Samsung Galaxy S7 edge vs. iPhone 6s Plus
In the old days, the iPhone vs. Galaxy question involved just one flagship phone from each company. Now that both Apple and Samsung have flagships in multiple sizes, lets compare the features and specs of their latest phablets, the Galaxy S7 edge and iPhone 6s Plus.
Remember this category in a minute, when we get to screen size. The iPhone 6s Plus is 5 percent taller and 7 percent wider than the Galaxy S7 edge.
The iPhone is smaller in one dimension, coming in at 5 percent thinner. The Edge does have a curved back and front, though, and its 7.7 mm (0.3-inch) thickness only counts its thickest point.
The smaller Galaxy S7 edge is also 18 percent lighter than the 6s Plus.
You won't find any chintzy plastic here, as you used to on pre-2015 Samsung flagships. The Galaxy S7 edge has a smooth glass (back) and aluminum (frame) build, while the iPhone sticks with its iconic and oft-copied aluminum unibody design.
You have three color options for the Galaxy, along with four for the iPhone.
Remember how much bigger the iPhone is? Well, all that extra real estate in your pocket doesn't give you any more screen real estate. This is a big win for the Galaxy, with its much more economical screen-to-size ratio.
Here's another big win for the Galaxy, with its 33 percent sharper screen. With that said, the 6s Plus' screen doesn't look pixelated by any means, and we're impressed with Apple's combination of white balance, brightness and viewing angles.
AMOLED vs. IPS is a regular tradition when comparing iPhones and Galaxies.
In its 2016 flagships, Samsung added an always-on display that leaves things like time, date and recent notifications on an otherwise dimmed display.
Samsung's Edge series has dual-curved displays that slope off on either side.
Samsung keeps trying to turn this into a practical feature, with app shortcuts and widgets that launch when you swipe over from the edge. But let's be honest: this is mostly about making your phone look damn sexy. There's no shame in that, Samsung.
Some pre-announcement rumors had suggested Samsung would copy 3D Touch in the new Galaxies, but that turned out to be bogus. We're thankful for that, as blindly copying Apple features reinforces an old reputation that diminishes Samsung's own (numerous) innovations.
As for the feature itself, the iPhone's 3D Touch lets you press hard (or harder) on the screen to pop up shortcuts, previews and menus. It's basically a new kind of mobile right-click, which is handy to have, but also not a must-have or killer feature.
Samsung is advertising much better low-light shooting with the S7 and S7 edge, and our brief hands-ons confirm that. It will be interesting to compare their cameras to the iPhone's; we suspect Samsung is going to have the upper hand.
Camera aperture (rear)
In addition to pixel size, camera aperture is one ingredient in that better low-light shooting recipe.
Though Apple's smaller iPhones don't have this, the Plus series joins the S7 edge in having Optical Image Stabilization. When shooting, it can cut down on the effects of over-caffeinated, shaky hands.
Physical camera shortcut
A simple home button double-tap to launch the camera app was one of Samsung's smartest additions last year. That shortcut is back for its 2016 Galaxies.
Many other factors play into battery life, but the Galaxy S7 edge does have a 31 percent bigger (higher-capacity) battery. When we review the new Galaxy, we'll see how this fares in a real-world battery test.
Now ubiquitous among Android flagships, fast charging has yet to come to the iPhone. Samsung is sticking with the old Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0, though, not the newer QC 3.0 found in the LG G5.
You can also wirelessly charge the GS7 edge.
Both batteries are locked like a chastity belt.
Samsung threw in some advanced liquid cooling in its new flagships, likely designed to extend playtimes for the next category.
Technically there are some third-party VR headsets that will support iPhones, but right now that doesn't make for a good experience (even if you put the sketchy hardware aside, the App Store has a crummy selection of VR content).
The Gear VR, though, is far and away the best mobile VR today, letting you snap your Galaxy phone inside to create a wireless VR console that's a terrific entry-level sneak peek of the high-end experiences you'll get from the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
... and if you pre-order the Galaxy S7 edge (only a little time left for that) you get a free Gear VR, which normally costs US$99.
Forget these specs on paper, as the actual performance of Apple's mobile chips often outperforms silicon with more cores and higher clock speeds. With that said, Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 820 looks like a beast and, being a 2016 chip next to Apple's 2015, will likely be a bit faster. Stay tuned for our benchmarks and impressions.
If you don't buy your Galaxy in the US, China or Japan, then you'll get a variant with an octa-core Samsung Exynos 8990 in its place.
The Galaxy doubles the iPhone's RAM, but this can also be deceiving on paper, as iOS has outstanding memory management.
If you live in the US, your beloved wireless carriers have deemed it unnecessary to give you the option of buying a 64 GB or 128 GB Galaxy S7 or S7 edge. We find that annoying, but at least the next category will help out.
Fortunately the Galaxy S7 pair have expandable storage to help you make the most of that 32 GB on the inside.
Both phones have excellent, touch-based fingerprint sensors living inside their home buttons.
The S7 edge has IP68 water resistance, so you can take it with you in your next bath or hot tub, and also not worry about clumsily flinging it into a pool or toilet (ew!).
If you're eyeing the Galaxy S7 edge and live in the US, March 11 is the big date to circle on your calendar.
Starting price (full retail)
Starting full retail prices (which US shoppers will either pay all at once or in installments over two years) are very similar, with the Galaxy coming out around $30-50 extra. Just remember that the S7 edge gives you double the internal storage, along with expandable storage, for around the same price. Apple's 16 GB (entry-level) iPhone is very hard to recommend, with the sizes of apps, photo files and video files taking up more space than ever.