The iPhone 6s, Samsung Galaxy S7and LG G5 are going to dominate phone sales in the U.S. this year. They just are. Between them, Apple and Samsung own the vast majority of the U.S. postpaid market, and LG has been in a solid third position for several years now.
I’ve used all of them, and they’re all really, really good phones. Here’s a quick rundown of how some of their key features compare. For more details, including a step-by-step look at benchmarks and comparative photos, see the YouTube video below.
Pretty much everything I say here about the Galaxy S7 also holds for the Galaxy S7 Edge, often even more so: the Edge has even better battery life and a more striking design, which made it our Editors’ Choice for smartphones right now.
The iPhone is the smallest phone and the easiest to hold, followed by the Galaxy S7; the G5 is the widest, at about 2.9 inches. The G5 and iPhone are both more durable than the Galaxy S7, which has an eminently crackable glass back. The S7 is the only one of the three that’s waterproof.
SquareTrade did drop tests on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, and found them to be more fragile than the iPhone—probably because they use a glass back rather than a metal one. Because the LG G5 also uses a metal casing, we anticipate it will be slightly more durable than the Galaxy S7 as well.
The Galaxy S7’s 5.1-inch screen is the leader. A super-bright, quad-HD AMOLED panel, it’s extremely sharp and visible in all conditions, and the “always on” component is very readable. LG’s 5.3-inch screen is also quad HD and always on, but on our pre-production unit the “always on” display was much dimmer than the one on the S7. The LG uses an LCD screen, which some people say offers better balanced colors than the S7’s. The iPhone’s screen is very similar to the LG’s, although it’s smaller and lower density. You still can’t see the individual pixels.
The Galaxy S7 and LG G5 cameras both outstrip the iPhone. All three take pretty much indistinguishable photos in good light. The G5 comes with dual main cameras, one of which is wide-angle. That’s a cool difference. You can also add the Cam+ add-on, which makes the phone bulkier but adds a dual-detent shutter button and quick-access camera on switch. The S7 has the best low-light performance of the three, but only by a nose over the G5, which, as I’ve been saying, was a pre-production model and yet to be tuned.
The Galaxy S7 has the best battery life of the bunch. In our standard battery test, we got 9 hours of video playback time on the S7, as opposed to about 7 hours on the G5 and only 4.5 hours on the iPhone.
The G5 has another advantage: a removable battery, which can also be replaced with a larger battery such as the 4000mAh battery in the LG Cam+ accessory. Both the G5 and the S7 have quick charging (the iPhone doesn’t), although only the S7 has wireless charging.
The iPhone comes in capacities up to 128GB. The G5 and S7 only come in 32GB. However, the G5 and S7 both support MicroSD memory cards. Only the S7 lets you move big apps onto the memory card, though. On the G5, you can only move data files like music and videos.
The Galaxy S7 and LG G5 both have the latest Snapdragon 820 processor, with Qualcomm’s TruSignal antenna tuner. That means better connections in poor signal areas than on the iPhone 6s, which I saw in testing the Galaxy S7.
The 6s’s advantage is in carrier flexibility. Samsung, and I’m presuming LG, will allow the four major wireless carriers to block each others’ LTE frequency bands, which means you can’t move a phone bought for one carrier onto another. Apple’s phones work equally well on every carrier.
Apple may not have the hardware, but it has the apps. Especially in terms of gaming and social networks, great apps usually come to the iPhone platform first. The lower resolution of Apple’s screen also pays off in spectacular gaming frame rate performance. While Apple’s GPU is not necessarily more powerful than the Snapdragon 820, it can pull off much closer to 60 frames per second than LG and Samsung can, making for a smoother gaming experience. Apple’s phones also receive new features and updates much more frequently than phones from Samsung and LG.
Since we only have a pre-production LG G5, I can’t draw final conclusions about its performance. But it’s clear that the Samsung Galaxy S7 outstrips the iPhone 6s on almost every measure, except for the critical issues of apps, bloatware, and updates. As for the G5, stay tuned for our final reviews when the phone actually comes to U.S. carriers in early April.