As with almost every other Android smartphone launching in 2016, the S7 Edge features the latest version of the software, Android 6.0 Marshmallow. However, as of January 2017 the Android 7.0 Nougat OTA update should begin rolling out to users.
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Samsung adds its own TouchWiz interface to the stock Android OS which, depending on your opinion, may or may not be a good thing. That said, Samsung has learnt from past mistakes and has trimmed it down nicely, especially with regards to bloatware.
TouchWiz and pre-installed apps
Pre-installed apps on the Galaxy S7 edge include Samsung's own suite (Galaxy Apps, S Health, S Voice, Email, My Files, Voice Recorder, Samsung Gear and Internet) plus Microsoft apps, too (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, OneNote and Skype). Of course, Google's is there also. It's worth noting that you can't uninstall any of them but many can be disabled instead.
TouchWiz means that the user interface is different to stock Android as found on Nexus devices in various areas. For example, the notification bar looks different but you can do things like long press on Quick Setting (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc) to navigate to the appropriate settings. While the recent apps menu is the newer card style view, Samsung adds the upday news aggregator feed (not Flipboard any more) to the left of the main homescreen. This can be switched off if it's not your cup of tea but you can't replace it with something else like Google Now without installing an alternative launcher. Also see: Funny things to ask S Voice.
Long pressing on an empty part any homescreen panel brings up customisation options including the usual ability to change wallpaper and add widgets. You also get access to the Themes store if you want to change the look and feel of TouchWiz, plus 'screen grid' which handily lets you fit more onto the screen if you don't mind app icons being smaller.
Edge screen functionality
As we've mentioned, the edge screen is the main reason to buy the Galaxy S7 edge over the regular model. But what exactly can it do apart from look pretty? Let's take a look.
The Galaxy S6 edge (and Galaxy Note edge) seemed like something of an experiment with Samsung not really knowing what to do with the tech but this has been somewhat refined on the Galaxy S7 edge.
Like before, you bring the edge screen to life by swiping inwards on the 'handle' – a grey bar which can be customised in size, position and transparency. When you do, edge panels will appear including the existing people edge and apps edge. These give you quick access to your favourite contacts and apps but you can now place up to 10 apps on the panel instead of five – but not on the People edge which is a shame.
There are other panels – such as Weather, S Planner and Quick tools - and you can decide which ones you want active and in which order. As well as the pre-loaded ones, you can download more from the internet.
A new addition is the 'Tasks edge' which allow you to do more than just open an app. For example you can compose a message, add a contact or take a selfie. You can choose from a range of different tasks but can't create your own from scratch.
Edge feeds ensure you get information like notifications or S Health data via the edge screen. You can also use Edge lighting so that if the phone is face down, you'll know who is calling by the colour of the edge screen – this only works for contacts in the People edge though but at least both sides now light up instead of the one with the handle. A call from anyone not on your People edge simply lights up green.
With the screen off you can swipe up and down the edge screen the side of the handle to bring up information like notifications. The Night Clock remains a feature and will display a clock on the edge at night, as the name suggests. You can choose which hours for it to start and end, plus which side to display it on.
It's an improved experience but still something of a luxury. We haven't found ourselves using it a great deal but perhaps it's something which becomes more natural over time and with a bit of training.
Multi-tasking and one-handed use
Although there's some hype around the Android N developer preview offering the ability to run two apps side-by-side, Samsung lets you do this already. The Galaxy S7 edge can do this with certain apps by long pressing the recent apps button.
If you're thinking the 5.5in screen might be a bit big for your hands, then Samsung has something to help you out. Switch on 'One-handed operation' and you'll be able to reduce the screen size by tapping the home key three times. It's like having a mini phone and you can switch which side it appears on in case you're left handed. You can also adjust the size and position of the keyboard, keypad, calculator and unlock pattern by switching on 'One-handed input'.
Another key software feature is the new Game Launcher. Switch this on and it will automatically group all your installed games into one place (you can add any that are missed) but it that's by no means the good bit. If you're running out of power you can limit the frame rate to 30fps or even pull back on resolution to save power by taking advantage of the Vulcan API.
The Game Launcher will also (optionally) stop any notifications getting through so you do get disturbed mid-game. A set of game tools bring more benefits such as locking software keys, minimising the game and recording the screen while you play. A small icon like a Facebook chat head sits at the side of the screen to give quick access to the game tools and can be moved to where it's least in the way.
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Samsung Galaxy S7 edge: Specs
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- 5.5in Quad HD display (1440x2560)
- Dual curved edge display
- Exynos 8890 octa-core processor
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB internal storage
- Micro-SD card slot (up to 200GB)
- 12Mp rear-facing camera with OIS
- 5Mp front camera
- Fingerprint scanner
- Heart rate monitor
- 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX
- 4G LTE Cat 9
- 3600mAh non-removable battery
- IP68 dust & waterproof rating
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