My Initial Thoughts on the Galaxy S7 Edge

About a year ago, I converted fully to Apple’s ecosystem. After years of switching between Android and iOS, I decided to make the jump to just one OS that could tide me over for 24 months, but I found that harder than I had first thought. I’ve been into smartphones and technology in general since 2010. My first smartphone was the Nexus One, and my perspective on technology and how things worked truly changed from the day I owned that device. Android was in its infancy back in those days, with the Nexus being the flagship, unadulterated Android ‘experience’ and the first of its kind to run Google’s latest operating system. One thing I loved about Android back then was the simplicity of it. No fancy notification toggles, no fancy applications that could make you coffee and things such as smartwatches weren’t even a thought. Simplicity was one thing that kept me intrigued with Android and its unassuming yet satisfying (for the time) design.

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When iOS came along, I was tentative, to say the least. My first iPhone was the 3G, and for lack of a better phrase, it kept me away from Android to such a point where I never missed it. iOS did more of the same from what Android provided but in different ways. It had a touch of consistency. Now it was hard to gauge this back when the 3G came out, but it’s a gut feeling that did in the later years pay off. iOS flourished into a wonderfully designed and contained ecosystem and works in perfect harmony with anything Apple (which is to be expected).

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I’m going off track here — the point is, I was, and still am addicted to iOS. But I have always had a soft spot for Android. It was my first mobile operating system that I used, and it also exposed me to how smartphones worked and to this day, gave me a passion for writing. I was using an iPhone 6s Plus until the Galaxy S7 came out, and something about that line of devices restored my faith in Samsung, and better yet, Android. From the Galaxy S1 to the Galaxy S6, I have owned each and every Samsung flagship device going in the ‘S’ line. Sure, it’s had some bumps along the way, but you can’t deny Samsung’s tenacity to do better each year. The S7 re-kindled a feeling deep inside that I never clamoured for in any Android device over the past 2–3 years. Smartphones in that time had reached their peak in terms of performance and it was up to the manufacturers to come up with groundbreaking hardware to get every last sale out of the device. The operation system wasn’t going to sell it because there’s a lot of Android devices out there that do exactly the same thing as the next. Sure, you get the odd feature that may be of use to you, but it’s rare they do.
I purchased the Galaxy S7 edge around 5 days ago, and here are my impressions on the device so far.

Hardware

One thing that I always praised Apple for in the past is its capability of manufacturing some of the most beautiful looking handsets on the Market. They always pushed the envelope and left its competition in the shadows at the end of the day. Samsung has been Apple’s closest competitor since the S1, and Samsung only a few times have beaten Apple in sales since 2010. One reason for this, among many, is the way Apple products are designed. Apple has always thrived for great design because it’s the first thing a customer sees and feels. Samsung’s choice of design for the majority of their S devices have been…not very attractive for the most part. The Galaxy S2 was an exception as that device really was outstanding in its hardware innovations, making a slim, squared off powerhouse that sold like hot cakes. Samsung was then in some sort of rut for the years to follow with the S3, S4 and even the S5 being very ‘safe’ designs that weren’t too appealing to the eye.

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The Galaxy S7 changed all that. Samsung took what was simply outstanding from the Galaxy S6, improved on it and listened to its customers.
The device feels compact, yet bolstering a 5.5-inch display. It’s easy to hold with one-handed use being not too far of a dream with so many big phones out there today, and the most important thing that I can never stress enough is that the device feels and acts premium. It looks ‘the business’ and feels it, too. Samsung went directly after Apple with their design and build, beating them in every capacity possible. Going back to my iPhone 6s Plus anytime I have used the S7 edge since purchase and it’s like using a Galaxy Mega. It feels bulky in the hand, it’s way too heavy and one-handed use is damn near impossible.

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The S7 edge has a contoured back which makes the device one of the most ergonomic smartphones I have ever had the pleasure of handling. The glass back can get slippery at times, but I’ve never been so concerned that I would drop it. After using it for a while you get used to the feel and how you would grip the device so that would never be an option.

The edge, as clued in the name, uses Samsung’s curved OLED technology which has to be one of my favourite implementations of a ‘newer’ technology to date. The features that come out of the box for the edge display leave little to be desired, but the way the display curves around the device add a new depth and immersion to your viewing experience. It’s a little touch that goes a long way.

Display

Speaking of the display, Samsung, as we all know have been leading the charge in terms of display technologies for as long as I can remember. They have been at the forefront of every good review of a device with a Samsung panel included. They innovated the AMOLED panel, and while it has had some hiccups along the way, the S7 edge may be its best iteration of this technology. I really believe Samsung have hit their peak with this technology and it’s going to be hard for an LCD panel to compete.

