Monday, July 18, 2016

Galaxy S7 Vs Galaxy S6: What's The Difference?

In July the Galaxy S7 sold more handsets than the iPhone 6S – a remarkable turnaround in both Apple and Samsung’s form in recent years. But what is it that is making the Galaxy S7 such a big success when the Galaxy S6, its visually almost identical predecessor, flopped?

Galaxy S7 (left) is massively upgraded from the Galaxy S6 (right). Image credit: Samsung

Galaxy S7 (left) is massively upgraded from the Galaxy S6 (right). Image credit: Samsung
Galaxy S7 (left) is massively upgraded from the Galaxy S6 (right). Image credit: Samsung

Design – Bigger And Better

For years smartphone makers have been trying to make their smartphones thinner and lighter, often to the detriment of functionality, durability and battery life. With the Galaxy S7, however, Samsung has learnt its lesson.

Galaxy S7 – 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm (5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31 in) and 152 g (5.36 oz)
Galaxy S6 – 143.3 x 70.8 x 6.9 mm (5.64 x 2.79 x 0.27 in) and 132 g (4.65 oz)
Galaxy S5 – 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm (5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 in) and 145 g (5.11 oz)
The 1mm added thickness and additional 20g (0.71 oz) has been put to great use with a bigger battery and water resistance (more later) as well as a tweak to the stylish Galaxy S6 design, which adds a more rounded back so it feels better in hand.

Galaxy S7 (top) is thicker and heavier than the Galaxy S6 (bottom) but nicer to hold. Image credit: Samsung

The good stuff remains as well, the glass back (which allows for wireless charging) and aluminium chassis retain the same premium finish as the Galaxy S6 but the latter is more durable thanks to the use of Series 7000 aluminium which is virtually unbendable in any normal scenario.

Water Baby

So while the Galaxy S7 looks good and is tougher than the Galaxy S6, its water resistance also means splashes and even full submersion are nothing to be feared.


The Galaxy S7 is IP68 water compliant allowing it to be submerged in 1.5m of water for up to an hour. This is the kind of feature you never need until it is too late, but it also means you can answer important calls in the shower or use your phone without fear during heavy downpours.

The Galaxy S7 is water resistant and dust proof. Image credit: Samsung

The Best Display Just Got Better

When it launched the Galaxy S6 had the best smartphone display on the market and it was only surpassed by the Galaxy Note 5. Now, you guessed it, the Galaxy S7 has taken this title even if little looks to have changed on paper:

Galaxy S7 – 5.1-inch, 2560 x 1440 pixels (577 ppi), Super AMOLED panel
Galaxy S6 – 5.1-inch, 2560 x 1440 pixels (577 ppi), Super AMOLED panel
So what are the upgrades? In short: all the good stuff. The Galaxy S7 display is brighter with even more vivid colours, and it has a neat trick.

The Galaxy S7 'Always On' display keeps useful information visible even in standby. Image credit: Samsung
The Galaxy S7 ‘Always On’ display keeps useful information visible even in standby. Image credit: Samsung

For 2016 Samsung has added an ‘Always on’ display to the Galaxy S7. This means the display stays on at all times, even when the phone is locked and owners have a choice of displaying the time, calendar, a photo and more. Best of all the feature only uses 1% of battery life per hour so it isn’t a drain, though it can be switched off if you want maximum stamina.

Performance – Even Faster But Not Glitch Free

Every year smartphones get faster and this is true of the Galaxy S7:

Galaxy S7 – Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Dual-core 2.15 GHz and 1.6 GHz CPUs and Adreno 530 GPU, 4GB RAM (US Edition)
Galaxy S6 – Exynos 7420, Quad-core 21.GHz and 1.5GHz CPUs and Mali-T760 GPU, 3GB RAM
When it comes to benchmarks this makes for great reading. The Galaxy S7 has a 30% faster CPU, 64% faster GPU and has upped its RAM. Furthermore new owners will find the phone to be incredibly quick in real world use as Samsung has further trimmed the bloat from its TouchWiz interface.

Samsung makes brave claims about the Galaxy S7, but performance still isn't perfect. Image credit: Samsung
Samsung makes brave claims about the Galaxy S7, but performance still isn’t perfect. Image credit: Samsung

But the Galaxy S7 is still not without problems. For starters Samsung still needlessly wastes space with numerous duplicate Android apps supplying the phone with two calculators, calendars, media players, app stores, etc.

In addition to this the TouchWiz interface still has the tendency to snag or ‘jank’ while navigating around the UI in a way stock Android and iOS do not. Plus the phone does slow down over time so I’d suggest a Factory Reset every 6-12 months to keep it razor sharp.

