The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are beautifully well-executed smartphones, estimable flagships from one of a world’s largest wiring manufacturers. The changes from final year’s S6 lines are incremental, yet a fixes and upgrades are in all a right places. Those tiny improvements make for dual vastly improved phones, that start during $650 (for a S7) and $750 (for a S7 Edge), depending on a carrier.
Samsung, like a bête noire Apple, seems to be on a two-year schedule, with vital upgrades and denote increments appearing in swapping years. The S7, like Apple’s biennial “S” upgrades, builds on final year’s models in critical ways yet changing a simple form.
Specs and features
The signature improvement, a one that will title many reviews, is true: The S7 line is all yet waterproof. In tech terms, a S7 phones have an IP68 rating: Impervious to dirt and stable from enlarged soak of adult to 3 meters.
In 30 years of reviewing electronics, I’ve never before dunked a product. This past week, we filled a penetrate (it’s still winter in New York and a pool wasn’t handy) and forsaken in a phone. On purpose. And left it there. It sank — yet it was fine. None of a apparent invasion points — a micro-USB energy port, mic, speaker, energy and volume buttons, SIM/memory drawer — leaked water. Over a past year (admittedly a bad year) this singular underline would have saved my family $1,000.
A waterproof product, engaging as it might be, would be kind of purposeless if that was a customarily conspicuous thing about it. The S7s customarily start there.
These are top-of-the-line phones. The S7 is 5.6 x 2.75 x 0.3 in. with a 5.1-in. screen; a S7 Edge is 5.9 x 2.9 x 0.3 in. with a 5.7-in. screen. The S7’s shade is flat; a Edge chronicle is dull along both prolonged edges. The S7 weighs 5.36 oz.; a Edge weighs 5.54 oz., not a utterly conspicuous difference. The phones themselves are neat and welcoming; they felt good offset in my hand.
Both a S7 and S7 Edge run Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow) and default to Samsung’s TouchWiz season of UI. Both phones come in black and gold; a Edge also comes in silver. Red and immature Edges from final year have apparently been retired. (A pity, we favourite them.)
The screens of a S7 and S7 Edge will hit your eyes out. Both displays are Super AMOLED, stable by Corning Gorilla Glass 4, 2560 x 1440 pixels with a 640dpi resolution. They’re astonishingly sharp, and a estimate infrastructure behind them simply keeps adult with a displays. The combined genuine estate of a dot representation and pixel count gives a interface room to breathe that we might not have famous we were missing.
The Samsung phones follow a stream conform of “always-on” screens; even when a phone is in nap mode, it displays a time or calendar. (Exactly what a phone displays is configurable to a slight extent.) Samsung says energy empty is minimal — 0.8mAh per hour — and has no poignant impact on battery life. I’d determine with that claim.
And as in prior models, a dull screens of a S7 Edge have functions. Depending how and where we appropriate from a edge, we can examination news or sports headlines, get discerning entrance to tip contacts or frequently used functions. The Edge has a Do Not Disturb mode that shows a time customarily along one of a edges. It’s unequivocally utterly pointed and lovely. And swiping adult and down along an dilemma when a phone is defunct will uncover we how many emails we have watchful and uncover a news crawl.
I adore a demeanour and feel of a Edge — and I’m not customarily a fan of large phones — and kept anticipating to adore a Edge-exclusive functions, yet could never utterly get there. They’re an incremental interface improvement, yet in and of themselves, not a reason to get a Edge.
Speed and comfort
There’s frequency a dilemma on these phones. The sides are dull and fit absolutely in a hand. The energy symbol is on a right edge, ideally placed, and volume buttons are along a left edge. The SIM/SD label drawer is on a top; a speaker, micro-USB pier and earphone jack are on a bottom.
The energy and volume switches are ideally positioned underneath your ride and index fingers. The designers paid tighten courtesy to a phone’s change and a approach you’ll reason it, and a buttons are accurately right in ways that many phones’ aren’t.
Notice dual of those features: Samsung has easy a micro-SD pier that it took out of a S6, and it has motionless to hang with a micro-USB energy tie instead of USB-C. The former is a acquire choice. The knowledge of a latter will be suggested customarily with time and by a rival landscape.
The battery (3,000mAh for a S7, 3,600mAh for a Edge) stays sealed. This unequivocally isn’t a problem; a phones support QuickCharge 2.0 and assign entirely in about dual hours. Rundown tests uncover a 4-hour speak time for a S7 and 5 hours for a Edge, and standby times of some-more than dual days each. Both support wireless charging — both a Qi and AirFuel standards — that wasn’t tested for this review.
Depending on that marketplace we breeze adult with, your phone might be formed on possibly a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 or Samsung’s home-rolled Exynos 8890. (In a examination units, both on Verizon for a U.S. market, a S7 came with a Samsung processor and a Edge with Qualcomm’s.) Both are quad-core top-of-the-line processors, and if there is any organic disproportion between them, it didn’t emerge in testing.
Both phones have a somewhat lifted form Home button/fingerprint sensor in a core of a phones’ front bottom edge. The Chooser and Back capacitor buttons are on a left and right, respectively, of a Home button, and light adult customarily when they’re touched. This is something of a UI problem since there’s no denote that a buttons exist, let alone their function, until we use them.
Unlike a Power and Volume controls, a bottom-row controls are customarily OK. I’ve turn a fan of a approach LG puts a fingerprint sensor/Home symbol on a phone’s back, and a ability in LG phones to change a arrangement of a front quarrel buttons to comment for handed-ness. Samsung’s phones always have a Chooser on a left and Back on a right.
