Last year, instead of releasing one Galaxy S flagship, Samsung’s S line bifurcated into regular and curved versions with the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge. Later on, the Edge line split again with a Galaxy S6 Edge Plus.
In 2016, Samsung merged the S6 Edge and S6 Edge Plus into, wait for it, the Galaxy S7 Edge.
Last year, the GS6 and GS6 Edge weren’t all that different so I thought the regular version was the smarter choice. However, this time around, the difference between them is more pronounced. The screen size on the Edge has grown from 5.1 to 5.5” with a few other changes under the hood.
Is the regular version still the one to get or has it been supplanted by the Edge?
What about the Samsung Galaxy S7?
If you’re looking at the S7 Edge, chances are you’re also considering its more affordable sibling the Galaxy S7.
There are 3 main differences; price, the display and battery life.
Unlike last year’s GS6 and GS6 Edge, the difference in screen size is more noticeable. It doesn’t quite feel quite as large as a flat 5.5” display, but it definitely feels bigger than the GS7’s 5.1” display.
The Edge’s curved display does make it a bit harder to use. I suggest you pick up a case to give you more to hold onto though I guess you could say the same thing about the Edgeless GS7 too.
The real reason to buy the Edge is for its huge 3600mAh battery. Even most power users will find it lasts the day for them. It lasted as a GPS in my car for 6hrs the other day with plenty of juice last over.
Unlike last year where I’d pick the “regular” version, I think the Edge is the better choice this time around.
What about the HTC 10?
With its metal back, the 10 is even more solid than the GS7 though it lacks its water resistance.
The Edge has a much brighter display which, to my eye, looks better. It also loses a lot less light off-angle compared to the HTC.
You also get noticeable better battery life with the Edge plus it runs noticeably cooler (the Exynos one anyways).
The 10 takes better pictures but the Edge’s launches and focuses a bit faster which makes it a bit more usable.
Of course, while the 10 is a pricey phone, the Edge costs quite a bit more than the 10.
This is a tough choice but I’d probably go with the Edge.
What about the LG G5?
The G5 is an interesting alternative to the Edge. First and foremost, it’s considerably more affordable.
While it has a 5.3” display, when you consider that the extremities of the Edge’s display aren’t that usable they’re more-or-less the same size.
What I like about the G5 is that I find it much easier to use than the Edge. The on-screen buttons and lack of a curved screen just make it much easier to handle.
The G5’s display is pretty bright straight on but overall I think the Edge has a superior display.
You also get more battery life out of the Edge.
The G5’s wild cards are its cameras. The G5’s 16 megapixel “main” camera isn’t as good as the GS7’s but the secondary 8 megapixel wide-angle camera makes for some very interesting shots.
Here I’d probably pick the G5 most of the time but the Edge is a good choice too.
What about the Huawei Nexus 6P?
Then there’s the Nexus 6P. The Nexus has better speakers and a larger display. It also has a much friendlier price tag and will receive updates much faster than the Edge.
Otherwise, the Edge has a better camera mostly because it focuses faster and has optical image stabilization. It also has removable storage, more RAM, a faster processor and better display
That said, given the difference in price, I’d say 50/50 between the Edge and the 6P.
- 5.5” LCD display
- 2560x1440 resolution
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB storage
- Samsung Exynos 8890
- 12MP rear facing camera with phase detection
- Optical image stabilization
- 5MP Front camera
- 3600mAh battery
- Wireless charging
- Android 6.0.1
- Fingerprint reader
- LTE bands: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/18/19/20/25/29/30/38/39/40/41
- 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9
You get a glass front and back with metal sides. It all fits together perfectly. The Edge is an expensive phone with a body to back up the price tag.
Even better yet, the Edge is water resistant. This includes the headphone jack and charging port. You don’t need to close or cover any doors to keep the water out.
That said, if you drop it, all bets are off and I’d try to keep it dry.
The screen curves over the sides about half way. There are capacitive buttons at the corners of the bottom of the front. I find that these 2 design features make the Edge much harder to hold than it has to be.
I guess the capacitive menu buttons are they’re more intuitive to use than on-screen ones but boy, are they ever easy to press accidentally.
The skinny sides also make it easier to accidentally press the screen plus it makes it less comfortable to hold.
It’s really noticeable when you’re using the phone with one hand - you have to hold it very loosely to use it. It also hurts to hold it for a long time if you’re gaming or watching video because you have to be really careful you don’t press anything by accident.
I also noticed the Edge isn’t the greatest phone to hand someone because again, there’s nothing to hold onto.
The buttons all stick out enough that they’re easy to find plus they click with a reasonably good feel.
The home button doubles as a fingerprint reader. Make sure you use your finger at a lot of angles when you’re training it as I found it occasionally had some trouble recognizing mine.
The camera bulge on the back isn’t quite as tall as it is on the GS6 so it sits a little nicer if you put it on a table. Next to the camera bulge are the flash and heart rate monitor.
There’s a MicroUSB connector on the bottom so chances are you already have a bunch of accessories which can charge it.
