Let me just address the elephant in the room here. It’s a little unusual that I’m doing a mini-review of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. It’s been many years since I sold my original Motorola Droid1 and returned to the iPhone.
That’s not to say I’m unfamiliar with Android. Every couple of years, I buy a current Nexus phone to check in with what going’s on on the other side of the mobile OS fence.
At the risk of getting a lot of email, I just have to say it: Android had gotten really good. While I have some critical iOS-only apps in my workflow that would keep me from switching, the OS itself and third-party apps are miles better than they were 3 or 4 years ago.
What’s more interesting to me is the hardware companies like Samsung and LG are shipping these days. While there are a lot of forgettable phones out there, the S7 Edge stands out from the crowd.
The phone is dominated by its 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display. It’s bright and colorful, if not a little over-saturated for my taste. It’s super sharp, though. The big story with the display is the curve on either side. The sides of the display simply roll off the curved edges of the phone. The effect is subtle; its even hard to photograph clearly.
While using the phone, it’s obvious, however. Edge-to-edge content is slightly distorted by the curve, which is less than ideal, but I only found it to be an issue in apps like Instagram, with its full-width photos. Most developers have some padding on either side of their content windows anyways, so it’s not as big of a deal as it first seems.
Speaking of the screen, or rather, what’s around it, let’s talk about bezels. Naturally, the S7 Edge doesn’t really have side bezels, since the screen flows over the edge, but it does retain a chin and forehead, much like the iPhone. However, these are smaller than the areas on the iPhone. These changes lead to the S7 Edge being noticeably smaller, despite packing the same sized screen:
Cupertino, take note.
The rest of the device is pretty much on par with the iPhone. The camera is great, the speaker is good and the fingerprint reader is fast and reliable in my usage.
Oh, and the thing is water resistant. All phones should copy this.
The hardware isn’t all good news, though. The metal rail that goes all the way around the phone is very thin on the sides where the sloping cover glass meets it. There’s just not a lot of surface area to grip, and what’s there is crazy slippery. Coupled with the all-glass back, this may be the most slippery device on God’s green Earth.
(That glass is a fingerprint magnet, too, even in silver.)
I can’t say the S7 Edge is the best Android phone to buy. Samsung still does silly things to Android, and there’s some Verizon bloatware on this particular model. However, I think it’s the best example of how good other manufactures have become at building phones. Yes, its slippery, and yes the curved screen feels a little gimmicky, but this phone is beautiful and well-built. Throw in the reduced footprint and water resistance, and I think Apple has some things it needs to address next time around.