iPhone SE vs. Samsung Galaxy S7

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We line up the Apple iPhone SE (left) and Samsung Galaxy S7, to see how their features and specs compare

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If the two phones you're considering are the iPhone SE and Galaxy S7, then you must have pretty flexible taste. Samsung's is a modern-sized flagship with modern flagship pricing, while Apple's is a budget-priced horsepower upgrade to a teeny-tiny phone from years ago. In other words, the two aren't obvious rivals at all. Nonetheless, being the two biggest names in mobile, someone is sure to wonder – so let's see how they stack up.

Size

See what we mean? The Galaxy S7 is 15 percent taller and 19 percent wider than the iPhone SE. That's a big difference in hand and pocket.

The S7 isn't a big phone at all by today's standards, which puts in perspective just how shrimpy the SE is. It's aimed squarely at smartphone owners who wonder why all of today's good phones are gigantic compared to the phone they owned five or six years ago.

Weight

Being that much smaller, it's no surprise that the iPhone SE is 26 percent lighter.

Build

The SE isn't Apple's most cutting edge design, but it's still a premium phone with an all-metal exterior. The Galaxy S7 and its Edge sibling are arguably the best-looking phones ever made, with their modern blend of glass and metal.

Color options

You have four color options for the iPhone and three for the GS7.

Display size

Holy cow, that's a big screen size discrepancy, as the Galaxy S7's display comes in at 63 percent bigger. And, again, the GS7's screen looks a little small compared to today's phablets, illustrating just how unique the iPhone SE is among today's smartphones.

That isn't, however, a bad thing. On the contrary, we'd like to see more small phones with flagship specs. Just because many of us like bigger screens doesn't mean phablets should be your only option when you go shopping for a powerful phone.

Display resolution

Based on pixel density, the Galaxy S7 has a 77 percent sharper display.

Display type

Just like every other Apple vs. Samsung smartphone comparison we look at, it's IPS vs. AMOLED.

Always-on display

The S7 has an always-on display option, which shows the time, date, battery level and number of incoming text messages even when its screen is off.

Processor

Performance isn't remotely a concern on either phone, as the iPhone SE has the same screaming A9 chip as its 6s and 6s Plus siblings.

RAM

The Galaxy S7 doubles the iPhone's RAM, but iOS has uncommonly good memory management, making this less of an advantage than the specs would suggest.

Storage

Apple is still toying with its customers by putting a mere 16 GB storage in the entry level model (not enough for many people by today's standards), and then letting them quadruple that for "just" an extra US$100. It's a classic upselling technique.

MicroSD

Samsung brought back expandable storage with this year's Galaxy flagships.

Camera megapixels

Both have terrific cameras (the SE's rear camera is the same as the one in the iPhone 6s) but we still give the edge here to Samsung. Stay tuned for our Galaxy S7 review to hear why.

Camera aperture (rear)

The GS7's wider aperture contributes to its excellent low-light photography.

OIS

Battery

The Galaxy S7's battery is nearly twice as big, but that means very little in the way of real-world battery life, when you're comparing a huge 1,440p phone to a tiny 640p one. Check back for our reviews of both phones for more on this.

Fast charging

Apple has yet to put any fast charging tech into its iPhones, something most Android flagships have had for almost a couple of years.

Wireless charging

The S7 also gives you the option of charging wirelessly.

Fingerprint sensor

Both phones have fingerprint sensors, though it's worth noting that Apple is using last-gen Touch ID, which isn't quite as blazing fast as the one found in the iPhone 6s.

Water resistance

In addition to the microSD slot, Samsung also brought back water resistance in its 2016 Galaxies.

VR

Technically there are some (usually crappy) third-party VR headsets that work with iOS devices, but nobody in their right mind would try to use a 4-inch phone in VR – its field of view would be comically narrow.

The GS7 supports the best mobile VR headset (by a long shot), the Samsung Gear VR. It's a far cry from the high-end HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, but still surprisingly good for smartphone-based VR.

Software

It's iOS 9 on the iPhone and Android Marshmallow (with Samsung's TouchWiz UI on top) on the Galaxy.

Release

The GS7 launched earlier this month, while the iPhone SE ships in a few days, at the end of March.

Starting price (full retail)

If you care about screen size and features like expandable storage, water resistance and more modern design, the Galaxy S7 is clearly the better phone. But if you're one of those folks who's been clinging to an iPhone 5s just because the bigger models never tickled your fancy, then the SE should be like a breath of fresh air. Tiny phones may serve a niche audience in today's phabletized world, but kudos to Apple for seizing this opportunity in an industry that's left those shoppers behind.

For more, you can read our full review of the Galaxy S7.

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