Battery Life – Samsung Learns Its Lesson

For years Samsung was the smartphone stamina champ in its long running battle with Apple, but threw that advantage out the window with the Galaxy S6 as the company prioritised form over function. But not anymore:

Galaxy S7 – 3000 mAh capacity battery
Galaxy S6 – 2550 mAh capacity battery
The Galaxy S7 has a 17.6% larger battery than the Galaxy S6 and Samsung promises this will allow you to watch an entire season of Game of Thrones on a single charge (circa 10 hours of video playback). More practically, the Galaxy S7 also gets through a full day of pretty heavy use without any problem while the Galaxy S6 can require a top up not long after lunch.

In addition to this the Galaxy S7 retains the Galaxy S6’s good points: super fast wired and wireless charging. Samsung also opted to retain a micro USB port rather than move to the newer USB Type-C standard. Type-C will take over from micro USB eventually, but users with lots of existing micro USB cables will be happy Samsung held off for a year.

The Galaxy S7 'Always On' display keeps useful information visible even in standby. Image credit: Samsung

Camera – The Best You Can Buy

Until Samsung debuts the Galaxy Note 7 and Apple rolls out the upgraded iPhone 7 and (in particular) dual lens iPhone 7 Plus, the Galaxy S7 has the best smartphone camera you can buy. And it took this title from the Galaxy S6.

Galaxy S7 – 12 megapixel Sony IMX260 F1.7 sensor, OIS, LED flash, 4K video. Front facing 5MP F1.7 camera, 1080p video
Galaxy S6 – 16 megapixel Sony IMX240 F1.9 sensor, OIS, LED flash, 4K video. Front facing 5MP F1.9 camera, 1080p video

This statement may be surprising given you’ll spot the Galaxy S7 actually takes a significant megapixel step down from the Galaxy S6 and in perfect shooting conditions that loss of resolution does see the S6 capture more detail. But perfect shooting conditions are rare and in every other situation, the Galaxy S7 comes out ahead.

This is due to its upgraded Sony IMX260 sensor and super fast F1.7 aperture, though the star of the show is its ‘Dual Pixel’ technology. Whereas the Galaxy S6 used 5% of its pixels to help the lens focus, the Galaxy S7 uses 100% (no other smartphone uses more than 10%) and the result is by far the fastest focusing smartphone in the world.
Samsung makes brave claims about the Galaxy S7, but performance still isn't perfect. Image credit: Samsung

Video is also excellent with onboard optical image stabilisation (OIS) doing a great job, though it isn’t a major improvement over the already excellent video of the Galaxy S6.

The One Regression

So does the Galaxy S7 do anything worse than the Galaxy S6? Actually yes, it’s external speaker.

The Galaxy S7 is noticeably quieter than the Galaxy S6 and the latter was already not in the same league as front firing, stereo equipped phones like the Nexus 6P. Why the downgrade? It’s due to the additional insulation Samsung had to apply to make the Galaxy S7 waterproof. In some ways this makes it an understandable trade-off, but it is a shame.

Storage and Value – The Return Of MicroSD

Galaxy S7 wireless and fast wired charging are superb. Image credit: Samsung

The Galaxy S7 also finishes off by fixing one more final Galaxy S6 error: it brings back the microSD slot.

This means users can cheaply add up to 200GB of storage space at minimal cost, though it also comes with one regrettable decision: Samsung has consequently decided not to sell the Galaxy S7 in the US with any more than 32GB of native storage.

This a blow for a range which previously had options up to 128GB (native storage is much faster than microSD). It is also worth noting that the microSD slot in the Galaxy S7 is now part of the sim tray, so removing it will also disconnect your microSD card until the tray is put back in.

Needless to say, the Galaxy S7 is also not cheap at $799 for the one and only 32GB model. In Europe more capacities are available and come in at €699 (32GB), €799 (64GB) and $799 (128GB).

The Galaxy S7 is a superb all round smartphone and a wonderful improvement on the Galaxy S6. Image credit: Samsung
The Galaxy S7 is a superb all round smartphone and a wonderful improvement on the Galaxy S6. Image credit: Samsung

Verdict – The Best All Round Smartphone Available

Yes, Samsung has knocked it out the park with the Galaxy S7 (something its stunning sales illustrate) and the company has done this simply by listening to its customers.

The good bits – design, build materials, camera, performance – have been tweaked to be even better, while Samsung has completely rethought and even performed U-turns to recover from past mistakes like the loss of microSD support and water resistance on the Galaxy S6.

So while the Galaxy S6 was a case of style over substance, the Galaxy S7 brings back that substance in buckets and it is the runaway hit Samsung deserves after finally learning its success it not dependent on mimicking Apple, but returning to what it does best.

Samsung should sell the Galaxy S7 with more than 32GB of native storage in the US and cynics will say this is what the Galaxy S6 should’ve been all along. As such it may have arrived a year late, but the Galaxy S7 is currently untouchable – at least until the arrival of the Galaxy Note 7 and iPhone 7 in a few months.

Technology, it never stops moving forward…

Culled from: Forbes

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