As usual, the Korean rivalry is back between Samsung and LG, how will the flagships of each compare in 2016?
It’s been quite an exciting year so far, from the outset 2016 has seen some really rather fantastic handsets launched and the vast majority have been part of the Android space. We’ve now seen the HTC 10 and the Huawei P9 (together with the Huawei P9 Plus) emerge as seriously compelling contenders, but things kicked off quite impressively at MWC in late February when both Samsung and LG unveiled their respective flagships. On the very same day, February 21, mere hours before the expo began, LG unwrapped the LG G5 with its modular base compartment, premium metal build, and a dual-sensor camera; while Samsung took the wraps off both the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, fashioned from metal and glass, with waterproof construction and the best display technology on the market.
Of course the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge pack a lot of the same tech, hardware and features, but they’re not completely identical; the Galaxy S7 edge is a bit larger with a curved edge display, and it packs a slightly bigger battery cell too. Here we’ll be focusing on the regular Galaxy S7 though.
The LG G5 and Samsung Galaxy S7 are arguably two of the biggest Android handsets of the year. As of April 4, reports have emerged from analysts in Asia who estimate Samsung has shipped as many as 10 million Galaxy S7 series handsets during March, the one month period since the phone launched onto the market. These are just estimates, of course, and Samsung is yet to release sales and shipping figures, and it has not commented on the reports yet either. However, assuming there’s some authenticity here, that is an impressive bump up from earlier estimates of 7 million, and much more in-line with Samsung’s own predictions from pre-order figures that it will outsell its earlier Galaxy S flagships. Analysts have now raised their 2016 forecasts for Samsung as a result, and the firm’s shares have seen a bit of a boost too.
But which of these two handsets is the best? Let’s find out!
Samsung Galaxy S7 vs LG G5: Design & Display
We’re getting pretty familiar with this scenario now: most of the rumours for both handsets were pretty much spot on, so design wise there aren’t many surprises.
Starting with the Galaxy S7, as per the rumour mill the design is very similar indeed to last year’s Galaxy S6, near identical, in fact, with just a few extra subtle curves on the back panel that you might miss if you blink. This is all fine, of course, you won’t hear a peep of criticism from me about the aesthetics of the Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S7 as I think they’re both stellar looking devices with a very interesting shape, as well as being solidly well-made from high-end, premium feel materials; glass and metal. There are some differences though, and they’re of the more hidden variety, such as the return of a microSD slot and full IP68 waterproofing. That latter is achieved through coating the components and ports with a protective layer, so there’s no need for any of those daft port covers.
The Galaxy S7 is a 5.1in handset with a Super AMOLED display featuring a QHD (2560 x 1440 pixel) resolution at 577ppi. Samsung has also added an “Always On” display feature, allowing the phone to make full use of the ability of OLED tech to selectively power individual pixels to show a limited set of information on-screen. Basically, even when the phone is asleep it can show notifications, a clock, or a calendar in a low-power mode.
All of the above pretty much applies to the Galaxy S7 edge as well, although obviously this model has the curved edge display and design from the Galaxy S6 edge, giving it a slightly different look which is very refined and sleek. The Galaxy S7 edge is larger than its predecessor and its Galaxy S7 stable-mate, however, with a bigger 5.5in display at 534ppi. Samsung has also expanded the edge display screen functionality to allow for more apps, shortcuts and information to be stored and displayed on the edge panel.
The LG G5 is in some ways familiar alongside older LG models like the LG G4, but also quite distinct at the same time. For starters, the whole thing is fabricated from metal – magnesium, to be precise – which is a first for LG, and almost the entirety of the thing is a sleek unibody design, with some elegant curves and refined angles here and there to spice things up. The only noticable break in the chassis is where the LG G5’s mega-party-trick comes into play; a removable modular base segment which allows access to the battery and card slots, but has also been developed with modular accessories in mind. So far, LG has demonstrated some XXL battery packs, a Bang & Olafson audio unit, and a custom camera module with built-in physical keys, but this is open to third-party developers so the possibilities are quite tantalising.
Samsung Galaxy S7 vs LG G5: Specs & Hardware
Samsung Galaxy S7:
Dimensions: 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm, 152g (Galaxy S7 edge: 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm, 157g) Display: 5.1in Super AMOLED, QHD 2560×1440 pixels, 577ppi (Galaxy S7 edge: 5.5in, 534ppi)
OS: Android Marshmallow
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820/Samsung Exynos 8890
Storage Options: 32GB/64GB
Imaging: 12 MP, LED flash, f/1.7 aperture, 1.4um pixels, 100% dual-pixel phase detection
Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 3000mAh battery (Galaxy S7 edge: 3600mAh)
Dimensions: 149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7 mm, 159g Display: 5.3in IPS LCD QHD 2560×1440 pixel, 554ppi
OS: Android Marshmallow
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Storage Options: 32GB
Imaging: 16MP/8MP dual-camera, OIS, laser autofocus, dual-LED flash
Battery: Removable Li-Po 2800 mAh battery
Samsung has been a bit irritating this year by “pulling an Apple” on some of the hardware specs, that is to say; not fully disclosing them and instead selectively dropping stats it wants us to hear. The pre-launch rumours told us for some time that with the Galaxy S7 series, just as with previous models, there would be both Qualcomm Snapdragon-based and Samsung Exynos-based processor variants, with 4GB of RAM. Samsung hasn’t officially talked about any of that, instead preferring to tell all that CPU performance is 30% faster, while GPU performance is 64% faster. Despite the lack of detail, these assertions, if true, are undoubtedly good news. What’s also neat is the addition of a PC-style liquid-cooled heat pipe and heatsink to dissapate heat away from the processor when under heavy workloads.
Samsung also didn’t mention the onboard storage space, although earlier leaks have implied the base model is a 32GB setup. There’s also no Type-C USB port, instead you get the old type (not exactly a deal-breaker, mind), but you do get up-to-date 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and NFC, just as you do inside the LG G5. The Galaxy S7 handsets, as expected, don’t have removable battery cells, but you do get a fairly hefty 3000mAh inside the S7 and 3600mAh inside the S7 edge.
Meanwhile, LG was pretty upfront about the use of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC with 4GB of RAM to power things along nicely, putting it on a similar footing to at least one of Samsung’s device variants. The battery is smaller than Samsung’s, and smaller than rumour implied at only 2800mAh, but you can remove and replace it – so swings and roundabouts.
Samsung Galaxy S7 vs LG G5: Camera
Cameras are really getting a makeover in many 2016 handsets and both Samsung and LG have gone to efforts to come up with something interesting.
Samsung has actually reduced its megapixel rating down to a 12MP sensor, but has tweaked things in other areas that count for more – like a world first dual-pixel sensor with 100% phase-detection autofocus, a very wide f/1.7 aperture, and a larger light-absorbing 1.4um pixel size. Reportedly the focus speed, image quality and low-light performance are all pretty special.
LG hasn’t exactly slouched either though, with a dual-sensor setup featuring both 16MP 75° wide-angle and 8MP 135° wide-angle cameras on the rear with f/1.8 and f/2.4 apertures respectively, as well as a return of LG’s now-familiar laser autofocus, optical stabilisation and 4K video recording. As with previous implementations of dual-cameras the idea here is capturing a LOT of visual data and then allowing plenty of clever post-processing and editing after capture.