If you’re after a smartphone in 2016, you’ve got a wealth of handset options – but there are only really two operating systems to go for: Android or iOS. If you’re after a high-end flagship with Android, the Samsung Galaxy 7 has to be our pick of the bunch, while the upcoming iPhone 7 is going to the be the most powerful iOS device in 2016. Apple and Samsung’s handsets are usually released slightly out of sync, but with the release of the iPhone 7, we can now put the best of Android head to head with the best of iOS. So, which smartphone should you buy? To work through that tough decision, we’ve compared Apple and Samsung’s handsets in the most important areas, from battery life and camera performance to processing power and storage.
Design and features
The iPhone 7 doesn’t look that different from the iPhone 6s, and that’s really not a bad thing. This time around Apple has removed those unsightly antennae lines at the rear of the device, and introduced two new finishes. There’s now Jet Black, a super-high gloss finish that looks amazing, and also regular Black, which is essentially a matt black coat. There are other changes to the iPhone 7 elsewhere too; the Home button now has Force Touch, and the phone is now water resistant too – just like the S7. Finally, and more controversially, Apple has also removed the 3.5mm headphone jack but added stereo speakers.
In the same way, the Samsung Galaxy S7 looks a lot like the Samsung Galaxy S6 before it. Featuring a large screen that seems to take up the entire front of the phone, and a smooth glass back, the Samsung oozes style and sophistication – and comes in a range of colours, too. There’s Black, Gold, White, Silver and of course Rose Gold – and all work well with the glossy finish that covers the handset.
Verdict: Looks are subjective, but for me personally the iPhone 7 wins by a mile. The Samsung Galaxy S7 is a good looking device and features clean lines and a good number of finishes, but for some reason it doesn’t have the same ‘object of desire’ feel as something like the iPhone 7 Jet Black Black.
The iPhone 7 might not get the super dual-lens camera found on the iPhone 7 Plus, but it still gets a worthwhile upgrade. The iPhone 7 uses a 12MP camera with a f/1.8 aperture that lets 50% more light in, meaning that the new handset is better at taking photos in low-light than ever before. Apple has also added optical image stabilisation to the smaller iPhone 7 too, so your photos are less likely to be blurry at longer exposures. When you want to use the flash, the iPhone 7 uses a quad-led fusion flash, which is brighter and can makes subjects look more natural in photographs. For selfies and video calls there’s a 7MP FaceTime HD camera at the front of the phone.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 is one of the best Android phones you can buy, and that means it comes with an extremely impressive camera. Like the iPhone 7, the Galaxy S7 camera is a 12MP affair, but also uses a f/1.7 aperture and 1.4µm pixels to capture as much light as possible. The result? Extremely good photos in low-level lighting. Alongside that performance, the Samsung’s Dual Pixel sensor technology make focusing faster, too. On the front, the Galazy S7 uses a 5MP camera.
Verdict: The iPhone 7’s camera is way better than before, but the Samsung Galaxy S7 still looks like more than a match for Apple’s latest handset. The f/1.7 aperture is still slightly better than the iPhone 7s, and when consider the larger sensor it uses, it’s likely the Galaxy S7 still has the best snapper around. Of course we’ll know more when we conduct our in-depth review of the iPhone 7.
The iPhone 7 uses a 4.7in LED-backlit IPS LCD screen, capable of displaying 16 million colours in total. Like the iPhone 6s before it, the screen uses 3D Touch, keeping the resolution of 750×1334 with a pixel density of 326ppi. However, this time round, the iPhone 7 screen is 25% brighter and has a wider colour gamut than before. The result? The iPhone 7 screen should look more colourful and vibrant.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 uses a 5.1in Super AMOLED touchscreen, and it’s one of the best displays you can get in any smartphone right now. Super AMOLED technology is able make blacks blacker and other colours more vibrant, and when you combine that with the S7’s huge 1440×2560 pixel and 577ppi pixel density, the end result is simply amazing.
Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy S7 may not have 3D Touch, but everything else about its screen is superior to the iPhone 7’s. Despite a much needed upgrade, the iPhone 7’s LCD screen still can’t match the vibrancy of the Galaxy S7’s, and when you consider the S7’s significantly higher pixel density, it’s clear one screen is much better than the other.
The new iPhone 7 uses a quad-core A10 Fusion processor, comprising of two high performance cores, and two efficiency cores. Apple says the iPhone 7 will decide which tasks should be assigned to which core, and that means you’ll get a good blend of performance and battery life. The new iPhone 7’s A10 Fusion chip is said to be 40% faster than the A9, and comes with 2GB of RAM – meaning it should be fast enough to deliver console-comparable graphics.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 UK model is powered by a Qualcomm made Octa-core Exynos processor, and ships with 4GB of RAM. That means for the last few months, it’s been the fastest smartphone around.
Verdict: Apple iPhone The Samsung Galaxy S7 is fast, but the iPhone 7 uses the A10 Fusion processor, which is reported to be the fastest smartphone processor ever made. In fact, Geekbench results published the same week as the iPhone 7 launch suggest the iPhone 7 Plus is faster than the current iPad Pro. The iPhone 7 has 1GB of Ram less than the iPhone 7 Plus, but it shouldn’t be too far behind in performance terms.
The iPhone 7 comes in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB variations this time, whereas the Samsung Galaxy S7 comes in just 32GB. But unlike the iPhone 7, the Samsung Galaxy S7 comes with a microSD slot, and that means its memory can be boosted all the way up to 256GB if needed.
Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S7. The iPhone 7 gives you a range of options when it comes to storage, and on first glance the S7’s paltry 32GB storage looks like a huge oversight. However, Samsung’s decision to throw in a MicroSD slot can offer extremely good value if you know where to look – 128GB microSD cards and be picked up for as little as £25.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 packs in a huge 3000mAh battery which the company’s stats claim is good for 22 hours of talk time, and 62 hours of music playing. In contrast Apple reckons that the iPhone 7 will give you 14 hours of talk time, and just 40 hours of music. However, these are company figures, and may not live up to real-world tests. We’ll know more when our review unit arrives.
Verdict: Undecided. Looking at the figures alone, it looks like the Galaxy S7 has the iPhone 7 beat, but we won’t know for sure until we do our own in-depth battery tests.
Price and release date
A sim-free 32GB Samsung Galaxy S7 will cost you £569, while a 32GB iPhone 7 costs £30 more and starts at £599.
Verdict: When you’re spending around £600 on a handset, £30 isn’t that much, so both units are pretty much equal. The Samsung Galaxy S7 was released in early March 2016, while the iPhone 7 only became available to pre-order on 9th September – with the first handsets shipping on 16th September. That means that if you’re after an iPhone 7, you’ll need to wait a while. The Samsung Galaxy S7 on the other hand, has been out for a while, and is extremely easy to get hold of today. The Samsung Galaxy S7’s head start means you can now find some pretty attractive deals, too.
iPhone 7 vs Galaxy S7: Final verdict
The iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 are two of the best phones you can get right now, and whichever you pick will be a great purchase. Both phones offer amazing specs and features, so until we get our hands on both of them and test them side by side, they look pretty equal. Right now, choosing the best phone for you comes partly down to the ecosystem you use, and the type of operating system you prefer. If you already own an Apple Watch, iPad or a MacBook, the iPhone 7 will fit best into your life. If you’re more of an Android user, then it currently makes more sense to pick up a Galaxy S7. Simply put, both phones are impressive, but their specs are so similar that neither warrants jumping to a brand new OS. If, however, you insist that your phone has a headphone jack, it’s best to go for the Samsung Galaxy S7…
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