Saturday, 12 March 2016 12:13

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge - teardown

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Q. What’s difference between the S7 and the S7 Edge?
A. The 5.5” rounded Edge screen; 5 grams and a few millimetres; and a massive 3600mAh battery is all.

iFixit has previously torn down the S7 (iTWire article here) and now the S7 Edge gets the treatment.

It finds that in making a better handset, the S-series continues the downward trajectory in reparability – three out of ten (the S6 was four out of ten). Still the usual repairs are glass/screen and battery, and these are replaceable by any skilled rocket scientist.

It also finds that more so than in the past, the S7 series share a very high commonality of components – that’s a good thing. Apparently previous iterations of Galaxy smartphones had different design teams and less commonality of parts.

The tear-down is on the US model using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, four-core, system on a chip (SoC). Australia gets the Samsung-made Exynos 8890 eight-core, mainly for its support of Australian and Asia Pacific LTE bands and speeds.

There has been a lot said about the pros and cons of both SoCs. There is no doubt that the 820 has some higher performance specifications – in essence, both have similar CPU performance, and the 820 has better graphics performance – some tests show up to 32%. Both have 4GB RAM and 32GB storage.

Samsung says that it is a matter of reality versus perception and in some respects the Exynos has superior in battery charging and management, less heat, and it works here!

I have been using the S7 Edge for a few days (iTWire first looks article here) – I also have the S6 Edge+ to compare it with. My initial impression was that at least superficially the S7 offered no compelling reason for S6 owners to rush out and upgrade.

While I do hold to that notion I am beginning to see some of the subtle advantages:

  • IP68 water and dust resistance nearly came in handy when I accidentally dropped the phone over the bath. I was also happy to answer a call with dripping wet hands!
  • A slight improvement in the AMOLED screen – Samsung say its 24% brighter.
  • The addition of a microSD slot supporting up to 200GB
  • The Edge is still the best-looking handset on the market, and the new Edge apps make it even more useful
  • More customisable ‘always on’ glance screen
  • Longer battery life – not that the S6 was a slouch
  • The S7 camera is 12MP with larger pixels – its mostly a match for the 16MP one found in the S6

And for fear of upsetting iPhone 6s/Plus users: [square brackets are 6s/Plus respectively]

  • It does not have what I now consider to be marginally useful force touch (peek and poke)
  • The Edge camera, while sharing a similar 12MP specification with the 6s and Plus has a huge and very visible quality margin over iPhone in low light shots due to the f/1.7 aperture and 1.4 µ pixels size [f/2.2 and 1.22 µ pixels]. All S7 have optical image stabilisation – only the Plus has it.
  • Auto-focus courtesy of the dual pixel, phase detection sensor, is blazingly fast – compared to the ‘laggard’ iPhone 6s Plus and any other current flagship smartphone.
  • The camera is centre back mounted – harder to put fingers over it when shooting
  • The Edge is much lighter than the 6s Plus [192g]
  • It has a microSD slot for storage expansion
  • It has much better battery life 3000/3600mAh [1715/2750]
  • The AMOLED display, 2560 x 1440 x 577/534 ppi is amazing [1334 x 750 x 326ppi and 1980 x 1020 x 401ppi IPS LED]

Of course, I need to make the disclaimer that the new iPhone 7 series is around the corner, and this may all change. I also need to make the statement that it also depends on whether you are happy to use Android (in which case you have a large selection of flagship brands and models) or iOS (in which case you must buy Apple).


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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