Samsung Galaxy S7 vs LG G4: first look
Samsung's Galaxy S7 flagship is fresh out of the oven, and it's just as shiny as we expected it to be. Evolving the glass-on-metal looks of the Galaxy S6 further, the S7 adds subtle arches on the back edges for better ergonomics, and a more polished, rounded-off look that softens its rectangular shape further.
The new Galaxies will definitely give their competitors a run for their money. LG is among Sammy's primary rivals, and while we can't clash the G5 and the S7 directly, here at the MWC 2016 show floor, we were able to bring our G4 along for a quick hands-on comparison with Sammy's newest and best. Let's check them out closer!
Note 5. Its display still has a 5.1-inch diagonal, but its bezels are slightly thinner (70.64% screen-to-body ratio), making it feel nice and compact. As with the Galaxy S6, the S7's front and back are covered by Gorilla Glass 4 and its body is made out of metal. The new flagship sure looks good, but, unfortunately, it still attracts way too many fingerprint smudges – that's just the nature of the glass back, unfortunately. It is also sealed shut, so the battery is, again, not swappable.
With the G4, LG chose to go with a light plastic build, a slightly curved profile, and optional leather-clad back covers. The company's flagship managed to stand out by being different in a year when most smartphones went for full metal, or metal-glass sandwich builds. Its curve is comfy, and its 72.46% screen-to-body ratio makes it feel manageable, despite the fact that it has a 5.5-inch display. The G4's back is removable and can be swapped with any of the other covers, which can be bought separately — users can switch between colors or between leather and plastic backs at will. The phone's battery is also user-accessible for quick swaps.
In terms of design, we have to say the Galaxy S7 certainly has the more alluring, polished, shiny, premium looks. It also offers water-resistance for some peace of mind, which is a huge plus. However, we can see how some users might prefer to go for the non-fingerprint magnet, grippier feel of the LG G4 here.
The Galaxy S7 also has the new “always on display”. Even when the phone is sleeping, it can keep a small number of the screen's pixels lit, drawing a clock, pending notifications, or even calendars. It's a smart feature, in the sense that the display will not glow when the phone is placed upside-down on a table, in a bag, or a pocket, and it will also auto-adjust the brightness with which the pixels glow, based on environment ambiance. The shown image moves around in regular time intervals in order to avoid AMOLED burn-in.
The G4 has a Quantom IPS 5.5-inch screen, also with a 1440 x 2560 resolution. So, it's slightly larger, and still very, very sharp. Its colors are punchy and vivid as well, but slightly off. Unfortunately, there's no way to correct that through software settings or presets.
Samsung's TouchWiz finally looks streamlined and polished. Design elements throughout its various apps and settings fit together in a coherent way, and the interface has been slimmed down to be much less laggy and stuttery than what it was in Galaxy S5 days. Yet it still managed to retain a lot of UX features, such as smart wake / smart call / smart stay, the security manager, et cetera. The interface finally feels like a finished product that runs consistently well throughout.
The LG UI on the G4, we feel, is still a bit chaotic and garbled. While LG has less features on it, navigating through the settings or homescreen options could sometimes be a bit confusing to users new to the interface. LG mentioned this very thing when it said that the interface on the G5 is going to be simplified and streamlined.
If you've been following closely, you probably know that the new LG G5 UI lacks an app drawer and split screen functionality. Apparently, removing them was a step in simplifying the interface, according to LG. We don't know whether the same will happen to the LG G4 with a future software update, but we'd think LG wouldn't want to upset G4 users who are used to having the features.
Processor and Memory
The LG G4 is equipped with a hexa-core Snapdragon 808 and 3 GB of RAM. Not the most powerful processor of the 2015 line, and it often shows. The handset runs smoothly with the occasional stutter, and it can definitely sweat and pant when more demanding tasks are involved.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 has 4 GB of RAM and the brand-new Snapdragon 820 SoC (or Exynos 8890 for select markets) humming under its hood. We ran some quick benchmarks on the Exynos variant, and if they are anything to go by — the Galaxy S7 is going to be a true powerhorse. Powerusers that demand nothing but bleeding edge performance from their handset will find it hard not to go with the Galaxy S7 in this face-off.
In terms of storage, both smartphones offer 32 GB of internal memory and have the option of expanding it via microSD.
Samsung knocked down the resolution of its camera sensor on the Galaxy S7 to 12 MP, from 16 MP on the Galaxy S6. Less pixels, however, also means bigger ones! Well, provided that the sensor is big enough, which in this case – it is. The individual pixels on the Galaxy S7's camera measure at 1.4 μm. The sensor's aperture is also larger than before, measuring at F1.7. This all means that the larger pixels are capable of collecting more light for shorter periods of time, while the bigger aperture also lets more light in, so with both combined, we should get pretty impressive low-light performance.
The G4 has a higher 16 MP resolution, with an F1.8 aperture and 1.12μm. It was a great performer in low-light conditions when compared to competitors back in 2015, but the Galaxy S7 may be able to score a definite win when it comes to dark photos. Unfortunately, we haven't gotten the chance to do a side-by-side comparison yet, but after experiencing both cameras on their own, we can definitely say that both smartphones make great photos.
On the front, the Galaxy S7 has a 5 MP snapper, while the G4 has an 8 MP one. So, in theory, LG's offering could possibly take more detailed mugshots, but, as mentioned, we've yet to side-by-side them in equal conditions.
Inside the Galaxy S7, we have a 3000mAh battery. Given the the alleged power-efficiency 14 nm FinFET process, upon which the Snapdragon 820 and Exynos 8890 were built, we’d expect it to last sufficiently long between charges (pre-launch rumors claimed a 2-day battery life), although we've got to put the handset through its paces to be sure. We are especially curious to see whether the always on display feature drains too much juice.
The LG G4’s battery also holds 3000mAh, but our benchmarks have shown that the phone’s battery life is only average, probably due to the energy demands of its hardware. Oh well, at least the G4’s cell is removable and can be swapped when needed. As long as you have a spare, of course.
One trick that the S7 has up its sleeve is wireless charging. The phone is compatible with pretty much every Qi wireless charging pad around, and even supports rapid wireless charging.
All in all, the Samsung Galaxy S7 looks like an impressive smartphone, capable of giving any of its competitors a run for their money. It is, hands-down, one of the best choices for users that want nothing but the top out of the Android handsets out there. Its design catches the eye, its camera looks very promising, and its hardware should be able to handle anything you throw at it.
The LG G4 could be a worthy alternative, especially since we expect its price to drop now that the G5 has been announced. It may not have as much raw processing power, and it may have a less shiny, plastic build, but the leather-back design has its appeal and that 16MP camera on its back does not disappoint. Besides, the G4 offers you a removable battery, a slightly larger display, albeit with inaccurate colors, and a built-in IR blaster.