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AMOLED always got some negativity surrounding it due to the fact the whites weren’t ‘pure’. The non-pentile matrix that was featured in a few Samsung devices changed that, but Samsung, for reasons unknown went against using it for a short while. In the S7 edge, while using a pentile matrix, the display just looks phenomenal. From the natural-looking colours without being too vibrant, to the purest of pure blacks coupled with the lustrous curves of the display, it’s hard for me to say a bad word about the implementation this time round. The whites are just as pure as a conventional LCD panel. The only LCD panel device I have laying around is an iPhone 6s Plus, and they’re pretty much neck and neck on the whites front.
The always-on display, while convenient, really adds no purpose for me. It doesn’t display notifications, and when it does display them it’s only from Samsung’s messaging app (go figure).

Software

The main reason why I never returned to Android on a more permanent basis was because of its ‘all over the place’ mantra. Google didn’t really know where they were going with Android up until recently when they got their act together and showed a sign of consistency. When the material design was first announced at Google I/O, I was over the moon. Android was in dire need of some consistency for me, and this was the right way to do it. Matias Duarte (be praised) said it was like layers of paper or something. I can never remember due to his ridiculous shirts, but you get the gist of it. My main staying point in iOS was consistency and Google were now providing this.

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Samsung’s OEM skin TouchWiz, on the other hand, is a whole different ball game. They have been known in the past to use over the top gaudy colour scheming with overbearing features that nobody ever uses, yet they insist you use them. In the S7, it’s probably one of the better OEM skins now. You can dwell and stick to Samsung’s past all you want, but the S7’s interface is just as good as any other skin. It’s toned down, uses a more materialistic colour scheme, and shows consistency all the way through. One thing I will say however is that the home screen icons Samsung chose are awful. This can be changed via a theme, though, so I’m not going to go into where I got my pitchfork from.

The software features that Samsung has forced in the past are now disabled by default and can be enabled in the settings menu if you so wish. The notification area is where the facelift and re-imagining of TouchWiz’ design really shows. They went from a dull blue and green to a white and matte blue look.
Overall, TouchWiz is a lot neater and has matured. I keep saying this, but consistency is key and Samsung did well to keep it this year.

Camera

I won’t go into too much detail on this one because I haven’t really tested the camera to its full capacity, but from what I’ve tested so far. All I can say is this:
Smartphone cameras, much like the performance, have reached their peak in quality in the last year. There hasn’t been a smartphone in 2015 that had a bad camera and this year is no different. The Galaxy S7’s camera outclasses the majority of the competition out there, with wondrous low-light shots, to punchy moderate light shooting which will make you wonder if you took this with a DSLR or a smartphone.

Battery Life

A smartphone’s battery life is increasingly becoming a valuable and important commodity over the years. When smartphones were in their infancy back 2010, people were just happy that these phones actually had a battery, never mind if it could last you a whole day or not. But now smartphones have matured and taken the world by storm in this generation of everything social, battery life is the most important feature for a smart device. Apple have been known to make the iPhones with exceptional battery and Android devices usually stand aside while Apple take all the battery glory. Newer Android devices over the last year have had equal, if not better battery life than the current iPhones. The S7 edge doesn’t change that.

Here’s the low-down of my battery use with the S7 edge:

I unplug the device at around 6:45 and browse Reddit (Sync for Reddit) for 30 minutes – the battery is probably drained to around 98% after cute kitten gifs and Captain America trailer watching. After that, I browse my favourite technology websites and catch up on the days news for 10-15 minutes before I head out to work. On my commute to work, the battery is probably at around 97-96%. On my commute to work (which is usually 30-40 minutes), I watch a TV show or part of a film on Netflix – After tha 30-40 minutes, the battery will be usually at 89-90%. When I’m in work, I send the odd texts, respond to Slack messages and Tweet every so often – After the work day, thanks to Doze, it’s at around 85%. My commute home is the usual Netflix for 30-40 minutes which takes the battery to 80%. When I’m home, I use my Chromecast to case Netflix, iPlayer etc. I usually end the day with 6-7 hours screen on time with 30-40% left when I charge it.

I don’t use my phone as often as I should, but even I know that the S7 edge produces some fantastic battery results.

Conclusion

If it wasn’t apparent already, I really like the Galaxy S7 edge. Samsung took a winning formula that made the S6 great and improved on it tenfold with its next version. The display is out of this world, the build quality is on another level above the competition, and the camera seems to be killer.
I can’t say for sure yet if I’m fully converted back to Android, but I made the right choice in the S7 if I had any chance of being back for good. There’s not a lot wrong with the S7 and if there is then it would be bordering the nit-picking department.

About Kurt Colbeck

Cynical, bitter, and speaks his mind. And those are my good points! I like to ramble and I love technology, so this is why I'm here.

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