We were present when Samsung unveiled its newest Galaxy S-series smartphones at the Unpacked event in Barcelona. Now, just a couple of weeks later, we have the phone in our hands and are ready to share our second first impressions.

The box is a simple matte black package with subtle gray text on the back and high contrast white and blue embossed branding on the front. Inside, there’s nothing out of the ordinary, just your usual selection of cables, wall adapter, paperwork and SIM ejector tool. Some models come with a USB to MicroUSB adapter, and there’s also set of brilliant white earphones.

The phone itself is a great example of how to make a big phone feel small. Or rather, make a phone with a big screen feel small. Despite having a 5.5-inch screen, it still feels pretty manageable in hand, and that’s down mostly to two things. First off, it has barely any bezel on either side, making this a virtually edge-to-edge display. Secondly, the curves on both front and back mean you don’t really feel the width. And that’s not to say it’s super wide, it’s a whole 5mm narrower than an iPhone 6s Plus.

What I love from a design perspective is that Samsung has been uncharacteristically restrained this year. In previous years, we’d have Galaxy S phones in horrible brash colors, or standard colors with weird pearlescent effects. Who can forget the weird emerald green S6 or the Band-Aid texture on the back of the S5? This year, the black is black, and the chrome trim is dark and stealthy. I like that, a lot.

KEY TECH SPECS

  • 5.5-inch Quad HD (1440 x 2560) Super AMOLED display
  • Exynos 8890 octa-core/Snapdragon 820 quad-core chip (depending on region)
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB built-in storage (expandable to 200GB)
  • 12MP f/1.7 main camera with 4K video recording
  • 5MP f/1.7 front camera with 22mm wide-angle lens
  • 3,600mAh battery
  • Quick Charge 2.0 support and fast-charge wireless charging (Qi/PMA)
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with TouchWiz UI
  • Curved Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • Measures 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm
  • Weighs 157g (5.54 oz)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 4.2

From first impressions alone, it certainly seems this is the flagship phone to beat in 2016. It doesn’t just have a droolworthy spec-sheet, it looks and feels incredible. The screen is big, bright, sharp and colorful, and that’s without mentioning the added ‘wow’ factor offered by the curved secondary displays on either side.

It’ll be interesting to watch the S7 and S7 Edge over the coming months. From a hardware and design perspective, I can’t imagine many Samsung Galaxy loyalists will pass up the opportunity to own what is probably the best phone Sammy’s ever made. At the same time, mid-range devices are catching up with the market leaders, and are able to offer a similar experience for almost half the price.

If you’ve ordered yours already, and aren’t sure how to protect your precious new smartphone, we’ve already rounded up some of the best cases for it. We’ll have a more in-depth review of some of the best cases over the coming weeks too.

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