Which Galaxy should you buy? Samsung Galaxy S7 vs. the Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S7
Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends
At first glance, Samsung’s newly-announced Galaxy S7 looks a lot like its predecessor, the Galaxy S6. However, pull up the spec sheets for each phone and you’ll find that the S7 has a lot more going on under the hood when it comes to storage capacity, battery life, overall processing power, and special features. Considering the fact that S7 is the S6’s successor, we wanted to provide a comprehensive, side-by-side comparison to give you a better sense of how the S7 compares to its lookalike predecessor.

Below, you will find an in-depth spec comparison, as well as detailed analysis for how the two phones compare in terms of power, design, camera function, and more. You can also read our full review of the Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge.

Samsung Galaxy S7

samsung-galaxy-s7-640x640

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6
Size 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm (5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31 in) 143 x 71 x 6.8 mm (5.65 x 2.78 x 0.27 in)
Weight 5.36 ounces 4.87 ounces
Screen 5.1-inch Super AMOLED 5.1-inch Super AMOLED
Resolution 2,560 x 1,440 2,560 x 1,440
OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Storage 32/64GB 32/64/128GB
SD Card Slot Yes No
NFC support Yes Yes
Processor Qualcomm MSM8996, Snapdragon 820 (US Models),
Exynos 8890 Octa (International Models)
Exynos 7420 octa-core 2.1 + 1.5 GHz
RAM 4GB 3GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+ Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+
Camera Front 5MP, Rear 12MP Front 5MP, Rear 16MP
Video 2160p 4K UHD 2160p 4K UHD
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.2 Yes, version 4.1
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Water Resistant Yes No
Battery 3,000 mAh 2,550mAh
Charger Micro USB Micro USB
Quick Charging Yes Yes
Wireless Charging Yes, Qi and PMA Yes, Qi and PMA
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Color offerings Black, white, gold, silver Black, blue, white, gold
Availability AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile
DT Review 4 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Power and storage

The Galaxy S6 was considered one of the most powerful phones on the market when it made its debut last year. Its Exynos 7420 octa-core processor was coupled with 3GB of RAM, which enabled the S6 to tackle resource-intensive processes and run apps with ease. Now, with the announcement of the S7, Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy phone is taking another huge step forward when it comes to processing power. How far? Well, that actually depends on your market.

U.S. models of the Galaxy S7 will pack the impressive Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, while models in other markets will ship with the next generation of Exynos chips, the Exynos 8890 octa-core processor. While both chips are faster and more capable than the one in the S6, the Snapdragon 820 has proven to perform better than the Exynos 8890. Regardless of the chipset available to you, the S7 will offer increased performance over the S6. Samsung claims that the S7’s new chipset and 4GB of RAM will help it deliver CPU speeds that are up to 30 percent faster than that of the S6, not to mention GPU speeds that are 64-percent quicker.

Another major upgrade to the S7 is its inclusion of a MicroSD card slot. Samsung offers 32 and 64GB versions of the S7, which may look like a slight downgrade when considering there are 32, 64, and 128GB models of the S6 available. However, the S6 does not include expandable memory like the S7, which is expandable up to 200GB thanks to its MicroSD card slot. It’s a noteworthy improvement, and gives the S7 yet another edge over its predecessor.

When the S6 was initially unveiled, its battery specs raised a lot of eyebrows. The non-removable 2,550mAh Lithium-Ion battery was a step down from the S5’s removable 2,800mAh capacity battery. The S7 makes up for the drop in battery life, however, upping the capacity to 3,000mAh, which Samsung claims is enough juice to power the device for nearly 10 hours of continuous video playback. Once again, the S7 outperforms the S6. Both support quick and wireless charging, though.

So, even though the S6 was (and still is) a powerful device, the S7 is a marked increase in all performance aspects.

Winner: Galaxy S7

Design and display

The S7 looks very similar to its older sibling, though it’s a few tenths of a millimeter shorter and thinner, and just a hair thicker. It’s also a fraction of an ounce heavier. Overall, the two are quite close in terms of size, but the thinner, shorter dimensions on the S7 result in a finer bevel. Both phones feature a sturdy aluminum chassis, and you’ll find the button layout and fingerprint sensors familiar. The S7 does have one major feature over the S6 in this category: The S7 is dust and water-resistant with an IP68 rating. This makes the S7 far more reliable and durable in everyday life than the S6.

Samsung Galaxy S7
Samsung Galaxy S7. Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends

The S7 has an identical display to the S6: a 5.1-inch super AMOLED screen, with a 2,560 x 1,440 pixel resolution and a pixel density of 577 ppi. This makes for a crisp, beautiful display on both phones. However, the S7’s display additionally includes and “always on” feature that keeps important information — such as time, date, and notifications — ever-present on display, even when the device is locked. This is a feature exclusive to the S7 and S7 Edge, and won’t find its way onto previous iterations of the Galaxy.

So we’ve got two phones that look and feel mostly the same, but only one that can handle the outdoors and keep you constantly updated throughout the day. The winner is clear.

