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iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Which is the best smartphone in 2016?

Curtis Moldrich Katharine Byrne
22 Mar 2017
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We compare the specs, features and camera of the new iPhone 7 and the Samsung S7

If you’re after a brand new smartphone right now, you couldn’t have picked a more confusing time. We’re months away from the iPhone 8, days away from the Samsung Galaxy S8, and there’s more impressive handsets on the way from LG, OnePlus, too. However, if you need to get a phone right now, the iPhone 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 represent two great choices.

Both handsets have been out for a while now, and that means you’ll be able to find some great deals on them. And although they’re going to be replaced later this year, they still offer very good performance for the money.

We’ve had both handsets for a while, and that means we’ve been able to compare everything from the features and specs, to the camera, price and storage options. So, want to know what the best phone to get is in 2017 right now? Read our iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 comparison to find out.

iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Features

Camera

Both the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 have a 12-megapixel camera sensor, but the S7 has a wider f/1.7 aperture than the iPhone 7's f/1.8 aperture. This means the S7 can let more light into its lens than its Apple rival, so it should, theoretically, produce superior pictures in low-light conditions. However, both phone cameras have optical image stabilisation, so any unwanted effects of hand-shake should be kept to a minimum. 

It's safe to say the iPhone 7’s camera is much better than before, but the Samsung Galaxy S7 still beats it. Although the iPhone 7 camera performs much better in low light, it seems to suffer from ugly, post-processing artefacts – particularly on shadows.

Fingerprint readers

Both phones have a fingerprint reader hidden away in their respective home buttons, but the iPhone 7 now incorporates Apple's Force Touch technology as well, giving you the same kind of haptic feedback as the MacBook Pro's Force Touch trackpad. This is quite significant since it essentially removes the mechanical part of the home button to make it less prone to faults and failure. It will still feel like a click when you press it, but it should be more reliable and longer-lasting than previous Apple home buttons.

iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Design

The Samsung's S7 is one of the best-looking phones on the market, and really does have a neat, sophisticated look about it. The S7 uses a glass front and rear bound together by a metal frame, making it a reassuringly heavy 152g.

In contrast, the iPhone 7 is available in a range of colours including Silver, Rose Gold and Gold and two brand-new colours. A matte-black finish now joins the iPhone 7 line-up, as well as a glossy Jet Black – although it’s a magnet for fingerprints. The iPhone 7 weighs a mere 138g – 14g fewer than the Samsung. 

Galaxy S7 button

Water resistance

The S7 has a higher level of waterproofing protection than the iPhone 7, with its IP68 rating trumping Apple's IP67 rating. This means the S7 can stand being submerged in up to 1.5 metres of water for 30 minutes, rather than just a metre with the iPhone 7. In real terms, though, they'll both survive a dunking in the toilet and a heavy rain shower, so unless you plan on drawing a particularly deep bath, that extra 50cm of protection probably won't make a huge amount of difference.

iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Specs

Display

The iPhone 7 has the same 4.7in, 1,134 x 750 display as the iPhone 6s, which, on paper, looks a pretty poor show against Samsung's 5.1in, 2,560 x 1,440 Super AMOLED display.

However, Apple has made several improvements to the quality of the iPhone 7's display this year; it's now much brighter and supports the wider DCI-P3 colour gamut. This is the same colour gamut used by digital cinema projectors, so it should display a richer, more vibrant range of colours than the iPhone 6s display.

Samsung Galaxy S7

Of course, the S7's display is already pretty vibrant thanks to its Super AMOLED panel, so it will be interesting to see how the S7's colour accuracy holds up against Apple's new IPS panels. It's likely that the iPhone 7 will be brighter overall; I was only ever able to achieve a peak luminance level of around 490cd/m2 with the Galaxy S7 – this is a long way off Apple's claim of 650cd/m2. However, the S7 will definitely have the edge when it comes to contrast, since AMOLED's ability to switch individual pixels on and off to produce pure 0.00cd/m2 blacks means it potentially has an infinite contrast ratio, taking it much higher than Apple's stated ratio of just 1,300:1.

Once again, the iPhone 7's display looks better than Apple's previous handset, but its LCD technology isn't quite a match for the Super AMOLED tech on the Samsung Galaxy S7. Despite that, it's amazing to see just how good Apple has made the iPhone 7 display, when many people consider LCDs to be inferior technology. 

Performance

Speed is always a key proving ground for any top-end smartphone, and Samsung's S7 is by far the fastest Android handset I've tested so far. Powered by one of Samsung's octa-core 2.3GHz Exynos 8890 chips and 4GB of RAM, the S7 surpasses pretty much every other Android handset currently available. However, the iPhone 7's new A10 Fusion chip narrowly edges it, and on our Geekbench tests it scored 5,652 to the Galaxy S7's 5,295. We also tested single-core performance, where the Apple destroyed the Samsung, but since both phones are designed to use more than one processor at once, it's not really a relevant score.

Price

Of course, if you want more storage on the iPhone 7, you'll have to pay more for the privilege, which puts the iPhone 7 at rather a disadvantage when it comes to overall pricing. With the 32GB version available for £599, the 128GB version available for £699, and the 256GB version available for an eye-watering £799, it starts looking very expensive compared to its Samsung rival.

Right now, for instance, you can pick up an S7 SIM-free for around £549 and, if you really need it, SanDisk's Ultra 256GB microSD card from Amazon for around £129, bringing the total cost to £678. That's more than £100 less than the 256GB iPhone 7.

View latest Samsung discount codes

Most people won't want to pay that much upfront, though, so it's more likely you'll be buying both phones on a contract rather than SIM-free. Again, though, the S7 has the edge here: contracts start from around £34 per month, with no upfront cost.

The iPhone 7, on the other hand, costs around £50 per month with varying degrees of upfront cost depending on where you shop. You can check out our Best iPhone 7 deals article for more information, but the only way to get a contract for around the same price as the S7 right now is to pay several hundred pounds upfront, which isn't exactly ideal.

Battery

In our video-playback test, with the screen brightness set to our standard measurement of 170cd/m2, the S7 lasted an incredible 17hrs 48mins, much more than the circa 13hrs score managed by the iPhone 7.

Storage

For the first time ever, the entry-level iPhone 7 will be available with 32GB of storage, putting it on a par with the S7. However, while the S7 also comes in a 64GB variation, it has a microSD slot so you can expand the phone's storage at a later date. It supports cards up to 256GB in size, so you should have plenty of space for all your files. The iPhone 7 doesn't offer this level of flexibility, so the amount of storage you buy upfront is what you'll be stuck with for the life of the handset. In this case, 32GB, 128GB or 256GB options are available.

iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Verdict

You can't get away from it, the S7 is much better value for money, and makes the iPhone 7 look slightly overpriced – but either handset will be a solid purchase right now. If you already own an Apple Watch, iPad or MacBook, you're probably already sold on the Apple ecosystem, and the iPhone 7 will fit best into your life. In contrast, if you’re more of an Android user, then it currently makes more sense to pick up a Galaxy S7. If, however, you're purely about hardware and value for money, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is the phone for you right now. Both handsets are woth getting right now, but if you're someone who wants to make sure they're totally updated, or if you only have a few months left on your contract, there's no reason not to wait. Here's what we know about the iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy S8 right now.

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