Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
Price: Rs 57,000
For years, Apple fans have looked down upon Samsung without missing a single chance of jesting it for copying stuff. Come 2016, that same Korean brand has out-designed Apple with its Galaxy S7 edge. From being a poor man’s iPhone to a trendsetter, the journey of Samsung Galaxy Line-up has been intriguing.
Much of the companies success is the result of its willingness to change with time, and the Galaxy S7 edge stands a testimony to that.
Infectious design that repels water
Although the Galaxy series has always done well in terms of sales, nobody loved it for the aesthetics (God bless you if you did). Only after the hostile reception of the S5, the Korean conglomerate decided to focus on design. In Samsung’s quest for a new design language, experiments such as the metal-clad Galaxy Alpha and Note edge with a curved screen paved the way for the Galaxy S7 edge.
At first glance, the S7 edge can be mistaken for its predecessor, the Galaxy S6 edge. It sports an identical aluminium frame sandwiched between glass panels. Yet, there are nuances that separate the two. For instance, the top and bottom are more rounded on the latest phone. It also has the Note 5-esque fine curves on the back.
The transition from the curved screen to metal feels seamless. Minute details such as the speaker grille are carved to perfection with CNC (computer numerical control) milling. Such attention to detail is complemented by quality materials. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Samsung went on to add water and dirt resistance feature. Sony and Motorola has been selling them for years. However, the S7 edge is the only smartphone that does not compromise the aesthetics to repel water. It is an engineering triumph that no other company has achieved it so far.
The S7 edge is one of the smallest and most ergonomically designed 5.5-incher in the market. The iPhone 6S Plus with the same screen size, looks like an engineering failure in front of the S7 edge. As opposed to the one ‘Designed in California’, Samsung’s flagship is fit for one-handed use. It also slides and sits comfortably in your pocket.
I know, I’m nitpicking, but the handset is a slippery fingerprint magnet due to its glass panels. No matter how careful you are, the S7 edge gets smudgy in no time. While the S7 edge has an eye-catching design, I would not call it elegant or graceful. Those are the words I reserve for the HTC One (M7), iPhone 5S, and the fabula (design language) Nokia Lumia 800. Samsung’s shiny golden and silver hues are somewhat in your face.
Those expecting details on where a particular button or slot is located, kindly refer to the images. I’m not George R. R. Martin, you see.
Best screen in the smartphone town
The Galaxy S7 edge features a 5.5-inch AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) screen. It is much better than the LCD panels found on the iPhones, and there’s a good reason for that. AMOLEDs are emissive type screens. Every pixel in the OLEDs light up on its own. To achieve true blacks, OLED panel can actually switch off pixels in that area. This is something, LCD panels cannot match due to its backlight dependency.
With the pixel density of 534 ppi, the screen is incredibly sharp. The viewing angles are wide. More importantly, the display is so bright that it retains readability even under direct sunlight. With curves on both sides, swiping feels smoother on the S7 edge. However, the lack of bezel increases the chance of unintentional screen interaction.
Software has got substance, but no style
The Galaxy S7 edge runs Android 6 (Marshmallow) with Samsung’s customization on top. When it comes to the features, Koreans never let you down. The S7 edge does everything a flagship should do, and then some more.
Phone’s UI navigation is smooth, save for the occasional frame drop when swiping away from the homscreen news feed. Apps load instantly and I am yet to come across a game that does not work on this handset. Then, there are some “edgy” apps that lets you access Yahoo news feed, flashlight, compass, and more by swiping from the edge of the screen. Good for show off, but not really useful.
As far as the usability goes, there’s nothing to complain about Samsung’s Android customisation. My gripe lies with the aesthetics. Although toned down from the previous iterations, Samsung’s UI continues to be a design nightmare. It feels as if ‘Garish’ made love to ‘gaudy’ and TouchWiz was born. The icons have no uniformity — they come in all size and shape. The UI has more colours than you can find in a rainbow. The quick setting toggles are so crowded that it feels overwhelming. Overall, the interface looks cluttered with no sense of cohesiveness.
I agree that Xiaomi’s MIUI is even worse. However, the Chinese manufacturer gets away with it as the teenagers buying these affordable phones have all the time in the world to tweak the software, change theme, and set a cheesy ringtone for their half girlfriends (I can’t stand that writer). On the other hand, high-end phones mostly end up with middle-aged CA and lawyers who are so busy robbing people that they cannot tell apart a theme from a meme.
