Part 2: Hardware / Accessories
The next section of our continuing series goes on to discuss hardware. Simply put there are people who care about specifics of what is on board and those who don't. Based on some reader feedback, it's easy to get lost in the hardware; so what I intend to do here is to give you the basic information.. and provide you with some links so that those interested have easy access to more details. Then I'll share with you my impressions which are based on my own observations during my time spent with the devices as well as the information prepared in the links to follow.
With regards to general accessories I prefer to travel light, using either a minimal case of a Rhinoshield Bumper. In general since these are the two biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world you can find pretty much anything you are looking for for either device.
The best way to compare the hardware is in a detailed review. A great site for comparing phones side by side (literally) is Phone Arena.. I highly recommend you check them out. For those interested feel free to navigate to their link below on these 2 particular devices. Afterwards I'll discuss some of my impressions.
Based on this information, here are some the basic impressions. The Galaxy s7 has a larger screen with a significantly higher resolution. Simply put, there are more pixels on the display, both because the display is larger, but also because they are more dense. The PPI (pixels per inch) of the iPhone 7 comes in at 326 while the s7 nearly doubles that at 576. There are other differences as well, Samsung using AMOLED displays while Apple has stuck with the LCD display. This is not to say that the iPhone's display is lacking. In fact on a smaller display it is hard to see the difference.. especially when you are streaming content, however.. when you are on a good internet connection and can punch up the s7's display to 2k resolution.. and watch content in 2k, you will likely notice a difference. The result of this larger more powerful display means of course that the other internals of Samsung's phone must have enough power to support it. As a result the phone is slightly taller, wider, and heavier (details in the link above). It also had about more RAM. All in all it's remarkable that Samsung can pack so much hardware into a frame so similar in size.
In order to power that beautiful display, Samsung of course also needed to ensure the battery would have significant capacity to keep the phone charged all day. As a result the battery on the s7 rings in at 3,000mAh compared to 1,960mAh used by the iPhone. Although it may seem like a huge difference the impact on overall battery performance is less drastic than one would initially expect. The reason for that has to do with several different criteria, including software and hardware optimizations used by each respective manufacturer. Apple has done a good job at making sure that the smaller battery has pretty stellar performance. It's hard for me to pick a definitive winner, as they both averaged out to very similar endurance for me. With moderate usage, I'd usually need to charge by the end of the day, regardless which device I was using.
Of note, is the major differences in charging technology used by each manufacturer. The iPhone employs the use of the proprietary lightning charger, while the Galaxy s7 uses micro USB with quick charge 2.0 technology. Common sense would tell us that the smaller battery found on the iPhone would mean it would simply charge faster, but remarkably that is actually not the case when using the charger packaged in the box. In fact the iPhone actually took almost twice the time! One of my favorite tech You-Tube channels.. Supersaf TV has a couple of really interesting videos on the topic. If you are interested I'd encourage you to check them out in the links listed below. The first link shows the charging speed test, and the second link explains how the iPhone can actually support faster charging speeds, but that the cable packaged inside the box severely limits the phone's ability to charging speed.
The camera's on both devices are also very similar, using 12 megapixel camera's with wide aperatures to improve low light performance. As is true with many high end phones today, I find myself preferring different cameras for different situations. So if you are interested at in in depth comparison feel free to check out another video by SuperSaf TV.
Both phones start at 32gb of storage. If you find yourself constantly needing more space, the Samsung Galaxy s7 can provide expandable storage via micro sd card slot. On the iPhone the only way to upgrade your storage is to buy more expensive versions of the phone that contain more, and higher quality faster storage. The advantage here in my opinion goes to the s7. Expandable storage is far more useful and cost effective.
Other Hardware topics...
Both phones, are aesthetically pleasing, using high end materials like metal and glass. I honestly prefer the metal used on the iPhone, but the glass being used by Samsung allows the use of wireless charging which is absolutely great. Both phones have fingerprint scanners and water resistance, with the slight advantage going to the increased resistance on the Samsung device. Either one should be safe for a swim in the pool as long as you don't let it sink to the bottom for too long.
The iPhone 7 decided to switch from a physical hardware button this year in favor of a capacitive embedded button. At first I wasn't so sure about it, but the improved tactile engine found on the iPhone made it feel almost like the real thing, and now I actually prefer it over the button found on the s7. Another nod goes to Apple for their ringer toggle, found right next to the volume key. It's something so simple, found on nearly every iteration of the iPhone, but it's consistently useful. Another slight advantage goes to the iPhone in their use of "stereo" speakers this year. The iPhone 7 includes a second speaker embedded in the earphone to create a more immersive experience. To be perfectly fair though, neither one of these phones sound very good using the built in speakers, which probably has to do with the rubber gaskets used to make these phones water resistant.
Lastly, Apple decided that 2016 was the end of headphone jack, at least on the iPhone.. as it can still be found on all of their other devices including the iPads and macbooks released. Apple argued that the technology is outdated, and simply did not fit in the phone. To listen to music on the iPhone 7 and presumably its successors you will need to use either the lightning headphones included in the box, or the adapter which plugs into the lightning port, allowing you to use your 3.5mm headphones. Just don't expect to charge your phone and listen to music at the same time without the use of an adapter or wireless headphones. While I tend to agree the century old headphone jack is outdated, and much higher fidelity music can be generated via more modern connections, it's hard to see this as anything more than an attempt to make money. Apple's proprietary lightning port and the certification needed to make a certified "for use with iphone" cables is a legitimate source of income for the company. Other phone manufacturers have already started jumping on board, and ditching the headphone jack, but personally I hope this trend takes a few more years. The convenience of 3.5mm headphones is still something I prefer not to live without. Now for a moment of silence for the headphone jack....
When it comes to value, the topic gets abit more tricky. If you were to look at things from a strictly hardware perspective, the s7 seems to offer more. It has a larger, higher resolution display. A larger battery, that charges faster and wirelessly. The s7 also has more ram, better water resistance, a comparable camera, expandable memory and a headphone jack. This is why many people who are loyal to Android argue that Apple devices are just too expensive. I'd personally argue that both devices are too expensive considering the budget phones that are available now, and the lower price point found on tablets with similar power. The truth is the user experience while very different, is not noticeably better or worse on either device, it will largely come down to how you use the device and what you plan to use it for. At the end of the day, it all boils down to how you want to spend your money and where you place that value.
That just about wraps up this section. Interested in more? Stay tuned, as we conclude in the final part of this series by discussing Cloud Storage / Apps and Impressions. As always feel free to reach out to me, and leave any comments or feedback.. my twitter handle is @tryallbyfire