Samsung Galaxy S7 edge vs Apple iPhone 6s Plus: first look


With so many smartphone manufacturers on the market, you'd think that it's a lucrative field if dozens upon dozens of makers fight for relevance. But the reality of today is that this ruthless competition benefits us, the consumers, and barely anyone else. In fact, according to some estimates, pretty much every cent worth of profit in 2015 went into either Samsung's or Apple's pocket, and mostly the latter.

That's no surprise. Sure, we all have our favorites, but go for a walk through the street and count the iPhones and Galaxies in people's hands. Together, they account for the vast, vast majority of smartphones you see. And judging by what we saw so far from MWC, Samsung's high-ends will continue having a spot in people's pockets.

With the 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 edge, the South Korean company is changing the tempo a little bit by going for a balance between last year's 5.1-inch S6 edge and 5.7-inch S6 edge+. This puts it right in the crosshairs of its archival Apple's larger iPhone 6s Plus. What does each have to offer, and where does one outdo the other? Join us below as we take our first crack at the question.

Design

The S7 edge looks decidedly more futuristic than the far more conservative iPhone 6s Plus.

It wasn't too long ago that you could ask us on matters of design when it comes to Samsung and Apple, and we'd have a ready-made answer: Samsung has a ton to learn, and Apple would be a good starting to point to do so. But ever since the Galaxy S6 edge escaped the lab, we've had to reconsider what makes a device stand out in the modern age. And whatever subjective properties your list includes, it's likely we're in agreement that Samsung's latest nail it. And the Galaxy S7 edge is no different.

Put next to the Apple iPhone 6s Plus, however, we're having trouble coming up with a description of the fundamental differences. It's like two devices set in different times somehow met in the middle, with the S7 edge looking decidedly more futuristic than the far more conservative iPhone 6s Plus. This is not to say that the Apple's phone looks or feels outdated, just a testament to the geekier, more sci-fi like nature of the S7 edge's design, with its dual curved display seeping into the metal frame on the sides.

Design philosophies aside, in practice the Galaxy S7 edge proves to be the more efficient design of the two. In terms of both size and weight, Apple's big iPhone is at a significant disadvantage by being noticeably bulkier. On the plus side, you won't hate your hands after using it, for its aluminum back is, in comparison, impervious to fingerprint smudges—which is not at all the case with the Galaxy S7 edge.

Display

Both are great-looking display, and it's the cool tricks they pull that are impressive: Always-on display with the S7 Edge and 3D Touch on the iPhone.

At 5.5 inches, both the S7 edge and the iPhone 6s Plus let you go wild with an identical allowance of screen real estate. Where the two differ is the number of pixels packed within their respective panels, with the Galaxy S7 edge winning  the race with its 1440 x 2560 (vs 1080 x 1920) resolution. In the real world, however, this supposed advantage has more to do with bragging rights than actual user experience benefits—the screens are just too small for most people to appreciate the difference.

Digging deeper, there are other significant differentiators with both the Super AMOLED panel of the S7 edge and the IPS screen of the iPhone 6s Plus, and beyond those two curves of the former. More specifically, with Samsung's phablet you're getting an always-on display feature, which means the time and date, calendar, or an image can be set to be always present on the screen. This will add some convenience to using the device, and likely even save you battery by cutting down on the number of times you wake your device per day just to check for new notifications.

As for the iPhone 6s Plus' display, its 3D Touch tech continues to be unique for most intents and purposes. Thanks to it, the 6s Plus can tell a light tap from a hard press, modifying its behavior to better serve your needs by offering shortcuts to actions and the like.

Interface and functionality

Android vs iOS, TouchWiz vs Apple's simplicity

When it comes to Android and iOS, it's always been tough comparing the two platforms, just because they're so different at the core. Sure, as time has progressed, they have started looking more and more alike, with each adopting features previously available with the other, but it's still fair to say that they're different user experiences.

With the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, it's fair to say that you have more control over what's what, and in terms of the layout of the interface. Interestingly, however, the latest version of Samsung's TouchWiz, based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, offers the option to get rid of the app drawer—a feature the iPhone never had. So in a way, you technically can get that iPhone look if you so desire.

In terms of functionality, it's worth pointing out that both devices offer fingerprint authentication, and in both cases that is tied to a mobile payments solution—either Samsung Pay or Apple Pay. 

