Low light camera performance test: Galaxy S7 vs Galaxy S6 edge+


Well, folks, as expected, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge are now a reality and chock-full of the latest and greatest smartphone hardware. Some may be surprised by this, but Sammy actually knocked down the resolution of its flagships' cameras to 12 MP from 16 MP in their predecessors. However, contrary to a belief that is still somewhat popular, it's not all about the megapixels. Sensor, aperture, and pixel size are also pretty important factors that determine how much light the camera is able to capture in the short period of time that a snap is taken. For the price of reducing the camera's resolution by 4 MP, Samsung gained individual pixels sized at 1.4 μm — a substantial upgrade over the 1.12 μm pixels of the Galaxy S7. The aperture and sensor have also grown to F1.7 and 1/2.5", from F1.9 and 1/2.6" on the older flagship.

OK, OK, enough numbers and technical words – how does this affect the new Galaxies, exactly? Well, the new cameras should be able to perform noticeable better in low-light conditions. Think no-flash bar shots, twilight photography, and even night shots. The Galaxy S6 and its siblings was pretty good in those areas, considering it's a smartphone and not a professional grade camera, and we were curious to check how the S7 does. Of course, a short hands-on time is not enough to put the camera through a lot of different conditions, but Samsung at least had set up a box for low-light photography tests.

The box in question has a picture set up inside it, and the luminance inside measures at 1.5 lux, according to Samsung (1 lux equals the amount of light that falls on a one-square-meter surface that is one meter away from a single candle. In other words – it's pretty dim in there). We had both a Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy S7 set in Pro mode and both had their settings at identical levels — 1/6 shuter speed and ISO 640 – cookie-cutter values for dark environments. So, the difference you see between both pictures comes entirely from the different sensors and any possible changes into the post-processing algorithms, which we have no access to.

100% crop 1


100% crop 2



Admittedly, it's not a mindblowing distinction, especially when we view the images in normal zoom, as most consumers would. The Galaxy S7 produces a slightly brighter image. One could argue that it's also slightly more yellowish, but since we don't know how exactly the box looked from the inside, it could also be said that it's the Galaxy S6 edge+ that produces a more blueish image.

Zooming in for a 100% crop, we can see that the older Galaxy introduces a bit more grainy noise when compared to its successor. Again, it's not a difference that might cause one to immediately sell their Galaxy S6 and pre-order the S7, but we appreciate the upgrade to an already great camera. You can check out or even download the full images from the gallery below and inspect them up close at your leisure. What do you think?

Related phones

Galaxy S6 edge+
  • Display 5.7" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 2100 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3000 mAh(20h 3G 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)

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67 Comments

1. tedkord

Posts: 17303; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

More brighter?

76. NewroticSlob

Posts: 182; Member since: May 09, 2013

Much more...! :)

4. DoggyDangerous

Posts: 1028; Member since: Aug 28, 2015

I cant see any big difference. S7 is marginally better than S6 Edge+

18. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

Let me tell you this, this is a picture of a picture, so a static object which relies on lighting directed to it. If you took the picture in reallife you would see a huge difference because the scenery really gives off light that goes into the sensor. Just wait for actual comparisons. I think it's pretty good

42. joevsyou

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

yes this is a picture of a picture, however this isn't just some picture on the wall. the box was made with the purpose of testing a camera

22. nodes

Posts: 1158; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

as expected from Galaxy S6 S, it's only an incremental upgrade, wait for S7 next year.

33. Macready

Posts: 1817; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

It's hard to compare still, because the S7 has a 26mm equiv lens, while the S6 has a 28mm equiv lens, the latter thus resulting in a larger magnification. So if you compare the same object in the picture, the S6 has a head start in terms of detail when taken from the same distance The above combined with the extra megapixels and different sensor aspect ratios, means that the S6 has 55% more pixels to cover the same subject shot from the same distance. Some of that will be lost in NR, because pixel level noise will be higher too, but in theory, more pixels allow for better NR too. That being said, I expected a slightly larger difference in detail/noise balance, mostly because of the extra light from the larger aperture and the slightly larger sensor. Even if it only accounts for about (or slightly less than) half a stop total improvement on paper. RAW will be more enlightening.

41. joevsyou

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

thats not a bad thing, Samsung is on the top when it comes to camera's on phones and the s6 packs a amazing camera already. the s7 takes it to the next level with the duel pixels for fast focusing speed and better lighting. With that test above the s7 took a picture of what it really should look light while the s6 put a tint blue across the picture

48. HomerS

Posts: 419; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

This test was ment to show how much faster the S7 can autofocus on the image and that it is less grainy. Phonearena totally missed that. Check the test out:https://youtu.be/7G-7wJM7hcc?t=8m31s

55. joeytaylor

Posts: 957; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

The S7 autofocus is nuts. ..played with it today at best buy

73. epdm2be

Posts: 819; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

Thanks for pointing this out and providing that link. I was also totally unaware of this. That auto-focus on the S7 is indeed incredibly quick. Wow.

5. KillTheKardashians

Posts: 93; Member since: Feb 19, 2016

saw better comparisons on youtube

6. willy.4

Posts: 72; Member since: Oct 14, 2015

I thought you gave sources for posting's ... Anyway they won't let me post the link where I saw this yesterday .... on Samsung news site .... It will explain it in greater detail.

9. paul.k

Posts: 293; Member since: Jul 17, 2014

It's the official Samsung box at the Samsung booth. We are pretty sure they don't change the picture inside for every different reporter that comes by :)

49. HomerS

Posts: 419; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

This test was ment to show the autofocus speed of the dual pixels and not how much more light it can process. The light test was with the model in the dark room. I thought you guys knew this?!

75. dd11

Posts: 11; Member since: Jul 20, 2010

Out door not-so-low light tests: allaboutsamsung.de/2016/02/das-samsung-galaxy-s7-e​dge-bei-schlechtem-licht-ausprobiert/

13. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

source? what source? I believe its from MWC, and they shoot it with their own hand (just like other tech site)

10. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

It seems S6 and s7 both are a little off colour ( magenta vs green) but S7 is brighter

12. GreenMan

Posts: 2697; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

Still can't hold a candle against my 8 Year Old DSLR! Now, don't tell me things I already know... I'm well aware that I'm trolling...

15. Supraman21

Posts: 467; Member since: Jun 09, 2010

No s**t, Sherlock.

16. TyrionLannister unregistered

Can your 8 year old DSLR record in 4k?

17. GreenMan

Posts: 2697; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

@TyrionLannister Fair Enough, lad!

23. nodes

Posts: 1158; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

not that different with 5 mins recording.

24. TyrionLannister unregistered

You stop at 5 min. Start again 0.1 sec later and stitch them together later. When there's a will, there's a way ;)

61. Prizm

Posts: 9; Member since: Feb 21, 2016

Or do HDR?

19. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

Can you stick your dslr into ur front pocket?

20. GreenMan

Posts: 2697; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

@bur60 Well, I can't stick a 5.7" Phablet in my front pocket, either! So... Right back at ya!

25. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

Someone's wearing skinny jeans again

28. iushnt

Posts: 3086; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

I stick my mediapad x2 in my front pocket.

51. tedkord

Posts: 17303; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Disco is dead. Lose the skinny jeans. I carry my Note 5 in my front pocket every day, and it's in a good sized case.

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

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