Advertisement
Advertisement

Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 7 - who will win the trophy for best smartphone of 2016

23 Apr 2016
iPhone 7 vs Galaxy S7
Advertisement

We pit Samsung's 5 star flagship against Apple's highly-anticipated iPhone 7

The iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices have long been rivals, so much so that it often seems the smartphone market is a huge game of bragging rights between two tech goliaths. While any new iPhone usually notches up more sales, the Galaxy S7 has emerged victorious as one of the best Android smartphones ever made - pipping immediate rivals the HTC 10 and LG G5 in our eyes - so could it finally be the one to give Apple’s next handset a run for its money.

Obviously, the iPhone 7 hasn’t even been announced yet. But what we do have is a load of rumours that we can go by. Here’s an area-by-area comparison between Samsung’s latest flagship and the long-rumoured iPhone 7.

Design and build

The Galaxy S7 takes the form of a 5.1in device, measuring 7.9mm thick, and weighing in at 152g. According to a report by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, and reported on by AppleInsider, the new iPhone 7 is going to be between 6.0 and 6.5mm thick, so if true, will be much slimmer than the Galaxy S7. We have no word on weight yet. The S7 is coated in Gorilla Glass, front and back, and has a metal frame, while the iPhone 7 is rumoured to have an all-metal aluminium chassis like the iPhone 6S, put it's too early to say which will be the best-looking based on that.

Winner: iPhone for now


iPhone 7 leaked photo with Smart Connector

Display

Samsung's Super AMOLED displays have always been one of the highlights of its S-series smartphones, and the S7's screen is no exception. This 5.1in 2,560x1,440 resolution display has a super sharp pixel density of 577ppi and as we said in the Galaxy S7 review, its quality is top notch. Plus you also have the option of curved sides if you choose the S7 Edge.

According to some sources, the iPhone 7 will have a 5in display with a pixel density of 440 pixels-per-inch (PPI), implying it would have a Full HD 1,920x1,080 resolution. This would offer improved sharpness over the current iPhone 6 display, which has a 4.7in panel and a pixel density of 326PPI. Rumours currently state the time frame for Apple introducing OLED screens could be as far as two years away, so it’s unlikely Apple's next iPhone for 2015 will have this technology.

OLED improves battery life and contrast, so with its bigger and more detailed 5.1in AMOLED display, the S7 looks certain to win this round.

Winner: Galaxy S7

Samsung galaxy S7 buttons

Performance

In the UK and Europe, the Galaxy S7 ships with Samsung's own octa-core Exynos 8890 processor. This is made up of two quad-core chips running at 2.3GHz and 1.6GHz respectively, the former handles more intensive tasks while the latter provides superior power efficiency. When we reviewed the S7, we found that it is easily one of the slickest and most responsive phones we've ever used. Samsung's Marshmallow version of its TouchWiz interface simply flew underneath my fingers, and apps loaded almost instantly.

Work is undoubtedly already underway for the iPhone 7's SoC, the A10. The most intriguing bit of information on the grapevine is that the chip may move from being dual-core to hexa-core (six cores), according to a report on Weibo. This would improve the company's multi-threaded performance and allow for better multi-tasking. The combination of its dual-core processors and efficient OS means that Apple's dual-core chips already beat the quad-core competition in benchmarks.

Saying that, there’s no way we could choose a winner until we were able to test both in reality, so no winner in this round.

Winner: undecided

Battery

In our tests, we found the S7's battery life was the best battery performance we’ve seen from a Samsung phone yet, and should definitely last well into the next day for the vast majority of users. Its 3,000mAh battery managed an incredible 17h 48m in our continuous video playback test with the screen brightness set to a standard 170cd/m2. That represents just over half brightness on the S7, and it puts the S6 to shame, as it only managed 13h 37m under the same conditions.

