It's nice to have a phone like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge to review – a handset from a brand that worked out what was missing from last year, and both addressed those issues and improved the phone in other ways to make it a distinct upgrade.

Is it the perfect phone? Surely no such thing exists...

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review

We liked

The second you pick up the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, you know you're holding a premium phone. Actually, that moment happens before you pick it up, as when you get close to it the always-on display will intrigue you, and the blended curve design will entice a little further.

Perhaps that's a little hyperbolic, but it's the same feeling we got with the earlier HTC One line – a set of phones that draw you in at first look and first touch.

Then you can add the fact that this phone is waterproof, which gets people's eyes raised. To some, the microSD slot is a big win… and then there's the camera.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review

Some of the pictures we took were much better than we expected, and people were constantly commenting on the quality of even a quick snap.

Blown up and analysed, they're not DSLR quality, but for sharing on social media and viewing on phone screens (and even sent to a TV) they look sensational – this will be a real selling point for Samsung's new handsets.

The battery life improvements are a relief, and push Samsung back into the realm of 'decent enough power management'. You'll easily get a good day's use out of the Galaxy S7 Edge; it could be better, but it's something that sorely needed fixing, and Samsung has fixed it.

However, the main thing we liked about the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge was that everything about it was a little bit above what we expected, whether that's the refinements to the home screen and interface, the improved power management, the speed and performance of the camera, the fact it can be thrown in a pond… it's these little improvements that add up to making a truly great phone.

We disliked

We're still not sold on how well the microSD support will work in the Galaxy S7 Edge. 

If you're putting in an average-quality card we've got a sneaking suspicion that over time it's going to slow the phone down a little if you've got too much information that needs to be scanned, so definitely think about choosing something with a high read / write speed.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review

Battery life is another thing that will need to be watched: while Samsung has definitely improved things massively here, it's not in the same league as some of the more hardcore smartphones that can run for days without charge.

We get that there's a trade-off here, but with a phone that's got a mega 3,600mAh battery underneath we were thinking it was easily going to last for possibly 4-5 years on a charge.

However, while battery life is good enough for a phone of this size and power, it would have been nice if Samsung had managed to team up the best camera with the longest-lasting battery.

Game Launcher is something that leaves a lot to be desired – it's got a lot of potential, and being able to customize your gaming experience is a nice touch. But it still can get in the way at times, and could do with a bit of tweaking by Samsung.

Verdict

As you can see above, the positives far outweigh the negatives with this handset. Once you're past the cost element (and that is something to take into consideration), you've got a phone that you'll find hard to put down.

Whether it's just rolling the refined chassis around in the hand, taking pictures that look great nine times out of 10, or just enjoying the clarity and sharpness of the screen, the Galaxy S7 Edge manages to delight, and stand out in a world where new smartphones are increasingly being offered with razor-thin differences between them.

We could always want more from our handsets – that seems to be the way we're programmed nowadays – but if you're looking for a well-designed, powerful phone that actually packs some useful day-to-day features, the Galaxy S7 Edge is the one to go for.

It's worth noting though, its successor - the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus - is now out, so if you want the best Samsung phone around you'll want to head on over there and check it out. 

That said, you won't be disappointed if you pick up the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge at its new, lower price point as there's still a lot to love.

We think the Galaxy S7 Edge is one of, if not the, best smartphone around right now - but maybe it's not quite to your lovely and discerning tastes. How about these instead, then?

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is the new flagship smartphone from the South Korean firm, replacing the Galaxy S7 Edge at the top of the mobile tree.

If it's the best of Samsung you desire, the Galaxy S8 Plus is the phone you'll want - but it will cost you an awful lot.

You do get a lot for your money, with Samsung's new Infinity Display the star of the show with impossibly slim bezels and a dazzling design. It really does look fantastic.

There's more power under the hood too, the top-rate camera from the S7 Edge has been tuned to be even better in low-light and it also boasts fingerprint, face and iris scanners for a triple biometric hit. They're not the most fluid in terms of usability - but make for a great talking point among friends.

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 7 Plus

Flicking between phones is as simple as can be nowadays, and while you might lose a message or two, there's no worrying about whether or not you can get your apps and content across.

Both phones offer easy switching methods now, shifting key information from one handset to the next - so if you're 'locked' to Android, it's pretty simple to move across.

The iPhone 7 Plus has the same size 5.5-inch screen, similar battery performance (albeit slightly less impressive in some situations), and a wider range of apps thanks to the entrenched iOS platform.

While the S7 Edge has one 12MP camera, the 7 Plus sports two 12MP lenses on its rear, but it's the S7 Edge which offers better snaps, with better autofocus.

And then you have the issue of size – the 5.5-inch screen on the Edge is wrapped into the phone, making it SO much more compact than Apple's effort. However, the iPhone 7 Plus does feel slightly more premium thanks to the amount of metal used, which many will see as a plus.

Sony Xperia XZ

Z5 Premium

We used to recommend the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium here, but that's been usurped by the Xperia XZ (well, in all but size, but Sony's chosen against releasing a new phablet for the time being).

The XZ packs a mighty punch though, with a Sony camera finally worthy of the hype, a sleeker body with rounded edges and all the power you'd expect from a flagship.

The phone itself lacks the 4K screen of the Z5 Premium (but, come on, who needs that right now?) but still has a great audio performance and screen view, even with the lower-res.

The main reason you'd choose this is for the camera's technical ability. While the S7 Edge is a great, great snapper, if you love to craft a shot then the XZ is well worth checking out.

Samsung Galaxy S7

Galaxy S7

The conflict that pits Galaxy against Galaxy: which S7 is best for you? Both of these phones are alike in nearly every way: camera, power, screen performance and more.

The S7 is better if you want a cheaper phone without compromising on power, or want something a little more compact.

But the S7 Edge has a larger (and longer-lasting) battery, a more premium look, and a larger screen to coo over. In my opinion, if you're spending this much money and can handle the extra heft, it's the one you should be looking at.

However, both are great phones, and stand head and shoulders above most of what was offered last year, so it just depends on your ergonomic preferences and budget.

Frist reviewed: March 2016