A curve-screen design and better tools top the already-excellent S7 phone.
Editors' note (March 28, 2017): Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, the follow ups to 2016's excellent Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Priced at $750 (£689 and AU$1,199), the Galaxy S8 features a beautifully curved 5.8-inch screen with an ultra-narrow bezel; facial recognition as an alternative way to unlock the phone; and Samsung's nascent Bixby voice assistant. The S8 Plus costs a bit more -- $850, £779 or AU$1349 -- and comes equipped with a larger body and battery, but is otherwise identical.
Samsung has instituted an eight-point battery test on its new phones in an effort to reassure customers that it has addressed the issues that plagued its exploding Note 7 last year. To see how the Galaxy S8 and S8 Edge stack up against their predecessors, check out CNET's side-by-side comparison.
The original Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review, published in March 2016 and updated since then, follows.
Here's the phone you should buy right now: This one. What catapults the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge to such heights? Is it the excellent camera, the beast of a battery, the expandable storage or the seductive design that's worth more than the sum of its parts? Yes, and more. This phone kicks the already-fantastic (just slightly smaller) Galaxy S7 up a notch with a bigger battery and that wraparound design on both sides that never fails to draw me deeper into whatever I'm viewing or doing.
Everything about the 5.5-inch S7 Edge excels from the inside out, and Samsung has refined the extra navigation software that dresses up the screen's physical curves. There are of course a few minor drawbacks -- there's no such thing as a perfect device -- but something about it feels more organic than your garden-variety phone, more complete. If you've ever seen one of Samsung's curve-screen phones before, such as the S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ and Note Edge, you know what I'm talking about.
Samsung has put a lot of effort into making the secondary menu bar more useful: icons get bigger and there are more types of information you can show there, like a shortcut to your favorite apps and tasks. There's a speed dial to your favorite contacts, an optional pane for sports scores and news headlines, even a tool to pull up the flashlight and ruler. These are handy, just use them sparingly.
Is the Edge worth the higher price compared to the S7? If you have the cash, then yes. For me, the phone's shape is reason enough, like how a car enthusiast might upgrade to a leather interior. The extra cost spreads out if you pay by installments; even if you pay in full, the difference diminishes when you consider you'll probably own this phone for the next two years.
That said, you wouldn't be making the mistake of your life by going for a more wallet-friendly phone like the Google Nexus 6P or even the S7. But if you want the most stylish, most all-in-one phone that money can buy, you've found it.
The S7 Edge starts at $750, £639 and AU$1,249. Read more about the S7 Edge's top-notch software and hardware in my full Galaxy S7 review, and read on below for more on the Edge's software, battery performance and specs.
Editors' note: This review was originally posted on March 8, 2016 and last updated on April 16, 2016.
I liked being able to jump into the edge display navigation from any screen, without having to go back to the start screen as you would normally have to do. This was an easy way to reach out to a favorite contact and my most-used app.
At first, it's fun to hit the nine-tab ceiling and try them all, but pretty soon I realized that if I didn't know exactly which pane I wanted, I wasted more time looking for it than if I had just gone to find the thing I wanted from the home screen in the first place. Three or four of these add-ons hit the sweet spot.
Also, some panels that I'd want just don't exist yet, because the companies haven't made plugins.
Battery life was killer in our lab tests, which measure video playback time: almost 20 hours on average, compared to the S7's already astounding 16-hour average. Real-life results were also full steam ahead. Expect the battery to last a long day on a single charge, but I'd prepare to top it up each day anyway, especially if you tend to hit streaming and navigation hard.
It's a solid, heavy device, but I never dropped the phone or felt like I was going to. I'd still buy a glass screen protector and case anyway to protect your pricey investment, but the same goes for any phone. For my small hands, its 5.5-inch screen is a little more manageable than other larger-than-average handsets, such as the iPhone 6S Plus, Google Nexus 6P and Samsung Galaxy Note 5.
My colleague Nic Healey didn't agree. He prefers his screens larger, and said he kept accidentally tapping the screen when he was trying to simply hold it to watch a video. He also found the wraparound effect distracting, especially when watching video.
The Edge's screen's picture isn't technically quite as sharp as the S7's, just because you're spreading the same amount of pixels around a larger display, but you won't notice a difference -- the screen still looks outstanding.
As the S7 Edge shares the S7's triumphs (clear 12-megapixel camera, smooth-running processor), it also shares the S7's drawbacks: slightly plastic-looking selfies, a bastion of finger grease you'll have to constantly wipe away and a non-removable battery, which was expected, but whose presence would check the final box of most-wanted features.
Some people identify as "Apple" people and some are "Google" people and I'm not trying to change that. But I do think that the Edge is more interesting and capable than the plus-size iPhone. Android's operating system adds some pretty terrific benefits, such as Google Now and excellent voice recognition.
The S7 Edge's design is also a well-crafted standout, and its battery life and camera blow past the iPhone's in almost every situation.
Even though the S7 Edge is at the top end of the price scale, but it's still a better deal than the iPhone 6S Plus once you factor in the cost of storage. You can spend less on the 32GB S7 Edge and a 64GB microSD card than you would on a 64GB iPhone 6S Plus.
The Galaxy S7 Edge versus Apple's iPhone 6S Plus, the LG G5 and the Google Nexus 6P.