The categorical camera on a behind of a phones — in a core aside and about a half-inch from a phones’ tip dilemma — means a barely-there 0.5mm bump, significantly reduction distinguished than in prior models. It’s a 12MP camera that’s been built with low-light sharpened in mind. The camera’s got an orifice of f/1.7 and fewer pixels on a same-size sensor as a S6, that lets a remaining pixels be larger. That’s pivotal for print quality.
An LED peep and heart rate/SpO2 sensor are to a right of a camera lens. The phones have a approaching element of Bluetooth, GPS, NFC and WiFi radios. They work with Samsung Pay and Google Pay, and they still nonplus sales office when Samsung Pay mimics captivating label swipes.
One of a places that Samsung has practical a estimate energy to is a camera. Focusing and bearing calculation is unequivocally fast. There are panorama, hyperlapse and slo-mo modes, as good as a Food mode if you’re one of those irritating people who eat with their eyes. In addition, a S7s concede live streaming over YouTube. Selective concentration lets we collect what partial of an already-taken print will be in focus, and there’s a “virtual shot” mode that seems to be a kind of scenery mode around objects. we didn’t know it and couldn’t get it to work in any engaging way.
And, for ultimate control freaks, there’s Pro mode that gives we full bearing control. The camera even lets we save in RAW format.
Off to see a TouchWiz
TouchWiz is Samsung’s Android UI, and it’s gotten a modernise for Android 6.0. How irritating we find it will substantially be a duty of how many of an Android precisionist we are, or how many you’ve gotten used to other phone makers’ versions of Android. As UIs go, though, there’s a lot to suggest in TouchWiz.
When we lift down from a tip of a screen, you’ll see a common set of notifications, along with a plane quarrel of well-chosen quick-access settings buttons: Wi-Fi, Location, Sound, Auto-rotate and Bluetooth. Pull down again, and rather than a common full Settings menu, you’re presented with 4 rows of customizable quick-access settings buttons. If we wish something that isn’t in that matrix, we can click on a gear, as usual, to fodder by a Android settings list.
TouchWiz does a garland of tricks to cringe a effective distance of a shade for one-handed operation. On a Home screen, a Google entrance window is a third of a approach down a screen, rather than during a top. The Apps launcher is on a right of a reduce row, rather than in a middle.
Maybe a neatest trick, though, are a keyboards. Samsung has taken advantage of a high pixel count and fortitude to cringe a keyboard in a approach that doesn’t force we to strech all a approach opposite a shade to form with one hand. The keyboard stretches about three-fourths of a approach opposite a shade (and includes a fifth numeric row), that creates it easy to form one-handedly. And best of all, we can select that side of a phone a keyboard appears on, creation life easier no matter that palm we form with. It is truly a pleasing hack.
It takes a while to figure out that with TouchWiz, a Google Now interface isn’t accessed by swiping right, a approach it is in batch Android. Swiping right does zero unless you’ve set adult what appears to be an determined Flipboard widget. If we wish Google Now cards, daub in a Google hunt bar on a Home screen.
The many irritating partial of TouchWiz comes in a misfortune probable place: When you’re environment adult your phone. On a Verizon phone (our examination units were on Verizon), there are no fewer than 3 ecosystems we need to opt into — or not. First comes a My Verizon cloud, that wants to control your SMS, photos and contacts. Then there’s Google, that is required since Android flattering many requires entrance to Google. Lastly, you’re asked to emanate a Samsung comment “to get a many out of your device,” that seems to entail downloading Galaxy apps including S Health and unexplained “enhanced features.”
Three ecosystems is during slightest one too many, and leaves a whinging sense that a people who sole we a phone consider of it reduction as a square of personal record and some-more as a network endpoint by that we can be sole services. That’s not a sold swat opposite Samsung as many as it is about a wireless industry, solely to a border that a association was incompetent to build a seemly onboard knowledge that matches a magnificence of their phones.
As it is, a setup routine is treacherous and intimidating. You’re being asked to opt into and emanate certification for services you’re not unequivocally told about; you’re being asked 3 times for accede yet being sensitive what you’re signing adult for. From a personal confidence standpoint, this is terrible. From a consumer indicate of view, it’s flattering assaultive and underlines that a companies behind your phone see it as a approach to, as they say, lower their attribute with you. The services might good be useful, yet this routine isn’t designed for sensitive consent.
Paying a price
Pricing, unfortunately, seems to be carrier-dependent. For example, a Galaxy S7 with 32GB of RAM costs $200 with a two-year Verizon or Sprint contract, or $23 per month for 30 months from ATT. The Edge, also with 32GB of RAM, costs $300 from Verizon or Sprint with a two-year contract, and $26 per month for 30 months from ATT. T-Mobile prices a S7 during $670 and a S7 Edge during $780; ATT prices them during $695 and $795 with “qualifying service.” There are a accumulation of other pricing options as well. According to Samsung, there are no stream skeleton to make a phones accessible unbarred — an increasingly surprising state of affairs for high-end phones these days.
Over a past integrate of years, Android phones have been gaining in energy and sophistication, and a Samsung S7 array is flattering many a state of a art. The earthy package is right: top-end build quality, waterproofing, switches in a right place, prolonged battery life, expandability, a knock-out shade and copiousness of estimate power. The program is right: Smartly implemented UI enhancements and Android’s increasingly seamless melding of device and cloud.
There are quibbles — chain of a fingerprint sensor, miss of handedness control of a simple controls – yet they’re customarily that: quibbles. Less of a oppose is a setup routine that tries to close we into ecosystems yet your entirely sensitive consent. But we can still contend no and use a phone pretty good until we know what it is you’re consenting to.
We’re reaching a time of year when top-end phones are attack a market. The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have set a unequivocally high bar for a rest of a industry. Whichever height we might prefer, these phones are now a ones to beat.