Battle of the Always On Display: LG G5 versus Samsung Galaxy S7

Hot off their recent introductions during Mobile World Congress 2016, the LG G5 and Samsung Galaxy S7 have notable qualities about them that make them stand out so much. For the Galaxy S7, Samsung amassed critical acclaim for the outstanding performance out of its latest flagship. As for the LG G5, it’s still on its way to being released, but rest assured, it has already sparked interest and intrigue because of its updated, modular design.

Interestingly, though, the two companies introduced similar features in its flagships. While it’s not technically the first time we’ve come across this feature, considering that it’s been something that’s been employed amongst smartwatches, including the respective bunch from both companies, the new Always On Display features in the LG G5 and Samsung Galaxy S7 makes the process of viewing the time quicker and faster than ever before. Therefore, users no longer need to press the power button, or execute some other gesture, in order to turn on the screen to view the time and other pertinent information.

We have a pre-production unit of LG G5 in our possession, so we thought it'd be a good idea to quickly to see its implementation and how it competes to what Sammy has done with the Galaxy S7.

Sure, they’re similar in premise, but there’s always the matter of their executions. Considering they’re utilizing different display technologies, the outcome isn’t going to be exactly the same. We’ve been using the Verizon version of the Galaxy S7, so we’ve been acquainted with its Always On Display feature for a bit of time now. However, the LG G5 unit we’re checking out here is a pre-production model, so it’s not a final build – albeit, we can expect pretty much the same end result regardless.

The Always On Display might be perceived as a new feature, but we have to remember that previous phones offered something similar to a certain degree – such as the case of the secondary screens found in the LG V10 and Samsung Continuum. From what we’re told by LG, the G5's IPS-LCD display can keep a backlight on for about 30% of its normal brightness and have a small area of the screen display a few items, such as time, a personal message, and pending chat notifications. It’s been stated that it consumes up to 0.8% of battery per hour, according to LG.

Samsung’s interpretation doesn’t stray too far from the intended outcome, but nonetheless, there are still some subtle differences in how it’s executed. Because it’s employing AMOLED technology, pixels can be turned on individually, so that the entire panel doesn’t technically need to be powered on. Now, even though Samsung doesn’t have exact numbers for battery drain per hour, they estimate that it uses less than 1% or so of the battery per hour.

Throwing out numbers is one thing, but what about their actual, real-world performances? Well, it simply breaks down to primary things that we expand upon below.


In the dark, or on those days when it’s cloudy and gray, we don’t find any issues viewing the content on either phones. Visibility isn’t a problem, as their respective screens deliver adequate iridescence. Therefore, the time, date, and accompanying notification icons are all quite visible from a normal distance.

However, as we inspect them closer, there’s a clear winner between them – and that’s the Galaxy S7. Under direct light, or bright conditions as whole, the information displayed by the Galaxy S7’s Super AMOLED screen is brighter, clearly defined. Under the same conditions, it’s undeniably noticeable that the Galaxy S7 is far more distinctive to make out with the eye. In comparison, the LG G5’s IPS-LCD panel is just subdued; nowhere as potent. Don’t get us wrong, we can still make out what’s there on the G5, but not from even a moderate angle. In such scenarios, the content displayed is just too dim for us to read, and we have to adjust to face the phone head-on.


And of course, there’s also the matter regarding what kind of content can be displayed by them. By default, the two present us with the time, date, and icons for incoming notifications. That said—and this is important—Samsung's take on the features only shows notifications from official Samsung apps. In comparison, the G5 will display any third-party notifications. In fact, when they first hit your phone, you'll see a large icon to let you know what app is begging for your attention, eventually shrinking in size and falling in line with any other notifications you might already have received. And while that's a big win for LG in our view, Samsung does offer far more diversity in terms of customization. That’s because in addition to choosing various clock styles, we even have the option to select different calendar styles as well. Best of all, too, there’s an option to choose a stock image, which gives it a little bit more personality.

Oppositely, LG’s interpretation isn’t as diversified with its portfolio. In fact, there are no other options to choose from when it comes to the clock style. The only other option at our disposal is setting a signature to be displayed instead of the time. Yes, we can have some sort of quote or witty statement, but it’s just disappointing that it’s limited in its scope. Who knows, but maybe this call all change down the road? Maybe they’ll open it up to other styles to choose from? Still, based on this pre-production model, there’s no denying that it could benefit by offering just a bit more variety.

And the winner for now is....

Based on what we’re experiencing, Samsung’s interpretation seems like it’s the better one in terms of hardware execution. The content on the screen is noticeably easier to make out, even at an angle, and that means you save yourself the trouble of having to strain your neck to see what's going on, as you do with the G5. Samsung's is also more diversified in that you can choose between various styles for the clock and the calendar, or even set a custom image if you're so inclined.

That said, we do have to give it to LG for thinking of the many third-party apps that we all use. So whereas Samsung limits you to getting notifications on the screen from just its own apps, with the G5 there's no discrimination, and we find that far more useful. And when those inevitable "X app has been updated" notifications start hitting LG's phone, you'll know there's no reason to wake it up with just a peek. 

Finally, it's worth pointing out that the widgets and images shown by the Galaxy S7 have their locations changed every once in a while. This is to avoid screen burn-in – a degradation of the screen caused by displaying a static image for long periods of time. This isn’t the case with the G5, because it uses an IPS LCD display – this allows is to keep the placement of its always-on content static.

