It didn't take me much time with Samsung's two new phones to already prefer the Galaxy S7 Edge to the perfectly good S7 launched here in Barcelona at the show. Not only does the Edge parade a showier design with a screen that curves around on both right and left sides, it also gives you more to do with that space (see specifics below). This bonus pack makes the phone surprisingly immersive.
While it shares the same internals as the S7, the Edge has a larger screen -- 5.5 inches versus the S7's 5.1-incher -- and its slim, balanced design has more in common with the 5.7-inchlaunched just last August. I do like Samsung's software refresh, which makes icons on the secondary "edge" menu larger and more diverse.
All this extra attention reinforces that the Edge is Samsung's favorite, too. It's this curved version that gets three color choices while the S7 gets two. I certainly liked the hardware and software revisions I saw in my S7 Edge demo, but if you already own an S6 Edge or even a newer S6 Edge+, you should be able to safely skip the upgrade.
Battery life, meanwhile, looks very promising. At 3,600mAh, the S7 Edge's battery is more capacious than the S7, the Edge 6+ and even the, which was a real marathon runner. (Of course, we'll need to make sure real-world usage lives up to the promise.)
Samsung faces stiff competition in the premium quarters as well as challenges from cheaper phones with fewer frills. By making its more distinctive S7 Edge the larger phone, Samsung is likely justifying the phone's higher price compared to the smaller S7, which it's positioning as its more affordable of the set.
The S7 and S7 Edge are available March 11, with preorders beginning February 23. Samsung hasn't announced pricing (though it's safe to assume the Edge will be the costlier of the two), but it will do you a deal: If you buy either S7 before March 18, Samsung will give you a freewith a six-game bundle. The Gear VR will work with both new S7 phones.
New and notable features
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow software
- Size: 5.5-inch screen with 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution (versus 5.1-inch S6 Edge and 5.7-inch S6 Edge+ with the same resolution)
- Either 32 or 64GB of storage, depending on the region
- MicroSD card slot for extra storage (up to 200GB)
- 12-megapixel camera (get the story below)
- 3,600mAh battery (versus 2,600mAh on Galaxy S6 Edge, 3,000mAh on S6 Edge+)
- Water-resistant (IP68 rating)
- "Always-on" display shows time, calendar or images from the lock screen
- Larger icon size for curve-screen menu (called the edge display)
- More tools on the edge display
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor (Samsung's Exynos chipset in some regions)
- Dedicated gaming feature makes it easier to record sessions and screenshots; a do-not-disturb mode blocks incoming notifications
- Colors: black onyx, gold platinum, silver titanium
Read about the camera app and more in my first take on the S7 here.
What's new on the edge display?
The edge display is Samsung's name for a second menu of shortcuts and informative tiles that live on either side of the phone, hidden from view until you swipe it out with a virtual tab. The S7 Edge picks up a few new tricks -- all good, small additions.
Larger grab tab: The swipe tab gets a little bigger and easier to target with your finger.
Larger icons: When you open the menu, wider icons take up more space on the screen, making them easier to read and interact with. In some cases, they'll spread out into two columns, like to show stock prices or sports scores.
More to do: In addition to columns for people and apps, the S7 Edge gets new swipeable categories for tasks and for third-party app developers. Like always, you can customize what you see in the edge display, and can access thumbnails from any screen when the phone is unlocked.
HARDWARE SPECS COMPARISON
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge||LG G5||Apple iPhone 6S Plus||Google Nexus 6P|
|Display size, resolution||5.5-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels||5.3-inch, 2,560x1,440 pixels||5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels||5.7-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels|
|Dimensions (inches)||5.9x2.9x0.3 in||5.8x2.9x0.3 in||6.2x3.1x0.29 in||6.3x3.1x0.28 in|
|Dimensions (millimeters)||150.9x72.6x7.7 mm||149.4x73.9x7.7mm||158x78x7.3 mm||159x78x7.3 mm|
|Weight (ounces, grams)||5.5 oz; 157 g||5.6 oz; 159g||6.8 oz; 192 g||6.3 oz; 178 g|
|Mobile software||Android 6.0 Marshmallow||Android 6.0 Marshmallow||Apple iOS 9||Android 6.0 Marshmallow|
|Camera||12-megapixel||16-megapixel, 8-megapixel wide||12-megapixel||12.3-megapixel|
|Processor||2.15GHz + 1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor||Apple A9 chip (64-bit)||2GHz eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810|
|Storage||32GB, 64GB (varies by region)||32GB||16GB, 64GB, 128GB||32GB, 64GB, 128GB|
|Battery||3,600mAh (nonremovable)||2,800mAh (removable)||2,750mAh (nonremovable)||3,450mAh (nonremovable)|
|Fingerprint sensor||Home button||Home button||Home button||Back cover|
|Special features||Curved screens||Pull-out battery, two rear cameras||N/A||"Pure" Android|
|Price off-contract (USD)||TBA||TBA||$749 (16GB); $849 (64GB); $949 (128GB)||$499 (32GB); $549 (64GB); $649 (128GB)|
|Price (GBP)||TBA||TBA||£619 (16GB); £699 (64GB); £789 (128GB)||£449 (32GB); £499 (64GB); £579 (128GB)|
|Price (AUD)||TBA||TBA||AU$1,229 (16GB); AU$1,379 (64GB); AU$1,529 (128GB)||AU$899 (32GB); AU$999 (64GB); AU$1,099 (128GB)|