iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S7: 5 things Samsung does better
Is the Samsung Galaxy S7 the new best smartphone in the world? Samsung's new 5.1-inch smartphone is getting some serious hype - but surely it can't beat the mighty iPhone 6s? Well, in some respects it can. Here are five things that the Galaxy S7 does better than the 6s, but a couple of areas where we'd still prefer Apple's offering.
iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Design & dimensions
The iPhone 6s, like all of Apple's products, is beautifully designed and engineered; but the S7 is a stunning device in its own right: these are two of the best-looking phones on the market. The iPhone 6s is also available in more colours: silver, gold, black and pink, compared to the S7's 'Black Onyx' and 'Gold Platinum'. Although we hear that Samsung is likely to launch more colour options soon.
Both smartphones are very sleek and lightweight, but the iPhone 6s slightly more so: it's 7.1mm thick and weighs 143g, while the S7 is 7.9mm thick and weighs 152g. Mind you, that extra weight and thickness gets you a bigger screen, as we'll see in the next section.
Close call - but that's a very narrow victory for Apple, we'd say.
iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Screen
The S7 is clearly ahead on screen specs.
Galaxy S7: 5.1in SuperAMOLED display; 1440x2560 resolution at 577 ppi
iPhone 6s: 4.7in LED-backlit widescreen 'Retina HD' display with 3D Touch; 1334x750 resolution at 326 ppi
577 ppi is a monstrous pixel density, and almost certainly overkill; but you'll be able to see a clear difference between the insanely sharp S7 screen and merely very sharp 6s screen.
(Apple does sell iPhones with a higher pixel density - the iPhone 6s Plus has a pixel density of 401ppi - so it can't argue any longer that more than 326ppi is wasted on the human eye.)
And Samsung has form on high-quality screens. Our colleagues at PC Advisor explain that Samsung's Super AMOLED displays "in comparison to the more typical IPS panels offer rich, saturated colours and great contrast, with deep blacks and 'Vanish' whites."
Moving away from specs, both phones have a screen feature that the other can't match. Apple has 3D Touch, the touch-sensitive tech that means the phone responds differently to a hard touch than to a normal press. This is fun and may become a crucial and widespread interface standard in future, but at present is often forgotten. Read more: 3D Touch tips.
The S7, meanwhile, offers an always-on display, aimed at users who check their phones for notifications or even just the time many times during the day. Because key information is displayed on the screen at all times, you don't need to fully wake the S7's screen each time, which saves time and power. It's a neat idea, but may not give quite enough information: you get the clock, date and battery percentage and notifications of missed calls and texts, but not emails or social media notifications.
Still, that's a clear win for Samsung.
iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Waterproofing
Samsung has announced that the S7 is waterproof, with a rating of IP68. This has proved a hit with the company's fans, who were disappointed by the lack of waterproofing in the S6. (This was a particular disappointment given that the S5 was rated at IP67.)
IP ratings aren't specific to waterproofing; the IP stands for ingress protection, and the ratings refer to a device's ability to stop all unwanted external items from getting inside. Sand, dirt and dust are included too.
As this handy guide explains, the two digits in an IP rating refer to protection against solid and liquid intrusions respectively; the first goes from 0 to 6 and the latter from 0 to 8. In other words, IP68 is the highest rating given, and certifies that the Galaxy S7 iOS both "Totally dust tight" and "Protected against prolonged effects of immersion under pressure".
This is almost certainly a better standard - and possibly a much better standard - of ingress protection than is provided by the iPhone 6s. But it's hard to be sure. For one reason or another Apple doesn't apply for IP certification for any of its products, so there are no ratings to reveal.
A cynic might assume this is because Apple products underperform woefully in this area but reviewers have found that the iPhone 6s, like the Apple Watch, is more waterproof than Apple lets on. The 6s features a rubber gasket to protect its perimeter and, while the ports aren't waterproofed, does have waterproof insulation around its logic board: a more conservative attempt at waterproofing than on the S7 and similar phones, but enough for quite a few 6s models to survive a dunk in YouTube tests.
Nevertheless, that's one for the S7.
If you want a waterproof iPhone, however, you can always add a waterproof iPhone case.
iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Micro-SD card slot
Tthe S7 features a Micro-SD card slot which can take up to 200GB cards. If the onboard storage you pay for initially proves to be insufficient, you'll be able to supplement it in future.
Apple doesn't offer storage card slots on any of its iPhones and never has; some accessory makers have come up with workaround solutions, such as the Leef iBridge which connects via the Lightning port. But it remains an annoyance when buying an iPhone that, short of unwieldy accessories like that, whatever storage allocation you pay for is going to be the limit for the entire life of the product.
Apple has its reasons for never including SD card slots: there's a lot to be said for design simplicity; the rise of the cloud means storage isn't an issue for many in the way it used to be; and you can always plump for the 128GB iPhone 6s, which ought to be enough storage for anyone. But this is still a clear win for Samsung.
iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Battery
The S7 features a 3000mAh battery unit. (The edge model has one that's bigger still: 3600mAh.) The iPhone 6s has a battery with a capacity of just 1715mAh. (The 6s Plus has a much higher capacity of 2750mAh, but that still falls short of the Samsung models.) So we'd expect much lower battery life from the iPhone, notwithstanding the undoubted power-saving features and overall optimisation in iOS.
In the GeekBench 3 battery test (which is more demanding that what most people would regard as average, everyday use - so expect longer real-world battery life), the S7 lasted for 09:15:00 and scored 5553. We've not put the 6s through that particular test but GeekBench has posted an average score for that model of just 2665.
Neither device comes with a removable battery unit, by the way: that's no surprise for an iPhone, but a mild disappointment for Samsung fans.
iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Software
You won't be surprised to hear that Macworld UK is is staffed primarily by iOS users, and we tend to prefer it to Android - but that doesn't mean we're blind to the advantages of Google's rival mobile OS.
Android users generally do better in two areas: customisation (Google is happier than Apple for users to play around with the way the OS looks and behaves) and new features (which often come first to Android and then appear in modified form on iOS a little later - even though it's not a one-way street by any means). iOS strikes back on security and privacy, a consistently high quality of user experience and frequently getting big-name app launches before they appear on Android.
That's a score to the iPhone by our count, but we know it's a subjective call. Read more about our thoughts here: iOS vs Android
iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Pricing
We don't often find ourselves saying this, but in this case Apple's option starts at a lower price - although it's also six months older and starts at a lower storage allocation. If we compare like with like - i.e. the 32GB models - the the S7 is £50 cheaper.
For both phones there will be cheaper deals available elsewhere, particularly if you buy as part of a contract, but if we compare SIM-free purchases direct from the manufacturer, the iPhone 6S starts at £539 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 starts at £569.
iPhone 6s: £539 (16GB) | £619 (64GB) | £699 (128GB) | Buy now from Apple
Samsung Galaxy S7: £569 (32GB) | Buy now from Samsung
On many of the counts listed above - waterproofing, battery capacity, removable storage, screen quality - Samsung's S7 has scored notable victories over one of the highest-profile devices it will be competing with. At least until the iPhone 7 appears in the autumn of 2016...
Which leads us to one key point to remember here: we're comparing one device that's been on the market for six months with another that's brand new, so it's inevitable that Samsung will come out on top in some areas. Apple has a few months to respond, and we're excited to see what it comes up with.