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Samsung Galaxy S7 VS iPhone 6S head to head review

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Seconds away. Let's see which phone really hits heaviest.
Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6S head to head hero

Samsung Galaxy S7

Pros
  • Waterproof for up to half an hour
  • High quality, metal construction
  • Huge 5.1” Screen
Cons
  • Looks almost identical to the Galaxy S6
  • Camera isn’t much improved from last model

Apple iPhone 6s

Pros
  • Easy to use iOS operating system
  • Award-winning design
  • Best range of apps of any smartphone
Cons
  • Significantly smaller batter than Galaxy S6
  • Screen hasn't been improved from the iPhone 6

First Impressions

Samsung Galaxy S7 at a glance

  • Tougher construction than iPhone 6S
  • Huge screen is great for video and browsing
  • Big battery and power-saving mode are heaven-sent

iPhone 6S at a glance

  • Still the best looking phone around
  • Works seamlessly with other Apple gadgets
  • Battery life could be better and is unchanged from iPhone 6

Since it launched in September 2015, the iPhone 6S has been the phone to beat. Not only did it bring 3D Touch shortcuts to the iPhone for the first time to help you find key functions faster. It was also speedier to use and featured better cameras.

In response, Samsung's new flagship phone, the Galaxy S7, also packs a better camera, as well as a cooling system to prevent overheating. Just as importantly, it brings back some features that were sorely missed from the Galaxy S6 too.

But which is best? We pitted them against each other to see. Seconds out, round one...

iPhone 6S Triplicate Samsung Galaxy S7 Triplicate

Design

While both handsets feature lots of new technology, cosmetically very little has changed. Indeed, at a glance, both could easily be mistaken for their predecessors.

Not that we're complaining. The Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 were gorgeous smartphones, and we'd rather improvements are on the inside rather than in the looks department, just for the sake of it.

The Galaxy S7 has the same premium feel as the S6, with rounded corners, an elongated home button and metal back that isn't removable. This is a nice step up from the S5 and previous Galaxy S handsets, which featured plastic backplates and felt a bit cheap in comparison.

Samsung Galaxy S7 at a glance

  • The Galaxy S7 is waterproof. But unlike the S5, it doesn't have rubbery flaps over the ports. Instead, the ports just repel water. That means you don't have to peel back a flap every time you want to plug something in.

  • It's also IP68-certified, so can be dunked into up to 1.5m of water for half an hour and emerge as if nothing happened.

  • Compared with the Galaxy S6, the rear camera juts out much less, which is a very welcome change.

  • The microSD card slot also returns (it was dropped for the S6). However, instead of being next to the battery, you insert it on the same tray as the SIM card.

iPhone 6S at a glance

  • The 6S has rounded corners, a metal back and is nice and slim. It's not waterproof, but it is harder wearing than the iPhone 6, with stronger aluminium and tougher glass.

  • The button layout is identical to the iPhone 6. Below the screen is a round home button that also houses the Touch ID fingerprint authentication, and on the side are buttons for volume, wake, and a SIM card slot.

  • It's a bit heavier than the iPhone 6, but that's a small price to pay for a more robust phone.

  • It's also a little smaller than the S7, but more on that in the next section.

Screen

The S7 retains the same 5.1-inch Quad HD screen as the S6. It's still one of the best displays you'll see. With a resolution of 2,560x1,440 pixels, images are nice and sharp and colours 'pop' from the screen. 'Resolution' refers to the number of pixels, which are points of colour, that are packed onto the screen.

That resolution gives it an impressive pixel density of 577ppi. This is how close together the pixels are. The closer they are, the sharper the image.

Samsung Galaxy S7 at a glance

  • For the first time in a Galaxy S handset, the S7's screen is 'always-on'. This means it always shows important information like the time, date, battery level and notifications like emails and text messages. Whip it out, and you can see this information at a glance without having to wake the phone.

  • Only part of the screen is lit up, so it doesn't impair the battery life. According to Samsung, the 'always on' feature only uses 1% of the battery life an hour.

  • The S7 is the better phone for watching films and playing games, visually at least. But big phones aren't for everyone – it's worth going to a shop and holding it for yourself to see if you're happy with the size.

iPhone 6S at a glance

  • The iPhone 6S has a 4.7-inch screen with a resolution of 1,334x750 pixels, giving it a pixel density of 326ppi. This is a lot lower than the S7's, so the S7's screen is not only bigger, but sharper too.

  • The 6S's other trick is 3D Touch. This is where the screen reacts to how hard you press. So if you hold down an email, you can 'peek' at its contents without actually opening it. Press harder and you can 'pop' into it and open it up fully.

It's a neat way of glancing at information without leaving the app you're in.

Samsung Galaxy S7 iPhone 6S
Build Glass and metal Glass and aluminium
Dimensions 142.4x69.6x7.9mm 138.3x67.1x7.1mm
Weight 152g 143g

Camera

The S6 featured one of the best cameras we've ever reviewed. So hopes were high for the S7.

Thankfully, it looks like it won't disappoint. Samsung has given it a larger aperture, which means it lets in more light for crisper images.

The iPhone 6S's camera is largely unchanged from the iPhone 6. All of which should mean this round belongs to Samsung. But does it?

