It's one of the biggest phone releases of the year — now you can decide if it's time to upgrade.
When a new Samsung flagship phone comes out, it triggers the biggest flood of phone enthusiasts asking whether or not now is the time to upgrade from their current phone to the latest. In the case of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, these phones are so great that it's really pushing people's will power to stay with their phone and not jump.
But of course there isn't just one question about "should I upgrade?" to answer here. Whether or not you should upgrade to the Galaxy S7 or S7 edge comes down to several different factors, not the least of which being how old your current phone is and how much you're willing to spend to make up the difference between selling your old phone and acquiring the new one.
No matter your situation, if you're asking yourself about an upgrade to the Galaxy S7 or S7 edge, we're going to help you make that decision.
1. First, choosing between Galaxy S7 and S7 edge
Before we get into the direct comparisons, you should really try to settle in on which Galaxy S7 you want — the standard model, or the larger and more expensive Galaxy S7 edge. Both phones have all of the same tentpole features — metal and glass build, larger battery, SD card slot, waterproofing, great screen — but the GS7 edge definitely brings something extra to the table with its larger, dual-curved display. Phil Nickinson boils it down to a simple decision:
Look, you can't really go wrong with either one here. Both the Samsung Galaxy S7 and GS7 edge are really good Android smartphones in a sea of good high-end models. And in many ways, the two phones are pretty much identical.
Want a smaller phone? Get the GS7. Want to save a little money? Get the GS7. Want a damn good phone in any event? Get either one.
Chances are most people will be extremely happy with the standard Galaxy S7, but if you just want to stand out a bit and can afford the extra cost the Galaxy S7 edge may be appealing. The best part about this decision is you can't go wrong with either phone.
2. Upgrading from a Galaxy Note 5 or Galaxy S6 edge+
Considering that the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ only came out six months before the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge you may be thinking it's a bit crazy to ask if this is actually an upgrade scenario — but believe us, people are really considering this. Daniel Bader wraps up his thoughts on the Note 5 comparison:
I think the S Pen offers more long-term usability, especially for avid note-takers, than the Edge Screen, which in software has yet to meet the potential of the beautiful hardware. But you can't go wrong with either phone — find the one that meets your needs in terms of features and price, and you'll be happy here.
There's even less of a difference when we talk about the Galaxy S6 edge+. For Alex Dobie, things come down to just two areas — camera and battery:
You're going to have to care a lot about the new camera and boosted battery life for this to be a worthwhile upgrade. Instead, most GS6 edge+ owners are going to get more out of the upgrade to Marshmallow than they would forking out the extra cash for a GS7 edge.
Considering that you could have only owned your Galaxy Note 5 or S6 edge+ for a handful of months when the new phone hit the scene, it's really tough to drop either phone and pay the difference to get a new Galaxy S7 edge ... this is really only for the committed, especially once you get the Marshmallow update to your current phone.
3. Upgrading from a Galaxy S6 or S6 edge
The most-asked question when it comes to upgrading will probably be looking at the Galaxy S7's direct predecessor, the Galaxy S6. The GS6 was hardly a perfect phone when it launched, and after a year of using it its flaws haven't gotten any easier to deal with. The upgrade path is clear, but expensive, as I explained:
You may want to think long and hard about this potential upgrade. A bigger battery, a couple new features and the latest in specs are definitely worth something, but it may not be worth the $300-400 gap in cost to make you jump from your perfectly capable Galaxy S6 — which now has the same Marshmallow software — to the Galaxy S7.
In many ways, exploring an upgrade from the Galaxy S6 edge to the GS7 edge is the more interesting comparison. The Galaxy S7 edge moves up to a larger screen size this year, giving you a little more room for everything you do while also boosting the battery dramatically. I point out the details again:
The larger screen, dramatically bigger battery, SD card slot and waterproofing are all welcomed upgrades, but they alone might not be enough when you're facing a $300 to $400 differential in price after you sell your phone. If you stay with your current phone, you can know you're getting a lot of the same experience you'd find in the newer Galaxy S7.
So really, these upgrade decisions purely come down to how much money you're willing to spend. The Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are clear upgrades over their predecessors, especially in the case of the larger GS7 edge. They fix a lot of the pain points felt by GS6 and S6 edge owners, while also future proofing you for an additional year — just be ready to pay the price for upgrading just a year on after buying your current phone.
4. Upgrading from a Galaxy S5
Having a phone for two full years seems like an eternity to some people, but many are determined to completely pay off their current phone before going for an upgrade. In the case of the Galaxy S5, it actually aged pretty well in many aspects — the screen is solid, performance is still good, battery life has held up and it already has the SD card and waterproofing that make the Galaxy S7 great. But of course there's a lot more you get with this upgrade. As I said in an in-depth comparison:
The Galaxy S5 is still a fine phone today, actually, but we wouldn't blame you for looking for something new — and if you choose the Galaxy S7, you're getting a dramatically improved hardware experience, a better screen, better performance (now and into the future) and a mind-blowing step up in camera quality.
