This is not a review. A review of a mobile phone needs to have substance and detail, things that can only be gained through a decent amount of experience with a device, together with knowledge of all the phone’s little nooks and crannies in which hide all of the features that make it unique.
This is not a review. This is just a brain fart. The time I’ve spent with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge has been scant to say the least – a mere 60 hours or so – but it’s enough time for me to have already made up my mind that it’s not the phone for me. I know you’re probably throwing your mug of coffee against the wall in furious anger that someone could even think of making up their mind on a new device after such little time spent with it. But if you met my mate Barry, you’d know a few minutes is enough before you’d be tapping your watch and saying, “Oooh, y’know, I’ve a got a thing” before running away as quickly as possible.
I’m not running away exactly. The S7 Edge is a lovely, beautiful phone that looks like it was crafted in Heaven’s own smartphone division. It oozes gorgeousness like a slab of luxurious jewelry, and I’m not ashamed at all in scooping it out of my pocket in front of strangers. I want them to notice that I am carrying around this slab of loveliness.
But, now that I’m used to its classy looks, I’m more concerned with what it feels like to actually use on a daily basis, doing everything a smartphone user does all day with their phone. As a Windows user, I’m always going to be subconsciously (and consciously) comparing other platforms to the Microsoft operating system, because that’s only natural. We all do it. You meet your colleague’s wife or husband for the first time and immediately think to yourself, “Not as good-looking as mine”. Right?
First off: Android. I’m not new to it; I’ve enjoyed tinkering around with a Nexus 5 for months, and I do like it, not as much as Windows, but I like it because it reminds me (in an obvious way) of Symbian, an OS I loved for a long time back when I was just a lad. But this is Samsung’s Android, and it doesn’t entirely make a whole lot of sense to me. I spent ages turning off numerous apps because, well, y’know, why do I need two calendar apps, two clock apps and two calculator apps? Who needs TWO? And then there’s the duplication in Messages and SMS apps (and incidentally, there are two different apps called “Messenger”, one from Google and one from Facebook), two email apps because I use Gmail, and then there’s Samsung’s own “Email”. There is an app for photos called “Gallery” and then there’s Google’s own photos app. Which to use? Aargh! If I pick the wrong one will all be lost?
It’s a tad confusing. But these things are easily solved by “disabling” them within the maze of Settings. Somewhere in there anyway.
Notifications are another thing I’ve been trying to get used to but can’t. The constant beeping and buzzing, for everything. I have turned off nearly all notifications for apps I don’t need because if you don’t, the phone just becomes as annoying as that little kid behind you on the plane that just won’t stop kicking your seat. And when he does actually stop for five minutes, he spends those five minutes crying his eyes out.
So what’s with the notifications? I know that the iPhone at least badges some icons with a little red dot to tell you something needs checking, but I’m still trying to work out if there’s a setting I need to activate to have this happen. Or maybe I installed the wrong launcher. Or maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that extra pain au chocolat this morning. I dunno. It’s a head-scratching time these days.
Pull down the notification pane and it doesn’t get any better. Again, I’m comparing. Action Center in Windows gives you the chance to see what is happening and to respond to individual texts or to dismiss individual emails (because you’re told what each one is actually about and from whom). On this S7 Edge, it’s more like: “You got 3 emails from some people, I guess you’ll just have to go into the email app to find out who they’re from and stuff”. On my Lumia it’s more: “You have 3 emails. Here’s a little bit about each: You have an email from Amazon, looks like that ab-worker you’ll never use has been shipped, there’s something from your mate Barry, so probably just want to slide this one out of the way, and there’s also a message from the Mrs – looks like you’re cooking tonight so cancel those plans to go down the pub after work”. And this is all done from the Action Center – no need to actually go into the email app unless you want to respond. I feel like I’m compelled to open the Gmail app on the S7 Edge because I need to know who those emails are from, and then when I find they’re from random stores I bought something from seven years ago, I’m like, *sigh*.
Then there’s the physical Edge itself. I don’t know whether I’m just a complete sloppy idiot, but I can’t hold the damn thing without a bit of my palm or a side of a finger touching the Edge and thus interacting with it, which inevitably means I’m deleting text I’ve just composed, or I’m opening apps I don’t want open. Just now, I took these photos of it, and when I picked it up to plop back down on the Qi wireless charging pad (love that it has wireless charging by the way) I opened up the phone app and nearly called 9-1-1. OK, I didn’t, but the app opened and I had to close it again, which was a teeny tiny bit annoying.
Somebody wiser than me told me this is all solved by stuffing it into a case – I hate putting my phones in cases though. I love the feeling of naked polycarbonate or metal or glass. I haven’t put a phone in a case since my Lumia 1020 years ago, and that was only because I was going hiking and I wanted to protect it in case it fell onto a rocky pathway. (I didn’t drop it anyway). So no, a case wouldn’t work for me.
It would also make the phone ever-so-slightly larger and heavier, and naked, it’s about a big as I can manage with my tiny Trump hands. I think a standard non-edge S7 would suit me better.
But it’s not all bad. The camera has impressed me with its super-quick focusing and shot-to-shot time of basically no seconds. And yes, all the apps. All the apps you could ever want. Except that I’m that weirdo who doesn’t need a million different taxi apps or send-money-to-friends apps or dating apps – I’m married don’t you know! The apps are nice to have though, because they are usually more polished than what I have on my Lumia. “Words With Friends” is a great example; the Android version is way quicker and way more stable. But I’m yet to find a decent Twitter app on Android. “Tweetcaster” and “Talon” are ok, as is the official Twitter app, but to me, nothing comes close to “Tweetium” on Windows. Maybe it’s just that I’m used to it, but it makes more sense to me in terms of the UI.
The S7 Edge goes back to AT&T soon, and thank you to them for lending it out to the OneTechStop team. David’s video review of the phone is here, and I highly recommend you read and/or watch it. Great stuff, there.
I’m actually a little bit relieved that the Edge hasn’t pulled me in and hypnotised me into thinking that I need to switch phone platforms right now. I couldn’t drop $750 on this thing. So I’m glad I’m now not tempted, having used it for a little while. But my Lumia 930, updated to the latest build of Threshold, is rock solid and hasn’t let me down once, so I’m happy to stick with that for a little while longer.
Honestly, I know I must be completely bonkers to not agree with the 99.5% of the world’s smartphone users in thinking that Android (or iOS) is the bee’s knees, but sometimes you have to really stick to what you like using. I’m not going to be swayed by the negativity that is pouring out of my screen every time I open Twitter or read a tech blog concerning Windows 10 Mobile.
Sure the S7 Edge is pretty, it’s fast, and it turns heads, but I’m not sure it’s for me. And that’s OK.