For whom the ringtone tolls: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6s

samsung china europe electronics sales galaxy s7 edge top screen angle 2
Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends
There are certain inevitable cycles in the universe: The tides that comes in must also retreat, the sun will rise and eventually set, and Samsung and Apple will release a new generation of smartphones.

Like the Egyptian gods Ra and Apep, the two smartphone titans seem destined to clash time and time again. Their battle is our gain, as each new generation of smartphones seems more incredible than the last. The latest flagship phones from each company — Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and Apple’s iPhone 6S — are marvels of consumer technology. Which one is better, though? As always, it’s complicated.

 

Galaxy S7

galaxy s7 table image gray2

 

iPhone 6s

iphone 6s table image gray

 

Size  5.1 × 2.7 × 0.31 (in)  5.44 × 2.64 × 0.28 (in)
Weight  5.36 oz  5.04 oz
Display  5.1-inch Super AMOLED  4.7-inch IPS
Resolution  1,440 × 2,560 (577 ppi)  750 × 1,334 (326 ppi)
Operating System  Android 6.0 Marshmallow  iOS 9
Storage  32 / 64 / 128 GB  16 / 64 / 128 GB
Processor  2.15-GHz Snapdragon 820  1.85-GHz Apple A9
RAM  4 GB  2 GB
Camera  Front 5 MP, Rear 12 MP  Front 5 MP, Rear 12 MP
Video  Front 720p, Rear 2160p  Front 1080p, Rear 2160p
Connectivity  4G (LTE), Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 LE  4G (LTE), Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 LE
Sensors Accelerometer, barometer, digital compass, GPS, gyroscope, fingerprint, proximity, heart rate, SpO2 Accelerometer, barometer, digital compass, GPS, gyroscope, fingerprint, proximity
Battery  3,000mAh  1,715mAh
Marketplace  Google Play  iTunes App Store
Price  from $700  from $650
Carriers  Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Unlocked  Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Unlocked
DT review 3.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Power and productivity

Apple’s iOS 9 is fast in general, though it can occasionally lag on older hardware. Bugs are to be expected early in an OS update’s lifecycle. Search functions and notifications are more useful and 3D Touch gives iPhone users new ways to interact with the touchscreen and OS. The iPhone 6S is powered by Apple’s new A9 processor, which is substantially more powerful than the previous model. Apple’s claim that the A9 is the most advanced smartphone chip ever built may be debatable, but the processor’s speed and power are not.

The iPhone 6S runs much faster than the previous generation, and can go toe-to-toe with any of its competitors, including the Galaxy S7. In one speed test, the iPhone 6S defats the Galaxy S7 handily. One test isn’t conclusive, of course, but it’s still interesting.

The S7’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (which is the chip used in U.S. models, while phones made elsewhere have the Exynos 8890) has outstripped most competitors in early benchmark tests, and the S7’s 4GB of RAM — twice that of the iPhone 6S — give it the advantage on paper. In real life, it’s harder to tell a difference in performance between the two competitors.

iOS is efficient and runs well on the iPhone 6S with no major lag. If it’s anything like the S6, the Galaxy S7 may suffer from lag over time in TouchWiz. That’s not to say it isn’t fast. In benchmarks, the Galaxy S7 performs very well. Users who play games and other demanding apps on their phones will appreciate the S7’s Herculean strength.

Storage is another area where the S7 triumphs. While both phones offer 64 and 128GB of storage for increased prices, the base model S7 comes with 32GB of storage, while the iPhone 6S comes with a pitiful 16GB. It is bewildering that Apple would release a new flagship phone with so little storage space. Modern users devour storage with apps, snaps, and more, so the more expensive 64GB and 128GB models are a necessity. The S7 can also expand its memory with a MicroSD card up to 200GB.

Winner: Tie

Design

Apple has always embraced aesthetics. Each product it releases is as much a piece of modern art as a useful device, and the 6S is no exception. Its slim profile and brushed aluminum casing give it a monolithic look. The screen is wider and taller than previous iPhones without becoming cumbersome. The 6S is easy to hold, and the vibrant display is sure to stun users. Ever the tastemaker, Apple introduced a new iPhone color to celebrate the 6S: rose gold. Created by combining gold and copper, rose gold is essentially just a fancy shade of pink. Even if one takes that reductionist view, the pale flush of the rose gold iPhone stands out among smartphones and is a good addition to Apple’s palette.

Samsung is hardly a philistine, however, and the S7’s neo-futurist look, all chrome and curves, is impressive. The phone is layered with Gorilla Glass, and the AMOLED screen offers clear, colorful images. Like the 6S, the Galaxy S7 fits perfectly in the contours of a human hand. Unfortunately, the glass screen seems to attract not just the eye but fingerprints as well. Users who don’t buy a case may find their S7 quickly becomes grimy. It’s a matter of taste when it comes to these two gorgeous phones.

In Japanese aesthetics, the term wabi-sabi encompass the ephemeral beauty of the material world. Like flowers in the fall, both the S7 and 6S seem oh so fragile; one drop can shatter their screens or scuff their siding, and the S7’s glass is particularly expensive to repair. Whichever you choose, consider buying a sturdy case. With its aluminum back, the iPhone is more durable in falls. The Galaxy S7 does have a superpower, though: water resistance. Its IP68 rating means that you can dunk it in water for 30 minutes or spill your drink on it without fear. It’s the phone’s killer design feature.

