Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: Revisiting the legend 5 years after its launch

We here at PhoneArena recently started thinking that maybe, just maybe, we’re living in the future. And one sure way to prove ourselves right or wrong is by taking a look at how far phones have come the last 5 years. That’s why we took our old Samsung

out of storage and into our pockets to show you how using a 5-year-old phone feels like in modern times. Back to the future, or forward to the past it is!

A nicely curved display, a premium metal and glass build with expandable storage, a headphone jack and an IP67 rating for water and dust resistance. The only things that show this device’s age just by looking at it are probably the 16:9 aspect ratio display, the cumbersome Micro USB port for charging on the bottom and the home button, acting as a fingerprint scanner, below the screen. Most of these outdated features started to get phased out by the time the S8 was released. That of course eventually led us to the brand new S21+ which has a rather tall display covering the whole front. 
Phones also tend to be a bit more massive nowadays with sizes above 6.5 inches being the norm. The new standard for charging is also the Type-C charging port. This is surely a good upgrade as micro USB was a bit more fragile than USB C and also went in a single orientation. The tall display is also something I’m glad to have.

Now, we also have under-display fingerprint scanners. They are still a bit unpolished, but quite impressive. And one additional feature we see on all new devices are multi camera systems. Instead of a single camera for all scenarios, we now usually get a few to better capture the moment.

Of course, with everything good, we also lost a few good features. Most new flagships do not have a Micro SD card slot which might be an issue for some, but at least they all come with 128GB of internal storage or more. If you compare that to the S7’s lowest option of 32GB, you’ll start to see why an expandable storage slot used to be a must have. Additionally, most devices now come without a headphone jack, but bluetooth headphones have come down in price to compensate for that.

 
In general, the S7 Edge has quite the feature set for its time, but of course, it’s shocking how some of those features feel very outdated while others really still feel good to use.

Display

Sharper than you remember

The S7 Edge has a pretty nicely curved 1440P AMOLED display and even though it’s a stunner, it has one major drawback. The earlier AMOLED panels from Samsung are really prone to burn-in, and while this model is in particularly good condition, most people have suffered from having icons permanently engraved on their displays. Since then, Samsung have actively tried improving their AMOLED panels and their behavior in order to extend their life further.Another detail, the S7 Edge has an aspect ratio of 16:9. This means that not all of your front real estate is used as a screen. We started seeing taller displays from the S8 onwards which of course leads us to what we have nowadays – a display which covers the front of your phone fully. 

As a bonus, most new flagships also come with a high refresh rate panel which makes using your phone extremely smooth.

The S21+, in particular, is quite nice for watching videos and playing games. The only major drawback we ended up having from such massive displays is the lack of space for a front facing camera. That’s why we get a hole-punch here or a notch in the case of the iPhone, but again, this for me is not the end of the world. Additionally, most new panels are also record breakers in terms of peak brightness, which helps when you want to watch some dark tv show while riding the train midday.

One area where we went backwards though, is in the display curves. Since the S6 and S7 Edge’s bold curves, most companies, including Samsung, have decided to tone that curve down or remove it completely because it does introduce sharper corners on your device and possibly accidental touches and easy points for shattering the glass.

Still, for a 5 year old device, the S7 Edge is not that bad, but you’re getting much more for less nowadays.

Performance

Old champion

One area where we found the old flagship lacking for sure, is when you try and use it for some more demanding tasks. Being an old flagship, it still comes with a decent GPU which helps when you want to play some less demanding games, but the CPU is kind of lacking when you go ahead and try to multitask. Since then, mobile chips have improved by a considerable margin. Not only that, but software updates have played a significant role here.

The S7 Edge is still running Android 7 which limits what apps you can run to a certain degree and it’s not the smoothest experience really, especially after 5 years. OEMs try to improve their Operating System with each and every year to provide a better experience so the old flagship is considerably behind. Security might be something you’ll find lacking too as some new malware is sure to work easier on Android 7 versus Android’s 11th version that comes with the S21+. The new versions of Android feel much more polished and faster in general.

But purely from a usability point of view, the S7 Edge is actually holding up extremely well and with each and every passing year, phones are getting more and more future proof which we kind of like seeing. Although degrading batteries or the possible risk of breaking your device might be a limiting factor to that dream too.

Camera

Former glory

But there is also another solid reason why people upgrade their device and that is the camera. The Galaxy S7 Edge has only a single camera on the back. Although we should add that it’s one of the best cameras of its time. It does amazing 4K footage at 30fps with pretty nice colors. Or at least, it used to be amazing. Most new devices haven’t improved image quality in daylight by a lot, but HDR has come a seriously long way. Video stabilization also used to be either optical or electronic, end of story. But nowadays, we tend to get a mix of both, on more expensive devices at least. Phones such as the S21+ do amazing videos up to 8K at 24fps and they do a darn good job at stabilizing them too. It kind of looks funny and impressive when you put these two phones’ videos side by side.

Image processing has also come a long way since 2016. You can actually go outside at night and expect to capture a half-decent shot without a tripod which was pretty much fantasy just 5 years ago. And front facing cameras have stepped up their game too. Most old devices would barely produce a sharp selfie whereas most new devices nail the shot 90% of the time. 

Front facing video footage stabilization also used to be a dream. 

And to top it off, most new devices come with additional cameras.

Devices such as the S21+ come with Ultrawide and Telephoto cameras. The wide lens is perfect for capturing everything in a single picture, we’re assuming this killed the panorama, and the telephoto, especially if optical, helps immensely in capturing an object further away. The S7 can barely compete here.

But once again, for a 5 year old device, the S7 Edge is quite good, at least if compared to a mid range or budget device. Otherwise, phones have come a good long way in terms of camera performance.

Battery

Middle of the pack

Battery-wise, the Galaxy S7 Edge comes equipped with a 3600mAh battery which, while not exactly bad, is also below what we see for flagship devices in 2021. Phones such as the S21+ come with more than 4000mAh and they last longer and charge faster.

Battery tech might not be vastly different from 5 years ago, but grouping together better displays with more energy efficient processors and better software with improved fast charging, you get a package which gives you more use with less charge time. Wireless charging is also an area that is catching up quickly. You can go to bed, leave your phone on the nightstand and wake up having it charged for the day. Or just, you know, plug in for about 30 minutes and you’re golden.

The S7 was a good improvement over the S6’s abysmal battery life, but it’s nothing when compared to what even a budget device could do in 2021.

So then, do you think we’re living in the future? We personally think that we have come a decent way since the release of the S7 Edge. It’s more like the S21+’s grandpa than anything else.

But still, while the recent flagship is obviously faster, takes better photos and lasts longer between charge times, it’s still not exactly too different in what it can do compared to its ancestor. The Galaxy S7 Edge is surely 5 years old by now which is ancient in the tech space, but its premium design held through time and its top-of-the-line specs at the time are what laid the foundation for what we have today.

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