Never mind that pre-orders have been shipping for a week. Today is Galaxy S7 day.
Samsung's retail partners all over the world are opening their doors to anyone wanting to wander in and pick up a new Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge. You've seen our reviews on the smaller and edgier versions this year — as well as a look at what you can expect in Canada — but today is the day to put down money on one of these phones and jump into this new experience. For those of you still deciding, here's everything you need to know to make the choice that best suits your needs.
Which model should you get?
Tough Choice No. 1: Do you get the Galaxy S7? Or the Galaxy S7 edge? The latter is the one Samsung's really pushing this year, but there are some pretty distinct differences.
The GS7 is smaller, with a 5.1-inch display. It's also got a slightly smaller batter, at 3,000 mAh. The GS7 edge is larger at 5.5 inches and has a 3,600 mAh battery — that's 20 percent greater capacity. It's also got the very cool curved "edge" screen that adds additional functionality.
Which color should you get?
That's maybe the second big choice, right? This year Samsung hasn't gone all out on the paint jobs. Gold, silver, black and white. (And those of us in the U.S. missed out on the more awesome colors last year anyway.)
This is a very personal choice, of course, but there are a few pros and cons depending on which color you go for.
Should you upgrade to the Galaxy S7?
We're going to get into this in more detail, but here's the short version as we see it. If you're coming from a Galaxy Note 5, we probably would hold off. It's absolutely a very good phone with a very good battery and current software. Whether to upgrade from the Galaxy S6 is a tougher decision. If you've been OK with the GS6 battery life (one of our chief complaints of that line), you probably can hold off. The phones are very similar in many respects. But if you just have to have more battery, consider switching.
Anything Galaxy S5 and older and you should definitely consider upgrading. There's a huge difference both in the look and design of the phones, the processors powering them, and in the software running on them. It's time for an upgrade.
If you're outside the Samsung ecosystem and are looking to come in? Well, that's another matter. iPhone owners certainly should upgrade to a Galaxy S7 on principle. (We kid, we kid. Only not really. Get on Android.) But, really, there's a whole lot in the Galaxy S7 that you just won't find on any previous-generation phones from any manufacturer. The best-in-class camera. The excellent fingerprint sensor. Even the software's as good as its ever been. We've used them all, and the Galaxy S7 undeniably is the current best of the bunch.
About the GS7 and virtual reality
If you've been looking to finally try out some virtual reality system, the Galaxy S7 is ready to go. It works great with Samsung's own Gear VR system — and in fact you may well receive a free one when you buy your GS7. Gear VR, if you've yet to experience it, is Samsung's $99 system powered by Oculus that brings you straight into videos and games and — well, just about anything. It's a little bulky, sure, and you need to forget what you look like while you're wearing it. But it's also the best bang for the buck at this point.
The GS7 also works with the less-expensive Google Cardboard, of course.
The micro-SD card is back
A big change for the Galaxy S7 this year is that Samsung has brought back the micro-SD card. And that's important because both the GS7 and GS7 edge ship with just 32 gigabytes of on-board storage. The SD card expands that another 200GB, so you'll have a lot more room to store pictures and music and movies and such. You also can move app data to the SD card to free up even more space.
Where to buy the Galaxy S7 edge
This is always a tricky question when it comes to a device that's available globally from a variety of retailers, but we can at least offer up some handy links of those who want to buy in the U.S. from one of the major carriers. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint all have the Galaxy S7 edge for sale, and you can also check out major retailers like Best Buy to buy for use on any of those carriers as well.
Where to buy the Galaxy S7
This is always a tricky question when it comes to a device that's available globally from a variety of retailers, but we can at least offer up some handy links of those who want to buy in the U.S. from one of the major carriers. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint all have the Galaxy S7 for sale.
For our Canadian friends
It's 2016, and you still can't purchase the Galaxy S7 edge unlocked directly from Samsung. That speaks to the relationship the OEM has with its carrier providers, but there has been one positive change in the market recently: the opening of four Samsung Experience stores throughout the country. While you still won't be able to buy the phone unlocked, Samsung will offer free unlock codes if it is purchased outright. Elsewhere, all the major carriers are carrying the device.
Rogers, Bell and Telus have all priced it the Galaxy S7 at $400 on-contract and $900 outright, and the Galaxy S7 edge at $500 on-contract and $1,000 outright.
For our European friends ...
A couple things of note for our pals across the pond. First, we've got a good list of where you can buy the Galaxy S7 and GS7 edge in the UK. Be sure to hit that up. But more important is that we've got the lowdown on the region-locking that phones in that part of the world may be subject to. The short version is that it's very real, but probably not something that's going to affect most people. Read more on that here.
- Galaxy S7 review
- Galaxy S7 edge review
- U.S. unlocked Galaxy S7
- Should you upgrade to the Galaxy S7?
- Best SD cards for Galaxy S7
- Join our Galaxy S7 forums