Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review: Design and build quality

Over the years, the Samsung Galaxy S range has developed and changed quite a bit, with each flagship offering a different design to its predecessor – quite recognisably so. However, that seems to have changed with the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, which looks a lot like the S6 edge with its curved edge display and body comprised of a gorgeous combination of glass and metal.

Also see: Best new phones, tablets, laptops & more at MWC 2016.

While some may feel cheated, we're pretty happy that Samsung decided to stick with a design that made the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge two of the most desirable phones of 2015. You can hardly blame the firm for not fixing something which wasn't broken.

One big change is that the S7 edge is bigger than its predecessor. Instead of offering two different sizes of the phone, Samsung has decided to make the S7 edge the larger option out of the two S7 phones. To this end, it's 5.5in in screen size which is slightly smaller than the 5.7in wielding S6 edge+.

Despite this move, the S7 edge doesn't feel like a huge phone. An impressive 76 percent screen-to-body ratio means that it's actually only marginally bigger than the regular S7 – we're talking 2mm wider and 8mm taller.

At 7.8mm (Samsung says 7.7mm), the Galaxy S7 edge is a little thicker than the S6 edge which means two things. The first is that the camera bump is a lot smaller, 0.5mm, which is nice and there's also room for a bigger battery – although it's still not removable. We'll talk about battery life later on in the review, but for now we applaud Samsung for providing this rather than trying to simply make a thinner phone for the sake of the numbers.

In terms of placement, everything is where it was before (buttons, ports and slots). You might notice that Samsung has stuck with a Micro-USB port instead of moving to USB Type-C (we'll talk about this more in the hardware section). However, what you can't see from the outside is the resurgence of the Micro-SD card slot, which is combined with the SIM-card in one tray. It's a big advantage over the iPhone and some Android rivals, too.

Galaxy S7 edge waterproof

Many Galaxy S6 owners were disappointed at the lack of waterproofing which was introduced on the Galaxy S5. However, it's one of the key design features of the Galaxy S7 edge (and regular model). It offers a rating of IP68, which means it's totally dust tight and can be submerged in up to 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes. Better still, there's no fiddling with any flaps to cover ports or making sure the rear cover is clipped in properly (as on the S5).

With a very similar design to last year's S6 edge phones, the Galaxy S7 edge looks stunning with glass which almost wraps around to the back – which is also glass. Once again, it's easily in the top best looking phones on the market. A subtle tweak is that Samsung has removed all the silver bezels around the home button, camera, and the module containing the flash and heart rate monitor so things are a bit stealthier.

The design does have its drawbacks, though, as the thin metal frame at the side (due to the edge screen) makes it hard to pick up from a flat surface. The super smooth glass front and back also makes it a very slippery phone. Last but not least is that the back of the S7 edge is still a fingerprint magnet so you'll be wiping it constantly.

We've taken a look at the Onyx Black S7 edge which is blacker than the Galaxy S6 which had a nice blue tint. There's also a Gold Platinum colour and although those are the only ones available in the UK at the time of writing there are also white and Silver Titanium colours, too. The latter of which is a bit overly mirrored for our taste.

Update 20 April: A new pink gold colour option was made available in South Korea today, and is coming to selected markets soon.

Also see: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Samsung Galaxy S7.

Also see: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs LG G5.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review: Hardware and specs

There's a lot to talk about when it comes to the hardware on offer with the Galaxy S7 edge. Phones are seriously advanced pieces of kit these days, arguably the most advanced considering how much is squeezed into something which fits into your pocket. We've split this section of the review up into smaller digestible chunks.

Galaxy S7 edge screen - Bigger is better for the S7 edge?

As mentioned in the design section, the screen size of the Galaxy S7 edge has jumped to 5.5in. That's in-between the S6 edge and S6 edge+ (5.1- and 5.7in respectively) which makes it seem like Samsung is only going to offer the one size and a shame for those out there who liked the smaller size edge screen. Perhaps Samsung was testing the water with the previous models to see which was more popular.

The size is really the main difference here in terms of the display tech. Samsung has stuck with a Quad HD resolution (1440x2560) instead of following Sony down the 4K route. That's something we're glad of after finding the Xperia Z5 Premium simply unnecessary. A pixel density of 534ppi ensures a perfectly crisp image.

Galaxy S7 edge screen

As expected, the firm continues to use its preferred SuperAMOLED screen technology which provides an excellent all-round viewing experience including superb contrast, brightness and viewing angles. Colours are, as usual, vibrant and punchy which results in an impressive effect but some may find it a little over the top. If you don't like the look of the display you can switch the screen mode between adaptive (default), AMOLED cinema, AMOLED photo and basic. These modes adjust the colour range, saturation and sharpness of the screen.

The main reason to buy the Galaxy S7 edge over the regular S7, or other smartphones, is the dual edge display. We'll talk more about what it can do in the software section below, but it looks and feels awesome even when you're not doing anything with it. When you swipe between homescreen panels or the app menu, icons roll satisfyingly off and on the sides. It doesn't have the same impact for scrolling vertically though a web page or watching a video in landscape but it's still nice – most certainly a luxury than a necessity.

As previously the Galaxy S7 features Smart Stay will keep the display on as long as you're looking at it. For example, it will ignore your screen time out and keep the display on if you're reading an article or looking at an image. It's another feature which needs switching on in the settings, though.

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