Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S7
The Samsung Galaxy S7 (above right) is available to buy now at £569. A year older the Galaxy S6 (above left) is obviously cheaper, and offers excellent value for money at £369.99 SIM-free
(Amazon) or free on contracts from £27.50 per month (Carphone Warehouse).
The Galaxy S7 looks very similar to the S6 - and that’s a very good thing. When Samsung revealed the Galaxy S6 last March we were in awe. It was by far the best-looking Samsung Galaxy yet, swapping out the tacky dimpled plastic for a Gorilla Glass 4 back panel and metal frame. Finally, the Galaxy S-series had a premium design to match its premium price.
Its mirror-shine finish quickly gathered fingerprints, but looked beautiful on the Sapphire Black model – and repulsive on the Blue Topaz version. Thankfully, it seems Samsung has ditched its pendant for garish colours, and instead of yucky blue, white, black or gold, with the S7 you now have a choice of just black or gold (though we can’t promise more colours aren’t on their way).
The problem with the metal-glass build was no longer could you access the battery. You still can’t, but Samsung has bumped up its capacity from 2550- to 3000mAh to extend battery life. And it’s made two more welcome tweaks to the build, bringing back the IP68 waterproofing of the S5 (without the fiddly port flaps), and adding a microSD slot for expandable storage. You can dunk the S7 in up to 1.5m of water for up to half an hour and it’ll be just fine.
Samsung is already being criticised for not adding the latest technologies such as a reversible USB-C port and Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 ultra-fast charging to the Galaxy S7. It told Android Advisor
at MWC 2016 that it thinks Quick Charge 2.0 is fast enough and, as is the case with USB-C, people don’t have the accessories required for these brand-new technologies just yet.
One area it is keeping up with the times, though, is in its always-on display, also seen in the LG G5 that was announced on the same day. While the screen itself is the same 5.1in crystal-clear Quad-HD (2560x1440, 576ppi) SuperAMOLED panel as seen in the Galaxy S6, only the S7 can show you notifications and the time and date on its energy-efficient, always-on display. This uses a proximity sensor to turn off at night or while in a pocket, but at other times the information you need is just a glance away.
The Galaxy S7 is a little thicker than the Galaxy S6, but we like the way this reduces the camera bump on the rear, and the jump in capacity it affords the battery. Whereas the S6 measures 143.4x70.5x6.8mm and weighs 138g, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is 142.4x69.6x7.9mm and 152g.
When Samsung updates its Galaxy S-series the new smartphones always jump straight to the top of our performance benchmark charts. We haven’t had long enough with the S7 to run our benchmarks just yet, but we know we’re in for some good news.
Not only has Samsung included the brand-new Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core (2x 2.15GHz and 2x 1.6GHz) processor – or the octa-core Exynos 8890 depending on your region – but it has increased the LP-DDR4 RAM complement from 3to 4GB. Graphics are now improved to the Adreno
530 GPU, too. We can’t wait to get it into our lab to see how it performs.
The Samsung Galaxy S6, meanwhile, was originally supposed to get the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chip, but Samsung instead opted for its own octa-core Exynos 7420 processor. This is a 14nm, 64-bit chip built with two quad-core (1.5GHz Cortex-A53 and 2.1GHz Cortex A-57) sets. A Mali-T760 GPU is integrated. In our benchmarks it performed fabulously, with 4438 points in Geekbench 3.0, and 30fps in GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex.
Storage-wise the standard Galaxy S7 has 32GB of storage; the Galaxy S6 also comes in 64- and 128GB models, but lacks the S7’s microSD card slot.
Something that may have slipped under the radar in all the hype surrounding the Galaxy S7 is where, oh where, has the Galaxy S6’s IR blaster gone? Admittedly, it’s not something I tend to use on the S6, but I know of several people who will be disappointed by its ousting.
Also missing in action: USB-C. Make that Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0-compatible USB-C. But I have to admit I do sort of understand Samsung’s reasoning behind it. Sure, Quick Charge 3.0 and reversible USB-C are superfast and convenient, and I’m a busy lady, but I tell you what’s not convenient: needing to charge your phone and someone’s swiped
the only USB-C cable in the house. Charging shouldn’t be a major concern with the S7, of course. Like the S6 it supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0, and here the fast charging is extended to wireless- as well as wired connections. I can’t say I’ve ever found myself wishing the Galaxy S6 would charge faster, but I do often use a wireless charger so this is a pleasing addition.
The LTE network connectivity is up from 300Mb/s Cat.6 to 450Mb/s Cat.9 in the Galaxy S7, and Bluetooth is now at v4.2. Everything else is the same, so you’ll find NFC (Samsung Pay will be coming to the UK sometime in 2016), dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO, GPS and the usual array of sensors that includes the Galaxy S6’s heart-rate sensor and fingerprint scanner.
As with processing performance, it’s impossible for us to judge camera performance without having spent more time with the new Samsung Galaxy S7.
On paper, it sounds as though the 12Mp, f/1.7 camera in the S7 is inferior to the 16Mp, f/1.9 camera in the S6 (which came joint-top in our phone camera comparison by the way). We’re told it’s not; we’re told its f/1.7 aperture and larger 1.4μm pixels let in 95 percent more light for much improved low-light photography. But we’re
just going to have to wait and see. Both phones have 5Mp selfie cameras, the Galaxy S7 with a f/1.7 aperture and the Galaxy S6 f/1.9.
The Galaxy S6 ships with Android Lollipop, while the Galaxy S7 comes with Android Marshmallow. However, the S6 should receive an update to Marshmallow within the coming months. Both phones overlay the TouchWiz UI, with several of Samsung’s own customisations.
We really don’t believe the Samsung Galaxy S7 is the minor update many are billing it as - Samsung has looked at the features real users want and need, and thus made a good thing a lot better. However, if waterproofing, expandable storage and improved battery life are not your primary concerns, we’d advise looking to the much cheaper Galaxy S6 over the Galaxy S7, or at least waiting a few months for its price to come down. If we are to believe Samsung the S7 should be faster and with a better camera, but don’t forget the S6 is also incredibly fast and its camera is excellent – and right now it’s a not insignificant £200 cheaper. Marie Brewis
Samsung Galaxy S6 5.1in Quad HD IPS (1440x2560) Android 5.0.2 Lollipop Exynos 7420 Octa-core processor 3GB RAM 16GB storage