Apple iPhone 7 full review
Which is the best new smartphone money can buy: Apple's brand-new iPhone 7 or Samsung's Galaxy S7?
Apple's new iPhone 7 has been announced and we can now compare its feature set with that of its nemesis: the Samsung Galaxy S7.
Samsung has a five-month head start on Apple, having introduced its latest flagship the Galaxy S7 back in April. Apple has just had its iPhone launch, with its usual hype and controversy, and the new iPhone 7 features some radical design changes.
Let's compare the two smartphones in detail.
iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Design & dimensions
The two devices now look very different (Samsung's designs seem to have departed a little from Apple's since the firms' lengthy court case). The Samsung S7 is a smart handset with a hefty feel.
The iPhone 7 looks very much like the iPhone 6 and 6s. There is no radical redesign, although the lines are slightly cleaner: Apple has integrated the antenna into the body of the device... and removed the headphone jack. (Lightning-based headphones are included with the iPhone 7, as is an adaptor which allows you to plug in your existing headphones.)
Both phones have a flush camera protruding from the rear; Samsung's camera in the centre, Apple's still tucked away on the top right. It's a design decision that this review still dislikes, but clearly the market thinks differently.
Both phones are largely similar from the front. Both feature a large screen, and a single button at the bottom to interact with the home screen. On the left side of both devices are volume rockers, on the right sits a Sleep/Wake button.
The iPhone 7 still retains its volume mute button. Aside from the repositioning of the Sleep/Wake button from the top to the side, it's the same layout as the original iPhone released nine years ago.
One key difference is the Home button. This is now a solid button using Force Touch / Taptic Engine technology to mimic the physical button push. We've been quietly impressed with Force Touch / Taptic on the Apple iPhone, Apple Watch and MacBook trackpad.
Beyond being a spiffy new use for the technology, it has practical benefits. The Home button is a moving part that sometimes fails on the iPhone after years of use. We expect a Force Touch button to be more reliable.
Samsung S7 dimensions
- Display: 5.1 inch Display (1440 x 2560 resolution)
- Processor: Octa Core Snapdragon 820, Exynos 8890, 64 bit Chipset
- Dimensions: 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm, 152 grams
iPhone 7 dimensions
- Display 4.7-inch LED-backlit IPS LCD (760 x 1334)
- Processor: Apple A10 Fusion, quad-core CPU, six-core graphics
- Dimensions: 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm, 138g
The Samsung S7 is a little larger, heavier and has a slightly bigger screen. Both have extremely powerful processors, although Samsung's is admittedly more powerful. But Apple has shown remarkable ability to get performance out of its system. We'd expect them to be comparable in benchmark testing.
Both are powerhouses. Early tests show the iPhone 7 to be almost twice as fast as the (already snappy) iPhone 6s. Unless we're missing something we don't think you'll ever worry about the speed of either device during its usable lifetime.
See also: iPhone 7 launches
iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Key features
As mentioned previously - and we're sure everybody and his dog is now aware of this - Apple has removed the 3.5mm audio jack from the iPhone. Instead of the normal headphone you now get a new Lightning digital headphone connection. Inside the box is a Lightning to 3.5mm adaptor, enabling you to connect a regular pair of headphones.
Apple is also introducing a new type of wireless headphones, called AirPods. They look like the current EarPods without the wires. These are an optional extra, and at £159 you might want to think twice.
Removing the 3.5mm jack has enabled Apple to include stereo speakers, a slightly larger internal battery and has made the device waterproof to IP67 standards. The Samsung Galaxy S7 is waterproof to IP68 standard. Both are waterproof for 30 minutes, with the iPhone 7 waterproof up to a depth of 1 metre; the Samsung Galaxy S7 waterproof to a depth of 1.5 metres.
We wouldn't dream of taking either of them for a swim until testing had taken place. But both will survive an accidental drop down the toilet or a trip to the beach.
The Galaxy S7 manages to have a higher waterproof rating and retain a 3.5mm jack. It only has a single speaker, however, and we expect audio to be more impressive from the iPhone 7.
iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S7: Pricing
Both devices sit at the premium end. Although it's worth knowing that Samsung does have a more expensive version, the Galaxy S7 Edge. It's worth shopping around for slightly better deals, but roughly speaking, here is what you can expect to pay:
- Galaxy S7 32GB: £569
- iPhone 7 32GB: £599
- iPhone 7 128GB: £699
- iPhone 7 256GB: £799
On the upside, at least the much-hated 16GB iPhone 6S entry-model is no longer.
The Galaxy S7 comes with a microSD card slot, enabling you to slot in a 256GB card. We've seen 128GB cards going on Amazon for £35 so you can make a real saving.
iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S7: OS and software
We've discussed this at length in the past. Suffice to say the iPhone runs iOS, and the Galaxy S7 runs Android.
We think iOS is better than Android in a myriad of small ways that make up a substantial difference. Apple's App Store has a better range of software too.
Switching from Android to iOS (or vice versa) isn't as difficult as it used to be. But it's still a hassle and you should check whether the apps you regularly use are available on your destination before spending £600.
Apple iPhone 7: Specs
- iOS 10
- 4.7in 1334x750 touchscreen, 326ppi
- A10 Fusion processor
- 32/128/256GB storage
- 12Mp main camera, True Tone flash, support for 4K video
- 7Mp front camera
- 802.11ac WiFi with MIMO
- Bluetooth 4.2
- Non-removable battery
- IP67 water- and dust-resistant