Galaxy S7 edge connectivity and other sensors

A fingerprint scanner isn't where the Galaxy S7 edge tech ends, of course. Samsung typically likes to cram every little thing it can into a phone.

The Galaxy S7 edge is 4G-enabled, as you would expect, and supports LTE Cat 9 which can provide download speeds of up to 450Mbps and upload speeds of up to 50Mbps. You won't actually see those figures in real life, though.

It's no surprise to see the latest wireless connectivity including dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 LE with aptX, GPS and NFC. The latter will come in handy when Samsung Pay and Android Pay launch in the UK. The heart hate monitor still sits on the back of the phone next to the camera should you find it useful and the Galaxy S7 edge also has SpO2 sensor (uses the same optical sensor as the heart rate monitor) which measures the oxygen in your blood.

You can access the latter features via the S Health app which also tracks your steps and other activity figures like calories and distance. Helpful for the fitness conscious but the heart rate/SpO2 monitor, like the fingerprint scanner, can take a few attempts before getting a reading.

Despite packing in all that tech, Samsung has dropped something from the spec sheet which has been part of its flagship range since the Galaxy S4. The IR blaster (infrared sensor) is no longer so you can't use the S7 edge to control gadgets around the house like your TV or amplifier.

Galaxy S7 edge battery life, wireless charging, Quick Charge and USB

Although Samsung has clearly answered requests for waterproofing and Micro-SD, the Galaxy S7 edge doesn't have a removable battery - the LG G5 does despite its metal design. The saving grace here is that the capacity has been increased to a generous 3600mAh which is 600mAh more than the Galaxy S6 edge+ so we really don't mind that the phone is a little fatter.

Galaxy S7 edge battery life is impressive and over a 24 hour period of what we'd call regular usage we still had 59 percent of the juice left. On that basis, the phone will last a decent two days unless you rinse it with demanding tasks like watching films or gaming. In our battery benchmark using Geekbench 3, the Galaxy S7 edge set a record with 11 hours and 25 minutes and a score of 6855 outpacing the Huawei Mate 8 which lasted 10 hours 15 minutes with a score of 6091.

The regular Galaxy S7 with its smaller battery (3000mAh) managed nine hours and 15 minutes in the same test.

Galaxy S7 edge USB port

Samsung hasn’t gone with the reversible USB Type-C port and has instead stuck with Micro-USB 2.0. That may surprise some for a flagship phone in 2016 but Samsung told PC Advisor that it doesn't see the value. The same is true when it comes to Quick Charge 3.0 so the Galaxy S7 edge with the Snapdragon 820 processor only supports Quick Charge 2.0.

With the UK model powered by the Exynos 8890, Samsung says the S7 edge can charge to full in 100 minutes using its own 'Adaptive Fast Charging' which you can even switch off in the settings if you're worried about damaging the battery or the phone getting too hot. We found that the S7 edge charged to full in 98 minutes using the supplied charger.

At the end of the day, these are minor quibbles and not only is the Galaxy S7 edge supplied with a fast charger, it also features wireless charging so you'll find it easier to keep topped up if you buy the right accessory.

Galaxy S7 edge cameras

With regards to photography, you'll find a 12Mp at the rear of the Galaxy S7 edge, the same camera as the regular model. The more astute of you will point out that the S6 Edge had a 16Mp camera, and while Samsung has dropped the resolution, megapixels aren't everything and it has made improvements in other areas. The rear-facing camera features a Samsung Britecell sensor only 1/2.6in in size, a 1.4 µm pixel size, 26mm lens and an f/1.7 aperture.

There's no dual-tone LED flash like some rivals but Samsung does offer optical image stabilisation (OIS) here which helps keep videos smooth and avoid blurry pictures. Low light performance is the big thing being touted by Samsung.

As you would expect, the Galaxy S7 edge can shoot video at 4K (2160p) resolution which is at 30fps. It can record slow motion at 240fps at 720p, shoot HDR video and simultaneously record 4K video while capturing 9Mp still images.  

See also: Best phone camera 2016.

Galaxy S7 edge camera

Interestingly, Samsung added a new image type to the S7 and S7 edge - while it wasn't exactly the iPhone Live Photos rival we'd heard rumours about, it's the next best thing. When taking a panorama on a Galaxy S7 edge, you're able to 'play' it back as if it were a video complete with motion, and you're also able to control the direction by swiping the display. It's called Motion Panorama and the effect is somewhat hit and miss depending on the subject.

Taking a photo as standard, the Galaxy S7 edge shoots in a 4:3 aspect ratio so if you want a wider 16:9 you need to dial things down to 9.1Mp at the most. There's no dedicated shutter button as such but you can use the volume buttons instead and the heart rate monitor for the front camera. We love how quickly the camera launches by double tapping the home button, even with the phone locked. You can also shoot quickly with effectively zero shutter lag and quick acting phase detection auto focus.

There are a bunch of different camera modes to choose from so if you don't like sticking with Auto you can launch the Pro mode for detailed control. There's also Selective focus, Video Collage, Live broadcast, Hyperlapse, Food and Virtual shot to name most of them, plus you can download more.

Galaxy S7 edge test photo St.Pancras

Photo quality is excellent. In fact, in our standard comparison shot of St Pancras, the S7 manages to retain such detail – even when shooting in JPEG rather than RAW mode - that individual bricks were visible where other flagship phone cameras deliver a smeary mess.

Overall, images are a little on the soft side for our liking – lacking the biting sharpness of the Nexus 6P, say. Yet some still exhibit the haloing associated with too much sharpening.

Galaxy S7 edge test photo

Colours are fantastic, though, and not just on the Super AMOLED screen. Viewed on a calibrated PC monitor, the warm vibrant tones of a spring day looked great, though some will see them as oversaturated.

Galaxy S7 edge camera test

The f/1.7 lens produces wonderful bokeh (for a phone) but can occasionally become a drawback as the depth of field is narrower than on most other phones. It can mean some people in a group shot are out of focus because they were standing just behind the person you focused on.

At night, things go noticeably downhill. Noise reduction zaps detail and there’s still evidence of noise in the sky of our photo looking out from London Bridge. When there’s a bit more light – say from street lighting or at dusk – photos are markedly improved: as the sharpness of the letters on the street sign show.

Galaxy S7 edge low light camera test

When it comes to video, the S7 is hard to beat. It can shoot sharp, detailed footage in UHD mode, albeit at only 30fps. Our favourite mode is 1080p at 60fps, which along with the very effective stabilisation gives super-smooth video with the same saturated colours you see in the S7’s photos.

Slo-mo video was a little disappointing, partly because there’s no support for 120fps at 1080p which you get with the iPhone 6s. The S7 offers only 240fps at 720p (the iPhone’s lower resolution option). Our tests showed that the 240fps mode produces flickery clips, sometimes even in natural light. Needless to say, you’ll need a special app on a PC to watch the footage in slo-mo and not just at full speed.

Read next: The best smartphones coming in 2016

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