This is the main fight everyone is interested in – how do the latest Samsung and Apple flagships compare?
Apple’s iPhone 7 has now been officially unveiled; after what seemed like an eternity of leaks, rumours, and speculation, the new model is here at last. So what’s it like? Well as per usual, the rumours were pretty much spot on, and indeed it does seem like the major changes are being saved for 2017’s 10th anniversary iPhone! However, there is still just about enough that Apple has tweaked aboard the iPhone 7 that may be of interest to fans – a significantly more sophisticated camera, enhanced audio features, and, for the first time ever; waterproofing!
Of course, Apple’s biggest rival is Samsung, and it’s true that the Galaxy S7 has remained the best flagship for pretty much the whole of 2016. Does the iPhone 7 best Samsung’s hero phone? Or can the Galaxy S7 maintain its lead? Let’s have a look at how the two stack up.
iPhone 7: 138x67x7.1mm, 138g, IP67 certification
Galaxy S7 Edge: 151x73x7.7mm, 157g, IP68 certification, microUSB port
The Galaxy S7 Edge further refines the sublime design first found on its edgy predecessor, but the iPhone 7 sticks to a tried and tested formula that neither excites nor innovates. That’s not a slur on Apple. There’s lots to enjoy here if you’re a fan of previous generations, and the iPhone 7 was never supposed to be a landmark release.
You’d assume that the Edge, with the 5.5in screen, would dwarf the iPhone but in truth they’re not worlds apart. The iPhone 7 Plus is still larger in just about every respect.
Beauty is not only skin deep, and the Edge 7 triumphs with IP68 certification. Not to be outdone, the iPhone 7 is the first from Apple to be water resistant. There are differences in the numbers, mind: the Edge can survive in 1.5m of water compared with the iPhone’s 1m.
The removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack means that the iPhone 7 now uses a Lightning connection for all audio, data and charging. A Lightning to 3.5mm adaptor is included in the box, which is good news as your existing audio accessories won’t need a new home.
The S7 Edge sticks with the older microUSB v2.0 over the new USB Type-C standard, so no additional adaptors are necessary.
Apple has done away with the Space Grey colour option of old, but introduces Black and Jet Black alongside the existing Silver, Gold and Rose Gold. The S7 Edge can be picked up in Black, White, Gold, Silver and Pink Gold.
iPhone 7: 4.7in 1,334×750 resolution at 326ppi
Galaxy S7 Edge: 5.5in 2,560×1,440 resolution at 534ppi
Samsung offers the most visually appealing panel on the market. Blacks are gloriously inky, colours pop and detail is crisp across the Galaxy S7 line.
So the iPhone 7 has an uphill struggle, but in no way should Apple’s efforts be diminished. The Retina HD display is 25 per cent brighter this year and has a wider colour gamut that provides greater vibrancy. We’d go as far as saying it’s the finest screen on an iPhone yet, and the technology that’s gone into making it should be applauded.
When it comes to protection, the iPhone 7 uses the same ion-strengthened glass that can be found on its Plus-size sibling, and there’s a coating that helps prevent smudging. The Edge uses Gorilla Glass 4.
iPhone 7: iOS 10
Galaxy S7 Edge: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Apple designed iOS 10 with the iPhone 7 in mind, but it’s also now available as an update to all Apple devices running OS 8.3.1 and above. The OS brings new features such as lock screen widgets, revamped Messaging, Maps, Photos, Apple Music and News apps, and support for Siri in third-party apps.
Whisperings of Android 7.0 Nougat began to get louder around the launch of the Edge 7, but Samsung assured Galaxy owners that they won’t miss out on the OS upgrade. As ever, Samsung’s TouchWiz UI is present, but the overlay is less overbearing with every release, and we’d even go as far as saying it’s enjoyable.
iPhone 7: Apple A10 Fusion chip, quad-core 2.23GHz, 2GB of RAM
Galaxy S7 Edge: Samsung Exynos 8890 (four 2.3GHz cores, four 1.6GHz cores), 4GB of RAM
Another year, another Apple processor. This time around the new iPhone is powered by the formidable A10 Fusion chip, which we’re told offers speed improvements of 40 per cent compared with the A9. The new GPU is 50 per cent faster too.
Our findings certainly back up these facts. The iPhone 7 bowled us over with its performance during our review, and we’d even say it might be the fastest phone to have been put through our benchmarks.
The Galaxy S7 Edge is a very capable device, but it doesn’t stand a chance when comparing numbers. That said, the Exynos chipset (or Snapdragon 820 if you’re in the US) is certainly no slouch and the S7 Edge is the fastest Android device at the time of writing.
The iPhone 7 has undergone a significant change in the Home button hardware. A new capacitive solution replaces the physical button of old. The taptic (haptic feedback) engine that powers this new input method means that vibrations can now be assigned to different actions and functions. The Touch ID sensor is still there to take advantage of Apple Pay and allow the use of a fingerprint to make transactions.
We always found the fingerprint sensor on the earlier Galaxy S6 hit and miss, but thankfully the area on the S7 Edge is larger and the accuracy has increased. The scanning technology also makes Android Pay (and later Samsung Pay) a reality.
iPhone 7: 12MP rear-facing, f/1.8, OIS, 7MP front-facing
Galaxy S7 Edge: 12MP rear-facing with 4K video, 5MP front-facing
The iPhone 7 Plus may steal all the fanfare, but the iPhone 7 also enjoyed some upgrades in the camera department. The sensor technology has been upped to a six-element model that delivers a wider f/1.8 aperture.
The improved 12MP sensor is partnered with Quad-LED (dual-tone) flash, a step-up from the iPhone 6, as well as optical image stabilisation. The iSight snapper now has a 7MP sensor and benefits from OIS.
The S7 Edge is certainly no slouch either. It uses the same 12MP sensor that impressed us on the Galaxy S7. The snapper focuses impressively quickly, copes ably in low light thanks to the f/1.7 aperture, and loads every shot with an extraordinary amount of detail.
iPhone 7: 1,960mAh
Galaxy S7 Edge: 3,600mAh
The efficient A10 Fusion processor helps the iPhone 7 to reach around the 14-hour mark. Judging by past performance that’s certainly impressive.
However, the S7 Edge destroys Apple’s efforts (in numbers at least) and will easily see you through to the next morning if pushed. The Galaxy also supports Quick-Charge 2.0 and wireless charging, which the iPhone still lacks.
iPhone 7: 32GB/128GB/256GB
Galaxy S7 Edge: 32GB/64GB, microSD (up to 256GB)
The 64GB S7 Edge variant is as rare as hens’ teeth, so you’ll have to stick with the 32GB model unless you’re planning a trip abroad. However, the addition of microSD expansion makes it possible to add to the original capacity, which is more than can be said about the iPhone 7.
Apple has altered its storage options with the iPhone 7. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are available in 32GB, 128GB and 256GB configurations. If you want to challenge the S7 Edge, you’ll have to plump for the 256GB model.
The Samsung leads in the style stakes, and gets a leg up in display and longevity. Both devices are evenly matched in terms of cameras, on paper at least, but we’ll require a face-off if we’re going to make any solid conclusions.
The iPhone 7 leads the pack in pure performance, yet we feel the deciding factor will rest with your platform of choice.