TECHNOLOGY: Galaxy S7 Vs iPhone 6S Review

Welcome to the year the master surpassed the apprentice. Having spent years making plastic ugly but highly practical phones, in 2015 Samsung launched the Galaxy S6 and proved it could craft handsets every bit as well as Apple. One year later Samsung has now surpassed them.
Yes, the iPhone 6S remains a beautifully sculpted phone. Carved from a block of aluminium, it exudes quality. Every port, speaker hole and curve is machined to within an inch of its life and the quality of the iPhone 6S is obvious the moment you pick it up. But that’s where the good news stops.

Where the iPhone 6S is luxurious so is the Galaxy S7 but, unlike Apple’s handset, the Samsung’s phone is actually nice to hold. It’s curvature feels far more comfortable and secure in hand. Meanwhile the Galaxy S7’s top and bottom bezels are far narrower making the 5.1-inch device feel little bigger or heavier than the 4.7-inch iPhone 6S:
  • Galaxy S7: 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9mm (5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31in) and 152g (5.36oz)
  • iPhone 6S: 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm (5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28in) and 143g (5.04oz)
On top of this the Galaxy S7 adds substance: wireless charging, the return of expandable storage and water resistance – none of which the iPhone 6S can match.
I’ll deal with wireless charging and expandable storage later and focus on water resistance now because it works brilliantly. Yes the iPhone 6S has some (unofficial)water resistance, but the Galaxy S7 fully lives up to its claims of surviving full submersion for up to an hour in 1.5m of water. Being able to take that call in the shower, adjust your music playback in the bath and not worry about emailing during a heavy downpour makes for a very welcome differentiator.
And yet neither of these phones are perfect. Both remain far too slippy in hand and you’d need to be Spider-Man not to drop them at some point without a case. The glass back of the Galaxy S7 is a key factor in this and it also gets sticky when warm as well as being a fingerprint magnet. So why have it? Currently glass is key to wireless charging, but a solution could be on the horizon.
In 2010 Apple changed the smartphone market with the ‘Retina Display’ in the iPhone 4, but in 2016 it is Samsung which is now way out in front.
  • Galaxy S7: 5.1-inch, 2560 x 1440 pixels, 534 pixels per inch (ppi), Super AMOLED
  • iPhone 6S: 4.7-inch, 1334 x 750 pixels, 326 ppi, LCD
Yes the stats imply Samsung has a significant edge, but in truth their resolutions and panel types are not the main factors. The Galaxy S7 simply gets the big stuff right: it is brighter, sharper, has more vivid colours, deeper blacks and works better in bright daylight. Side by side there’s simply no comparison. The Galaxy S7, coupled with theGalaxy S7 Edge, have the best smartphone displays currently available, period.
Also looking good – though of less value, in my opinion – is the S7’s new ‘Always-on’ display.
What this translates to is the ability to permanently show the time/date/calendar or an image at all times which can be handy. That said it isn’t as useful as similar screens on Google and Motorola’s Nexus and Moto ranges which provide glanceable information that includes Android notifications. So yes, Always-on looks nice and battery drain is reasonable (circa 1% per hour) but I ended up switching it off.  
And yet where the Galaxy S7 has beauty, the iPhone 6S has brains.
Arguably the headline feature of the iPhone 6S is ‘3D Touch’, a pressure sensitive panel which can differentiate between taps, firmer presses and pushes. The good news is this adds a new dynamic to iOS – you can deep press on icons for quick launch options (eg on the camera: selfie, video and slow mo modes) or ‘peek’ (preview items with a press – like emails and URLs) or ‘pop’ (open the aforementioned items with a further push).
This isn’t original (the BlackBerry Storm had similar functionality in 2008), but in theory it is brilliant and the potential for third party developers (particularly in gaming) is vast. So why is the reality a lot less appealing? I put it down to software implementation.
As it stands iOS has no obvious way to indicate when 3D Touch options are available. Consequently you just hard press everything and see if anything happens: app icons, UI elements, etc. It’s complete guesswork and there’s no consistency between how third party developers implement it. Consequently using 3D Touch currently degenerates into speculation and memory.
In time I’m sure this will improve and 3D Touch, like the Retina Display, will prove a hugely important and influential feature (probably copied by others) but for now it’s a work in progress that doesn’t make up for a screen which is falling far behind the competition.
Winner: Galaxy S7 – the iPhone 6S has the more interesting tech, but many will forget about 3D Touch until it becomes more intuitive. Conversely the S7’s jaw dropping display will make you smile every time you wake up the phone.


No comments:

Post a Comment