If you are considering a new smartphone, this review might help you decide whether to go for Samsung S7 or not.


By Dan Seifert

Here’s the thing about smartphones: they are a lot better when they have big screens. Virtually everything we do with smartphones is enhanced by a larger display: messaging, playing games, watching video, reading articles, browsing the web, you name it. After all, when it’s stripped down to its core, the modern smartphone is little more than a touchscreen display in front of an ultra-compact, connected supercomputer.

But in order to have a big screen, you have to put up with a big phone, and to be honest, big phones are a pain in the neck. They are clumsy to hold and easy to drop, don’t fit comfortably in our pockets, look ridiculous on your arm when exercising, and are all but impossible to use with one hand. But what if you could have a phone with a big screenand be able to comfortably use it in one hand? What if it easily slipped into your pocket, yet still provided an immersive display that was great to watch video or play games on? And what if it still had a big enough battery to power that big display all day long, regardless of how much you used your phone?

Samsung is betting it has the answer to all of those questions with its new Galaxy S7 smartphone. The Galaxy S7 is actually two phones: the standard S7 ($650-$695, depending on carrier) and the S7 Edge ($750-$795, depending on carrier). It’s the Edge that truly tries to solve the big phone problem using Samsung’s unique curved display technology.

The S7 models aren’t hugely different from last year’s Galaxy S6 pair — in fact, they look almost identical. The Galaxy S6s were a watershed moment for Android devices: they were the first ones that could stand next to the iPhone in terms of design, materials, performance, and camera quality. So for the S7, Samsung didn’t rewrite its formula. Instead, it took what was good in the S6, refined and iterated upon it, and produced something much better.

And it fits in your pocket.

Between the two devices, the standard S7 is the less interesting model. It’s the most similar to last year’s phone: same size display (5.1-inch, quad HD, Super AMOLED), same materials (metal and glass, no plastic to be found here), same overall shape and design. It’s a little bit heavier and a little bit thicker than the S6, but not egregiously so in either category.

The S7 has adopted the Note 5’s curved glass back, which makes it more comfortable to hold, despite its thicker profile. The home button doesn’t stick out as much and the rear camera housing doesn’t protrude as much as before (again, likely because the phone itself is just over a millimeter thicker than the S6). It’s a more refined version of the S6, but overall, largely the same hardware experience.

The S7 Edge, on the other hand, has undergone more dramatic changes. While last year’s S6 Edge has the same 5.1-inch display as the standard model, the S7 Edge steps up to a phablet-class 5.5-inch screen (also quad HD, Super AMOLED, and fantastic to look at). That does make it taller and wider than before, but not nearly as much as you might expect.

The secret to the S7 Edge is in those curved sides that give it the Edge name. Samsung’s been curving screens on its phones for a …


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