The Edge of Perfection
The first thing to say about the Galaxy s7 Edge is that it's amazing, it's worth the upgrade or switch from any phone, and it is potentially the best phone ever made - as well it should be. It's the product of one of the most lucrative and competitive markets in the world. If you do it right there is a potential for 7 billion sales or more. It's also the headlining product from one of the largest and most diverse companies in the world. While samsung's philosophy seemed to have been throw everything you have out there and see what sticks, giving the impression of being messy and disorganized - that is only a good thing for us because once they decide to reign themselves back in and focus - they have a lot more successes and failures to work with. Being able to do many things, and being able to do many things well is always better than doing one thing really well - especially when eventually it is also possible to change your focus and then improve upon each aspect.
Their tv line helps them with display technology. Their professional cameras help with their camera phone sensors. Their processor and memory tech can be shrunk and included in their phones. Even their general knowledge about manufacturing can be used. So in other words the Galaxy S7 Edge is Samsung's halo/ flagship product that represents their, current, best efforts. Like Chevy has their corvette.
There are already dozens of reviews of the S7, I read/ watched them all before I traded in my Note4. I already knew I was ready for a new phone and I also knew that there were not any other phones worth upgrading to since I got the Note 4. That didn't mean that I didn't get other phones since I got the Note 4 but that I didn't trade it in for something better or more expensive. To me phones are more like cameras and productivity devices rather than 'phones' ironically I use the phone functions least of all. I like getting and trying different devices as almost a hobby as well as helping me with various projects. For example having two of the same phones to video call back and forth, or to use to control each other, or to record in 3D etc. Obviously getting two S7's just to make 3d video and pictures is way too much, but getting two older MotoX's is a lot less of an investment. Then i'm able to text them out as phones as well as take 3d pictures and use them for my birds etc. This then lets me test out the various screen sizes and where as before I always thought bigger was better - and still is in a lot of ways - that changes depending not on what you are doing with them as much as WHERE you are going with them. If you're going to the gym then the note 4 is not a good phone where as the moto x is. If you're watching a video clip in bed - the note 4 wins. If you're taking pictures - the note 4 wins hands down. So having multiple devices for multiple situations can be best - but I would still always wish "I wish this was smaller, just a little, had a better camera, but could also do this" basically combine the best parts of the devices I had to use into one or at least find the ideal balance and limit the number of devices I needed to use to do the same thing.
An example would be the stylus feature of the note4, I wanted to be able to use a digital pen, but the note4 was a little too small - although convenient - for comfortable writing or drawing. Kinda good for taking quick notes but never quite better than a finger or that i used enough to become proficient with it. What I realized I really wanted was a larger screen that had a pen input that was pressure sensitive and then i wouldn't really need it on a phone. So once I got a tablet with a stylus I didn't need one on my phone. In my case I needed a stylus but only for times when I needed to use it and not for convenience, or in other words I don't need it all the time only when I do so I dont need to carry it around with me. What this meant was I didn't need to wait for a new Note series to come out and I could go back to the Galaxy - which have been my main phones since the 1 & 3 &5
As I was saying the Note 4's screen size, or more so the phone's size is great in some situations but not in others. After I got a Moto X2 I began to realize that I actually preferred a smaller phone, not that it was smaller but that it was more ergonomic and easier and more comfortable to carry. Using the Moto x2 and then holding the note4 made it seem very unwieldy and the screen size variation wasn't enough to make up for it, although the camera quality did and for many of the photos - but not all - I wished they had been taken with the note 4 vs the Moto x2.
So I would think to myself. Man o man I wish there was a phone that could combine these two together - that would be perfect! I'll wait for the wave of phones to come out - probably the Galaxy s7. And sure enough - my wishes were granted and The galaxy s7 edge delivers - well almost.
Almost!? Yes, unfortunately there are 3 or 4 things I am still wishing for. None are deal breakers - obviously since I already bought the phone - but would turn this from a 9 to a 10. These things are what I would change about this phone not what I would want in my NEXT generation phone. That is something best saved for another post. (I design my own phones for fun)
1. Front facing speakers! Ugh, this is the #1 thing I liked on the Moto x2 that I wish the Galaxy had. I do like the physical home key button but there could be a way to have that and still include front facing speakers - preferably stereo. I end up covering the bottom speaker while using the phone and playing some kinda sound. Top stereo front facing (even if just mono) would be SO much better. The same speaker could be used for the ear peace, speaker phone and normal audio. Having front and rear would be even better.