At the same time, in the upgrade process you haven't lost waterproofing, the SD card slot, the compact size or the familiarity with Samsung's software and services.
You get so many improvements when you choose to make this upgrade to the Galaxy S7, and at the same time you don't really lose anything in the process. It almost feels like the Galaxy S7 was tailor-made for GS5 owners who are on a two-year upgrade cycle — it really checks all of the boxes.
5. Upgrading from an earlier Galaxy phone
If you're holding on to something like a Galaxy S4 — or one of Samsung's mid-range Galaxies from the past two years — just waiting to be blown away by a phone enough to make the jump to a brand-new high-end device, now is a great time.
After a couple years of somewhat-compromised devices in the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S6 (and S6 edge), Samsung has really figured things out in 2016 with the GS7 and S7 edge. The phones really are the pinnacle of what Samsung can do, and at this point that also means they're leading the entire industry in many ways. The hardware design is great, and is packed with all of the latest specs. The screen and camera are absolutely top of the line, and Samsung's take on Marshmallow is easily the best version of TouchWiz to date.
Now just because the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are great phones doesn't mean that they're necessarily affordable, and they're definitely going to be a shock in price if you're coming from an older or cheaper phone. At the same time, your current device probably doesn't hold much value to be able to sell or trade it in to pad the cost — you're going to be paying the full freight for the latest Galaxy.
That being said, if you've made the decision that this is the year you make the big jump, and you want to stick with Samsung, you'll be extremely happy.
6. Upgrading from a non-Samsung 2015 flagship
If you're using a top-end phone that was released in 2015, chances are you're pretty happy with it. But if you're someone who just has to upgrade to have the latest and greatest phone, you're no doubt looking at a Galaxy S7.
If you're using an LG G4, LG V10, HTC One M9, Nexus 6P, Moto X Pure Edition, OnePlus 2 or BlackBerry Priv, it's going to be pretty costly to upgrade at this point, and with anywhere from just six to 12 months between the phone in your hand now and the Galaxy S7, there isn't that much new — your current phone likely matches the GS7 and S7 edge in many areas.
For example, my comparison between the GS7 edge and Nexus 6P is a great look at just how close these phones are:
The Galaxy S7 edge is ahead in terms of screen quality, ease of handling with its smaller dimensions, camera experience, waterproofing and sheer number of features. The Nexus 6P absolutely offers a cleaner software experience with a proven path of updates, plus great front-facing speakers, a forward-looking USB-C port, arguably better fingerprint sensor implementation and a bigger screen that's still great. This is basically a neck-and-neck race in terms of battery life, performance and daily use factors.
Setting aside the merits of the phones, price is also a major consideration. The Nexus 6P is available starting at $499 for 32GB of storage, whereas the Galaxy S7 edge starts at roughly $750 for the same storage capacity. Even the top-end Nexus 6P with 128GB of internal storage at $649 is a full $100 cheaper than Samsung's latest.
Sure the Galaxy S7 has a wonderful camera and one of the best displays out there today, but in terms of features, performance, specs and most importantly daily use, it's not far ahead of the still-fresh 2015 competition. If you're walking into a store today with an older phone and choosing between these phones it's a bit of a different story, but when you already own a 2015 flagship it's less clear that you should upgrade right away.
7. Upgrading from a non-Samsung 2014 flagship
Much like the discussion of the upgrade path from a Galaxy S5, there are plenty of people out there with a flagship device from 2014 who are most definitely looking to make an upgrade. Pushing on two years since getting a new phone, chances are your contract or financing period is just about up, and that is often the signal that it's time for something new.
Holding onto an LG G3, HTC One M8, Nexus 6, OnePlus One or Moto X 2nd Gen at this point you're likely feeling like the newest in the mobile world is passing you by — and while the differences aren't as stark as you'd expect they are notable. The Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are going to offer you a way better display, a new fingerprint sensor, better performance all around and a software experience built on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Chances are your two-year-old phone doesn't step up to the hardware quality of the GS7 either.
Again, the biggest thing here to consider is the cost. Your phone may have some sale or trade-in value, but it won't make a dent in the $700+ price tag of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. If you're in the U.S. you're going to be looking at financing through a carrier, most likely, which will definitely help lessen the up-front cost.
8. Where to buy the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge
You have all of the information available to you on which upgrades make the most sense, so now it just comes down to picking where to buy your Galaxy S7 or S7 edge. No matter where you live, we have you covered here:
Choosing whether to buy from a carrier or unlocked is a big decision, and a very personal one — then comes which store you choose to buy from, which again depends a lot on your own situation. But once you have the upgrade decision made, these are simple details — go forth and get your new phone!
- 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