The new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have won rave reviews, and it's easy to see why. In addition to a stylish water-resistant design and long-lasting battery, the new Samsung flagships rock dual-pixel sensors for super speedy autofocus and excellent low-light performance. If those new features have you champing at the bit to get a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge, it's time to figure out where to get one. And with Samsung now offering unlocked versions of the phones, you've got more options than ever.
Starting June 30, the S7 and S7 Edge are now available unlocked through Samsung for $670 and $770, respectively. The unlocked versions of the S7 and S7 Edge come free of the apps that carriers tend to pack onto phones; they also give you greater flexibility for upgrading and traveling overseas.
Of course, unlocked phones require you to pay the full amount of the device up front. With the four major American carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — you can either pay the full price or buy the S7 or S7 Edge with installment payments. Some carriers even throw in extras as further incentive.
We compared the Big Four carriers based on an individual line with 2GB to 3GB of data (typical for a regular user) to help you decide which provider to choose.
Best Performance, Best for Trade-Ins: Verizon
If you're looking for the fastest and most reliable 4G LTE network, Verizon would be your best bet. Not only did the carrier top our most recent network performance tests, but it also came in first in independent studies conducted by mobile analytics firm RootMetrics. (T-Mobile has disputed RootMetrics' findings, arguing that the results are skewed by the testing firm turning off Voice Over LTE during its tests.)
Big Red also accepts trade-ins of eligible phones for up to $300 credit toward your bill or accessories. The newer the phone, the bigger the credit. For a new customer, adding a trade-in on top of the bill credit could reduce your two-year overall cost by $400, making Verizon's the second-cheapest offering of the bunch.
Verizon also sweetens its offer with a newly created Verizon Annual Upgrade Program. Anyone who orders a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge through the carrier's installment plan is eligible to upgrade to a new smartphone every year. Verizon says you can upgrade 30 days after you activate a new phone with the carrier and when you've paid off half the device.
If you're in the market for multiple Galaxy S7 phones, Verizon is the place to shop. Buy two phones from the carrier — in addition to the S7 and S7 Edge, the Note 5 is also eligible — and Verizon will throw in a free 50-inch Smart TV from Samsung.
Best Value: T-Mobile
T-Mobile's slogan might as well be "Let's Make a Deal." As of this writing, the carrier is knocking $50 off the cost of Samsung phones. That means the Galaxy S7 will cost you $630 while the S7 Edge is available for $740. Normally, those devices cost $680 and $790, respectively, at T-Mobile.
T-Mobile's Binge On program is available on Simple Choice plans with 3GB of data or more, and lets you stream videos from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and more than 40 providers without the bandwidth counting against your data allowance. You'll also get Data Stash, which lets you roll over up to 20GB of your unused 4G LTE data forward into the next month for domestic use in the next 12 months, as well as unlimited free music streaming with the carrier's Music Freedom program. Data Stash is only available for those on 6GB or 10GB lines.
All this adds up to plenty of data freed up for other uses, such as browsing the Web, scrolling through endless Instagram feeds or Periscoping to your heart's delight.
Even if that $50 discount goes away, T-Mobile has the second cheapest two-year cost of the lot, and its network performed well in our nationwide 4G LTE tests. A recent OpenSignal report deemed T-Mobile the fastest 4G LTE provider in the U.S., although the RootMetrics report found T-Mobile to be the poorest major carrier. T-Mobile argues that because RootMetrics disabled Voice Over LTE in its testing, its findings are skewed. That said, you may still want to check coverage in your area before deciding on T-Mobile.
Best for DirecTV Subscribers: AT&T
AT&T used to offer an assortment of monthly payment options for its phones, but it's since streamlined those choices. With the S7 and S7 Edge, you either buy the phone outright or pay it off in 30 monthly installments. You're eligible to upgrade to a new phone after two years or when you've paid off 80 percent of the device.
The carrier also integrates its DirecTV app on Samsung's new flagships, so you can watch movies and live TV on your smartphone. The app has been updated with new features such as Quick Remote to let you use your phone or smartwatch to pause, rewind or fast forward through your video with a tap.
Plus, if you switch to AT&T and trade in your current smartphone, the company gives you up to $650 in credit towards a device or your wireless bill. You'll have to buy a new device on AT&T Next to qualify. The provider also lets you roll over unused data each payment cycle to add leftover bytes to your allowance next month. In comparison, T-Mobile lets you accumulate your unused bandwidth over a 12-month rolling period.
While AT&T doesn't have the slowest 4G LTE network nor the poorest coverage, it doesn't have the best, either, coming in third in our network showdown. Check that your area is covered before selecting AT&T. The good news is that AT&T offers excellent tech support, topping our most recent Carrier Support Showdown, so you can be assured of great help when you need it.
Best for Switchers: Sprint
Of all the carriers, Sprint has the lowest price on the Galaxy S7 over two years. You also have a leasing option with the S7 that can save you $50 over the course of two years: leasing an S7 from Sprint costs $25 a month while buying it in monthly payments will cost you $27.09. Of course, at the end of two years, you'll own your phone outright if you pay it off in installments. (Sprint doesn't offer a leasing option for the S7 Edge.)
Buying or leasing a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge makes you eligible to get a Tab E free from Sprint. Note that the "free" offer requires a qualifying data plan and two-year agreement. That offer expires in early July.
If you're switching over from one of the other three major carriers, Sprint also offers 50 percent off your previous plan's price, which could shave hundreds of dollars off your wireless bill over two years. (T-Mobile's unlimited data plan is excluded from this offer.) Sprint also pays up to $650 to cover your early termination fees. Plus, if you have a friend who also wants to get the new Samsung flagship, Sprint's buy-one-get-one half off deal helps you both save a few more hundred bucks.
Although it's been plagued by poor performance in previous years, Sprint has stepped up its efforts to improve its 4G LTE network, leading to better results on the latest RootMetrics nationwide carrier report. We will be conducting our own network tests this year to see which is the best U.S. carrier, but Sprint came in last of the major American providers in our 2015 study.
Low-Cost Carriers: Boost, Virgin, US Cellular and Cricket
Boost, Virgin, MetroPCS, Straight Talk and Cricket Wireless all stock Galaxy S7, giving their customers the option to get the latest handset. The phone costs $650 at all of these prepaid carriers, except for Straight Talk, which sells the S7 for $600.
Your choice here wil likely come down to which prepaid carrier's plan is the most appealing. Boost Mobile has a program that rewards you with free 500MB of monthly data after every three months of on-time payments that could turn a $30-a-month 2GB plan into a 5GB one. Boost uses its parent company Sprint's network, and therefore delivers less-than-stellar network speeds.
MetroPCS uses T-Mobile's network and follows its parent carrier's lead by offering free music streaming from selected providers. So does Virgin, though its free streaming is limited to Pandora, iHeartMusic, Slacker Radio, 8tracks and Samsung Milk Music.
Cricket might appeal to families who need multiple lines, as the carrier offers escalating discounts the more lines you add ($10 off a second line, $20 off a third, $30 off a fourth and $40 off a fifth line). It's worth noting that Boost does that too, and it fared better on our network tests than Cricket did.
You can also find the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge at US Cellular for $620 and $730, respectively. US Cellular also lets you buy the phones in 20-, 24- and 30-month installments, though, as a regional carrier, it serves a limited area.