In front is a large 5.5” 2560x1440 SuperAMOLED display.
It’s extremely bright, almost as bright as the 6s Plus’ display with excellent color, good viewing angles and extremely deep blacks. While SuperAMOLED displays struggle outdoors in direct sunlight the GS7 does well because it’s so bright.
The screen does shift a little off-angle but to be fair, every AMOLED phone I’ve tried in the past few years does this too.
Compared with last year’s GS6 pair which were almost the same size, the Edge is a bit of a shift in strategy.
Actually, last year Samsung had the 5.1” Galaxy S6 Edge and the 5.7” S6 Edge Plus. So the lineup consolidates both these phones into one model.
If you’re comparing the Edge with other phablets, one thing to keep in mind is that the entire screen isn’t always usable because the curved sides becoming less view-able the further along the sides you go. That said, often times you could say the same thing about a non-curved display.
As good as the viewing angles are, the curved edge does cause some viewability issues. They’re not serious but the color shifts a tiny bit on the sides. It’s noticeable when you’re looking pictures.
Samsung does try to add some functionality to the curved screen. There’s a launcher which you can use by swiping the edge. It’s not useless but I mean there are so many ways to launch programs already. It can also display a ticker which sounds useful but really, is anyone going to use that? You can also setup the edges to glow different colours depending on the caller ID.
There is an “always on” feature where the Edge displays the date, battery life, time and some basic notifications even when the screen is off. Since the Edge comes with an AMOLED screen where only the lit pixels draw power this has a minimal impact on battery life. It’s also a bit more dramatic than the same feature on the G5. The LG G5 has a LCD display so you can really see that the whole screen is lit up whereas the Edge doesn’t lit up the whole room.
Overall, while the display is excellent, it would be even better if it weren’t curved. Think about it, you’re paying extra for a distorted screen.
On the back is a 12 megapixel camera with optical image stabilization. The Edge’s trick is that each of these pixels is capable of phase detection. What this means is that the Edge has extremely fast focusing - even when there isn’t much light. Indeed the difference between it and it’s competitors is dramatic - even ones with infrared laser focus assist (a feature that doesn’t really do much).
It has an excellent sensor with good low light performance which takes high quality stills. It’s not quite as clean as the sensor in the HTC 10 but it’s better than the iPhone 6s Plus.
That said, in JPEG mode the GS7 tends to over-saturate pictures which results in annoying color at times.
There are a lot of camera options but the software works quite well so it’s reasonably easy to use.
It’s also worth pointing out that the HTC 10 and G5 can only record 5 minutes of 4K video at a time while the GS7 can record more than 5 minutes of 4K video.
Video looks good with excellent audio.
You get Android 6.0.1 with Samsung’s Touchwiz overlay. These days overlays are becoming vestigial features and for the most part, Touchwiz is the same thing.
Samsung does try to address this by removing some things from Touchwiz and making them optional downloads from their app store (another vestigial feature).
Still, there's some new features. Samsung has their game launcher which is able to do stuff like turn the capacitive buttons off while you’re playing a game or record your game.
Samsung also has their new Samsung Members which you can use to receive technical support.
The GS7 Edge sold in Canada comes with Samsung’s Exynos SoC while the ones sold in the ‘States comes with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820. Apparently the 820 includes CDMA support which is still used in the US whereas in Canada, it’s not that common.
In terms of performance, they’re both quite close.
The real difference between the HTC 10/G5 and the GS7 Edge is how hot they run. After recording 6 minutes of 4K video the Edge is barely warm to the touch while the HTC 10 is a bit warmer (but not hot).
As a Phone:
The earpiece and speakerphone both have a volume boost feature so their maximum volume are above average. I’m not sure why more companies don’t include this feature.
RF performance is good.
The Edge come with a large-ish 5.5” screen however, the large, 3600mAh battery more than makes up for this.
SuperAMOLED phones tend to do very well on my Netflix test (50% brightness, 1hr of Netflix via WiFi in my office, maximum volume, power saver settings on default):
The Edge knocked the test out of the park with a whopping 14.3hrs. While it doesn’t actually last 2x as long as the HTC 10 in the real world, the battery life is still very impressive.
I drove for 6hrs on the weekend and the Edge was able to provide guidance unplugged the whole time with a bit of juice in the tank left over afterwards.
There is support for wireless charging.
There’s a speaker at the bottom. It’s very powerful with decent range and sounds like it has been tuned. It doesn’t sound quite as good as the Nexus 6P or the HTC 10 but it’s more powerful than the HTC so it’s a good compromise.
There is 32GB of built-in storage. If that’s not enough you can add a MicroSD.
This time around Samsung made the Edge good enough to make it worth the extra dough over the regular flat version. While I’m still not sold on paying extra for a phone whose screen has been distorted on purpose, the huge battery really makes it worth it.
Aside from some questionable ergonomics which are a result of the curved display and buttons which are too easy to press,
4.5 Howies out of 5.
- Water resistant
- Fast Camera
- Long battery life
- Bright display
- Display viewing angles
- Not easy to handle