Winner: Galaxy S7

Camera

All phones have to pull double-duty as cameras these days. It wouldn’t surprise us if people spent more time taking photos with their phones than talking on them. Both the S7 and iPhone 6S feature high-end cameras, with 5-megapixel front-facing cameras and 12-MP rear-facing cameras capable of immaculate selfies or landscapes. The S7’s rear camera has a faster F1.7 lens that allows it to catch movement better than the 6S, and in our testing it performed better in low-light environments. The S7 also tended to produce warmer colors than the iPhone 6S, however, giving photos a less natural look.

One of the latest iPhone’s biggest innovations is Apple Live Photos. This feature allows the iPhone 6S to record a brief snippet of video before and after a picture, allowing for GIF-like moving images. It’s a seemingly small addition, but one that gives iPhone users some extra avenues for creative expression. With the S7, Samsung has introduced the Motion Photo feature. Like Live Photos, it records a brief amount of video before the photo, though not after. The 6S wins by a slight edge here, though it is hardly a crucial feature for either phone.

Both can record video in 4K (2160p), enabling users to record shockingly crisp videos at the expense of huge amounts of storage space.

It’s hard to say which camera is best in the end. Samsung’s Galaxy S7 has one of the best cameras of any Android smartphone, but when it comes to producing natural results effortlessly, the iPhone 6S wins. If you want stronger low-light performance and don’t mind slightly over-saturated images, the Galaxy S7 is the one for you.

Winner: iPhone 6S

Price and availability

Both phones start in the same price range. The 6S comes with the added wrinkle of small storage; it simply might be too constricting for users, thus pushing them to buy a more expensive version with extra space. The 64 GB and 128 GB cost $750 and $850 respectively, so a comparable amount of storage to the S7 will require a slightly larger investment. Both phones offer a variety of carriers, and are widely available.

Winner: Tie

Conclusion

Over the years, Samsung’s Galaxy has been one of the few legitimate contenders for the iPhone’s throne. The rivalry only seems to grow more intense, as the newest models for both lines, the Galaxy S7 and the iPhone 6S, push the concept of smartphones to new levels. Both phones are incredible, and it is difficult to crown a definitive winner.

The S7’s mighty processing power makes it ideal for those who want to play games on their phones. The 6S, like all Apple products, is the pinnacle of user-friendly design, and features like Live Photos turn the smartphone into an instrument of creative expression rather than a mere tool for communicating. In the end, whether a user should get a Galaxy S7 or iPhone 6s depends on their own lifestyle and needs.

Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 update gives manual control of Bright Night mode

Samsung 2019 flagship smartphone lineup is here, and there aren't just two phones as usual — there are four. There's the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, as well as a new entry called the S10e, as well as the Galaxy S10 5G.
Mobile

Breaking news: Samsung responds to reported Galaxy Fold display issues

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.
Deals

Looking to upgrade? These are the best iPhone deals for April 2019

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for April 2019.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for April 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for April 2018.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Samsung Galaxy Fold woes, zombie pigs, and more

Today's topics: Samsung Galaxy Fold, Facebook A.I. voice assistants, YouTube comes to Fire TV, facial recognition on airline flights, the SpaceX DART program, Yale's zombie pigs, and much more!
Deals

The excellent Moto G6 is just $99 from Google Fi for a limited time

Getting a cheap smartphone can be a great way to squeeze value out of your dollars. Motorola's Moto G-range has always been good value, but never better than this: Get the Moto G6 for just $99 from Google Fi.
Product Review

The Xperia 10 Plus feels great in your hand, but you'll still want to put it down

There has never been a better time to buy a smartphone with an unusual design, and one of the cheaper models out there vying for your attention is the Sony Xperia 10 Plus, with its 21:9 aspect ratio screen.
Mobile

Keep your huge phone beautiful with the best iPhone XS Max cases

Apple's iPhone XS Max might be the best large phone the company has ever released. But a bigger OLED display and body means there's more glass to crack. Keep your massive phone safe with the best iPhone XS Max cases.
Deals

Apple iPads and iPad Pros get price cuts up to $150 on Amazon

In the market for a new iPad? Now might be the time to buy -- Amazon has discounted a range of iPad models, including the 10.5-inch, 11-inch, and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, plus the standard iPad.
Deals

Ultra Wideband is here, and you can use it with the 5G Moto Mod (and save $150)

5G is rolling out in the U.S., and Motorola’s Moto Z3 is one of the few phones that can use it. Select people can take advantage of Verizon’s 5G service and enjoy a $150 discount with the purchase of a Moto Z3 and 5G Moto Mod bundle.
Deals

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.
Mobile

The 15 most stylish iPhone docks and charging stands for your device

The right iPhone dock does more than just hold your phone. If you’re looking for the perfect dock for your bedroom, or one to sit discretely on your office desk, there’s a good chance you’ll find it here.
Trash

How to save yourself money by buying a refurbished iPhone

There’s a lot to consider when you’re looking for a new iPhone, and it can be very expensive. Save yourself some heartache and some money with our guide on how to buy a refurbished iPhone.
Mobile

BlackBerry Messenger to shut down in May, be replaced by enterprise version

BlackBerry Messenger for consumers will shut down at the end of May, nearly six years after it was launched. The app is going back to its roots, in a way, as it is being replaced by the much simpler BlackBerry Messenger Enterprise.