The Samsung Galaxy S7 is on the horizon now, and as it comes into focus, and your current contract expires, is it worth waiting for, or should you opt for the already available iPhone 6S? There's plenty of information out there on the Galaxy S7, so we've decided to take an early look at how the two devices stack up in our iPhone 6S vs Galaxy S7 comparison.
The iPhone 6S made no notable changes to its visual design over the iPhone 6, which is standard practice for Apple when it comes to its S models. The 6S plays it cool and abides by Apple's by now overly familiar design for the iPhones, which is great if you're into it.
The galaxy S6 marked a turning point for Samsung. Moving away from plastic towards glass and metal made the S6 sail like the true flagship it was sized up to be and made it easily comparable to an iPhone. This move is the first in a number of ways in which Samsung is constantly chasing Apple's tail; Samsung seems to take pleasure in snatching Apple's ideas and putting them into play six months or a year down the line.
With the S7, Samsung seems as keen as Apple to stick to a tried-and-true formula. The device's design looks likely to mimic the S6 almost exactly.
Ultimately, there's very little to choose between these two sleek glass and aluminum machines, but, for my money, the iPhone is a more attractive number.
Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6S: display
Samsung takes its displays seriously, and the S7 will pack 1,440 x 2,560 pixels into its 5.1-inch display. The iPhone 6S' screen, on the other hand, measures in at 4.7 inches and 750 x 1,334 pixels.
Making a ppi out of it, that's 576 pixels per inch on the S7 against 326 on the iPhone 6S. There's no arguing with those numbers.
But the fact that the iPhone 6S has both a smaller display and fewer pixels to light means a reduction in power consumption. The question is: are the absurd figures that Samsung keeps building on year after year really necessary? Having used an iPhone 6S for a while, the screen is sharp and clear and the pixels never visible, so is Samsung's victory here an arbitrary one?
One of the iPhone 6S' defining features, its 3D Touch technology, which allows users a greater variety of options by sensing the pressure with which the screen is pressed, is almost certain to appear on the S7.
The Galaxy S7 wins the numbers game and is close behind on the tech front. While there's no denying that the iPhone 6S screen is superb, Samsung wins here on a technical KO, amid much muttering and disagreement among the spectators.
Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6S: software
The Galaxy S7 looks set to come running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. The latest Android OS is a relatively minor step up from Lollipop, but it does come carrying Doze, which increases battery life, something the S6 struggled with, and Google Now on Tap, which, if you actually use it, can be incredibly useful.
Samsung, of course, includes its own TouchWiz user interface pasted over stock Android. To many, myself included, this is a cumbersome and unnecessary addition and worth subtracting theoretical points over.
The iPhone 6S was launched with iOS 9, bringing with it improved minimalist graphics, but otherwise, it, too, was a small upgrade from iOS 8. Siri was improved to be able to handle things like calendars and third-party apps better, but Google Now is making greater strides and seems the more able assistant.
There's little room to argue that iOS is a superbly orchestrated OS, and if you're looking for a clean and rewarding user experience, it's difficult to beat. It does mean things are more closed off and there's less room for customization, however.
With the 6S, Apple finally made the RAM leap and doubled it to 2 GB. What's impressive is that Apple was capable of running its OS on 1 GB of RAM for so long. Android devices have been packing more and more RAM in for a while now, with 3 and 4 GB breeds a normal sight on Android safaris today. The fact that Apple has only now had to add an extra gigabyte speak volumes for how well iOS is optimized; RAM management and multi-tasking functions on the iPhone are par excellence.
This RAM boost, coupled with a new A9 dual-core processor, makes the iPhone 6S a powerful beast, and, as iOS is so well optimized, the device is one smooth runner.
The Galaxy S7 is set to continue Samsung's run of producing the most powerful phones on the market. Whether you end up with a model powered by the new Snapdragon 820 or Samsung's own Exynos 8890 processor, both manufactured by Samsung, along with the above-mentioned Apple A9, the S7 will be a powerhouse, and will almost certainly out-perform the iPhone 6S, even though Android may not be as streamlined as iOS.
Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6S: camera
While the camera on the S7 is strongly rumored to drop from the 16 MP seen on the Galaxy S6 down to 12 MP, the quality is expected to improve. This is thanks to an increased sensor size coupled with the adoption of dual-photodiode technology, which should create better focusing and low- and back-light images.
The iPhone 6S also packs a 12 MP snapper, but it lacks the dual-photodiode tech and it doesn't have optical image stabilization, either.
The Galaxy S6 camera has an f/1.9 maximum aperture, compared to the iPhone 6S' f/2.2. This is a considerable difference resulting in the Galaxy S6's camera being capable of letting in two-thirds more light than the iPhone's. The S7 seems unlikely to have a worse f-number than the S6, so its camera should remain more adaptable in low light conditions.
While the iPhone 6S has a top class camera, Samsung probably just squeezes Apple out on this one.
Apple also included a new feature on the iPhone 6S called Live Photos, which, while gimmicky, is kind of cool. It takes 1.5 seconds of video either side of a photo you take, which can then be watched, as though the photo has come briefly to life. But this feature, too, is rumored to be included on the Galaxy S7.
Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6S: battery
Neither the iPhone nor the Galaxy S series is lauded for its battery life. If batteries weren't so dull, I'd described the situation as shocking, but, in reality, it's a mild inconvenience.
The iPhone 6S even came with a decrease in battery size, down to a measly 1,715 mAh. The reduction is likely due to Apple wanting to squeeze in new features, such as 3D Touch, but when your job is to provide juice to one of the most powerful phones on the market, the results are not going to be pleasant.
Having said that, as mentioned earlier, the iPhone 6S comes with a smaller screen and lower pixel density than the Galaxy S7, leading to a comparative reduction in power consumption. Couple this with iOS's streamlined functionality and Apple are capable of squeezing more out of fewer mAhs.
But 1,715 mAh. It's hard not to shake your head at that number.
Rumor has it that the S7 will receive a welcome bump in battery size, taking it up to 3,000 mAh. Along with Marshmallow's Doze feature and a more economic processor, this increase could mean that the S7 is not as blighted with power trouble as its predecessor or the iPhone 6S, but we will have to wait until we can test the device to verify this. The lack of USB Type-C means charging speeds are likely to differ little.
Both have failed us, although at least Samsung appears to be making some semblance of an effort.
Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6S: price and conclusion
We all know that iPhones don't come cheap; it's one of the reasons many people choose an Android device. But the Galaxy S7 is a chart-topping flagship that sits upon the same pedestal as the latest iPhone. Because of this, their prices pretty much mirror each other.
When the S6 launched, it started at US$600. The S7 will sit in the same bracket. This is the same for the iPhone. If you're looking at buying either one of these devices, money is likely not an object, so there's little to tell them apart here. Otherwise, you're coming to the end of your contract or you're due an upgrade, in which case, again, money is irrelevant.
Weighing up the differences, both phones are incremental improvements over their predecessors. Samsung often seems to be playing catchup with Apple, and if you want the latest features, like Live Photos and 3D Touch, first, then Apple is the way to go. If you want a more powerful phone with the best camera in town and a screen so packed with pixels it borders on the definition of reality, then the Galaxy S7 seems like it will be nigh-on impossible to beat.
Mostly, this will come down to a preference in operating systems, which is a matter of personal preference.
How do you think Samsung stacks up against Apple? Which device would you be more likely to buy? Let us know in the comments.