Samsung Galaxy S7 at a glance

  • The Galaxy S7's larger aperture is more effective at lightening dark environments, so your night-time shots will be clearer than ever. We'll let you decide if that's a good thing.

  • It's quicker to focus too, thanks to advanced Dual Pixel technology.

  • The S7's camera actually has fewer megapixels than the S6's – 12 megapixels to its predecessor's 16 megapixels. But don't be fooled by the numbers. All this means is you won't be able to print your photos out super-large without any loss in quality.

  • 12 megapixels is still enough to print at 14x9 inches. Unless you're planning on exhibiting your snaps in a gallery, that should be big enough for anyone.

iPhone 6S at a glance

  • The 6S also packs an awesome camera. That's mostly down to what Apple calls 'deep trench isolation' tech, which means snaps have less noise (that's discolouration of images that shows up like grain on video film or as splotches of colour) and improved colour reproduction.

  • It boasts 12 megapixels, and records video in 4K, just like the S7. Also known as UltraHD, 4K provides images four times as sharp as standard HD.

  • The biggest improvement is in displaying your photos. The Live Photos feature captures a few seconds of video either side of when you press the shutter. View the image back, and you'll see this footage, complete with audio.

  • Live Photos really helps put the photo in context, and brings your snaps to life.

  • One major oversight is the lack of optical image stabilisation (this steadies the camera components before it snaps a shot, making for a less blurry photo). For that, you'll need the bigger 5.5-inch iPhone 6S Plus.

Samsung Galaxy S7 iPhone 6S
Camera resolution 12MP 12MP
OIS Yes No
Unique features Dual Pixel tech Live Photos

iPhone 6S sample photo Samsung Galaxy S7 sample photo

Performance and battery life

Samsung is noted for cramming the most cutting-edge processors into its flagships, and the S7 is no different. And this time around, it's super-sized the battery too.

Apple's processors are less brawny. On paper at least. While the battery is unchanged from the iPhone 6.

That ought to spell a big win for Samsung. But, as we'll see, expectations can be misleading

Samsung Galaxy S7 at a glance

  • The S7 packs a 3,000mAh battery, which is much bigger than the 2,550mAh one in the S6. Couple this with the 'always-on' screen feature that should mean you wake the display a lot less, and the S7's battery should last a lot longer than its predecessor's.

  • The S7 that launches in the UK is equipped with the Exynos 8890 processor. This is custom-made by Samsung especially for the S7, and ensures you zip between screens and that the S7 handles multi-tasking with aplomb.

  • The 4GB of RAM helps too. That's the same amount found in the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and OnePlus 2.

iPhone 6S at a glance

  • Disappointingly, the iPhone 6S's battery doesn't last longer than the 6's. Indeed, Apple even released its own battery case for the phone, which is about as close as the company gets to admitting it's messed up.

  • With heavy use you'll struggle to get a day out of the 6S, so best take it easy, or take a charging cable with you.

  • Apple doesn't reveal the processor and RAM specs of its iPhones. But according to the tech sites and people who take them apart to see what's inside, Apple's handsets are underpowered compared to rivals.

  • But what matters is performance. And the 6S is one of the fastest handsets around. This is partly down to the fact that Apple makes the operating system too, so has complete control over how the phone works.

Samsung Galaxy S7 iPhone 6S
RAM 4GB 2GB
Battery 3000mAh 1,715mAh
Storage 32/64GB (plus 200GB microSD) 16/64/128GB
OS and version Android 6.0 Marshmallow iOS9

Value for money

These being the best phones round, they don't come cheap.

The S7 costs £569 SIM free, or you can pick one up on contract for around £40 a month (with an upfront fee).

Apple's star smartphone will set you back £539 SIM free, or about £40 a month on contract.

However, you get a lot of phone for your money whichever you plump for.

Remember both come in bigger models too – the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and iPhone 6S Plus. Both of which are more expensive.

Verdict

  • Same designs as predecessors
  • Both improve on already awesome cameras
  • The S7's always-on screen is more useful than the 6S's Live Photos
  • Waterproofing and microSD card slot are welcome additions to the S7
  • S7 screen is bigger and sharper
  • For the uninitiated, the iPhone 6S is a little easier to use
  • 6S battery life is still disapppointing

It's a shame that neither handset offers a new look over its predecessor. But that doesn't detract from the fact that they're both gorgeous phones.

In the past, Samsung has crammed its phones full of inessential apps and novelty features that haven't made them more enjoyable to use or any more useful. That's all changed with the S7.

It's made one of the best cameras around even better, given it a properly useful always-on screen, and brought back killer features like waterproofing and expandable storage.

The iPhone 6S is also a great phone. But its feature set, most of which dates from the older iPhone 6, and camera have been superseded by Samsung's brand new handset.

Easy to use, with millions of apps and good looking, the iPhone 6S embodies everything that's great about iPhones. But next to Samsung's cutting-edge Galaxy S7, it's distinctly second best.

With a bigger battery and sharper screen and the peace of mind that comes from owning a waterproof phone, the S7 nicks this one for us.

We'll bring you a full review of the S7 as soon as we can.

Category: Reviews

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