How-To Geek

How Samsung Won Over a Hater with the Galaxy S7

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Samsung has finally won me over.

I’ve hated Samsung Android phones for a long time—basically as long as Samsung has been making Android phones. I’ve given them various tries throughout the years, and every one of them left me with the incredibly strong urge to throw the phone across the room (and I did, once). Then I tried the Galaxy S7 Edge, and everything changed.

Samsung: Some Things to Love, a Lot More to Hate

I’ve been an Android user since the original Motorola Droid, and I’ve used more phones than I can count over the last six or seven years. But no matter how much I love a phone, I always have this desire for trying new things, so I end up switching often. Since Samsung is ubiquitous in the Android world, naturally its phones have crossed my path on multiple occasions—from the plasticky, battery-starved Galaxy Nexus to several fairly decent Galaxy tablets. But I avoided most of them due to Samsung’s custom “TouchWiz” interface.

Eventually, in an effort to be “fair” and to learn why Samsung made the most popular Android phones on the market, I decided to switch to the Galaxy S5 as my main phone when it came out. I’ve never used a phone that left me so frustrated.

First off, the software was pretty much hideous. Samsung really knew how to take something that generally looked pretty good—stock Android—and make it look terrible. Awful color schemes across the system, a convoluted Settings menu, and super-tacky launcher all made for a pretty awful software experience. I still gag thinking about it.

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Then there was the hardware: like many other Samsung phones, it felt cheap, mostly because of the flimsy plastic back. Of course, most of my rage was induced by the damn home button. I can feel my blood pressure going up just thinking about it.

Here’s the scenario: the phone is in my pocket, and I bend down to do something. About three seconds later, I hear music. What? Where is this coming from? Oh, it’s just my stupid phone that somehow got unlocked in my pocket because I moved the wrong way. Rage.

That happened at least once per day. I was trying to carry a table out and load it into a truck for my mother-in-law once, and suddenly my pocket starts rocking out. I was livid. That was the time I threw the phone.

The logical answer to me was a secure lock screen—without the correct pattern, the phone wouldn’t unlock in my pocket. This, though, was a half-assed solution. I could hear the sound of the screen being touched all the time. From my pocket. So while it stopped coming unlocked, the bigger issue is that the display would still turn on with the slightest touch.

So I was not a fan of the Galaxy S5.

The Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, and S6 Edge+ all came and went. After the S7 Edge was released, I got one for work and expected to hate it too. But then something unexpected happened: it didn’t suck. I was incredulous—a Samsung phone I didn’t immediately hate? Whoa.

So I kept using the phone, and over the next couple of weeks (yes, two weeks!), it one hundred percent won me over. This is the best Android phone I’ve ever used. Ever.

Samsung Fixed All of the S5’s Issues

All the stuff I hated about the S5—the home button, questionable build materials, and ugly software–have been fixed with the S7.

While it does still have a home button, which I don’t really like, I haven’t once had it turn on in my pocket, regardless of what I’m doing or how I’m moving. I’m not sure what was up with the S5, but the S7 is much better in that regard.

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And the build quality? Oh man. I know Samsung stepped its game up with the S6, but it really put in work on the S7 and S7 Edge. These phones are as premium as premium gets, and they look and feel the part. The aluminum/glass construction is beautiful all around, and they’re build so solidly. They feel great told—like a damn fine piece of premium hardware; you know, because that’s what they are. They’re even waterproof!

Finally, there’s the software. While it’s still very “Samsung-y,” TouchWiz has come a long way over the years. It’s much more streamlined than before, and while the launcher is still basically not very good, a quick switch to Nova fixed that. The Settings menu is 100 percent less obnoxious than before, as it now shares a very similar layout to stock—no more tabbed garbage (seriously, what a mess that was). It may not be pure stock, but the software is great.

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The S7 Is End-to-End Quality

What makes the S7 so good? I can answer that question in one sentence: there’s nothing to make it bad. That may seem obvious, but it’s true. The display is incredible—it’s vibrant, but not oversaturated (like Super AMOLED can be); ultra-sharp, and the perfect size. While I concede that the “edge” stuff is still just a gimmick, it definitely gives this phone a sleek, modern, futuristic look. By comparison, all other phones just look dated to me. (Though if you really hate it, Samsung offers the non-Edge S7 too.)

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Like I mentioned earlier, the camera is amazing. In fact, it’s hands down the best camera you’ll find on a smartphone today. I honestly feel like this is the first smartphone that can actually replace your point-and-shoot without a huge sacrifice in quality. It’s especially impressive where other smartphone cameras fall short: in low-light situations. Sure, it’s not DSLR quality—but it’s damn impressive for a smartphone. That’s honestly been one of the hardest things for me to get past when thinking about going back to the Nexus 6P. There’s just no contest out there in the camera department.

But wait, there’s more! Two words: battery life. Unprecedented battery life (okay, three words). The Galaxy S7 Edge is absolutely unreal in this realm. Where my 6P—which arguably has the best battery life of any Nexus before it—hovers around 50-60 percent by 2:00 or 3:00 PM, the S7 often doesn’t hit the 50 percent mark until I’m going to bed at night. Naturally, it drops more when I use it more, but I haven’t had to hit a mid-day charge even once since I started using it full time (which includes a lot of screen-on time for my job). Even if it starts to seem like it’s getting low, I pretty much always know that it’s going to get me through the day. It’s a beast.

And when I do have to charge it, I get the best of both worlds: rapid and wireless charging. Swoon. If I’m heading to bed, I can just drop it on the dead-simple (but slower) wireless charger. On the occasions I’ve really used it during the day and drained the battery, I can bump it quickly with a turbo charger. Having the choice between rapid and wireless charging on the same phone is a dream.

All that goes without mentioning the performance, which honestly kind of takes a backseat here—everything is so good, the performance is one of those things you don’t have to think about. This is a high-end phone, and it performs as you’d expect. The hardware is there, and it’s a blazing fast machine day in and day out. I love that I don’t ever have to concern myself with how to make it faster—it just does what it does, consistently.

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A few days ago, I tried to go back to my Nexus 6P—I was back on the S7 Edge within a day. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Nexus phones, but the Galaxy S7 is not only the best Android phone out right now, it’s the best Android phone ever. Period.

And that’s something I never thought I’d say. Hats of to Samsung for turning this hater into a Galaxy lover.

Cameron Summerson is a die-hard Android fan, Chicago Bulls fanatic, metalhead, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys on the 'net, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, chugging away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching the Bulls while yelling at the TV.

  • Published 05/26/16

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