It's more a software feature but the Galaxy S7 edge display is 'always on' should you want it to be. This means you can get basic information without even laying a finger on the phone. You'll get information such as the time, date and battery percentage, plus notifications although this seems to be limited to calls and text messages.
What's disappointing is that there's little control over this feature. You can choose between a clock, calendar and image to display, with a few different styles for each and an optional background for the first two. However, you can't choose to switch off notifications for example, or stop the widget jumping around the screen periodically. When it does move – presumably to avoid lighting up the same pixels constantly – it's distracting and occasionally sits annoyingly a fraction off centre. This will, of course, use more battery juice but it's not enough to have a significant impact on battery life.
Making sure the screen switches off when it's somewhere dark like a pocket or a bag is something we thought happened automatically but you actually need to switch this on in the display settings.
Update October 2016: Samsung is rolling out an update to the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge that includes the new features introduced by the Note 7’s always-on display (before it was discontinued). These include a new calendar option, a new digital clock to which you can add a custom text signature, the ability to show the current music track, and some enhancements to battery usage that see the always-on display consume just 1% per hour. You can update to version 1.4.02 of the Always on Display in the Galaxy Apps store, or by tapping Settings, Display, Always On Display, About Always on Display, Update.
Although we would have put good money on the Galaxy S7 edge getting the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor in the UK, it's a good job we didn't as it actually has Samsung's own Exynos 8890 chip instead. There's also an upgrade in the form of 4GB of RAM, a rather healthy amount for a smartphone – the Galaxy S6 models have 3GB.
For those of you interested in the technical details, the Exynos 8890 is an octa-core processor which features four 2.3GHz cores and four 1.6GHz cores. The chip will decide which to use based on the task. The GPU is a Mali-T880 MP12 which is a step up from the Mali-T760 MP8 found in the Galaxy S6 edge.
Overall, Samsung says the Galaxy S7 is 30 percent faster on the CPU front and 64 percent faster when it comes to graphics. In our tests, the S7 edge isn't far off these claims.
Checkout all the full Galaxy S7 edge benchmark results compared with its predecessor and rivals in the below interactive table.
As well as testing screen sizes with the Galaxy S6 models, Samsung may have also been seeing which storage capacity consumers prefer by matching the iPhone 6S with 32-, 64- and 128GB models. The Galaxy S7 edge, as mentioned earlier, heralds the return of expandable storage. Correcting the lack of a Micro-SD card slot on the previous model is the right move and likely to be why Samsung is only producing the Galaxy S7 edge in a 32GB capacity.
This is a key advantage for the Galaxy S7 in the battle against the iPhone and the Micro-SD slot can support up to 200GB cards. However, despite running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the phone doesn't allow for Adoptable Storage – a feature which allows a memory card to be viewed as internal storage, combined with the built in storage.
It appears that Samsung has made this decision, in part, to avoid confusing users. It's a shame but not the end of the world; you'll just have to carry on using the memory card in the old fashioned way. You can move apps to SD card on the Galaxy S7 edge via the storage section of the setting menu. Navigate to the apps section of internal storage, select the apps, hit change and choose SD card.
There's no change on the fingerprint scanner front, it's still hidden inside the physical home button which sits below the screen. The button is more discrete as it no longer has a silver rim around the edge.
You can register a fingerprint to unlock the phone with (using a backup password, PIN or pattern) during the initial set up. Thereafter, you can head into the settings to add more of your digits – doing at least both your thumbs will be useful and you can add up to four in total.
The disappointment here is that we've not found the fingerprint scanner on the S7 edge very quick or reliable. We frequently get messages such as 'no match' or 'keep your finger on the home key a little longer'. It essentially is a bit picky so you need to be quite careful about how you touch the sensor which is a problem we didn't even find with the Galaxy S6. It's by no means unusable but certainly frustrating at times.
If the same happens to you, try re-registering your fingerprint. After doing this, we have seen things improve a little. Interestingly, it's not an issue we've encountered on the regular Galaxy S7.
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