Do we have a good one for you today – the infamous Samsung Galaxy S7 takes on the new flagship, the OnePlus 3. Both of these devices could not be further apart when it comes to their philosophies. Samsung is all about packing as much technology and build quality into their smartphones and charging a premium price. OnePlus believes in packing a reasonable amount of technology into a nicely built device and selling it as cheaply as possible. These different approaches seem to work for both the companies and their target customers. Samsung took the solid metal frame with a glass backing approach, while OnePlus decided to take the all-metal approach – making both devices look the part of a premium flagship with the Galaxy S7 winning in the elegance department – as well as the fingerprint department. We are going into this comparison knowing that the Galaxy S7 has better overall specs than the OnePlus 3, however, there is something to be said for a $270 price difference and that is something we will explore throughout this comparison. Let's look at some of the similarities between these two devices before we look at each one individually.
It comes as no surprise that the Galaxy S7 and the OnePlus 3 have very few things in common with one another – certainly, the price is not one of them with the Galaxy S7 running about $670 and the OnePlus 3 about $400. They both use AMOLED technology for their displays but are different sizes and different resolutions. In the US version of the Galaxy S7, both devices are using a Snapdragon 820 processor, but they employ different amounts of RAM and internal storage. Both devices have a fingerprint sensor to unlock devices and to authorize mobile payments. They each have a non-removable 3000mAh battery, and each one has a fast charge system. Both have the usual suspects – WiFi, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS, NFC and a USB connection (V2.0 microUSB on the Galaxy S7 and v2.0 Type-C on the OnePlus 3) for charging and data transfer.
Please take a careful 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 device in greater depth 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 S7
The Samsung Galaxy S7, which helps set the standards for new smartphones each year, did not change after last year's complete makeover in their use of materials. The Galaxy S7 still looks like a Samsung Galaxy device, and there is no denying that. Samsung, as always, refined the exterior design and on the interior, they added the newest processors, and completely revamped the camera area – thankfully for the better.
The Galaxy S7 sports a beautiful 5.1-inch Super AMOLED 'always-on' display with a QHD resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, which produces 577 pixels-per-inch (PPI.) There are two versions of the Galaxy S7 – the model bound for the US gets the newest 64-bit Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor with dual cores clocked at 1.6GHz and dual cores clocked at 2.15GHz. For those in other countries, your Galaxy S7 will get a Samsung Exynos 8890 octa-core processor with four cores clocked at 1.6GHz and four cores clocked at 2.3GHz. The Galaxy S7 packs 4GB of DDR4 RAM and has 32GB of the faster UFS 2.0 memory, as well as possible expansion up to 200GB via a microSD card.
Most of us in the tech world were expecting a larger camera in the new Galaxy S7 – rumors peaked of a 21MP shooter – but, to the surprise of us all, Samsung used a new Dual Pixel 12MP camera that has a larger sensor than the old 16MP. This new sensor allows much more light and detail onto the sensor for better low-light shots. Samsung did not stop there – they increased the aperture to f/1.7, included a faster phase detection autofocus (PDAF), auto HDR and they retained the OIS. The Galaxy S7 comes with a 5MP sensor for its front-facing camera (FFC), added a wide-angle lens, a large f/1.7 aperture, and Live HDR, which should allow for excellent low-light selfies and video chatting. A 3000mAh non-removable battery powers the Galaxy S7 and features Quick Charge 2.0 and Quick Wireless Charging for both Qi and PMA standards.
What features have we not already discussed, distinguish the Galaxy S7 from the OnePlus 3? Just as I mentioned in the beginning, the Galaxy S7 certainly has better specs in most areas – the 4GB versus 6GB is the only exception, although recent tests have shown that the Galaxy S7 is faster than the OnePlus 3. In real terms, we can start with the display – it uses the always-on technology to save battery life, it has a QHD resolution rather than FHD, and it is a Super AMOLED display. The Galaxy S7 has room to expand internal memory, is IP68 certified against dust and water and offers more LTE bands in the US. The Galaxy S7 has both Android Pay as well as Samsung Pay to make mobile purchases just about anywhere you can swipe a credit or debit card. The Galaxy S7 has a heart rate monitor and oxygen saturation sensor. The Galaxy S7 also offers quick wireless charging. The Galaxy S7 measures 142.4 x 69.9 x 7.9 mm, weighs in at 152 grams and is available in Black, White, Gold, and Silver costs about $670.
