Do we have a good one for you today – the Samsung Galaxy S6 goes head-to-head with its successor, the Galaxy S7. Both devices are very similar, especially when it comes to the outside design – both made with a beautifully sculptured aircraft-grade aluminum frame that surrounds glass on both sides. Samsung did curve the top of the display slightly downward on the Galaxy S7 as it does add a little to the looks, but Samsung claims it is also more comfortable on your ear. Last year, Samsung redesigned the Galaxy S6 from the drawing board, so this was the year of refinements and correcting some past mistakes – not all of them, but enough to make the Galaxy S7 standout from the Galaxy S6.
Although a year apart, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S7 share many commonalities – for starters they are almost identical in physical dimensions with the Galaxy S7 slightly thicker and weighing in at 14 grams heavier…more than likely from the larger battery. The both sport a 5.1-inch QHD Super AMOLED display with 577 pixels-per-inch (PPI). They both use a 64-bit processor – the Galaxy S6 exclusively used the Samsung Exynos 7420 octa-core processor, but with the Galaxy S7, depending on what country you live in, will get either their newest Exynos 8890 octa-core processor or the Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor. The RAM is different, but you have a choice of 32GB or 64GB of internal memory. Both models still use a 5MP sensor for the front-facing camera (FFC). Both have a non-removable battery, but different in size and both offer rapid charge and wireless charging. Both have a fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device or for using Samsung Pay or authorizing mobile purchases with Marshmallow onboard. The Galaxy S6 and S7 also have the usual suspects – WiFi, Bluetooth (v4.1 on the S6 and v4.2 on the S7), GPS, NFC, microUSB v2.0 port for charging and data transfer. Both devices sport a heart rate sensor and oxygen saturation monitor.
Please take a deliberate look at the detailed Specifications Comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another – click on the "View Full Comparison" link at the end of the chart to expand the details. After that, we will look at each individual device in greater detail and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.
Samsung Galaxy S6
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is a device that Samsung desperately needed after their less than stellar release and subsequent lower sales of the Galaxy S5. From all the new materials to the new specifications and to the sum of all its parts, the new Galaxy S6 appears to be receiving a warm reception. Samsung went from a plastic Galaxy S5 to metal and glass – the same theme used in the Galaxy S7. Both devices are very similar on the outside and both devices still look premium and feel great in your hand.
The 5.1-inch display is Samsung's own Super AMOLED with a Quad HD (QHD) resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and 577 pixels-per-inch (PPI). The Galaxy S7 takes this display and adds the "always-on" feature. The Galaxy S6 uses Samsung's own 64-bit Exynos 7420 octa-core with four cores clocked at 1.5 GHz and four cores clocked at 2.1 GHz and a Mali-T760 GPU. The Galaxy S7 may use Samsung's new 8890 octa-core processor or the Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor depending where you live. Samsung put in 3GB of their new, faster DDR4 RAM in the S6, but upped it to 4GB in the S7. They also used their new, faster UFS 2.0 Flash memory and offered 32 GB, 64GB or 128GB configurations with no room for expansion. The Galaxy S7 offers a 32GB or 64GB variant, but added back the option to increase the storage by 200GB via a microSD card.
The award-winning camera will give you great shots. The Galaxy S6 uses a Sony 16MP sensor for the main camera and adds to that autofocus, LED flash, OIS, a large, f/1.9 aperture and Live HDR giving you the ability to take great low-light pictures. The Galaxy S7 camera is a total rework, using Dual Pixels on a 12MP sensor. The FFC is 5MP with the same large f/1.9 aperture, Live HDR and a 120-degree wide angle lens for group selfies or video chats, even in low-light conditions and it appears that the same FFC is used on the Galaxy S7, but includes a few tweaks.
