Samsung Galaxy S7 full review
Samsung and Apple remain key competitors in the smartphone market, and the 2016 battle for best phone in on following MWC 2016. Here are our first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6S review. See also: Best smartphones.
Note: Before we begin we're fully aware that the iPhone 6S is a 2015 flagship phone so the Galaxy S7 has the advantage of being newer. However, until the iPhone 7 arrives, this is the Apple vs Samsung battle. We've had some decent hands-on time with the Galaxy S7 and will be publishing a full review very soon.
Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6S: Price
How much you can afford to spend on a new phone is going to be critical in your buying decision. Although you're likely to buy it on a contract, it's impossible to compare all the ever changing deals – the Galaxy S7 is bound to be more expensive since it's new, though. Also see: Best Samsung phones 2016: What is the difference between Galaxy Note, Galaxy S, Galaxy A and Galaxy J?
What we can compare, and what you might want to consider, is buying the phone outright on a SIM-free basis. It can often work out cheaper in the long run if you can afford the initial outlay on the device.
It's not much of a surprise that the iPhone 6S is cheaper at £539 while the Samsung Galaxy S7 will cost you £30 more at £569. If you're quick and pre-order, the Galaxy S7 will arrive three days early and come with a free Gear VR headset, too.
Although the iPhone 6S is cheaper, you might need to spend more on a higher capacity model – 32GB isn't enough for everyone and Apple still doesn't offer expandable storage. You'll need to splash out £619 for 64GB or £699 for 128GB. Also see: Best MiFi 2016.
Despite Samsung offering three storage capacities for the Galaxy S6, the S7 only comes in 32GB for now but the Micro-SD card slot is back which negates the problem.
Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6S: Design and build
If you want to play smartphone top trumps down the pub then it's the iPhone 6S which wins on pure size and weight at 7.1mm and 143g. The Galaxy S6 did beat this but Samsung has made the Galaxy S7 bigger – we think to reduce the camera bump and fit in a larger battery – making it 7.9mm and 152g.
When it comes down to it those differences are very minimal and there are more important design aspects to base you purchase on.
Part of it is which one you prefer the look of and these are two of the best looking phones on the market if you ask us. While Apple goes for the aluminium uni-body, Samsung continues to opt for a combination of metal and glass. A downside is that you'll probably feel the need to buy a case due to the design which is a shame.
Although we like the glass back of the Galaxy S7, it has a couple of major drawbacks to consider. Firstly it gets grubby with fingerprint marks extremely easily and will also slide off things due to a lack of friction.
A key new feature for the Galaxy S7, which was found on the Galaxy S5, is waterproofing. It gives is a one-up compared to the iPhone with its IP68 rating which means it's completely dust tight and can be dunked in up to 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes.
These days the iPhone 6S is available in four colours: Silver, Space Grey, Gold and Rose Gold. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S7 can only be bought in Black Onyx or Gold Platinum. However, we've seen the phone in Silver Titanium so more appear to becoming later.
Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6S: Hardware and specs
Moving onto hardware and it's the older iPhone 6S which comes off worse in many areas as you might expect.
The screen is just 4.7in which feels pretty dated, especially with the iPhone's somewhat unimpressive scree-to-body ratio. Apple sticks with its unusual 750x1334 resolution to achieve the 'Retina class' 326ppi. The key feature is Force Touch which lets you push harder to do things like gain more options. This was rumoured for the Galaxy S7 but turned out to be false.
The iPhone 6S' screen is good quality but it's eclipsed by the Galaxy S7's 5.1in SuperAMOLED display which still has a Quad HD resolution – 1440x2560 means a pixel density of 577ppi. There's the edge version if you fancy it but the Galaxy S7 has an 'always on' screen which means can get information such as the time, date and notifications without switching the display on.
Although there is a Snapdragon 820 version, the Galaxy S7 we'll get in the UK is powered by an Exynos 8890 octa-core processor. The phone has 4GB of RAM which is double the iPhone 6S which uses Apple's own A9 chip. On paper, then, the Galaxy S7 is more powerful but Apple has proven that it can do a lot with less and we'll bring you full benchmarks when we can.
As mentioned earlier the Galaxy S7 only comes in a 32GB model while the iPhone 6S has three options including 64- and 128GB. However, Samsung redeems itself with a Micro-SD card slot which was dropped on the Galaxy S6 causing some upset.
The phones are closely matched on connectivity with dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS and NFC – although the iPhone's is only for Apple Pay. They both have a fingerprint scanner hidden in the home button but Samsung has the advantage of a heart rate monitor if you'll use one. The infrared blaster usually found on a flagship Galaxy phone has been dropped.
Cameras will be an important part of a phone for most consumers and we'll do a proper shootout soon. For now the specs look like this. Both are 12Mp but the Galaxy S7 offers optical image stabilisation (OIS), a 26mm lens, 1/2.6in sensor, 1.4µm pixel size and an f/1.7 aperture. The iPhone is lagging behind a bit with no OIS, a 29mm lens, 1/3in sensor, 1.22µm pixel size and an f/2.2 aperture. Each can record up to 4K resolution for videos and slow motion up to 240fps.
At the front both have a 5Mp camera but again the Galaxy S7 has superior specs with an f/1.7 aperture and wider 22mm lens. Apple offers f/2.2 and a 31mm lens.
Although Samsung fans will be pleased with the return of expandable storage and waterproofing, the S7 doesn't have a removable battery. Nor does the iPhone 6S but Samsung has increased the capacity to 3000mAh which is a decent chunk more than the 1715mAh which Apple has fitted.
The Lightning connector on the iPhone 6S is familiar and so is the Micro-USB port on the Galaxy S7 since Samsung has opted not to go with the newer Type-C which is reversible. It does feature wireless charging, though, which the iPhone does not.
Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6S: Software and apps
Price, design and hardware will all help you decide which phone to buy but software is a key factor, too. Choosing between iOS and Android is not a simple task, if you're not already loyal and tied to one or the other. If you are then that might be the entire decision made right there.
We don't want to spend time here going into all the little details of how iOS and Android are different. Which one is best for you is really down to your personal taste and preference.
What you get with the iPhone 6S is Apple's well-known simplistic, smooth and intuitive interface with a great range of quality apps and features such as Siri. On the Galaxy S7 you're getting Android 6.0 Marshmallow but with Samsung's TouchWiz skin.
There's nothing massively new on the Galaxy S7 on the software side. We already mentioned the always on screen and Samsung also pre-installs Microsoft apps. A key new feature is the Vulkan API with the S7 the first to support it.
It means that with compatible games, you can do all sorts like block all notifications, lock back keys and record the screen while you play.
Samsung Galaxy S7: Specs
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- 5.1in Quad HD IPS (1440x2560)
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB storage
- Micro-SD card slot (up to 200GB)
- 12Mp rear camera with f/1.7
- 5Mp front camera
- 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO
- Bluetooth 4.2
- Heart rate monitor
- Fingerprint scanner
- 4G LTE
- 3000mAh non-removable battery