As for the iPhone 7, it’s rumoured that it will use smaller components which could leave more room inside the case for the battery, while a more efficient SoC could mean more battery life as well. Just don't expect Apple to install a bigger battery in the iPhone 7. In a rare interview, Sir Jony Ive said that a bigger battery would make the iPhone "less compelling". His argument goes that the iPhone is so slim and light that people are always using it, draining the battery faster; making it fatter to contain a bigger battery would make the phone less compelling, so that people would use it less. Hmm.

Nevertheless, it's way too early to tell at the moment, so we're going to have to wait a bit longer to find out the details, but the iPhone is renowned for never being able to last longer than a day, so our bet is that Samsung will win this round hands down.

Winner: Galaxy S7


Samsung galaxy S7 charge

Software

The S7 is the first Galaxy smartphone to come with Android 6.0 straight out of the box. Of course, Samsung uses its own TouchWiz interface rather than plain Android like Google's Nexus 5X or Nexus 6P, so it looks a little different to the Marshmallow you might be used to seeing. Saying that, Samsung hasn't made many radical changes to TouchWiz for Android Marshmallow, as the overall look and design is practically the same as its Lollipop-based TouchWiz.

Samsung galaxy S7 touchwiz

While the name isn’t official just yet, there’s a very good chance that Apple's next generation iPhone and iPad operating system will follow in the footsteps of the nine versions before it and be called iOS 10.

One thing we haven’t seen in Apple’s mobile operating system since the introduction of iOS 7 is a complete redesign. I believe that Apple has been holding off on this in the previous three iterations in order to make a big bang when it debuts iOS 10. Expect updated stock app designs and perhaps some new superficial elements, such as the “parallax effect’ Apple introduced in iOS 7, which inevitably gave people motion sickness and had to be turned off.

All-in-all it comes down to opinion, but for us, Apple’s simple and intuitive design of iOS cannot be beaten.

Winner: iPhone 7


iOS 9.3 App Store 3D Touch shortcuts

Storage

The Galaxy S7 has 32GB of storage built in, which is now expandable up to 200GB thanks to the addition of a microSD card slot. One of the rumours doing the rounds is that the iPhone 7 will be the first smartphone to have 256GB of storage. This would be double the current 128GB maximum of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but is likely to be very expensive, if so, and not as flexible as a removable card slot.

Winner: Galaxy S7


Galaxy S7 button

Camera

Samsung reduced the size of its flagship camera sensor to 12 megapixels in the S7, but Samsung has made each individual pixel that much bigger, increasing each one's size to 1.4um, which is up from 1.12um on the S6. The results can be seen in our test shots, too, as the S7 produced bright, vibrant pictures. Indoors painted a similar picture as well; detail levels were higher on the S7, and it also produced much less noise.

So far we don’t know much about the iPhone 7’s snapper, but according to sources, Apple is said to be keen to use a slimmer camera module, which would make the flush design possible, even with the super-slim iPhone 7.

As for resolution and picture quality, Apple has steadily been improving its cameras, with a 12-megapixel high-quality sensor used in the iPhone 6S Plus and iPhone 6S. It turns out that Apple wants even more and, according to reports from Taiwan, has been working on dual-lens camera tech for three years, with the results finally ready for the iPhone 7.

A report in Business Weekly quotes Altek's CEO, Xiaru Wen, as saying that Apple has "been studying the dual lens" technology for three or more years. Wen's the man to know, as Altek is the company that makes the dual-lens cameras for the HTC and Huawei. According to Wen, Apple's got lots of applications that take advantage of dual-lens technology, but the issue has been that the supply chain hasn't been able to supply enough products.

Winner: iPhone (if the dual lens tech comes to fruition)

Overall winner: draw

While both the unreleased iPhone 7 and the Galaxy S7 win an equal number of rounds in our head-to-head preview, it seems whoever takes the biscuit in terms of performance - something we can't compare until we have both smartphones in our hands at the same time - will win the battle of the best smartphone this year. We won't have a true answer until September when the iPhone 7 is rumoured to debut. Stay tuned until then... 

Read more

In-Depth