From design to display, price to power, we put the two smartphones head-to-head to see how they compare
Samsung is gunning for Apple. The South Korean company has just unveiled its new Galaxy S7 smartphone while iPhone 7 won’t hit the market until September.
However, when it does, the two handsets will likely prove to be two of the most compelling choices on the market. But what about now? How does Samsung’s new flagship device stack up against Apple’s 2015 crown jewel, the iPhone 6S?
Both phones represent minimal design changes from their predecessors – not necessarily a bad thing, considering they are two of the best-looking handsets on the market. The iPhone just nudges it in terms of dimensions, though. It’s slightly lighter, at five ounces to the Galaxy’s 5.4oz, and at 7.1mm thick, it’s 0.8mm thinner too.
Apple’s 6S design is virtually similar to that of the iPhone 6, albeit a little thicker due to the use of more durable aluminium alloy, but does have the addition of a rose gold colour option. It’s an aluminium unibody, with curved edges, exposed antenna bands and a protruding camera module.
As for the Galaxy S7, its case is a metal and glass setup. It’s nice, but PC Advisor warns it marks easily and can become grubby without a case. However, the Galaxy is waterproof – an IP68 rating means it can be submerged in depths of five feet for up to half an hour.
The Galaxy S6 was noted for the high quality of its display and the new S7 continues to be an impressive piece of kit in this area. It’s a SuperAMOLED display with Quad HD resolution (1440 x 2560), meaning an impressive pixel density of 577ppi and an incredibly sharp-looking display with deep blacks and rich colours. There’s also a new “always on” screen function that displays information such as the time and date even when the phone is switched off.
In contrast, the iPhone 6S uses an LCD setup with a pixel density of 326ppi – the same as Apple smartphones introduced in 2010. It’s still “fairly sharp”, according to Gizmag, but not on par with the Galaxy.
One party piece the Apple display does have, though, is 3D touch – a pressure-sensing display that offers new ways to navigate the phone based on how hard certain icons are pressed.
The Galaxy S7 uses the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset, though the UK version should get an Exynos 8890 octa-core processor instead, mated to 4GB of RAM.
It is certainly more powerful on paper than the iPhone 6S, which weighs in with only 2GB RAM and makes use of Apple’s A9 chip.
Both phones have dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS and NFC, although the iPhone’s is only for Apple Pay. Neither has a removable battery, but the Samsung’s is much larger – a 3000mAh cell that can be charged wirelessly compared to Apple’s 1715mAh battery.
The Galaxy is only available as a 32GB model compared to 16GB, 64GB and 128GB on the iPhone, but the micro SD card slot for expandable storage makes a welcome return after being absent on the S6.
The SD card slot means the Galaxy S7’s storage can be boosted by 200GB and given that around 8GB of the phone’s memory is already occupied by bloatware straight out of the box, it’s a feature that’s bound to be popular.
Early fears that the removable memory function wouldn’t be compatible with apps have now subsided after Samsung told journalists at the launch that they cold be safely transferred onto an external card.
According to Forbes, the functionality of the SD card is a welcome feature, but it highlights the need for Samsung to put models beyond the 32GB device on sale in Europe.
Samsung has actually reduced the overall megapixel count of its camera hardware down to 12MP, putting it on par with the iPhone 6S. However, there has been a vast improvement in optimisation and the hardware that works alongside the camera, giving better shots in the dark and overall improved image quality.
Both phones can record 4K video and have 240 frames per second slow-motion functions, although the Galaxy S7 sports optical image stabilisation and has a better front-facing camera, too.
The Galaxy S7 ships with Android Marshmallow 6.0 and Samsung’s TouchWiz skin, which could cause problems as the nature of the TouchWiz means Samsung has to tweak it after every Android update. Much has been said of ridding the S7 of bloatware, though, and it could remain a thorn in the Galaxy’s side.
As for the iPhone, iOS remains the same well-known, simplistic, easy-to-update and smooth experience with plenty of app support.
A lot of this comes down to personal preference, says PC Advisor. Operating systems can often sway decision for many people, especially those loyal to one particular version.
Of course, the two phones also have Phablet siblings in the form of the Galaxy S7 Edge and iPhone 6S Plus. Both are 5.5ins handsets but while the iPhone 6S plus gets a higher pixel density over the smaller phone at 401ppi, the S7 Edge, with a ppi of 534, loses focus a little compared to its smaller sibling. Both command a premium over the standard devices and feature more or less the same specs, although slightly larger batteries are a given, considering their sizes.
The Galaxy comes in slightly above the iPhone, with prices starting from £569 for the standard S7 and £639 for the 5.5ins S7 edge phablet.
As for the iPhone 6S, the 4.7ins model starts from £539 – some £30 less. It’s a similar saving with the Plus, which comes in at £619.
However, there are bonuses for the Samsung phone. Customers who order now for an 11 March shipping get a free Gear virtual reality headset worth £99 that will let them take full advantage of the S7’s impressive display.
A price drop could be on the cards, too, if you’re willing to wait a few months. Idealo has compiled data from previous Galaxy phone launches and says that based on historic trends, the S7 could be 21 per cent cheaper three months after going on sale and almost 30 per cent cheaper in six months. By then, the iPhone 7 will be just around the corner so if predictions are true, the S7 should hold a distinct price advantage over its main Apple competitor.
TrustedReviews feels the Samsung Galaxy S7 is an “absolute beast of a smartphone”, with more than enough to beat the iPhone 6S.
It adds: “It features a more robust processor, twice the memory, a higher aperture camera and comes loaded with Google’s oh so sweet Android Marshmallow operating system.”
However, this “really isn’t a surprise”, it says, considering the Galaxy S7 is still box fresh and the iPhone 6S is now halfway through its lifecycle. The big battle comes later this year, when Apple reveals the iPhone 7.
According to TechRadar, it would appear the usual battle lines have been drawn between Samsung and Apple. They conclude the Galaxy is the more functional option and the iPhone the simpler one. The S7 is a “strong showing” from Samsung and “all the right elements are there”, they add.
It would appear Galaxy S7’s strong functions and features definitely triumph. Alphr says it has the iPhone 6S beaten in most key areas, including display, features and battery life. BGR also thinks the Samsung phone wins in several key areas, such as the camera and display, plus there is the welcome addition of water and dust-proofing with which the iPhone 6S cannot compete. In terms of design, the S7 is reckoned to be a better device, too, and the Edge handset is considerably more comfortable than the iPhone 6S Plus.