By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

In March of last year at the Mobile World Congress Samsung launched its first sleek “Edge” device – the Galaxy S6 Edge.

The curved sides on the display may have appeared a little gimmicky – but the device still won plaudits for its design, power and overall performance.

The S7 Edge is the successor to that smartphone, and builds on the success of the first model. 

The device launched in Ireland a couple of weeks ago. Since then I’ve been trying it out, and I’m impressed.

Design

The first thing to say about the S7 Edge is that it looks amazing – without doubt the best looking smartphone on the market.

And it has to be in order to set it apart from the standard S7 and indeed the S6 Edge, although the refinements are subtle.

The handset is finished in an attractive combo of metal and glass. That gives a truly premium look and feel, although with so many shiny surfaces fingerprints and slipperiness can be a difficulty.

The camera sensor on the rear is far more flush than on its predecessor and the power and volume buttons are positioned in ideal locations.

The device is a good deal bigger than the S6 Edge – up from 5.1 inches to 5.5 inches. 

But in big hands it doesn’t feel overly big.

The rear now has a curved finish around the edges too, which means it is reasonably comfortable to hold, despite the size.

One of the big new features of the S7 Edge is that it carries an IP68 rating, which means it is waterproof to a depth of 1.5m for up to 30 minutes – perfect for splashing around the pool, or listening to music in the bath or shower.

Display

Turn the device on and the quality of the AMOLED screen jumps out at you.

The resolution hasn’t improved from the S6 Edge and there is no 4k - but nonetheless the quality is excellent.

The 534 pixels per inch on the QHD display, and excellent contrast ratio, makes for pinpoint sharp pictures and video from every viewing angle.

The curved side screens serve a function too – a swipe in opens a shortcut window, for quick access to contact, apps and other widgets.

The side display can also be used to display apps, like a CNN news ticker for example, although the level of choice is still pretty low in the Samsung Galaxy App store.

Overall though, the edge shortcuts are handy and useful now, which is a big improvement on the S6 Edge.

The display also now boasts a handy “always-on” function, which means that even when it is in sleep mode you can tell what the time and date are without having to wake the device up.

That does of course impact on the battery life, although Samsung says there is also a saving in not waking the phone up several times a day to find out what the time is.

It doesn’t, however, display notifications, which is perhaps something Samsung will have to think about.

Hardware

The S7 Edge that is available here in Europe runs on the Exynos 8890 octa-core processor, which Samsung claims is up to 30% faster than the chipset on its predecessor.

The phone now comes with 4GB of RAM, up from 3GB on the previous model, making this something of a powerhouse smartphone.

Pretty much everything runs smoothly, even the most power hungry games - thanks to the graphics processor’s 64% boost in performance.

It comes with either 32GB or 64GB of on board storage, and welcomes back the micoSD card slot for expansion of up to 200GB.

Camera

The main camera on the S7 Edge has seen its resolution reduced from 16MP to 12MP.

But this hasn’t resulted in any major diminution in quality.

In fact, the camera is superb – among the best on any smartphone.

The thinking is that megapixels are less important now, with the “Dual Pixels” feature more than making up for any reduction in the pixel count.

The result is faster focusing, and more crisp pictures, while the f.1/7 aperture helps to produce solid results in low light conditions.

A double tap of the home button quickly opens the camera interface, which packs a wide array of novelty and useful features to help the user produce the best possible image.

There’s RAW and Pro modes, for example, a function which enables live streaming to YouTube and a rather pointless “Motion Photo” mode, which captures three seconds of video and then a still of the last frame.

The front facing 5MP camera is fine for the job in hand too.

Battery

The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge were both criticised for poor battery performance.

Samsung seems to have heeded those concerns, and addressed them by putting a larger 3,600 mAh power pack in the S7 Edge.

The result is a phone which should, under normal conditions and use, last the day.

It's not perfect - but there are of course the usual power saving modes, and the phone supports wireless charging too.

It also has an Adaptive Fast Charging feature, which will work out how best to get the fuel into the phone fast - which is helpful, though it can see the phone get warm.

Fingerprint scanner

The S7 Edge, like its predecessor, has a fingerprint scanner - which is really impressive.

It's fast and accurate, and in my experience, is one of the best around.

And will be useful when mobile payment services, like Android Pay, finally roll out in Ireland.

There's also a heart rate sensor on the rear, for those for whom health and fitness tracking is important.

Gaming

Gamers will love the S7 Edge.

Its hardware specifications mean it can handle the most power-hungry mobile games, with almost no noticeable lag or jitter.

There is also a Game Launcher - a folder that games live in, which appears as an icon in the corner when game play is in progress.

Audio

The S7 Edge supports high-resolution audio playback, which will be welcomed by music purists.

And the audio settings allows for plenty of fiddling for those who like to tweak their tunes.

But the built-in speaker, at the bottom of the phone, is average at best.

Software

The phone runs on the Android 6 operating system.

On top of that is Samsung's TouchWiz skin, which is clean and straightforward to navigate.

On the left of the home screen there's a new news aggregation feature, which is fine but not a lot more.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a superb smartphone.

And that's as it should be, with a price tag of €749 SIM free, it's a flagship smartphone with a matching price.

The design is eye-catching, the waterproofness and return of the microSD card big pluses, and the camera is great.

However, it will be interesting to see how the battery performance stands up to heavy use over time.

Those with fingerprint and smudge phobias may not like all the shiny surfaces.

And then there's the price.

There are other alternatives of course too.

The Apple iPhone 6S Plus, the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium and the Edge's sister, the Samsung Galaxy S7 are all options around the same price.

HTC is also expected to launch a new flagship soon, which will also likely fit the category.

But if getting value for that money is a key factor in your purchasing decision, then it's unlikely the S7 Edge will disappoint. 

Comments welcome via Twitter to @willgoodbody