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Galaxy S7 Review: Boring, Predictable and Amazing

Forbes logo Forbes 20-06-2016 Ewan Spence, Contributor

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is a workhorse of a smartphone. While the South Korean company has pushed the racy design and the features of the S7 Edge, the Galaxy S7 has been sitting quietly in the background. It offers almost all of the functionality of the S7 Edge without the fancy styling and innovative curved edges.

Although the S7 Edge is the handset that grabs all of the critical acclaim and helps push the idea of Samsung as an innovative company, it does sacrifice some usability to gain that. As with a lot of consumer technology, some people love these quirks, some will put up with them and just get on with using the device, and others simply can’t live with progress.

With the S7 Edge, I’m in the middle group. The S7 Edge is a great smartphone. It has a lot of power, it addresses the comfort issues that made the S6 Edge awkward to pick up and hold, and Samsung generally polished all the areas where the 2015 models had issues. And it brought back microSD support.

I put up with the Edge issues, but there’s no need to do that with the Galaxy S7. This is the Galaxy handset that I can fully appreciate.

Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge (image: Ewan Spence) © Provided by Forbes Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge (image: Ewan Spence)

The biggest difference is the flat screen. My biggest complaint around the S7 Edge was that the edges of the screen caused many awkward reflections that could obscure content on the screen. With no screen edge ‘guttering’ in the software, almost every third-party application would put menu options or details around the curve. Foreshortening and visual illusions create an awkward look on screen. The S7 Edge screen worked against me, whereas the Galaxy S7 screen works with me. When there are reflections or issues it’s far easier to tilt away the reflections with just one movement.

It’s not completely flat on the front of the device. The bezel area of the glass has a slight curve moving down towards the wraparound chassis. The back of Galaxy S7 has more curve compared to both the front of the S7 Edge and its rear. This creates a better tactile experience in the hand, and offers a more secure grip.

These two changes are enough for me to pick the Galaxy S7 over the S7 Edge, although there are a few more considerations you should be aware of.

The first is that the smaller size of the Galaxy S7 and the reduction of the internal volume means the Galaxy S7 battery is 3000 mAh, 600 mAh less battery capacity than the Edge,. This does hamper the device if you are hoping to get through a full day unaided. You’ll likely need to kick into Android’s doze mode if you do a lot of work online or any heavy graphical work. This is offset by Samsung’s continued support for wireless charging. If you have a charging pad on your desk (as I do) then the battery remains topped out throughout the day when it sits on your desk sipping on energy.

Obviously if you are out and about for a whole day this won’t help, but if you have a fixed location during the day (as many people do) then any fears on running low on charge will be dismissed.

Galaxy S7 wireless charging (image: Ewan Spence) © Provided by Forbes Galaxy S7 wireless charging (image: Ewan Spence)

You should also note that the extra utility software available in the S7 Edge that runs along the edge and offers quick launchers, shortcuts, digital rulers, and more, is not present on the Galaxy S7. This should be expected – why have the edge software when there’s no edge? – but a quick swipe of the thumb on the S7 Edge brought up the equivalent of a mini launcher no matter where you were in the UI or which app you were running.

This was one area of the S7 Edge that I found particularly useful. Just as the hardware has been polished to take the rough edges away from the S6 family, so has Samsung’s TouchWiz interface layer. The addition of the Edge software kept functions close at hand and always available. I miss it on the Galaxy S7 (but I’m not trading back to the awkward reflections on the S7 Edge for it).

Galaxy S7 Edge launcher (image: Ewan Spence) © Provided by Forbes Galaxy S7 Edge launcher (image: Ewan Spence)

Finally, there is a notable difference in price. For the same memory storage options, the Galaxy S7 is one hundred dollars cheaper than a similarly specified S7 Edge. Signing up for a regular network contract with a subsidy will minimise that difference, but it is there.

These points aside, the Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge can be regarded as equals. Like any pair of twins, there are differences – notably the flat screen and the battery size – but in terms of a slightly smaller size, practicality and comfort my pick would be the vanilla handset.

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