2. Native motion gestures. The Moto X lets you twist the phone in your hand to open the camera and do a chopping motion to turn on the flashlight. These can be added with other apps but if they could be supported out of the box it would be great since the other apps are usually a little tricky to get working. The double tap of the home button is nice but I find myself wanting to use the motions especially for the flashlight. Being able to program them would be even better.
3. Always on display. The Moto X2 has sensors that turn the screen on when it senses movement above the screen or something moves it physically. It would then light up the time and any notification. This is something that would be very hard to not have once you have it and samsung's "Always on display" is even better in theory since it takes away having to turn on or even move your phone to check the time. BUT it lacks notifications or letting you touch/ swipe that always on display. Something that could be easily changed in software and I expect they will eventually - although I could see why they don't since anyone could see and then check your phone since it would just be on the display - always. Just make it an option but I love being able to glance at my phone and check on it without having to turn it on. I do kinda miss nudging or waving my hand over it to check. It made it feel alive and interactive.
4. Increase the vertical screen size to take up more of the front. The actual size of the phone is great - making the screen even larger and keeping the phone the same size is even better. It's a toss up to keep the physical home key or removing it in favor of on screen buttons and moving the finger print scanner to the power button on the side. I like the physical key but I was also fine with software keys on other phones. Fingerprint scanner on the power button makes a lot of sense too and free's up screen real estate on the front.
5. I think I could write a whole post/ review about the camera itself but suffice to say it is fantastic. But.. but. I do miss the mega-pixels. For me the more resolution the better and while I am willing to give some up for speed and low light performance. I would much much rather have increased resolution AND better speed and low light. The first thing I do when I take a picture or test a camera is zoom into see how it captures the details. I do have to admit that focus speed is my #1 priority for a camera, at least with candid moments which is 90% of all of my photography. I actually have a reoccurring nightmare of trying to take pictures and not having the camera able to focus fast enough. That is just not going to happen with the S7. It is basically focused by the time you are able to touch the shutter. I also have the Samsung NX1 Mirrorless camera and the reason I choose it over any other camera was it's speed. I also have the Nokia 1020 which still has the most mega-pixels of any other cell phone camera and i'll compare them another time, but it's a hard sell on the mega-pixels when something with a lower resolution can take comparable if not better shots, and literally have taken 10-20 shots in the same time it takes the other camera to even focus. So would I prefer more pixels - sure, but not at the cost of speed. Low light is another thing that didn't shine (haha) on the Note4 or any other cell camera i've ever used. You essentially could not take a decent or even passable picture with any kind of low light. I'm not even talking pitch black but anything with low light - not good. Increasing the exposure length - and having the ability to do so helps -but that is going to make a blurry photo anyways unless you have a tri-pod and you dont usually carry one along with your phone - so, again - the solution was to increase the aperture and the sensor size which both aid in faster low light photos - worth the lowering of resolution. Ideally this generation would have added the low light and focus features but also increased the resolution to 20mp. That doens't mean this isn't the best mobile camera you can currently buy. Sans phone.
6. Screen resolution. Yes it's the best display you can get on a phone right now but it's still the same resolution as last year. "But you can't even see the pixels anyways it doesn't need to have a higher resolution" People say that about every resolution and blah blah - strap that baby on a gear vr and you will be begging for something even more than 4k. If you're going to put the screen an inch from your cornea with magnifying glasses between you -you want a much higher resolution screen because you CAN see the pixels. So much so that it turns the Gear VR from the future into the very pixelated past as if you are looking at the future via a 360p youtube video. The resolution desperately needs to be increased for gear vr, but for any other kind of viewing it's really good. I feel the same with resolutions on displays and sensors - the more detailed the better. It may be ok now, but in a couple years there will be newer tech that will make the video we take now and the screens we watch them on look archaic. I would rather push forwards and not complain about progress. "good enough" - not my philosophy when it comes to tech.
