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Samsung Galaxy S7 vs LG G5 - which is best?

Katharine Byrne
14 Apr 2016
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We put this year's top two Android smartphones head to head to see which one you should buy

This year's crop of flagship smartphones have never been better. Samsung led the charge with its excellent Galaxy S7 handset, but now LG's joined the fray with the G5, the modular wonderphone that lets you slide out the bottom and add in different modules and attachments. I liked them so much that I gave both Best Buy awards, unless you have particularly deep pockets, you're eventually going to have to settle for one or the other.

In this article, we're aiming to finally settle the debate on which is best – the Galaxy S7 or LG G5? We've put both smartphones head to head on design, display, performance, battery life and camera quality to give you a blow-by-blow breakdown of where each one fails and succeeds, and where it's just too close to call, helping you make the right choice in order to get the most out of your new smartphone.

We'll also be focusing on the regular, flat S7 rather than Samsung's fancier Galaxy S7 Edge, but given the number of similarities between the two phones, much of the comments we make about the S7 can also be applied to the S7 Edge as well. To see how the S7 differs from its curvy cousin, see our S7 vs S7 Edge article.

Design

Materials: Following on from last year’s Galaxy S6, the Galaxy S7 is made out of glass and metal, helping it maintain that premium look and feel that's now come to define all of Samsung's latest handsets.

Admittedly, the glass rear can pick up rather a lot of fingerprints during daily use, so it might not always look as pristine as you might have hoped, but at least you don't have to worry about water damage, as the S7 has an IP68 certification. This means it's completely dustproof and can withstand being submersed in up to 1.5m of fresh water for up to 30 minutes – perfect for those accidental toilet drops or sudden April rain showers.

Samsung Galaxy S7 close up camera

The LG G5, on the other hand, is all metal, resulting in a plainer, matt finish as opposed to the glossy glass of the S7. Admittedly, the G5 is far from the most attractive phone I've ever seen, but I do prefer not having to wipe it clean every five minutes. It's also easier to hold than the smooth, rounded corners of the S7, and I don't feel like I'd need to invest in a case to make sure it didn't fly out of my hand.

However, the G5 lacks the S7's waterproofing protection, making it more prone to breaking if you drop it in the bath, for example. It's still splash-proof, but LG doesn't recommended dunking it in an open body of water. 

LG G5 rear cameras

Features: There's a good reason why the G5 isn't waterproof, though, and that's because of its clever modular design. Press a small button on the left hand side of the handset and the whole bottom section will pop off, allowing you to slide out the battery and pop in a new one or attach one of its extra G5 modules, such as the LG Cam Plus or LG Hi-Fi Plus. The former is a physical camera grip, while the latter is a portable Hi-Res audio dock.

It's too early to say how useful or popular the extra modules will be just yet, but the ability to remove and replace the phone's battery is a big plus compared to the fixed, non-replaceable battery on the S7. Samsung might have brought back the microSD card slot for the S7, but there's nothing like being able to pop in a fresh battery to keep you going after a long day's use.

LG G5 battery parts

Something both phones do have in common, though, is a fingerprint sensor. The S7 hides it in the home button, but LG's placed the G5's on the back, which in my eyes is arguably more convenient than having it on the front. Unlike the S7, the G5's sensor also doesn't require you to press it down before it unlocks the phone either, making it even easier to use.

However, the S7's front-facing sensor should theoretically be more useful once Android Pay (not to mention Samsung Pay) finally arrives in the UK, as trying to authorise a payment on an NFC reader might be quite tricky if you've got to have your finger stuck round the back. For now, though, I much prefer the G5's fingerprint sensor, as it's not only easier to reach, but I found it was also more accurate.

LG G5 display side

Dimensions: The S7 measures 142x70x7.9mm and weighs 152g, making it ever so slightly smaller than the G5, which measures 149x74x7.7mm and weighs 159g. These differences are pretty miniscule, though, and you'd certainly be hard-pressed to notice the difference in daily use.

Conclusion: There's no denying the S7 is the more aesthetically pleasing handset, but for me, the G5 is just so much more practical. It might lack the S7's waterproofing, but it feels better in the hand, its fingerprint sensor is more convenient, and its modular design means you have all the benefit of a full-metal unibody design without losing out on the ability to replace the phone's battery.

Display

The Galaxy S7 has a 5.1in display with a 2,560x1,440 resolution, which gives it a pixel density of 577ppi. The LG G5 has the same resolution, but its display is a fraction bigger at 5.3in, giving it a slightly lower pixel density of 554ppi. In practice, though, you'd need bionic eyeballs to tell the difference, as both phones look just as sharp as each other when you sit them side by side.

Samsung Galaxy S7

The quality of each display is equally superb, too. Samsung's Super AMOLED technology continues to beat almost every other LCD panel out there, as it covers a full 100% of the sRGB colour gamut, can produce perfect 0.00cd/m2 blacks, ultra-high contrast and has a more-than-decent max brightness of 353.74cd/m2.

LG isn't far behind, though, as its Quantum IPS display is still one of the best LCD screens around. Covering 97.1% of the sRGB colour gamut with super low black levels of just 0.19cd/m2, the G5's display looks equally stunning, particularly when it's complemented by an excellent contrast ratio of 1,621:1. It matches the S7 for brightness, too, as its peak white level can hit 354.05cd/m2.

Both phones have a sneaky outdoor brightness mode, too, which activates when the brightness is set to auto and you take it outside in bright sunshine. Thanks to each one's adaptive light sensor, both phones will automatically pump up the brightness way beyond its normal limits to give you an extra burst of clarity when you need it most. The S7 can reach 470/m2, but the LG G5 goes even further, jumping to an incredible 717cd/m2.

Samsung galaxy S7 always on

Each phone has an Always On Display (AOD) as well, which can be set to display information permanently on the screen such as the time, date, battery status and, on the S7, even some rudimentary calendar info. This means you don’t have to press the power button to simply check what time it is, and neither one puts a significant drain on the handset's battery life either.

LG G5 Always on Display

Conclusion: It's a close-run race, here, but the S7 is the clear winner. The G5 certainly has one of the best IPS screens currently available, but it just can't match Samsung's Super AMOLED technology when it comes to rich, vibrant colours.

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