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Samsung Civil War: Which is better, the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge?

Samsung’s two flagships have much in common, but there are some key differences. You can read our full reviews for the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge to learn which one you want, but we thought a head-to-head comparison might make your decision a little easier.

More: Don’t be afraid of using your Galaxy S7: Samsung says it’s just fine

On the surface, Galaxy S7 Edge boasts a bigger screen and two edges. The standard S7, on the other hand, has a traditional design and a more petite frame. Both are excellent phones that are more than worthy of filling your pocket, but which one is right for you? Below are key differences between the two Galaxies.

Specs and camera

Galaxy S7

samsung-galaxy-s7-640x640-220x220

Galaxy S7 Edge

samsung-galaxy-s7-edge

Size 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm (5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31 in) 149 x 72 x 7.62 mm (5.85 x 2.85 x 0.30 in)
Weight 5.36 ounces 5.54 ounces
Screen 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED Dual-edge, 5.5-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED
Resolution 2,560 x 1,440 pixels 2,560×1,440 pixels
OS Android 7.0 Nougat Android 7.0 Nougat
Storage 32/64GB 32/64GB
SD Card Slot Yes Yes
NFC support Yes Yes
Processor Qualcomm MSM8996, Snapdragon 820 (U.S. Models),
Exynos 8890 Octa (International Models)
Qualcomm MSM8996, Snapdragon 820 (U.S. Models),
Exynos 8890 Octa (International Models)
RAM 4GB 4GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+ Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+
Camera Front 5MP, Rear 12MP Front 5MP, Rear 12MP
Video 2,160p 4K UHD 2,160p 4K UHD
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.2 Yes, version 4.2
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Water Resistant Yes Yes
Battery 3,000mAh 3,600mAh
Charger Micro USB Micro USB
Quick Charging Yes Yes
Wireless Charging Yes, Qi and PMA Yes, Qi and PMA
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Color offerings Black, white, gold, silver Black, white, gold, silver
Availability AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile
DT Review 4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

When it comes to specs, the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are evenly matched. Both U.S. models rock Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processors and 4GB of RAM, which result in super speedy performance. The European counterparts for the S7 and S7 Edge have Samsung’s Exynos octa-core onboard, which is said to be weaker than the Qualcomm chips, but not noticeably so. The two Galaxies also have special water cooling systems inside to keep the heat down while gaming or taking on processor-heavy tasks, though both do get warm in your hand. In terms of performance, these two are completely tied.

More: Google Pixel vs. Samsung Galaxy S7: Which 5-inch flagship is right for you?

Both phones start at 32GB of storage and support expandable storage via MicroSD cards up to 200GB, so there’s no difference there, either. The 12-megapixel, dual-pixel back cameras on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are among the best smartphone cameras you can find. The f/1.7 aperture and the 1.4µm dual-pixels allow more light to enter the sensor and result in stunning photos in an array of lighting conditions.

As usual, Samsung’s camera app is fast and capable, and the new dual-pixel tech boosts low-light performance to entirely new levels. Although it can occasionally blow out night time shots, the camera typically takes great shots with very little light. Sometimes the resulting pictures are even better than ones taken with the iPhone 6S Plus, which is a fantastic feat. The front-facing 5-megapixel cameras are equally matched and take decent selfies.

Spec-wise, these two are tied.

Specs winner: Tie

Battery life and charging

The only real spec difference between the Galaxy S7 and the Edge is battery capacity. The S7 has a 3,000mAh battery, while the Galaxy S7 Edge boasts a 3,600mAh pack. The slight upgrade in battery size should be negligible because the Edge has a larger screen, but it actually matters. In our testing, the S7 Edge regularly showcased better battery performance than the S7.

However, both phones do support Quick Charge 2.0 via Micro USB and wireless charging, so you’ll be able to juice them up quickly in a pinch. Neither phone’s battery is removable, though, so if that is a problem, you won’t want either S7.

More: 18 annoying Galaxy S7 Edge problems and how to fix them

We found the Galaxy S7 and the Edge both last through a busy day with ease, though the Edge can hold out longer. Our S7 regularly had 10 percent less battery than the Edge after a solid day’s use. As anyone with a smartphone knows, that 10 percent can mean the difference between having a dead smartphone on your cab ride home or one with just enough juice to send a text or two.

Winner: Galaxy S7 Edge

Display, software, and unlocking

Display

The S7 and S7 Edge both have Quad HD Super AMOLED screens with 2,560 x 1,440-pixel resolution, but the S7’s screen is much smaller at 5.1-inches versus the 5.5-inch screen on the Edge. Thanks to the curves, though, the Edge doesn’t feel like it’s 5.5 inches, and is very comfortable to hold. If extra screen space matters to you, get the Edge.

Other than size, there’s no difference between the two displays. Both support the Always-On display feature, which is really cool and helpful for those of you who like to know the time at all times. We enjoy the curved edges when viewing most content, including movies, but some have complained about the edges being bothersome while watching YouTube. We recommend you look at it in a store before buying.

Winner: Galaxy S7 Edge

Special software

The main motive for buying the S7 Edge over the regular S7 is that the edge is useful. If you love big screens, but also want to be able to use your phone one-handed, the Edge is for you. The Edge panels give you quick access to your favorite apps, contacts, and shortcuts for specific actions in Samsung apps. You can also add edge panels with news coverage and more. The more popular Edge phones become, the more app developers will make cool and useful Edge panels. Using the regular S7 after using the S7 Edge feels disappointing. You miss the edge after you’ve gotten used to having it. It also looks stunning when viewing pictures, videos, and other media on your device — though, again, the edge does seem to bother a minority of people. This time, the Edge is worth it.

