If you're looking for a new smartphone in 2016, you're facing a tough decision, with plenty of competitive devices on offer.

Samsung was the first to announce, showing off the new Galaxy S7 models, with the S7 edge attracting rave reviews.

HTC let the dust settle for a few months before launching its own flagship, the HTC 10, which is being heralded as a return to form for HTC.

We've lived with both devices, reviewed them, pulled them apart and found their strengths and weaknesses. So which is best, and which should you be spending your money on?

When it comes to design, both Samsung and HTC are made to high standards, offering some of the highest quality design you'll find on current handsets. 

The HTC 10 features a metal body, anodised and bead-blasted smooth, giving a serious look, and a seriously solid feel in the hand. It measures 145.9 x 71.9, with the sides varying between 3-9mm due to the deep rear chamfer and the curve. 

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge offers a larger display, so you'd expect it to be a larger handset, measuring 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7mm, so it's a little taller, but the flatter profile leads to a slimmer device.

The Samsung weighs 157g, compared to 161g for the HTC 10, so there's little difference in weight.

The Samsung has a glass front and back, so it's more prone to fingerprints, but the curves to the display add a design boost that the HTC 10 lacks. Samsung also offers IP68 proofing, giving it better protection against the elements.

Both handsets are very high quality and lovely to hold; where HTC offers an understated solidity, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is more extravagant.

The HTC 10 offers a 5.2-inch Quad HD display. That means it has a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution for a sharp 564ppi. HTC has used an LCD panel, calling it Super LCD 5 with a Gorilla Glass surface to keep it scratch free. 

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge has a 5.5-inch display with a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution again, although the slight increase in size sees the pixel density drop slightly to 534ppi. Samsung has stuck to using AMOLED for its display, but the biggest feature is the curved edges, giving wow factor to the display.

The Samsung display is brighter and more punchy, with more responsive autobrightness. The AMOLED technology is known to produce deeper blacks and more vibrant colours, perhaps verging on the unrealistic, but certainly not missing out on impact - and that's exactly what you get in the S7 edge. 

The HTC by comparison doesn't handle bright conditions quite so well, often not raising the brightness to counter those reflections on the display quite so readily. The Samsung also offers better viewing angles, with the HTC 10 losing colour as you start looking from more oblique angles.

Although the edges on the Samsung display add wow factor, the features they provide really don't add much and for those using full-width apps, you might find that the edges are less responsive than a flat display, as on the HTC 10.

There's no avoiding the Samsung's display, it has impact and it's difficult not to fall for its charms.

READ: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review: The new smartphone champion

There's a lot in common with the hardware builds of the SGS7 edge and the HTC 10. The HTC is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset with 4GB of RAM. There is a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge version with the same hardware, although Samsung also offers an octo-core Exynos 8 Octo chipset with 4GB RAM too. 

In reality, there's little difference in performance, with both being exceptionally slick and fast in operation. Whichever you pick, you'll be rewarded with some of the most powerful handsets around. 

Both also offer microSD card expansion, meaning you can easily change the storage on your device. The HTC offers support for Android's adoptable storage option, so it can be seamlessly integrated for more app and data expansion. The Samsung doesn't offer this so it's slightly less flexible. 

In reality, there's little in it: both devices offer an exemplary performance.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge comes with a 3400mAh battery, with its increased size offering an easy advantage: the battery is bigger. The HTC has a 3000mAh battery. 

The result is that the Galaxy S7 edge battery life is noticeably longer lasting in our tests. Where the HTC 10 will last you through the day, the Samsung offers better endurance and much of that comes down to sheer size.

The HTC supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and there's a compatible charger in the box that will see the HTC handset fully charged in little over an hour. That beats Samsung's performance: although Samsung will charge fast, it's not quite that speedy.

Finally, Samsung also offers wireless charging adding an extra convenience advantage.

For power users, it's Samsung that has the edge in battery life.

Samsung's reputation in camera performance has become rather formidable. The 12-megapixel camera of the Galaxy S7 edge offers optical image stabilisation, f/1.7 aperture, 1.4µm pixels and is fast to launch and use. 

The SGS7 edge has an excellent camera, offering great results, with wonderful consistency, and the added advantage with its handy quick launch shortcut from the home button. At times it feels like the depth of field is getting too narrow, especially on macro shots, but overall its an excellent performer, giving real depth and punch in its photos.

HTC also offers a 12-megapixel camera with optical image stabilisation, f/1.8 aperture and 1.55µm pixels. It's also fast to launch and use, with laser autofocusing. This is the best camera that HTC has put on a smartphone and we've also been impressed with its consistent performance. However, there are still a few areas it could be stronger, like being able to touch to meter, rather than just refocus.

When it comes to selfies, HTC has the advantage, offering autofocus and optical image stabilisation on the front camera.

We'd pick the SGS7 edge for fast consistent performance in all conditions, but HTC's camera is stronger than it's ever been before.

We're going to talk about sound quality here, because it's something that HTC fans will always be asking about. BoomSound Hi-Fi edition lives up to its name, offering crisp clear audio from the speakers that trounces the Samsung. There's no contest really. 

The HTC 10 is probably the best sounding smartphone around, whether you're using the speakers or opting for headphones and that's worth a mention, as there's full Hi-Res and Dolby Audio support, and plenty of power to drive your headphones.

READ: HTC 10 review: Welcome back to the premier league

TouchWiz meets sense in this final clash. Samsung has been quietly refining TouchWiz and the moves made in the SGS6 in 2015 are continued into the SGS7 edge in 2016. This is slick software, much smoother and faster to use than older versions.

There's a lot of change from Android, and although that means there are a lot of added features, there's probably more features in the Samsung handset, than you'll ever use. Importantly, however, it doesn't seem to slow the phone down. 

The HTC 10 on the other hand has ditched a lot of bloat out of Sense 8.0, bringing it closer to Android, opting for stock Android apps in some cases, rather than its own. That makes the HTC leaner and feel much more like an Android handset. 

Of the two we like HTC's lighter approach. This is the handset for a cleaner Android experience, whereas the Samsung still feels like a Samsung phone, tweaked, changed and moved along from its Android core. 

This really is a case of personal preference, the full reworking of Samsung, or the lighter focus on core functions from HTC.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge's top billing perhaps isn't a surprise: it's a refinement of a very good handset from last year, but there's enough of a change to make this model feel fresh. The result is strength in all areas: there's little to dislike about Samsung's flagship handset. 

HTC has done a lot of soul searching and produced its strongest handset in recent years in the HTC 10. It has a solid design and wonderful slick performance. The camera is good and consistent and the software is light and uncluttered, with little bloat. It sounds better too, without a doubt.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge catches the eye more with that design however. The display is better and the battery will last you longer. It's a little more expensive too, at £639 compared to £569 for the HTC. Both these handsets come highly recommended and whichever you choose, you'll have an excellent device.