of the smartphone tree.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge doesn’t quite depose the Nexus 6P from the top of our best smartphones list. It’s a bit too expensive for that
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge doesn’t quite depose the Nexus 6P from the top of our best smartphones list. It’s a bit too expensive for that, costing £639 inc VAT at retail, some £190 more than the Google flagship. Although it’s prettier and more capable, it’s not £200 better.
That doesn’t stop it being a great phone, however, and it shouldn’t prevent you from buying one if you can afford it. In fact, of the two S7 smartphones launched this year, it’s clearly the best one. The price differential between the S7 Edge and the standard Samsung Galaxy S7 is only £70 and for a bigger, better, sexier smartphone, that isn’t a bad deal at all.
The best recommendation I can think of, however, is that this is the smartphone I would buy if money was no object; I can think of no stronger endorsement than that.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge specifications
|Processor||UK spec: Most likely - Octa-core (quad 2.3GHz and quad 1.6GHz), Samsung Exynos 8890 Octa; Other regions - Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (dual-core 2.15GHz and dual-core 1.6GHz)|
|Screen resolution||1,440 x 2560, 576ppi (Gorilla Glass)|
|Screen type||Super AMOLED, always-on display|
|Rear camera||12MP (f/1.7, 1.4μ pixel size, 1/2.6in sensor size, phase detect autofocus, OIS, dual-pixel sensor)|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||Yes|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 4.2 LE, A2DP, apt-X, ANT+|
|Size (WDH)||73 x 7.7 x 151mm|
|Operating system||Android 6 Marshmallow with TouchWiz UI|