Winner: Galaxy S7 Edge

Unlocking and updates

You can buy your Galaxy unlocked in the states now, and it might be preferable to going through a carrier. Depending on your carrier, you may get a ton of bloatware pre-installed on your device that you can’t remove. Our Verizon review units, for example, came with nearly 10 uninstallable Verizon apps. The regularity of software updates is another thing you should consider when buying a phone. Both devices run Samsung’s TouchWiz on top of Android, so updates are likely to be somewhat delayed, and some carriers will hold them back even longer. Samsung has been rolling out Android 7.0 Nougat updates in selected markets, including the United States, but it’s not universal and there’s no telling how many more updates these phones will get.

Slow software, firmware, and security updates are essentially unavoidable with most Android phones. The only Android phones that will be regularly updated are likely Google’s Nexus and Pixel phones. That said, we recommend the Pixel.

Winner: There are no winners here

Comfort and durability

Comfort

The main question you need to ask yourself is pretty basic: Do you like the edges or not? Most people agree that the curved edges on the Galaxy S7 Edge are absolutely stunning, but others prefer the more traditional look of the standard S7. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so it’s entirely up to you whether you like the curves or not. However, there are some other things to consider when weighing the Edge against the regular S7. One of the biggest is comfort.

Last year, we were not a fan of the S6 Edge, because the sharp metal frame around the slim edges dug right into our hands when we held the device. Many users complained that the edge design just wasn’t comfortable. Samsung fixed the issue with the S7 Edge by adding curved glass to the back of the device. Much like the Note 5, the S7 Edge curves right into your palms, offering better grip and comfort. The Galaxy S7 feels great in the hand, too, and it is smaller than the Edge. The S7 measures 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm, while the Galaxy S7 Edge comes in at 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm.

More: Protect your shiny, new Galaxy S7 with one of these 25 cases and covers

That said, the S7 Edge is remarkably slender and petite for a phone with a 5.5-inch screen. It’s significantly smaller than the iPhone 6S Plus, which also boasts a 5.5-inch screen, and it’s not much bigger than the regular S7. In our view, this means you’re getting more screen with little size trade-off.

Both of these phones are comfortable and easy to operate one-handed, though they are both slippery fingerprint magnets because of their glass backs. In that regard, they’re tied.

We’re giving the win here to the standard Galaxy S7. Though both are comfortable, on the S7, we’ve had fewer issues accidentally touching the side of the screen and bringing up menus.

Winner: Galaxy S7

Durability

When it comes to durability, both phones are a glass-filled nightmare, but the S7 Edge is the one you don’t want to break. The phone’s dual-edge screen is expensive to replace — it will cost you $270 to get a proper repair that maintains the waterproofing. The back panel is curved, too, so you’ve got a double whammy if you break either panel. Although the S7 is equally fragile with its curved glass back, at least the front glass isn’t curved. It shouldn’t be as difficult or expensive to replace if you only damage the front, so keep that in mind if you’re one prone to butterfingers. The two phones are waterproof (IP68), though, which is a plus.

Regardless of your choice, buy a case!

Winner: There are no winners here

Price and overall winner

Price

Both the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge come in gold and black color options, but if you opt for the Edge, you can get the stunning silver version. The Galaxies are currently on sale in the United States, Europe, Singapore, Australia, and South Korea. In the States, the retail prices are between $530 and $695 for the S7 and between $580 and $795 for the S7 Edge, depending on your carrier and how much storage you want. The Edge is generally pricier by $100, so if cost is of concern, be aware that you’ll pay more for that curved screen. Here’s the pricing at the big four carriers:

  • AT&T: The Galaxy S7 costs $695 or $23.17 per month for 30 months, and the S7 Edge goes for $795 or $26.50 per month for 30 months.
  • Verizon: The Galaxy S7 costs $672 or $28 per month for 24 months, and the S7 Edge goes for $792 or $33 per month for 30 months.
  • T-Mobile: The Galaxy S7 costs $674 or $26 per month for 24 months, and the S7 Edge is $780 or $30 for 24 months.
  • Sprint: The Galaxy S7 costs $29 per month for 24 months, and the Galaxy S7 Edge costs $21 per month over 24 months.

Winner: Galaxy S7

Overall Winner: Galaxy S7 Edge

Overall, we prefer the Galaxy S7 Edge. It’s more attractive to look at and use, has better battery life, has a bigger screen, includes useful edge software, and is just about even with the Galaxy S7 when it comes to every other spec or feature. It’s more attractive, more innovative, and in the end, it’ll be more useful. That edge panel makes a big difference if you use it to its full potential, and the edge will only become more useful as more developers get involved and create apps for it.

The differences between the Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge are not vast, however. Both phones have the same specs with the minor exceptions of screen size, battery capacity, and the dual-edge screen. Price is another factor, though paying $100 more for the Edge is small potatoes, given what it provides.

The Edge offers something different that no other phone offers and it seeks to solve the problem of one-handed use on a large-screened phone in an interesting and intelligent way. Now that it’s comfortable to hold and Samsung’s opened up more pixels to edge panels, the Galaxy S7 Edge is the phone to buy.