Samsung Galaxy S7 review: not as sexy as the Edge but still a bloody good smartphone

Samsung has two standout devices, the only question is: edge or no-edge?

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For

  • Premium glass and metal design
  • Vivid screen
  • Outstanding camera

Against

  • It's not the S7 Edge
  • Fingerprints everywhere

Samsung's been on a roll of late. The S6, while it wasn't a commercial success, was universally praised, and the Gear S2 smartwatch was rather good as well.

With that in mind, we waited with baited breath at MWC, eagerly anticipating the company's latest flagship smartphone.

Initial impressions were positive. Although the new Galaxy S7 wasn't completely updated, Samsung made iterative changes which many people felt were lacking in the S6.

We've already reviewed the S7's bigger brother the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge - you can read our full review here - it's a well-designed premium smartphone which I'm considering swapping my iPhone for… high praise indeed.

How does its smaller, less expensive sibling fair? Let's see shall we...

Edgeless design

There are two key differences between the S7 OG and the S7 Edge.

First is the edge design (obviously), and second is the size.

It's smaller than the S7 Edge. Whereas the Edge has a 5.5-inch screen, the S7 OG has a 5.1-inch panel. Perfect for smaller hands.

The 5.1-inch display features 1440 x 2560 pixels (577 PPI pixel density). It's easily the best we've seen on a smartphone, not onlysharp,but with zero artifacts and rich contrast and colour.

That screen is 'always-on', showing the time and system notifications when not in use. It's a useful feature, and only draws 1-percent battery life per hour, according to Samsung. (it can be turned off)

The design of the S7 is a lot more understated and traditional. Just like any other rectangular smartphone (but a very premium smartphone).

It does have some nice touches. The rear casing is tapered towards the edges, which makes the device seem thinner than it actually is (7.9 mm) and it also sits firmly in your hand.

The glass and aluminium construction feels premium, but just like we found with the S7 Edge - it's a fingerprint magnet.

The black color scheme is definitely the worst offender for this. The gold is slightly more manageable, but it's still quite annoying.

Apart from those two changes, other differences are negligible.

The pill shaped home button houses a fingerprint sensor (which is very fast).

The rear camera protrudes slightly from the rear casing. Less than the S6 from last year, but still slightly annoying. I also don't like the square/circle housing.

If you can't tell - I'm nitpicking here. As a whole, the design is great.

One major new addition to the design is waterproofing.

The S7 is rated IP68 - meaning it can be dunked in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1.5 metres.

Super fast software

The S7 is very fast. It packs Samsung's Exynos 8890 octa-core processor and 4GB or RAM.

This is Ferrari fast (for more speed analogies, read the S7 Edge review)

Navigation is smooth and the apps load almost instantly.

TouchWiz UI is also a lot less intrusive this time around. It's intuitive and simple to use, although it does still look slightly cartoonish.

Of course, you can install custom launchers to tailor the Android experience and suite your tastes.

Let's just put it this way: you WON'T be disappointed with how the Samsung Galaxy S7 performs.

Rather than shave a few millimetres from the thickness, Samsung has opted for a larger battery (rejoice!).

The S7 now packs a 3,000 mAh unit, which we found was good for around a day and a half's use.

Other useful additions in the battery department are wireless charging and quick charging.

All S7 models come with 32GB of internal storage, which is expandable via MicroSD.

Camera

The camera in the Galaxy S6 was great so Samsung really didn't have to do much in this area…

...but they have.

In terms of megapixels, the S7 is actually a step back from the S6. Now with 13MP down from 16MP.

This has a negligible effect on detail and sharpness, but the positives far outweigh the negatives, because the new camera has much improved low light performance.

The images the S7 captures are rich, with great contrast and colour balance.

The app itself it very good as well, with a spot on auto mode and 'pro' mode which records RAW files for more advanced shooters.

Both the app and the autofocus are fast, making sure you never miss a shot.

The 5MP front facing camera is pretty standard, certainly not a stand out performer. Just remember to turn the intrusive 'beauty mode' off!

Verdict

Just like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, we reallylovethe S7.

It's premium waterproof build, outstanding camera, great battery life and class-leading specs make this the best Android smartphone you can get right now.

It does have a few negative points, it's a fingerprint magnet, and TouchWiz still looks cartoonish.

However, the pros far outweigh the cons.

Whether you should get the S7 or S7 Edge is a different question altogether. This is the more sensible option, but the S7 Edge is sexier... tough choice, but you can't really go wrong with either.

We'd like to thank Carphone Warehouse for providing us with a review unit.