Taiwanese brand HTC has consistently proved that it is possible to deliver a sleek Android customization. So why can’t the industry leader, Samsung, do something similar?
Fingerprint sensor is easy to setup and barely takes a second to identify a user. Since Samsung’s API is open, third-party developers can implement this feature in their apps. Like its predecessor, the S7 edge features a heart-beat sensor, which does what it says. It also comes with an SpO2 filter that lets you measure the oxygen saturation in blood. I’m not sure how exactly it works, but I guess it makes use of the oxygenated hemoglobin’s infrared absorbing property.
Camera is not afraid of the dark
The S7 edge’s camera pulls off swift and brilliant low-light performance. For those not in the know, dual-pixel phase-detection is mostly used in high-end mirrorless cameras and DSLRs. As opposed to your regular autofocus system where about only 5% of total pixels are used for focusing, Samsung’s dual-pixel tech makes use of 100% pixels.
You can trigger the camera by simple tapping the home button twice. It has a simple interface for most users. However, if you want advanced options, the Pro mode offers multiple options such as manual focus, white balance, ISO, shutter speed, and exposure. For the generation that has swapped a meal prayer with Instagram, Samsung has added a dedicated ‘Food mode’ in the camera.
On a sunny day, the images shot with the S7 edge look as great as those clicked with its higher megapixel predecessor. Low-light is where the S7 edge stands out. It captures stunning detail where most smartphone cameras go blind.
For selfies, the S7 edge sports a 5-megapixel camera. It is backed by Samsung’s ‘beautify’ software tweaks, which can make Om Puri’s skin look like that of Katrina Kaif.
The phone records crisp videos at 4K resolution at 30 fps. It is an overkill at least for now, unless you have a gigantic screen at home. I recorded most videos in Full HD, as it supports relatively smoother 60 fps.
With speed, usability, and quality taken into consideration, the S7 edge is one of the best snappers on the smartphone. If you are tired of carrying a bulky standalone camera, the S7 edge can be your ideal companion.
The Galaxy S7 edge comes with two different chipsets depending on the markets. Samsung uses its in-house Exynos 8890 SoC (System On A Chip) for India, while the Americans get Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820. We have used the Indian retail unit, so cannot comment on the Snapdragon version. However, what we know for sure is that the Indian variant pulls of amazing performance.
The Exynos 8890 features four custom Mongoose CPU cores clocked-in at 2.1 GHz and four ARM Cortex-A53 processors 1.6 GHz (yawn). The chipset features a powerful Mali-T880 MP12 GPU (obviously a good thing for gaming). Like most high-end phones, the Galaxy S7 edge comes with 4 GB RAM, which is more than enough even for heavy multitasking. The internal storage is 32 GB. If you don’t use two SIM cards, the hybrid slot can be used for a microSD card (up to 200 GB). This should be enough to take care of your media collection. On a related note, the S7 edge’s sound output is brilliant when paired with a decent IEMs (In Ear Monitors). What I miss here is the FM radio.
Moving on to connectivity features, the phone’s network reception is spot on. The call quality is surprisingly good for a waterproof phone. It is impressive how Samsung has managed to keep the earpiece sound loud and clear despite adding an extra layer of protection to the phone.
Leave your charger at home
Battery life has been the Achilles heel for the Galaxy S6 edge. However, the S7 edge not only solves the battery woes, but performs way better than most flagship phones. Samsung’s solution is simple and efficient. If the battery does not last long enough, increase the capacity. The Galaxy S7 edge packs-in 3600 mAh battery, which is 1000 mAh more compared to its predecessor. It is incredible how the folks at Samsung have managed to squeeze in such a high capacity battery in a device so sleek.
On 4G, the battery would last me a day and half, which is impressive. There’s a catch though. I do not own/use smartwatches, smart bulbs, smart pillows, or dog collars (fitness trackers). If you sync your phone with any of these, the battery endurance may vary.
Sell your kidney
A typical flagship Android smartphone verdict reads like “If you prefer Android go for the S7 edge. Those who love iOS are better off with the iPhone 6S Plus”. However, the S7 edge is an exception. It completely blows Apple’s latest and the greatest out of the water. Be it screen, camera, ergonomics, or construction, the Korean flagship gets a clear “edge” over Apple’s latest iPhone. So if you are looking for a top-end phone, currently there’s no alternative to the S7 edge. I know, Rs 57,000 is a lot of money. However, there has been instances of Chinese people selling off their kidneys for an iPad. Why discriminate against the Galaxy S7 edge then?
- User Experience7