Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review (hands-on), deals and specifications: A new 5.5in screen, water-cooling, and microSD is back

2016 looks like it’s going to be a great year for Samsung. At times over the past couple of years I wondered if Samsung would ever make sense of its smartphone range, but with the curvaceous Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, revealed alongside the Samsung Galaxy S7 at MWC 2016, it’s on track for success.

That’s not because it’s the best smartphone on the planet – I’ll leave that judgement to my final review, when I’ve actually tested the phone – but because the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge fills a niche; a need that its predecessor didn’t.

Unlike last year’s model, it’s materially different from its flat-screened sibling: it’s grown bigger, and now has a 5.5in display. That’s 0.4in bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S7 and a mere 0.2in smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+. If that doesn’t convince more people to go for the Edge option, I’ll eat my iPhone 6s.

The other big news is that, although there’s still no removable battery, Samsung has brought back microSD expansion and weatherproofing. The phone is compatible with microSD cards up to 200GB in size, with space for the card next to the SIM card slot in the drawer that fits in at the top edge. It’s also IP68 dust- and water-resistant, meaning, technically speaking, it can be immersed completely in water up to 1.5m deep for up to 30 minutes.

Cynics might suggest that last year’s lack of these features was a deliberate ploy, designed by Samsung to give customers a reason to upgrade this year. It’s more likely a response, however, to Galaxy fans’ outrage following the S6’s launch last year. Removable storage had always been a stalwart of Samsung’s designs until that point – hopefully, it will be again now.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: Headline specifications

  • 5.5in Super AMOLED screen, 1,440 x 2,560 qHD resolution
  • Octa-core Samsung Exynos 8890 processor
  • 32GB storage
  • Curved edges front and rear
  • IP68 dust- and water-resistant
  • microSD slot
  • 12-megapixel rear camera with f/1.7 aperture, “dual-pixel” sensor phase-detect autofocus
  • 3,600mAh battery
  • Always-on screen
  • Internal water cooling
  • Smaller camera “hump” protrudes only 0.46mm
  • Available from March 11
  • Price: £639 inc VAT; pre-orders now open, and everyone who pre-orders gets a Samsung Gear VR
  • Contract: EE – 24mth, 2GB data, Unlimited calls/texts, £200 upfront, £32.49 per month (£980 TOTAL)
  • Contract: Vodafone – 24 mth, 6GB data, Unlimited calls/texts, £60 upfront, £45 per month (£1,240 TOTAL)
  • Contract: O2 – 24 mth, 5GB data, Unlimited calls/texts, £130 upfront, £39 per month (£1,066 TOTAL)

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: What does it look like?

From a distance, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge doesn’t look like much has changed over its predecessor. There’s the bigger screen, of course, but style-wise the phone looks familiar: a glossy glass finish sandwiches a gleaming, coloured metallic substrate that catches the light in all the best ways, while the long edges of that 5.5in screen dip away to a slim, aluminium frame that runs all around the edges of the phone.

Eagle-eyed readers will spy that the very edges of the glass at the top and bottom of the phone are slightly and softly curved, but other than that – from the front at least – little has changed.

It still picks up unsightly fingerprints like mad and the buttons and ports remain in the same locations, with the volume rocker on the left edge and power button on the right, the combined SIM/microSD card drawer on the top edge and the 3.5mm headphone jack, perforated speaker grille and micro-USB port on the bottom.

Flip over the S7 Edge, and you might be forgiven for not noticing much difference, either. However, there are changes here. The first is that, thanks to a manufacturing process Samsung is calling “3D thermoforming”, the rear now curves up at the edges to meet those twin front curves – a bit like the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 – and the result is that the phone both looks and feels much slimmer than any other 5.5in phone has a right to.

For those who have come across the S6 Edge and S6 Edge Plus before, it’s a softer, more rounded design, one that feels more comfortable in the hand. It’s a step forward, in other words – albeit a small one.

The only other difference, and it’s also minor change, is that Samsung has reduced the distance by which the camera module protrudes from the rear from around 1.6mm last time out to 0.46mm here.

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