All in all, we’re going to reiterate and say that both Samsung and LG have done a decent job, just in different areas. Quite frankly, if we were to get the visibility and customization available with Samsung's Super AMOLED displays, and combine it with the third-party app support from the G5, we'd have a far superior feature than either of the two separately. 

Related phones

  • Display 5.3" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2800 mAh(25h talk time)
Galaxy S7
  • Display 5.1" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(28h 3G talk time)



1. SamsungPhanboy

Posts: 765; Member since: Mar 31, 2015

LG G5 is growing on me a bit..

20. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

Hey SammyPhanboy, I thought you'll conclude the S7's Always On Display to be superior to G5's, since your username indicates so??? What's up, man.

27. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Hey I thought we don't want to judge others here And he is far from Samsung fanboy, he has shown it on numerous occasions but you're quite new here so you may have missed it ;P

54. j2001m

Posts: 3061; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

Also the themes can make changes to Samsungs always on display unlike lgs

56. j2001m

Posts: 3061; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

Please note on both phones having the display always on will do big time battery damage as it turns off android 6.0 standby battery saver

64. xocomaox

Posts: 200; Member since: Dec 14, 2015

It will drain (S7) approximately 0.9%/hour while in deep sleep. With AOD off, the phone drains about 0.16%/hour while in deep sleep. I've tested this using the S7e (Verizon) over multiple nights. Also, you are incorrect. Doze still activates when AOD is enabled.

2. ZeneticX

Posts: 63; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

would've been perfect if the AOD supports 3rd party notifications on the samsung anyway I still leave it on, really handy in checking the time and putting less stress to the home/power button

3. w1000i

Posts: 247; Member since: Jul 22, 2015

Where is the battery test for it

8. manzer

Posts: 57; Member since: Apr 05, 2014

i would also like to see a battery test, feature on and off. im happy with my moto display, wave my hand near the phone then the display shows. i cant belive that LG is doing it with a LCD screen. just seems wrong

21. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

Not untill I see the battery test result. But yeah, LG's LCD displays are top-notch.

4. Felix_Gatto

Posts: 942; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

Feature like this is always look better on AMOLED screen.

6. xperiaZlover

Posts: 202; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

Milk gray because LG has reduced brightness to the lowest amount and has even used a sort of software which adds a gray filter . I am pretty sure LG has used a software screen filter as well. LG one is better because of lowest battery consumption. Samsung is the winner as they have a balance between vivid quality display and power consumption.

11. catze86

Posts: 731; Member since: Dec 07, 2015

LG have lowest battery consumption?

15. tyrionTheWise unregistered

Battery consumption of g5 is 0.8% per hour while Samsung one is 1% per hour. Not a huge difference considering how bright the Samsung one is. That being said, nothing matches the amazing implementation of Motorola.

22. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

It's but obvious, since AMOLED are brighter. But LG's LCD consuming less power versus Samsung's SAMOLED ?- it's great archivement No matter how you look at it.

70. Samsg

Posts: 8; Member since: May 05, 2015

Agreed. Well done to LG for such a low consumption for an LCD AOD.

83. EcoCare

Posts: 444; Member since: Jul 30, 2014

Yeah, but then again why not jump to AMOLED display instead?

23. catze86

Posts: 731; Member since: Dec 07, 2015

Per hour vs per Day

28. tyrionTheWise unregistered

No. Both are per hour.

36. catze86

Posts: 731; Member since: Dec 07, 2015


46. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

"Now, even though Samsung doesn’t have specific estimates for battery drain per hour, they tell us that it uses about 1% or so of the battery in a [day.]" Here you go. :)

63. tyrionTheWise unregistered

PA did an error there. See GSM ARENA battery test. They actually tested it and it's 1% an hour.

24. catze86

Posts: 731; Member since: Dec 07, 2015

Per hour vs per Day

71. Samsg

Posts: 8; Member since: May 05, 2015

Per day is incorrect they've made a mistake. Read other reviews and the comment above.

25. catze86

Posts: 731; Member since: Dec 07, 2015

Per hour vs per Day

9. alexp999

Posts: 77; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

From what I have read, one very important thing missed on this is that the LG can display notifications for all apps, the Samsung can only display notifications for Samsung apps. Seems like a win in terms of content for the LG imo....

12. catze86

Posts: 731; Member since: Dec 07, 2015

Thats not a big deal. But, Lets put our hope for future firmware update.

17. alexp999

Posts: 77; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

For me it would be a big deal if it didn't show a gmail notification, or twitter, etc. I'm sure it can be fixed with a software update, I was just quite surprised to read that the S7 only supported Samsung notifications out of the box...

41. Itiskonrad

Posts: 21; Member since: Feb 22, 2013

This is a very big deal and would make the display essentially useless for me. I and most I know use Gmail and 3rd party text apps like Textra or Chomp.

57. j2001m

Posts: 3061; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

So you telling me they just done this big test over the 2 and was looking for ways for the lg to beat the Samsung ver and they did not work out that lg does other notifications, please post links to where this as been test to show all notifications and it's 100% not with other icons so you have no idea what it is to you go past the all on display anyways

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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