galaxy s7 and s7 edge

Should Samsung scrap the “flat” Galaxy S variant?

In 2014, Samsung introduced the Galaxy Note Edge alongside the Galaxy Note 4 back. At that time, I wonder was it innovative and gimmicky. The Note Edge’s design was certainly bizarre, if not solely for the fact that only one side was sloped like it was. It was hard to tell whether the edge design would become anything more than a distant memory, but it’s obvious now that the Note Edge was only the beginning.

Following the release of the Note Edge in the winter would be a memorable one for mobile enthusiasts with the reveal of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge during MWC 2015, as both devices were radically redesigned. Instead of Samsung’s typical use of plastic housing, the duo featured a glass back and an aluminum chassis. Both devices also removed the microSD card slot and the removable battery – a curious move considering that the removable battery on Samsung’s devices had long been a marketing tactic against a phone that was never specifically named, but one that probably rhymes with “why phone”. And, of course, it would be the first year that Samsung formally introduced two Galaxy S variants together: one “flat” version and one with edges on both sides.

Reception of the S6 was wishy-washy due to so many changes. The Edged display would prove to be more popular than Samsung anticipated, which slowed down sales because Samsung couldn’t meet initial demands. Additionally, it turns out people aren’t happy when you take away features that are looked upon favorably. No microSD card slot, no removable battery, and no waterproofing (a feature that had just been introduced in the S5) were considerable setbacks for the S6. So here we learned a fairly simple lesson: Edges good; removal of certain features bad.

Samsung took this lesson straight to the bank with the reveal of the S7 and S7 Edge last year. Between Samsung’s Edge display, reimplementation of waterproofing and microSD card slot, and battery, camera, and design improvements, the S7 duo were two of the most popular smartphones of 2016, and have ultimately to heightened expectations of this year’s S8.

If you’re one to follow rumors and leaks, you’ve probably already heard about the latest one concerning the S8. Unlike the S6 and S7, Samsung allegedly will not feature a “flat” variant of the S8. While two different sizes will still be offered, both are said to feature edge displays.

I hope the rumor isn’t true. While I appreciate the edge display for its novelty, I am not personally a fan of it. I purchased the flat Galaxy S7 not only for its smaller form factor but also because I just didn’t care for the S7’s edge display. My initial impressions holding the Edge variant were not great. In fact, I’ve been using an S7 Edge as my daily driver for the past few weeks and I’m constantly having issues with it, despite turning the edge display off after the first few days. Perhaps it’s the fact that my smaller hands require a death grip on the device to ensure that I don’t drop it, or maybe I’m just holding it wrong. Whatever it is, it isn’t working out for me that well, although the battery boost is nice.

Despite these issues, I believe edge displays have a bright future. The S7 is the third generation of edge displays, and the second to feature edges on both sides. It’s still a work in progress and progress is being made, as evidenced in the Note 7: the Note 7’s edges were less pronounced than the S7 Edge’s display to minimize accidental touches. I think one could reasonably assume that the S8 would feature these same improvements.

Between tweaks to the physical design of the edges and continued development for better palm rejection in the software, I think that Samsung’s Edge display will continue to grow on people over time. Do I necessarily think that Samsung should go all in on the edge and stop featuring flat variants? No – at least not yet. Samsung had a good thing going by offering two variants with two significantly different appeals, and I’m not sure that offering a slightly smaller variant of the exact same phone makes as much sense. I could be wrong, but I strongly feel that the “flat” variant still serves a purpose. I know that it’s still my preference.

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