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Samsung Galaxy S7 vs HTC One M10 rumours - Should you wait?

Seth Barton
22 Feb 2016
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge games launcher
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Will the just announced Samsung S7 prove to be better than the upcoming HTC One M10

The Samsung Galaxy S7 has just been revealed and it’s looking very smart indeed. However, it’s not the only high-end Android handset coming out this spring. HTC is running a little behind Samsung this year, with its rumoured HTC One (M10) coming in early May. However if a 2-month wait doesn’t bother you then it’s worth considering what the rival handset has to offer.

Now the HTC One (M10) hasn’t been officially released yet, but we already know lots about it thanks to leaks and some pretty sound guesswork. So here we’ll compare the two phones and try and work it if the HTC is worth the wait.

Design and features

The new Samsung handset looks a lot like the old Samsung handset, which essentially means it’s a really nice-looking bit of kit, although the curved metal edges feel classy it can be a little hard to hold onto. The company has made some practical upgrades to the new phone.

It’s waterproof for starters, so you no longer have to worry about it getting wet, as it can survive underwater for 30mins up to 1.5m in depth. Despite the waterproofing, Samsung has managed to bring back to much-missed microSD card slot, so you can expand your storage without paying lots for more built-in memory.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge SD and SIM drawer

^ The microSD card is back in the S7, nestled alongside the SIM

Based on leaked images the HTC One (M10) will closely resemble the current HTC A9 handset, that we really liked late last year. Its all-metal chassis and curved corners are easily a match for the metal-glass combination on the S7. The A9 wasn’t waterproof, though it did have a microSD card slot, so there's some room for improvement there if HTC can seal the handset [updated].

HTC One A9

^ This is the HTC A9, which the M10 should closely resemble

Display

The Galaxy S7 predictably uses a Samsung-made Super AMOLED display, and so benefits from great contrast, deep blacks and good power efficiency. This one measures 5.1in across and has a QHD (2,560x1,440) resolution with a pixel density of 577ppi. It’s yet to be properly tested in our labs, but based on past experience with numerous Galaxy devices, it’s bound to be great.

The HTC One (M10)’s screen is still a bit of a mystery. Its predecessors used Full HD LCD screens, which while excellent examples, can’t quite live up to the Samsung’s current crop of AMOLEDs. The recent A9 however did use an AMOLED, although its colour reproduction was a little on the warm side, something that Samsung seems to have fixed with its latest displays on its own handsets.

Samsung Galaxy S7 screen

That puts HTC in a difficult position. Stick with an LCD and it will inevitably lose out in terms of contrast and battery life to the AMOLED-toting S7. Go with an AMOLED and if it’s not buying the latest screen tech from Samsung it’s likely to come off second best. It’s a little too early to call this one, but you’d be made to bet against Samsung.

Performance

Samsung has been a little reticent in telling us exactly which chipset is in the UK version of the Galaxy S7. Worldwide it will be using both its own Exynos 8890 and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820, with Vodafone and Carphone Warehouse stating that we'll be getting the Exynos here in the UK. We can’t talk benchmarks yet, but what we can say is that Samsung is making bullish claims about its own chips, with significant performance increases over the S6. It’s been polite so far in comparisons between the Exynos and Qualcomm chips, but those look to be entirely academic for UK owners anyway.

What we do know is that Samsung has integrated some fancy water-cooling technology in its new handsets. The water-filled pipes should help the chipset (whichever it is) stay cool, and so be able to run at top speed for longer than usual.

The HTC One (M10) is strongly-rumoured to use the Snapdragon 820, we’d be amazed if it didn’t based on HTC’s previous handsets. There’s no talk of water-cooling in that handset (it’s a first, we believe, from Samsung) and so even if the Snapdragon is up-to-speed with the Exynos chip, the Samsung may pull ahead thanks to its better cooling.

Camera

Samsung has bowed to common sense with its new camera. Not only has it managed to ditch the camera bump on the rear but it’s also dropped out of the pointless megapixel race. The new sensor has a very respectable 12 megapixels, down from 16 in the last phone. The advantage of that is each pixel is now much bigger, measuring 1.4um rather than 1.12um. Bigger pixels means less picture noise and cleaner, sharper-looking snaps.

That’s not all though, the lens has been made brighter too, F/1.7 over F/1.9, and a new dual-pixel sensor means that the whole sensor can be used to ‘phase detect’ focus - which we found impressively quick in demos.

The M10 looks to be heading down the same path. A leak has claimed that it will use the Sony IMX377 camera sensor, which is 12 megapixels and has bigger still 1.55um pixels. That too has a phase detect autofocus system. We saw the sensor in action on the recent Nexus 5X handset and were very impressed.

Nexus 5X camera detail

^ We loved the camera in the Nexus 5X and the HTC M10 looks to be using the same sensor

HTC may have the edge here then, with a proven sensor, but we’ll know soon as we can compare the S7 to the Nexus 5X in the coming weeks.

Conclusion

We don’t yet know every detail about the Galaxy S7 but we’ve seen the phone and been told a lot, and we’re very impressed so far. HTC looks to be onto something too with a bigger take on its excellent A9 handset. However, based on what we know so far we’d stick our necks out and say that Samsung looks to have the edge in terms of hardware. Of course many will prefer Samsung’s Touchwiz or HTC’s Sense variants on Android but that’s a matter of personal taste. If you've still got time to wait on your contract then take that as a good thing and see which is best in early May, for those who have to have a new phone now, we doubt you'll be dissapointed with the S7.

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