Review: 7 reasons travellers will love Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge

By David Flynn, March 9 2016
Review: 7 reasons travellers will love Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge

First impressions count for plenty, and our first impression of Samsung’s new Galaxy S7 Edge is that this will be the Android smartphone to beat in 2016.

The Korean colossus could perhaps have settled for incremental upgrades to the S6, which already chalked a starting line well down the field from the previous generation, but in just about every measure the Galaxy S7 Edge deserves that full digit bump.

If you’ve got a Galaxy S6 there are temptations a’plenty for the upgrade, and if you’ve got an S5 then your next phone just landed.

We’ve clocked some time with the factory-fresh Galaxy S7 Edge, which goes on sale on March 11, and drilled down on the seven features which business travellers will find most appealing.

(The $1,249 S7 Edge is accompanied by the $1,149 Galaxy S7, which eschews the wrap-around display for a smaller screen 5.1 inch screen and a slightly lower-capacity battery.) 

1. Fast charge

We were already fans of the Galaxy’s clever settings to dramatically extend battery life by not just throttling back selected apps and activities but even dropping the screen into mono mode.

The Galaxy S7 gets to work on the other side of the coin with quick-charge tech that’ll fully charge the battery in 100 minutes.

(As with the S6, wireless charging is also built-in but the charger will cost you extra – and in case you missed it, Ikea now offers a range of lamps and tables sporting Samsung-friendly wireless chargers.)

And pleasingly, there’s plenty of juice in the S7 Edge’s tank.

Samsung’s use of a malleable battery material let it shape the cell to better fit the S7’s curved innards and deliver a solid 3,600 mAh capacity, well up from the sixth-gem Samsungs.

Another part of the holistic approach: half of the engines in the eight-core processor run at a slower speed (1.6GHz, against the 2.3GHz ‘power four’ which kick in for demanding tasks such as video) to further extend battery life. 

2. Brilliant photos

The S7’s camera tech is a show-stopper.

Both the front (5MP) and rear (12MP) lenses are set to a large fast-focus f/1.7 aperture so that more light flows through to the dual-pixel sensors.

And yes, the S6 series had a 16MP camera, but this is a perfect example of great photos being about more than just the number of pixels behind the glass.

In the S7, the individual pixels are larger so that they snare almost 50% more light.

Daytime shots are crisp and crackling but it’s the clarity of night-time snaps when you’re out and about at restaurants, bars or just playing tourist that’ll take you by surprise.

3. Always-on screen

Most travellers have their smartphone double as a bedside clock, and many of us glance at the phone throughout the day just to check the time.

So why not show the time on the screen even when the screen’s switched off? That’d usually mean a fast death to the battery, but Samsung’s use of advanced AMOLED display technology has a neat trick up its sleeve.

AMOLED simply turns off any pixel which shows as black, so it only needs to send power to active pixels. This in turn draws the tiniest fraction of juice.

That’s the thinking behind the S7’s ‘always on’ screen mode, which turns the otherwise blank screen into a digital clock with almost no battery penalty.

We’re hoping that Samsung extends the always-on modules to allow for notifications similar to the Edge screen. 

4. Return of the microSD card

There were howls heard far and wide when Samsung dropped the microSD card slot from the S6, locking users into the phone’s factory-fitted storage.

Kudos to Samsung for knowing when to shift into reverse gear, because the S7 and S7 Edge now let you slip a microSD memory wafer into the same slot as the SIM card to stack up to 200GB on top of the phone’s inbuilt 32GB memory bank for storing photos, videos and the like.

5. Elegant design

The S7 raises the design stakes from the S6 with an even more streamlined shape.

The rear camera lens now sits flush with the metal alloy panel while the S6’s sharp edges have been chamfered to a smooth wrap-around finish which seamlessly melds with the hardened front panel glass through a process of 3D Thermoforming.

It’s a sleek yet solid construction which fits beautifully in the hand.

(We were surprised to see Samsung stuck with the microUSB port instead of the next-gen USB Type-C connector, but it’ll be hard to argue the call in the face of a world full of microUSB cables, docks and accessories.)

6. Samsung Pay

Samsung’s own e-payment system was baked into the S6 series but with the service set to launch in Australia this year, the S7 assumes the mantle of ‘hero device’ for the tap-and-go platform.

American Express is already signed up as the local launch partner and at least two Aussie banks are known to be on board.

And it’s a doddle to use: swipe up from the Galaxy S7’s lock button to launch the Samsung Pay app, tap your linked card from a carousel display, tap your fingerprint to activate the embedded NFC chip, then swipe the phone over the payment terminal. That’s a simple swipe, tap, tap, swipe dance step.

Continued overseas rollout of Samsung Pay will only add to its appeal to frequent flyers.

7. Oh, and it’s waterproof

Also dropped from the S6 but back in the Galaxy S7: IP68-grade waterproofing.

Not water-resistant, meaning it can be splashed while you sip cocktails poolside.

This is full immersion, dunking, dropping-into-the-pool and taking-phone-calls-in-the-shower waterproofing. To be specific, the Galaxy S7 models can sit in up to 1.5 metres of water for 30 minutes yet live to phone another day.