Winner: Galaxy S7

Camera

Based on megapixels, the S7 seems like a step back in terms of camera quality, seeing as the S7’s main and secondary cameras sport 12 and 5-megapixel sensors. The S6, on the other hand, boasts 16 and 5-megapixel sensors for its main and secondary cameras. You’d also be forgiven into thinking their video capabilities are equal, given that both can record in 2,160p ultra HD.

samsung-galaxy-s6-sample-image_161450-1500x844
Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6. Ted Kritsonis/Digital Trends
Ted Kritsonis/Digital Trends

The truth is, however, that the S7 is the better of the two. Why? It all comes down to the speed and performance of its camera sensors. The S7’s camera includes Sony’s IMX260 sensor, a notable upgrade from the S6’s Sony IMX240. Every pixel on the S7’s autofocus are “Dual Pixels,” which aid in image focusing. In contrast, only 5 percent of the S6’s autofocus sensor’s pixels are dual pixels. The S7 camera’s f1.7 aperture is also better than the S6’s f1.9. These upgrades mean the S7 can focus better and quicker in low-light conditions. In a camera test with both phones in a dark room, the S7 was the clear winner

Winner: Galaxy S7

Samsung Gear VR compatibility

As with the S6, the S7 is compatible with Samsung’s Gear VR virtual reality headset. While the upgraded hardware should theoretically open the S7 up to a broader range of VR apps and games, and also make for better performance of those already available, there is a question of screen quality. A major complaint about the current crop of phones for the Gear VR is that their resolution isn’t high enough to effectively remedy that “screen door” effect that can sometimes break the sense of immersion VR strives to impart. Or, worse, it can be uncomfortable to view for long periods of time, causing some users to get headaches or become sick.

To be fair, these complaints are not widespread, and the S6 and S7 remain some of the best choices for use with the Gear VR. Due to the better horsepower on the S7, however, it remains the better choice for Gear VR.

Winner: Galaxy S7

Conclusion

The reality is that the S7 is simply better than the S6 in every way, which isn’t surprising when you consider that the S7 is the latter’s successor. With a better camera, faster chipset, and more RAM packed into a virtually identical form factor and display, the S7’s specs are impressive. The one place the S6 trumps the S7 is in price, so if you’re upgrading from the S5 or earlier, either phone will be an improvement to you. When it comes to a head-to-head matchup, however, we can’t help but give the nod to the S7. If you’re considering upgrading to the S7 from the S6, you’ll find it refreshingly familiar in the hand, but with better hardware and software performance.

Product Review

With the S10e and S10 Plus, do we really need the Samsung Galaxy S10?

The Galaxy S10 is the middle child in this year’s Galaxy S10 range, between the Galaxy S10e, and the Galaxy S10 Plus. There’s no striking reason to buy it, but it’s still an excellent phone you’ll be happy with.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers discover giant chimneys spewing energy from the center of the galaxy

Astronomers have discovered two exhaust channels which are funneling matter and energy away from the supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy and out towards the edges of the galaxy, dubbed galactic center chimneys.
Emerging Tech

Chilean telescope uncovers one of the oldest star clusters in the galaxy

An ultra-high definition image captured by the Gemini South telescope in Chile has uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way. The cluster, called HP 1, could give clues to how our galaxy was formed billions of years ago.
Mobile

The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G might be a few short weeks away from launch

Samsung has announced a whopping four new Galaxy S10 devices, from the low-cost S10e to the triple-camera S10 and S10 Plus. But it's the Galaxy S10 5G that steals the show as it's among the first 5G-ready smartphones to hit the market.
Mobile

The best Sony Xperia 10 Plus cases to keep your smartphone safe

It's always a smart play to safeguard your smartphone with a decent case or cover. We've identified the best Sony Xperia 10 Plus cases here, so take your pick from rugged protection to slim style.
Mobile

Here’s how to cancel subscriptions on an iPhone or an iPad

Find out how to cancel subscriptions on an iPhone or any other iOS device with this easy step-by-step guide. We'll show you where you can review your subscriptions and precisely how to cancel them.
Wearables

This $76,000 Grand Seiko watch has something in common with a plug-in hybrid car

How can a watch that costs $76,000 possibly have anything in a common with any car, let alone a plug-in hybrid? It's all about the complex, technically incredible Spring Drive movement inside this Grand Seiko watch.
Mobile

Mozilla rolls out Firefox for iPad with split screen support

Mozilla released a version of Firefox that is specifically designed for Apple's iPad. The internet browser comes with several unique features for the tablet, including split screen support and unique tab management.
Mobile

Scientists wreck a smartphone in a blender, but not just for fun

It’s oddly mesmerizing to watch a smartphone get torn apart inside a blender. Researchers recently did just that in a bid to find out which materials make up a handset, and also to encourage people to think more about recycling.
Movies & TV

Apple’s next big event is minutes away: Here’s what you can expect

Apple's next big event takes place on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to make several announcements related to its services, including Apple TV, so follow our guide to get ready for the big event.
Deals

The excellent Apple iPad gets even deeper price cuts on Amazon

The humble iPad from 2018 is still one of the best tablets around -- and a solid choice for most people. Amazon has seen some great price drops for these tablets recently, and now you can own an iPad for even less than before.
Mobile

More than a screenshot: How to record the screen on an Android device

If you've ever want to record video of your Android screen, there are plenty of apps that can help. Here's an easy guide on how to record the screen on an Android device with the right settings and apps.
Mobile

Apple News Plus gives you access to more than 300 magazines for $10 per month

At Apple's services event, the company unveiled a new news subscription service called Apple News Plus. The service gives you access to more than 300 magazines and newspapers and costs $10 per month.
Apple

Apple March 2019 Event Coverage

Apple’s next event will take place March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California at 10 a.m. PT. We’ve got a handy guide on how to watch, but don’t expect to see any new iPads, iMacs, or AirPods at the show, all of…