Only got a few months left on your phone contract? Itching to get the latest and greatest Android handset? Right now that boils down to two choices: The LG G5 and Samsung Galaxy S7.
Hold on to your hats – this one’s going to be a real slobberknocker:
The fingerprint sensor on the back naturally fits your finger, and leaves the entire front of the phone free for the bright LCD screen. It finally feels like the top-end phone it should be, but its physical appearance is a little unremarkable. Not ugly by any means, but we’d rather take the Galaxy S7 to the prom.
Having said that, the G5 has an innovative detachable base, complete with optional update modules and a removable battery, which gives the G5 a unique feature that should help it stand out for quite some time. These modules have yet to hit shelves however, so time will tell just how much they’ll improve the G5’s base functionality. The ability to swap out for a full spare battery will however be invaluable to power users.
Samsung hasn’t really changed up the formula from last year’s Galaxy S6, with a metal frame and glass on the front and back, but subtle changes to the rounded corners and a curved back make it both more comfortable to hold in the hand, while retaining the elegance achieved by its metal and glass combination. The S7 has 2.5D glass that curves into the frame, iPhone-style, which contributes to its sleek design. Oh, and it’s waterproof too, which could seal the deal if you’re accident prone.
Design is purely subjective of course, but based purely on looks alone, the Galaxy S7 edges ahead in this first round.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7
SCREEN DREAMS ARE MADE OF THESE
Size is where the similarities end however. The Galaxy S7 uses Samsung’s Super AMOLED Panel, while the G5 is rocking an LCD affair. Both screens are excellent, offering punchy colours and crystal clear photos, videos and text.
The Galaxy S7 will be more up your street if you prefer true blacks, thanks to its AMOLED DNA. It also offers the ability to tweak the colour saturation, while the G5 does not.
Samsung’s AMOLED panel also has another benefit. Because AMOLED displays turn off black pixels, the always-on lock screen clock is easy to read on the Galaxy S7. The G5 suffers in this respect, as it’s too dim to read most of the time. Presumably this is because the G5’s screen has to light up each pixel, forcing LG to stick to a dim screen to help save battery. It’s a shame, as the G5’s always-on screen shows notifications for all apps, while Samsung’s one only supports the company’s own apps.
This is something that LG could potentially tweak with a software update, but for now, the Galaxy S7 has the upper hand.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7
The main sensor has a standard 75° FOV, which is pretty much like any smartphone camera, but the second sensor has an ultra-wide 135° FOV. That means tall buildings, big group photos, and panoramas will be much easier to snap.
It’s got a laser for fast autofocusing, a full manual mode including manual focus (which the S7 also supports), and a unique set of analog film grain filters that match particular brands of film, to give your Instagram snaps that authentic retro look.
The Galaxy S7 has a smaller pixel count, dropping from 16MP in the S6 to 12MP here. The pixel size has grown, though, which should help when it comes to low-light shooting, and the stacked sensor design allows for dual-mode autofocusing. Basically, it’s lightning fast; press the shutter button and it’s almost guaranteed to be in focus.
Both phones also have optical image stabilisation to eliminate camera shake, which should leave your shots looking crisp and clear.
Impressive stuff from both camps then, but which one has the better camera? It depends.
While both offer superb shots in well lit conditions, the G5 is the better choice as its wide-angle lens can cram far more into the picture without anything getting chopped off. This makes it ideal for large group shots, landscape shots, buildings – anything really.
The S7 on the other hand performs a tad better in low light conditions, serving up less noise and grain, and more detail, than its LG rival.
Both cameras are excellent though, and you won’t be disappointed with either one. For that reason, this round is a draw.
POWER AND LONGEVITY
Exynos or Snapdragon, it doesn’t really matter any more – the G5 and the Galaxy S7 are going to be blisteringly quick no matter where in the world you buy it. Both handsets have Qualcomm’s blazing-fast Snapdragon 820 processor, and 4GB of RAM is the standard across the board, too.
Despite sharing the same processor however, the Galaxy S7 did come out on top in our benchmarks. Larger numbers mean little in the real world however, and we can happily report that both handsets serve up more than enough power, with slick performance and fast response times. No matter which one you spring for, you won’t be left wanting for power.
The S7 gives you more storage in-built choices, but that doesn’t really matter when both phones have microSD card slots, so they’re equal on this front too.
Battery life could be the decider; the vanilla S7 has a 3000mAh battery, while the G5 has a smaller 2800mAh offering. In practice both handsets comfortably offer a day of use, but the G5’s innovative removable battery means you can go immediately from 0-100% in a matter of seconds – ideal for extremely heavy users, or long-haul journeys.
The Galaxy S7’s battery is non-removable, but it does last longer overall. Both options have their benefits. If you’re not one to swap batteries then the Galaxy S7 will appeal to you more.
Sure, the icons are different and the app drawer is still the right-most icon on the home screen rather than in the middle like on vanilla Android, but otherwise it feels very much like Google’s take on the OS.
That’s not quite true of the G5. LG has gone with its own skin, of course, and while the notification drawer feels mostly unchanged, the app drawer is no more.
Instead, you get iPhone-style multiple home screens, which may not go down well with western customers.
Both phones have plenty of pre-installed apps (although far less than in previous years, bloatware haters) including Samsung and LG versions of Google’s own features, but it’s relatively easy to hide the biggest offenders if you don’t plan on using them.
And as is always the case with Android, you can simply install a third-party launcher (we recommend Nova) from the app store, letting you customise everything to your heart’s content.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S7 VS LG G5: VERDICT
For us, the Galaxy S7 is the better-looking of the two, with a camera that performs in an arguably more-important area (low light conditions). Its battery, although non-removable, does last longer, and you’ll appreciate its water-resistant powers if you ever have a nasty spill.
The G5 on the other hand is an amazing choice for people who really hammer their gadgets, as its removable battery gives you potentially unlimited power, as long as you don’t mind carrying around a few spares. Its wide-angle camera is also great for taking shots without having to compromise on what you want to fit into the frame.
For us, the Galaxy S7 plays it safe, but nails almost every single feature you’d expect to find in a top class smartphone. The G5 on the other hand, with its module support, will probably be the choice for die-hard Android fans who are craving something a little different. Either way, you definitely won’t regret your decision.