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Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphone reviews – Samsung finds its mojo again

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Samsung’s new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are the best smartphones the company has created and combine sleek design, a range of remarkable features and excellent performance into each device.

Unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago, the S7 and S7 Edge go on sale in Australia on Friday after enjoying healthy pre-order sales.

The world’s number one smartphone maker had found its mojo again after the disappointment of last year’s Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge which were not waterproof and had no expandable memory.

These were the features that endeared customers to the brand a year earlier and not having them made the devices oddly similar to arch rival Apple’s iPhone.

The Samsung Galaxy S7
The Samsung Galaxy S7

Unfortunately for Samsung, it lost that device standoff and many customers shifted to the iPhone.

But this time around it’s a completely different story and Samsung is banking on not only winning customers back but also converting iPhone users to the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.

It’s even gone as far as including a Smart Switch section to the set up process and including a USB connector and cable in the box to easily transfer all your content (even from iCloud), contacts and messages from an iPhone to the new S7 device. Of course, it also works transferring content Android to Android.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Another attraction for customers is the fact these new devices are now part of a growing ecosystem of products and services like the Gear VR headset, the Gear S2 smartwatch and, later this year, Samsung Pay which means you can store credit cards, gift cards, membership cards and even travel cards aboard the device instead of in your wallet.

So what makes the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge so good? Let’s take a look.

DESIGN

There has been a subtle design upgrade to the S7 and S7 Edge with a more refined look and feel.

Both devices now have a curved back panel to fit the curvature of your hand with the S7 Edge continuing those curves on either side of the display.

The Galaxy S7 has a 5.1-inch screen and the S7 Edge has a 5.5-inch screen yet each device doesn’t feel too big on your hands.

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A process called 3D Thermoforming was used to seamlessly meld the glass to the curved metal alloy.

The result is a device the exudes quality and feels every bit like a premium device.

Samsung’s trademark dazzling Super AMOLED screen completes the picture and makes it a pleasure to look at your apps and your content.

WATERPROOF

Yes – the S7 and S7 Edge are waterproof – a feature that will give users peace of mind.

Anyone who’s accidentally given their smartphone a swim will certainly appreciate how valuable a feature this is and Samsung’s decision to bring it back to their latest smartphones has been widely applauded.

The new Samsung devices are waterproof
The new Samsung devices are waterproof

The S7 and S7 Edge are completely sealed devices and have an IP68 rating which means they are waterproof and dustproof.

We’ve poured plenty of glasses of water over them and even submerged them underwater during our testing. And they didn’t miss a beat – we just had to find a towel to dry them off.

Samsung says the devices can stay submerged in 1.5m of water for up to 45 minutes.

EXPANDABLE MEMORY

Expandable memory was conspicuous by its absence on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. This feature, which Samsung users favoured as the major difference from the iPhone, is back with a bang.

The new hybrid SIM card tray can now fit a nano SIM and a microSD card to expand the onboard 32GB of memory.

The hybrid SIM card tray
The hybrid SIM card tray

In some markets this hybrid SIM card tray will give users the choice of placing a second SIM card on board instead of a micro SD card. We tried it with our review unit but the second SIM card kept falling out so we believe the dual SIM functionality is not supported in Australia.

CAMERA

The camera is without a doubt one of the best features on the S7 and S7 Edge.

They have an F1.7 lens front and back which allows more light (25 per cent more than the S6) through to the new dual pixel sensor – a first for a smartphone.

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Each pixel has two sensors that captures light independently so you’re going to see much better results in low-light situations. This was a feature first seen in professional DSLR cameras.

Part of the sensor uses a technology called phase detection which contributes to an even faster, almost instant, focus.

When you press the shutter key their is virtually no lag time so you’re not going to miss the moment.

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Anyway, what that all adds up to is one of the best cameras we’ve seen on a smartphone that’s capable of producing excellent pictures.

