Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge long-term review: Samsung’s Android 7.0 update for the S7 and S7 Edge has been rolling out at a snail’s pace, but with Nougat now onboard how does the company’s current flagship compare one year on from when it originally launched?
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge long term review: Design
On our first encounter with the S7 Edge, we concluded that it was nothing short of “the best looking phone on the market, period.” The curved glass on the front and back, the thin metal frame and an almost flush camera arrangement make for a winning combination of impressive engineering and effortless style. Despite the relatively fragile nature of glass, even toughened smartphone glass, the S7 Edge has held its lustre incredibly well, even if fingerprints and smudges are an enduring annoyance.
There are a couple of small nicks on the corners of the metal frame and some mild abrasions to the cover glass, but all in all, you’d be hard-pressed to tell whether it’s weeks or months old. The IP68-certification has proved to be a reassuring bonus of opting for the Edge as a daily driver, as it’s allowed for carefree use in the rain or near the kitchen sink, frequently a splash zone when washing up is involved.
In fact, a lack of USB-C is one of the only visible indicators that this is one of the older flagships currently on the market.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge long term review: Screen
The Edge’s signature dual-curved display is unquestionably a case of function playing second fiddle to form, with little in the way of innovation or expansion of its original feature-set over the last twelve months, but who cares? Samsung’s marketing for the impending arrival of 2017’s Galaxy S8 suggests a bezel-free viewing experience, but the screen on its 2016 flagship is practically there already. The curves allow for an edge-to-edge display that’s essentially unparalleled right now and whilst the value behind the UI features designed to add purpose to those curves may be paper-thin, it doesn’t detract from how nice this phone is to hold and look at, or that it has a footprint closer to that of an iPhone 7, despite offering the screen size as a 7 Plus.
The Quad HD Super AMOLED panel at play is still one of the best on the market, having lost next to none of its vivacity, whilst also continuing to dole out bright visuals with pin-sharp detail and clarity. The always-on feature, which we’ve now seen trickle down to more affordable Samsung handsets like the Galaxy A5 (2017), is unquestionably useful as well, not to mention the night clock, which admittedly is an edge screen feature.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge long term review: OS
Whilst being able to make the jump to Android 7.0 took an absolute age, TouchWiz – Samsung’s Android overlay, already offered now native features like split-screen multitasking from the off, so the new upgrade didn’t actually feel all that drastic.
Since Nougat, however, UI elements have been brought up to date to bring the Edge in line with the interfaces already offered up by the aforementioned 2017 A5 and the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7. There’s more subtlety throughout the updated user experience from an aesthetic standpoint, made most obvious by elements like the app icons and notifications pane.
Beyond that, there’s a new performance manager, Samsung Pass to better handle the protection of your phone’s accounts and security, and revisions to other existing elements, like the addition of an S Finder field within that new notifications pane.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge long term review: Performance
If you’re looking at raw benchmarking scores, the Exynos 8890 running the show inside the UK version of the S7 Edge has slipped a little ways down the leaderboards, with the likes of the Google Pixel, iPhone 7 and Sony Xperia XZ all out-ranking on tools like Antutu.
Despite the expected fall in oomph, however, real-world usage tells a different story. There’s no doubting this phone’s actual performance still being considered flagship-class; with short app load times, fast boot times and next to no trouble for multitasking in one of the various guises possible on the Edge.
32GB of storage is a relatively conservative amount for a flagship handset nowadays, but with the continued rise of cloud services and the phone’s microSD expandability, we’re yet to fill our Edge up to its absolute fullest. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t hoping for at least double the base amount come its successor’s time to shine.
As for battery life, the 3600mAh cell inside the S7 Edge can still be considered a sizeable power plant and longevity hasn’t notably diminished in the last year. With heavy usage, our unit lasts around a day and with lighter loads you can expect up to a day and a half still. The Nougat update hasn’t really changed battery performance all that much, but at least you now have greater control over the phone’s power consumption.
The S7 Edge is still a wonderfully smart phone when it comes to battery technology. It’s adaptive fast charging is slower than the competition’s, but it’s still welcome and fast wireless charging support isn’t natively available on any other flagship from the current top dogs.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge long term review: Cameras
The 12-megapixel primary snapper that debuted on both the S7 and S7 Edge was easily the best offering you could find on a phone for the majority of 2016. It wasn’t until the end of the year that the arrival of Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL threw doubt over Samsung’s camera crown.
Whilst there’s no denying the accuracy of the Pixel’s camera, if you’re a fan of Samsung’s more stylised and processed imagery then both S7 phones take outstanding photos that could still be argued are class-leading. What’s more, you’re offered greater control over your shots at capture and in post, there are more modes to add versatility to shooting experience and that f/1.7 aperture paired to EIS and OIS ensures that the Edge (or standard S7) is still the best choice for capturing low light shots with a smartphone.
Read next: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Camera Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge long term review: Verdict
If it isn’t already apparent, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge holds up extremely well twelve months on from its initial release, fighting off long-standing rivals like Apple and newcomers like Google’s Pixels with its killer camera, drop-dead gorgeous design and stunning screen.
Newer devices have brought better fast-charging tech, performance and battery life to the table, but more importantly done so at lower price points. Despite its relatively old age in flagship terms, buying an S7 Edge will still set you back almost £600, making for a difficult purchase when bargains like the OnePlus 3T (£399) now inhabit the same space.
There really isn’t anything with the same makeup as the S7 Edge on the market right now; there are a growing number of handsets that emulate or trump the phone’s best features, but you won’t find such a complete package anywhere else, with the exception of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, expected to launch later this month.
Read next: Samsung Galaxy S7 Long-Term Re-Review
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge long term review: Comparisons
- Apple iPhone 7 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
- Sony Xperia Z5 Premium vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
- Google Pixel XL vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
- Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
- OnePlus 3T vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
- OnePlus 3T vs Google Pixel XL vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: Camera comparison
- Google Pixel XL vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: Camera comparison