Performance and memory

Snapdragon 820 vs Apple's A9... well, that's a battle for the geeks. In reality, both devices deliver very smooth operation.

With the Galaxy S7 family of devices, Samsung is going back to the old arrangement: Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips will power devices sold in the US, while its home-grown Exynos 8 series will hum under the surface of phones sold in most other regions. More specifically, it'll come down to a choice between a quad-core Snapdragon 820 and an octa-core Exynos 8890. 

On the other side of the ring, Apple's iPhone 6s Plus might appear to be the underdog, what with 'just' a dual-core Apple A9 processor. But the reality is that the silicon has proven to be extremely powerful and efficient, easily competing with the best of the day. Just how well it spars with these two new chips available with the S7 edge, however, remains to be seen.

In our experience, both devices deliver very smooth operation that is devoid of noticeable stutters or lag, and heavy 3D titles that we tried on the new S7 edge ran flawlessly from what we could tell.

Camera

The new, 12MP camera on the S7 Edge holds big promise in low light.


Well, the unthinkable happened: Samsung seemingly went back a step with the Galaxy S7 edge's camera by dropping the megapixel count from 16 to 12—in line with what the iPhone 6s Plus has to offer. But from what we've been told and from what we've seen for ourselves so far, that's a step in the right direction for sure.

Coupled with industry-leading, f/1.7 lens, the Galaxy S7 edge is Samsung's promise that low-light photography is something it's paying real attention to. At a test setup available at the company's pre-briefing, we were shown the S7 edge side-by-side with the S6 family, shooting in the dark, and the improvements were very noticeable—less noise, better preserved colors, and a brighter overall image. In addition, the optically stabilized camera also features considerably faster phase detection auto focus—faster than that of the 6s Plus for sure.

Both devices can shoot 4K video, as you'd expect at this point, and both have very decent selfie cameras, though our early impression is that the iPhone 6s Plus is bested here.

Expectations


With pre-orders about to start, the Galaxy S7 edge is expected to hit the market in the first half of March, or in a matter of weeks. Being more extravagant than the Galaxy S7, the S7 edge will cost you about a hundred bucks more to get, or about the same you'd pay for the iPhone 6s Plus. This puts the two devices on a collision course.

Of course, which one you pick will probably have more to do with brand loyalty, or even your investment in your current platform of choice. If you have a hefty library of paid games, apps, and music for iOS, switching to Android will be a pain, as you'll have to start from zero and burn even more cash. The opposite is also applicable, though to a smaller extent given how Android titles are free more often than not.

As for which one is the definitive superior pick, we'll have to wait until we get a Galaxy S7 edge in our offices for an in-depth analysis. Everything we say right now, after all, is based on our first impressions, and there's a ton of testing ahead of us before we can call it for sure. Until then, you'll have to sit tight and try and make sense of these two yourself.



Related phones

Galaxy S7 edge
  • Display 5.5" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3600 mAh(36h 3G talk time)
iPhone 6s Plus
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Apple A9, Dual-core, 1840 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 2750 mAh(24h 3G talk time)

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72 Comments

1. darkkjedii

Posts: 31323; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

All I can say is 3... 2... 1... Essay!!!

2. TerryTerius unregistered

That made me laugh a lot harder than it probably should have. But yeah, that term paper is probably inevitable lmao.

4. CoastCity

Posts: 257; Member since: Mar 07, 2014

Would you mind to explain the joke please?

5. TerryTerius unregistered

It's a reference to a phonearena user named Techie who writes biblical length comments on articles, especially ones involving Apple and Samsung.

7. CoastCity

Posts: 257; Member since: Mar 07, 2014

ok thnx

12. darkkjedii

Posts: 31323; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

^^^^^^what he said.

21. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

He thinks everytime I do a post, its gonna be 6" long. Because he has nothign else to do but to troll me. I have very little interest in the S7, other than I want to see the camera shot and understand the new controller that allowed the sdcard to be put back. Also, would like to know why they didn't do this with the S6/Note 5 in the first place.

11. darkkjedii

Posts: 31323; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Lol, right on.

46. MSi_GS70 unregistered

and bet that PA would STILL go for tacky iphone :)

16. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

RoTfLmFaO Techie where are you. I miss you're long informative knowledgeable Infosys.

22. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Really sad that you have nothing to bring to the table, other than to come to troll me. You're stupid and you aren't even funny. Really sad that the idiots in your fanclub give you likes for such ignorance.

25. SamsungPhanboy

Posts: 765; Member since: Mar 31, 2015

You do not have the right to call anyone stupid.

36. darkkjedii

Posts: 31323; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Exactly lol. That guy...

62. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Actually, I have to right to do whatever I want. Can you stop me? Stupid is as stupid does. I dont troll people. I am willign to listen and understand someones opinion and except it, even if I dont agree with it. But i do at least find ways to be agreeable. But i dont come and psot some stupid crap like///3...2..1...essay that ahs no relation to the article at all and is nothign more than a trolling stupid annotation towards be. Just because you agree with him 100%, because you choose to be stupid, doesn't mean I have to be. I didnt find it funny, even if he was doing it to someone else. Everyone here doesn't have to comment in the same manner. Some people are fanboy posters who use bate clicking one-liners to start fights. I love tech talk and I am very expressive. I know many post I say things I dont have too. But its my post. I'm not breaking any rules. If PA thinks my posts ate to long, all they have to do is go into the code and prevent post from having more than 1000 characters. Ih and based on yoru typical trolling posts, you're stupid too. After all, stupid is subjective...right? It's how "I" see it...right?

54. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

He never brings anything formative to any discussions.

56. darkkjedii

Posts: 31323; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

You mean informative, ass munch.

33. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Guys are we actually going to talk about the phones or are we really going to troll Techie? SMH

37. darkkjedii

Posts: 31323; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Both.

40. tedkord

Posts: 17415; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Can't we do both?

63. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Sure. You can do what you want. Open thread. Right? So I can do what I want as well. I'm not breaking any rules. PA doesnt have any anyways.

45. MSi_GS70 unregistered

what a stupidity comparing brand new smartphone with an ancient outdated iphone .. aaah.. weeell

61. coldspring22

Posts: 349; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

There is no need for Essay! Iphone sales decline of Q1 2016 (74.5 mil -> 71.5 mil) and Q2 2016 (per Tim Cook) speak for itself.

3. Mawhob22222

Posts: 13; Member since: Sep 06, 2015

Xperia X Performance vs galaxy S7 Hhhh Phonearena!!!

6. wando77

Posts: 1168; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

You call yourself a tech site yet every time the samsung phones go against the iPhone you say the screen is just for bragging rights. IT IS THAT RESOLUTION SO THAT THE VR HEADSET IS USABLE.... LET THAT SINK IN. Also, the galaxy phones are brighter, go dimmer and are more colour accurate. It's a better screen on the samsung so get over it. I guess the PROFESSIONALS at displaymate aren't as good at testing screens as you (or maybe they just don't have shares in Apple).

8. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Unless it's apple winning, iPhonearena can never straight up admit the winner, they've gotta come up with some bunch of excuses to do damage control...

10. TerryTerius unregistered

Or it's because reviews and comparison articles are inherently going to be reliant upon the opinion and viewpoint of the person doing it. They're completely subjective and always have been. At least they are after you get past listing the official stats for each device. From there on out it is the reviewers impressions more than anything else.

50. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

That's my definition of a bad reviewer; one being shortsighted and reviewing based on only their general scope of use case, ignoring everything else the device offers. Last time I checked, reviews are meant to give an insight of all a device has to offer, and basing their judgement on just their general scope of use, iPhonearena can never achieve that. Believe it or not, there are unbiased and objective reviewers on earth. A couple I've come to know are MobileTechReview and Frugal Tech.

60. TerryTerius unregistered

I didn't say they don't exist, but put it this way. The only way to have an objective review is if you only speak about things that are measurable. That isn't how most reviewers operate. Like Michael Fisher, Erica Griffin, Flossy Carter or MKBHD for example. And really, that's understandable. Anyone can read a spec sheet to you and give you the numerical facts. But once you start asking how a device performs, how it feels, how good the pictures are and so on and so forth you have to give an opinion unless all you want is the raw data. Granted, that doesn't automatically mean comparing it to something else, but that is also an easy way to do it. Without shadow, there is nothing to define light. Same concept.

47. MSi_GS70 unregistered

this site is pathetic for kiddos 12-16 ..

9. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Just wait when Apple introduces Air 3 with 4K display and you will see how pixel density matters, lol.

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