OnePlus and Samsung could not be more different, and it shows in their approach to smartphones. OnePlus has always built a quality product, but they never have the top-of-the-line of everything in one smartphone – they kind of shoot for the outer bullseye, leave a few obvious things off, and then charge a great price. People are willing to overlook some of their shortcomings because they are such a good bargain – however, some corners have to be cut to come in at a certain price level. Their new model, the OnePlus 3, is their closest model yet to directly hitting the bullseye – the biggest drawbacks are the lack of a Quad HD display and no ability to expand its internal memory. Many potential customers would love to see a QHD display and expandable memory with a modest increase in price. This new all-metal design is very similar to the rest of the OnePlus lineup – a minimalistic look that is more business-like than having any WOW factor.
The OnePlus 3 sports a new display – gone is the IPS LCD and in comes a new 5.5-inch FHD Optic AMOLED display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and roughly 401 PPI. The new AMOLED display should offer much better color contrasts than the old LCD on the OnePlus 2. The newest Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor with a dual-core clocked at 1.6GHz and another at 2.15GHz provides the brains, and an Adreno 530 GPU provides the graphics – games, virtual reality, videos, or movies. OnePlus then packed in a full 6GB of DDR4 RAM and 64GB of the faster UFS 2.0 internal storage, although there are no means to expand.
OnePlus took the camera area seriously, and there are massive improvements over the OnePlus 2. There is a new 16MP shooter, with fast PDAF (Phase Detection Autofocus), LED Flash, a larger f/2.0 aperture, and both OIS and EIS. The FFC camera has jumped from 5MP to 8MP with a f/2.0 aperture for better selfies and video chatting. Pete Lau himself, as well as many others, have posted pictures that look excellent. OnePlus did make one of their "why did you do that" decisions and lowered the battery from 3300mAh to 3000mAh in the OnePlus 3, but included rapid charging they call Dash Charge for up to a 60-percent charge in only 30 minutes.
Observations on the OnePlus 3 – we are happy to see that OnePlus included BOTH the fingerprint sensor and NFC on the same device, as this allows for authorizing mobile or Android Pay purchases with a swipe of your finger. It runs mostly stock Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out-of-the-box with OnePlus' OS called OxygenOS on top. It measures 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35mm, weighs in at 158 grams, and will cost you about $399 USD for the 6GB/64GB model. It will come in Graphite, with Soft Gold arriving later. It started selling in the US and Europe on June 14th and India and China on June 15th.
…And The Winner Is…
This decision was very tough for me, but I am picking the OnePlus 3 as the winner of this comparison. Yes, I realize that based on pure specs, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is the superior device – it has the QHD Super AMOLED display, the ability to expand its memory, IP68 dust and water resistance, Samsung Pay, the heart and oxygen sensors, and wireless charging – but it costs $270 more.
For value, the OnePlus 3 puts an AMOLED display on the table – sure, it is only a Full HD display, but many users are fine with a 1080p display. It packs 6GB of DDR4 RAM, 2GB more than the Galaxy S7, and uses 64GB of the faster UFS 2.0 internal memory, just like the Galaxy S7 – although there is no room for expansion. True, there are no heart or oxygen monitors, Samsung Pay, wireless charging, or expanded LTE Bands – but the essential basics are there. Some people will never use all of the 'extras' that Samsung throws in, making that $270 in savings look pretty good.
There are many specials – BOGO – with the Galaxy S7, and if that is the case, then jump on the Galaxy S7. But strictly looking at retail pricing, the OnePlus 3 offers great value for the dollar.