Last year’s Samsung Galaxy S6 launch was a huge departure for a company that had begun to take for granted that its name was synonymous with Android. After years of doing pretty much anything it liked and still staying at the top of global sales charts, Samsung was starting to see signs that plastic phones with bloated software and thoughtless design weren’t going to cut it anymore, especially when the rest of the industry was beginning to ship phones that felt luxurious and slick.
Naturally, we all took notice when Samsung ditched nearly all of its long-held traditions and launched the gorgeous metal-and-glass Galaxy S6 (Review | Pictures). Moreover, it made its debut with a sibling, the Galaxy S6 Edge (Review | Pictures), a truly unique device that just oozed cutting-edge style, but of course at a premium. Not all was right, though – users complained that the Galaxy S6’s makeover was a step too far, and lamented the loss a removable battery, microSD card slot, and water resistance.
It’s been a year since then, and now even sub-Rs. 10,000 phones can boast of metal bodies and most of the features that used to set flagship phones apart. The Android market, especially in India, is a lot more crowded than it used to be, and Samsung is not untouchable at the top anymore.
Samsung, therefore, has multiple challenges when it comes to its Galaxy S7 family: the phones have to outdo their predecessors, appeal to purists without taking any steps backwards, and most importantly, feel like they’re worth spending a lot of money on when the next best options are good enough. We’re going to see whether or not the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge deliver on all these counts.
Look and feel
Samsung has differentiated the Galaxy S7 and its curved sibling a bit more than it did last year. Buyers of the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ (Review | Pictures) might be a little miffed, since the S7 Edge effectively replaces it as well. The S7 Edge is certainly a handful, but it isn’t totally unmanageable. The biggest problem with it is that the glass is so slick and the metal edges so narrow that we didn’t always feel that we had a secure enough grip on it.
The more vanilla Galaxy S7, however, seems to fit perfectly in the hand. The curved back and flat sides gave us more than enough control. The glass front is still a bit extruded and has gently rounded edges, which meet the metal as if flowing into it.
When it comes to the choice between a flat and a curved display, each has its own appeal. Using the Galaxy S7 after having spent time with the S7 Edge feels almost constricting. You become very aware of the hard rectangular screen border, whereas the S7 Edge feels boundless. However, content does wrap around the edges, so it’s sometimes hard to hit buttons on the curved screen, and you lose a little bit of the picture when playing games and watching movies. As we noted with the Galaxy S6 Edge, the curved glass will pick up reflections no matter how you hold it, and that can become annoying when trying to focus on content.
The displays of the two phones are different in more ways than just shape and size. We found that at least for our review units, the Galaxy S7 looked a little darker and crisper, while the S7 Edge didn’t have as much contrast and in fact had a slightly more yellow colour tone. None of this would be apparent if you didn’t hold the two side by side; they’re both very impressive screens, befitting their status as flagship device displays.