The camera’s focus is super fast and there is hardly any work that needs to be done to adjust the exposure and the focus.

Touching the darker areas of the screen and it automatically adjusts in a split second. No other adjustment necessary.

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And there are also plenty of modes to choose from including panorama, pro, selective focus, slow motion, beauty and hyperlapse. There’s even a food mode for those of you who love taking pictures of your meal.

The pictures have rich and accurate colours and capture plenty of detail.

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And in low light – the S7 and S7 Edge still manage to make the most of the available light and produce impressive results.

The front facing camera for your selfies has also been stepped up and uses the display as its flash. You can even add an additional glow to your faces with the Spotlight feature in Beauty mode.

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Users can also take a selfie by hitting the flash – which also happens to be a heart rate monitor – on the back of the device.

You’re going to love taking photos and shooting videos with the S7 and S7 Edge and you’ll love looking back at them on the stunning Super AMOLED screen.

PERFORMANCE

On the performance side, the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have had a significant improvement. The onboard octa-processor (a combination of a 2.3Ghz quad-core and 1.6Ghz octa-core processor) is 30 per cent faster than the S6 released less than a year ago.

There’s also 4GB RAM under the hood.

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The bottom line is that the devices are fast.

And for game players, its fast enough to play the latest titles. The new Game Launcher app allows users to manage their battery consumption and even reduce the number of notifications that might interrupt their game play.

Also onboard is the Vulkan API which means you can play the most intense games without smashing the battery.

FINGERPRINT READER

One feature that has vastly improved is the fingerprint reader in the home key. Past versions on older Samsung devices were so slow and clunky we turned them off and stuck with a PIN to unlock the device.

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This time around it only take a couple of minutes to register four fingers and less than a second to unlock it with one of those fingers.

It’s just as fast as the fingerprint reader on the iPhone 6S – and that’s saying something.

EDGE UX

On the S7 Edge, one handy feature is the Edge UX which puts your favourite apps, tasks, and contacts at your fingertips simply by swiping the right edge of the screen.

There also other Edge panels to include like CNN News, your calendar, weather, stocks, sport scores, favourite websites and even tools like a ruler, compass and torch.

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This is one of our favourite features of the S7 Edge.

ALWAYS-ON DISPLAY

One habit of every smartphone user is checking their devices literally hundreds of times of day to find out things like the time, battery level and the number of unread emails.

Constantly unlocking the phone and firing up the screen for this basic information has quite an impact on the battery.

The Always On Display
The Always On Display

The S7 and S7 Edge has an Always On Display that has the time, your calendar, missed calls and unread messages constantly visible on the lock screen.

And it hardly impacts the battery because it only powers the pixels where they are needed.

BATTERY

Speaking of the battery, the performance truly exceeded our expectations. We used both the S7 (3000mAh battery) and the S7 Edge (3600mAh battery) as our go to phones with constant calls, emails, browsing, social media, using apps, playing games as well as taking numerous pictures.

It easily cruised through for an entire day and well into the next.

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And when it is time to recharge the battery, it charges faster then ever before and even tells you how long it will take to completely be recharged.

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

There really isn’t not much we don’t like about the Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.

The S7 Edge’s curved screen needed to be handled carefully when an app was open because an occasional accidental touch of the edges when handling the device could send things back to the home screen or to a different part of the app.

The native email applications on the S7 and S7 Edge are pretty average and they don’t let you include all types of accounts in one combined inbox.

Thankfully the Google Play Store has plenty of other options that work a lot better like BlueMail.

Price-wise, the S7 ($1,149) and the S7 Edge ($1,249) are not exactly cheap but you do get what you pay for. There are not many smartphones that can match these devices for features, design and performance.

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VERDICT

Samsung has produced its finest mobile products to date with the S7 and S7 Edge.

The company’s technology has been elegantly woven into the products which are complimented with useful features, stylish design and a standout performance that delivers on the promise of an excellent all-round device for work or play.