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Samsung Galaxy S7: Should you upgrade?

It officially hits the market Friday, and the reviews are pouring in for the new flagship smartphone from Samsung. So, should you upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S7 or the larger new S7 Edge?

For the most part, tech reviewers are giving the phone high marks -- saying it matches up well against competition from the likes of Apple's iPhone. The Galaxy S7 starts at $650 and the larger S7 Edge starts at $750.

Here's a roundup of some of the phone's recent reviews:

"An awesome phone"

CNET's Jessica Dolcourt calls the Samsung Galaxy S7 "an awesome phone that never cracked under the pressure of being the only way I take pictures and navigate completely unfamiliar terrain, all the while keeping battery life going during long days out."

Her review says this model the "best all-around phone out there ... better even than the excellent Google Nexus 6P and iPhone 6s."

Dolcourt said that the "medium"-size phone (the regular model has a 5.1-inch screen) was perfect for fitting in her pocket for easy travel, but unfortunately smudges very easily, with its shiny metal-and-glass backing collecting "a semi-permanent sheen of finger grease." As with the iPhone, a case is necessary, but she added that this should not be an "excuse" for the phone's susceptibility to collecting greasy stains.

One of the big positives for Dolcourt was the phone's oft-touted 12-megapixel camera. She wrote that it took "crisp photos" and that it "countered low-light interference in every darkened cocktail bar, moodily lit restaurant, and dusk-dimmed park."

This camera has fewer megapixels than last year's Galaxy S6 model, but she found the photos to be better overall, "yielding brighter, more usable" images.

Another big plus was the battery life -- Dolcourt found that even though she was sightseeing throughout Europe, spending entire days out and about and without a charger, the battery "lasted through a full day of heavy use."

A "perfect" smartphone?

Gizmodo's Darren Orf echoed much of that praise for the Galaxy S7. "The seventh iteration the Galaxy S, Samsung inches ever closer to a perfect smartphone," he wrote.

"There's something positive to be said about almost every feature of this phone, from the camera and the battery to the display and processor," Orf's review states.

He found that he particularly liked the larger S7 Edge, which clocks in at 5.5 inches, calling it "the best feeling phone" he's "ever picked up." The Samsung design is elegant, but "avoids being super slippery like the iPhone 6."

The camera earned raves. "From launching to using to shooting, the S7 nails it every step of the way," he wrote. "It keeps the quick camera opening feature introduced on the S6: you launch the camera app by double-tapping the home button. For Apple enthusiasts you can also open the camera by swiping up on the lock screen."

Orf also praised Samsung's commitment to fixing past mistakes from earlier versions of the device: "It subtly improves on its own design and imbues the device with much-needs utility like waterproofing and memory expansion," he wrote.

In addition to commending Samsung on its battery life, Orf was happy to see an improved TouchWiz operating system.

"Samsung finally has a version of TouchWiz I actually want to use. It's implementation is very much akin to traditional (and more attractive) Android, and it's subtly cleaned up some areas, like the notification menu," he wrote. "Best of all, with 4GB of RAM and the Snapdragon 820 processor, this thing flies -- most of the time."

But like Dolcourt, he criticized the phone's tendency to smudge very easily.

"Rivals the iPhone"

In the headline to its review, The Associated Press anticipated the question most smartphone shoppers have in mind: How does it compare to the iPhone? The answer: Samsung now has a phone camera that "rivals the iPhone."

AP's Anick Jesdanun wrote that the camera alone justifies the phone's high price tag.

"In this Age of Instagram, a great camera is one of the few reasons to pay $650 or more for the latest smartphone, instead of $200 or $300 for a budget phone that does texting, Facebook and Web surfing just as well," Jesdanun wrote. "The new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phones take much better pictures than last year's S6 models. In fact, they're now basically neck and neck with Apple's iPhones, meaning that you no longer have to compromise on picture quality if you prefer Android."

One of the big selling points is the phone's ability to focus and capture hard-to-get shots in dark lighting conditions.

"The S7 was also more likely to get the focus right on its own, without having to choose a focus area first by touching the phone screen. Even with touching, focusing sometimes takes a second or two on other cameras. I don't get that lag with the S7, meaning fewer missed action shots,"Jesdanun stated.

The reviewer did have some quibbles. Jesdanun found that many indoor shots turned out "yellowish" and "faces are more orange than usual."

"Most impressive" smartphone

Dan Seifert of The Verge echoes his peers in finding a lot to like about the new Samsung phone.

"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," he wrote. "It's a little bit heavier and a little bit thicker than the S6, but not egregiously so in either category."

On the flip side, the S7 Edge "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," he wrote.

Seifert was particularly taken with the phone's overall design, writing that the S7, and in particular the S7 Edge, "is the most impressive piece of smartphone hardware I've ever held."

He commented on how polished the phone was and how "beautiful" it is to look at.

But there's that fingerprint complaint again.

"My only real complaint is the glass on both phones is like a rare earth magnet for fingerprints," he wrote."It also makes them slippery, especially in cold weather when my skin is dry."

Seifert noted that the acclaimed phone camera is actually of a lower resolution than last year's S6, but it made up for that by having "physically larger pixels and a brighter lens," which makes the phone ideal for "low-light performance."

Overall, Seifert gave the new Samsung phone an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

"The result is that the S7 Edge is easily one of the best phones I've ever used, and probably the best Android phone you can buy right now," he declared.

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