And this is done without ugly plastic flaps over the USB port and headphone socket – the chassis is waterproofed from the inside. Impressive stuff, and Apple should be taking notes.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

This will be my next phone.  Sick to death of my 6S Iphone, Apple has really dropped the ball in recent years. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 548

Yep and with nothing new on the horizon they are going to continue on the way down, the watch they were hoping to be the next big thing is predictable a bit of a flop. The diehard apple fanboys wont have a word of it though ;)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 692

Ya, 'nice' looking and all that - but, to my mind, grossly over-priced. We're talking an Android handset which is more expensive than an i-phone. Seriously?

Of the seven (7) reasons given, two of those are the return / replacement of features previously dropped on the S6 ... and now magically returned. Additionally, one is for 'fast' charge (I don't consider 100 mins 'fast') when a 3yr old Nokia Lumia 920 can be fully charged from flat within 60 mins - and still has identical (or better) specs. Another is for 'Elegant Design' ... One is for using an AMOLED screen (yes, the same 3yr old Lumia 920 has an Amoled screen too.

I'm sensing a pattern here (similar to Apple) that there's really not very much that's innovative in this new handset.

Personally, if I were looking for an equivalent-spec Android phone I would be looking at the range of Z series Sony handsets - and saving a considerable amount of coin. Given all the advancement in Android handset development these days, there is not a lot of difference in feature set between low, medium and high-end handsets. And for a medium tier handset at a 3rd of the price, even the new LG / Google phone hits a 'sweet' spot.

At AUD $1249 RRP, as "Daryl" in 'The Castle' says - "tell 'em they're dreaming .."

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 548

No sure where you argument is coming from, a product that is superior to every apple phone however you question why it is more expensive. Like anything in this world, you get what you pay for!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 692

Yes, the waterproofing on the Samsung (as David points out) might out-point the i-Phone.

But look at the previous pricing Samsung strategy. They have always made good quality products and that is unquestioned. And it has done so at less than the price of Apple.

The Samsung S5 sat at the pinnacle of design / features at a RRP of $879 when it was introduced some two years ago. The S6 raised the price a little and reduced features.

The S7 reintoduces a couple of 'removed' features (ie. re-added external memory) and pops the price up by a significant amount. That's a huge price to pay for being able to stand in the shower and take a call, if you have to.

My point is that the jump from top of the line S5 $879 to  the Edge 7 $1249 (over 2 yrs) is a major jump in price, for what seems to be not a lot of extra features. If 'better power management' is your major draw, then there is something incremental (as opposed to truly innovative) about this release.

And not to slag off Apple, but it is undeniable that i-Phones (however popular, subsidized or marketed they might be) have always been over-priced in comparison to the rest of the market.

Using the 'you get what you pay for' simile is as analogous as saying 'Apple is immune from malware'.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 548

I'll agree with you on one thing that apple and iphones have been way overpriced from the start. They rely on their diehard cult fans just purchasing everything they release blindly. Even some of them I think are coming around now they realise the iphone is an inferior product in almost every spec and way and costs around the same

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

You might want to look at what the AUD has done over the intervening period.  Almost all electronic goods have jumped substantially in the last couple of years.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 692

Appreciate your comment but I would counter with the following. Both Apple & Samsung are on a 12 month product cycle, so the new model would have been designed no more than 12 months ago and production would have begun approx 5-6 months ago max. By comparison, Apple's manufacturing build cycle is typically 3-4 months prior to release.

In the past 12 months, the rate of exchange for the AUD has slid by 3.5%. We are talking about a price change from approx $950 for the S6 to $1249 for the S7 Edge. That represents a price change of some 30% and is outside the variation in exchange rates. It also bears little relation to the same exchange related price of the equivalent Apple product IMO.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 692

To all the 'legends' that doubt my post and have 'down-voted' it, you only need to look at this endorsement:

In the USA, T-Mobile is now offering a '2 for 1' sale on the S7 and S7 Edge handsets. Since the US market has been moving out of 2 year contracts and subsidising handsets since 2013, this is certainly an interesting move.

Good phone, undoubtedly - but 'runaway' success or truly innovative? I don't think so. As said, what it is IMHO .. is highly over-priced, at least in Australia.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

A must for travellers I would say is Dual SIM.

I also have an issue paying over $1000 for any phone.

Thus my likely winner for the year is the soon to be released Xiaomi Mi5. Likely have to get it as a grey import but it looks like a fantastic phone and half the price fo the S7

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

16 Dec 2015

Total posts 41

A feature quite possibly more important to international travellers than any of those listed is decent band support on WCDMA and LTE networks.

This is one area where Samsung (and Android OEMs in general) have traditionally looked extremely weak against Apple due to their region-specific products. The S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge+ improved on this greatly and it looks like the S7 and S7 Edge improve on this further:

For some strange reason (if these specifications are right), they've dropped AWS support though.

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 86

Well guys if you think phones are a status symbol all this may be important, but a solid reliable mid range phone is good enough. I run an LG, less cluttered Android operating system, amazing camera.............less than half the price for the 2015 for Apple, over priced, under featured, planned obseescence. 

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