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Samsung Galaxy S7 vs HTC 10 – which is best?

Samsung Galaxy S7 vs HTC 10

Wondering whether to go with Samsung or HTC this year? We put the Galaxy S7 and HTC 10 head to head to see which one's best

The HTC 10 is easily HTC’s best flagship smartphone in recent years, but does it have what it takes to go up against this year’s Android heavyweights? We’ve already seen how the HTC 10 compares to the LG G5, but now we’re going to focus on how it stacks up against the Galaxy S7, Samsung’s top flagship for 2016.

To help you decide which phone you should buy, we’ll be comparing each phone’s design, display, performance, battery life and camera to see which one deserves a place in your pocket. In this article, I’ll be focusing on the regular, flat Galaxy S7 rather than its fancier, curved sibling, the Galaxy S7 Edge (see our S7 vs S7 Edge article to see how these two phones differ), but considering how similar the two phones are – bar the size of the screen and its curves – much of what’s said here can also be applied to the S7 Edge rather than just the S7. 


Materials: On this front, not much has changed since last year. Once again, HTC’s gone with an all-metal design for the HTC 10, while Samsung’s stuck with its glass and metal combo. As a result, both phones feel equally well-made, and each one has that top-end, premium feel you’d expect from a flagship handset.

However, while the S7 arguably looks more attractive out of the box, its glass rear does mean it’s much more prone to picking up grubby fingerprints. This is something HTC 10 owners needn’t worry about, as its full-metal chassis stays in pristine condition no matter how much grease or grime happens to be lingering on your fingers.

Samsung galaxy S7 camera

A glass rear also isn’t great when you’re using the phone in one hand, especially when you’re also having to deal with some rather smooth and rounded edges. Again, this isn’t a problem on the HTC 10, as it’s large, chamfered edges provide plenty of grip and something to hold on to when you need it most. Unlike the S7, I don’t feel like I need a case with the HTC 10 to use it confidently.

Dimensions: Overall, the HTC 10 is noticeably bigger than the Galaxy S7, measuring 146x72x9.0mm and weighing 161g. The S7, meanwhile, only has a footprint of 142x70x7.9mm and weighs 152g. This can be explained by the HTC 10’s marginally larger screen, though, and in practice, the difference is minuscule, so you can rest assured that picking the HTC 10 won’t feel like you’re secretly opting for a giant phablet compared to the svelte S7.

HTC 10 back

Conclusion: The Samsung Galaxy S7 is a lovely-looking phone, but it soon loses that brand-new shine pretty quickly. As a result, the HTC 10 wins this category by a long-shot, as it’s not only more attractive, but it also doesn’t need wiping down after every touch of your hand.


Screen size and resolution: Just like the phone’s design, the S7’s screen is very much in keeping with what came before it on the Galaxy S6. Measuring 5.1in across the diagonal, it has a 2,560×1,440 resolution and uses one of Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays. The HTC 10, meanwhile, has a 5.2in screen based around HTC’s Super LCD5 technology, and this also comes with a 2,560×1,440 resolution.

As a result, the HTC 10’s pixel density isn’t quite as high, coming in at 565ppi compared to the S7’s 577ppi, but this tiny difference simply isn’t visible to the human eye, so you’re certainly not missing out on sharpness by choosing one or the other.

HTC 10

Screen quality: Instead, the thing you should be paying attention to is image quality. Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays are arguably the best type of screen technology currently available, as they have much higher contrast levels and deeper blacks than LCD screens. Indeed, the S7 was able to produce perfect 0.00cd/m2 blacks and our colour calibrator returned a score of infinity:1 for its contrast ratio. It also covered a full 100% of the sRGB colour gamut, producing bright, rich images that are true to life.

The only downside to AMOLED screens is their low peak brightness. For instance, the S7 could only reach 352.74cd/m2 when we set the brightness to max, which pales in comparison to the HTC 10’s 449.22cd/m2. However, Samsung’s found a clever way round this problem, as its adaptive light sensor can dramatically bump up the brightness when it detects bright sunlight.

To simulate this, we shone a torch over the light sensor, and our calibrator reading promptly jumped up to 470/m2, putting it on a much more level playing field with its rival. The HTC 10 doesn’t have this ability to jump beyond its normal brightness levels, but when you consider it can reach the same level by default anyway, you could argue that it doesn’t really need it. 

We certainly didn’t have any complaints about the rest of the HTC 10’s screen, as we measured an impressive 99.8% coverage of the sRGB colour gamut, a black level of 0.25cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 1,793:1. These scores make it one of the best LCD screens we’ve ever tested – better even than the LG G5 – and it’s certainly a marked improvement over the One M9, which had one of the poorest flagship displays of last year.

Samsung galaxy S7 always on

The only thing the HTC 10’s lacking is an always-on display. Both Samsung and LG have included one on their top-end handsets this year, and this means you can still see things like the time, date and battery status even when the phone’s main screen is turned off. It’s incredibly handy, particularly if all you want to do is glance at the time, and once you’ve lived with it for a while, you’ll quickly find it very difficult indeed to go back.

Conclusion: There’s no denying that both phones have excellent screens, but for us, the S7 is the clear winner. The HTC 10 certainly has one of the best LCD screens currently available, but it just can’t match the extra convenience provided by Samsung’s always-on display.

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