7. Usb type C would have been nice, in theory, but it would need to come with about 5 extra cords to make up for the convenience of being able to plug it in from either direction. I have over a dozen usb cables and can never seem to find them. The increased transfer speed is also good but almost everything is transferred wirelessly anyways. Speaking of which I got a wireless charger and it's fantastic. I have it on my desk and it's right where i usually set my phone anyways so my phone is essentially always charging and topped off. If I had another one by my bed I could literally never have to plug my phone into anything - again for any reason. The future of phones is to not have any cords anyways - but for the things that do need to be connected type c is the obvious choice and the future - and would have been nice but is definitely not a deal breaker. I dont have anything I would plug it into anyways. Type C is the immediate future but one step after that is wireless and that's the way to go. Next years phones will not have any holes.
8. This one i'll combine into two. Camera hump and battery life. I dont understand the mentality of reducing the camera hump (the camera sticks out a little from the back of the body) and not making it flush. And if you couldn't due to how big the actual camera module is - then increase the thickness of the phone by ....00000 whatever and then also increase the capacity of the battery, win win. The #1 complaint/ comment on every single phone comment section is "Increase the battery, we dont care if it's thinner or lighter" so while this phone does increase the battery and reduce the camera hump - I am still hesitant to put my phone down - directly on the camera lens - the absolute worst part on the entire phone to have scratched. It makes no sense to me and if anything it should be recessed and be a camera hole rather than a hump. In theory I don't care about a removable battery since i've only ever removed my battery like once, ever, but that definitely depends on how long you are gong to keep your phone. After a few months the battery loses a little performance and being able to buy a new one for a few dollars to make it better than new - and even potentially upgraded to new battery tech is preferable, but I'm not going to keep a phone long enough to worry about that. BUT I would take a removable back/ replaceable battery over the glass back. If is scratches or breaks that takes a trip to a shop where as a removable back can be swapped out in a couple seconds.
9. Removable sd card storage. Maybe you don't need it, maybe you do. I'll say it flat out that memory capacity in phones is a huge racket which only benefits the company and not the users. Making a device with 32gb and ability to add a cheap SD card to be any capacity is good for us - bad for the companies that will charge you 100$ for a .10 cent upgrade. Screw them. Seriously thanks samsung for steering away from that. If you want to pay literally 200$ extra for what cost the company literally 2$ - or give your customer the ability to spend 20$ for the same thing - hmmm who are you going to choose if you are on the fence? There are many reasons you may want more memory in the future and not only that but adding and removing memory. Yes the future is wireless and in the cloud - but if something you want to USE requires more capacity than your device even possess - you will not be able to run it. In the future games and movies will be measured in the TB not GB and if you have 16GB with no expandability you will have to get a new device OR you can just upgrade the easily removable memory card. Not to mention the downloading and transferring and situations where there is not an internet connection.
10. This isn't a criticism but a huge compliment. This is by far and away the fastest device I have ever been able to type on - especially that's new. It harks back to the days of physical keyboard phones (sidekick & g1) I don't know if it's the curved edges or the size but i'm able to instantly with no learning curve type faster than on the Note4 and moto x (1&2) and any other phone i've had. I actually ordered the physical keyboard case for the phone - just got it today and after a couple mins using it realized that it slowed me down. I'm returning that case already but for me being able to type quickly on a device is up there with camera quality. it's about 2-5 cm off from being perfect to type on. Samsung's actual software keyboard is also one of the best. It's a small thing but having distinct areas around each letter helps rather than just showing the letters with all the same background.
All in all this is by a fairly large margin (sans front facing speakers and camera resolution) the best phone and maybe even the best over-all camera i've used. I'll do a comparison and review of the actual camera and all of the really neat (and new) features it has another post.
It's not often that I get a new device and it exceeds my expectations and it's rarer still that it continues to make me excited every time i pick it up. I usually get all juicy about getting something new - then when i do that feeling goes away and i don't even pick it up again unless i have to. With the Galaxy S7 Edge, I wake up in the morning and am actually excited to hold it, and it's already almost been a week! It gets prettier the more you look and hold it.
It's like "my precious" but, but...just so close to being perfect. It's a solid A - and I want so much to give it that + so that I don't have to say any buts. BUT I love it. Get one. Get a gear VR and while it may not be the future - it's as close as you are going to get while we wait.