The Galaxy S6 has all of the usual suspects – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.1, GPS, NFC, IR Blaster, and a microUSB v2.0 port for charging and data transfer. It also has heart rate and oxygen saturation sensors, active noise cancellation with dedicated mic, built-in wireless charging, a bottom-mounted speaker and a 2,550 mAh non-removable battery. The Samsung battery will charge for up to four hours of usage in only 10 minutes and includes wireless charging. The Galaxy S6 comes in White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum and an exclusive Blue Topaz. It will now cost you about $580 off-contract.
Samsung Galaxy S7
After last year's total design of the Samsung Galaxy S6 series, the Galaxy S7 is simply an evolutionary makeover. The outside is still the same metal and glass construction and rather hard to distinguish from the Galaxy S6, although the top on the device does have a slight downward curve added to make it more comfortable to hold up to your ear. It is still the same beautiful device, but most of the improvements or changes were done inside.
The Galaxy S7 sports the same 5.1-inch QHD Super AMOLED display found on the Galaxy S6, with a few tweaks here and there giving them both 577 PPI. Samsung did up the screen-to-body ratio from 70.7-percent to 72.1-percent by using slightly smaller bezels and also included an "Always-On" display. All Galaxy S6 models used Samsung's homegrown Exynos 7420 octa-core processor, but for the Galaxy S7 model, they went back to using either their new Exynos 8890 octa-core processor or the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor depending where you are located. The Galaxy S7 uses 4GB of DDR4 RAM – an increase from the 3GB used in the Galaxy S6. The S7 offers 32GB or 64GB of internal UFS 2.0 memory, but added back the ability to expand this to 200GB with a microSD card. The Galaxy S6 offered 32GB, 64GB or 128 GB, but no room for expansion.
The camera area really changed this year – the Galaxy S6 used a 16MP sensor and was one of the best smartphone cameras on the market. This year Samsung is using a new Dual Pixel 12MP with a larger sensor, allowing it to take in more light and information than the 16MP sensor. They also added a very large aperture of f/1.7, increased the speed of autofocus and retained OIS. We cannot wait to get the Galaxy S7 in-house to test the new configuration. The Galaxy S7 uses the same 5MP FFC as the Galaxy S6 with Live HDR, an even larger f/1.7 aperture and 22mm wide-angle lens for selfies and video chatting. The Galaxy S7 battery, though still non-removable, jumped from 2,550 mAh to 3.000 mAh and comes with rapid charge and quick wireless charging.
The Galaxy S7 does offer expandable memory and "always-on" display as well as IP68 water/dust proofing. It maintains all of the usual suspects – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS, NFC and a microUSB v2.0 port for charging and data transfer. It retains the heart rate and oxygen saturation sensors, fingerprint sensor, built-in wireless quick charging, a bottom-mounted speaker and a larger 3,000 mAh non-removable battery. The Samsung battery will charge for up to four hours of usage in only 10 minutes and includes wireless charging. The Galaxy S7 measures 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm, weighs in at 152 grams and will be offered in Black Onyx and Gold Platinum and cost about $670 off-contract.
Samsung 'fixed' a few things on the new Galaxy S7 that they 'broke' when they made the Galaxy S6, such as adding back the memory expansion card and including IP68 water and dust proofing. They did some subtle reworking on the external design – like curving the top edge of the display ever so slightly – it adds a little to the looks and should make it more comfortable holding by your ear for a phone call. It's too early to tell if the camera will be a success with buyers and critics, but we cannot imagine Samsung wanting to give up any ground to LG or the iPhone when it comes to taking pictures.
The new processors – Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890 – coupled with an extra gigabyte of RAM should do nothing but increase the speed and smoothness of the Galaxy S7. The much larger battery should help silence some of the critics upset about it being non-removable, and now the S7 not only provides rapid charge, but even its wireless charging is quicker charging – a feature added to the S6 Edge Plus and Note 5 last year.
With stiff competition from the LG G5 this year, it will be interesting to see if Samsung did enough with their Galaxy S7 or if they are sitting back on their laurels. However, one thing is for sure, the Galaxy S7 certainly is an improvement over the Galaxy S6 which it replaces.