The dust hasn’t quite settled and two of the best smartphones of the year are still going face to face in this harsh mobile race. We are talking about the LG G5 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Today we are giving you a thorough comparison of these two, so keep reading if you are still wondering which phone to buy next.
- LG G5 review
- Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review
- LG G5 and Galaxy S7 in 20 seconds
This year LG decided to go in a completely different direction with its new flagship. Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge takes a familiar design approach we saw introduced with last year’s Galaxy S6, refining it to fit the needs of 2016.
Design & hardware
Let’s start with the G5, which was redesigned completely from the ground up. For starters, the device is wrapped with an aluminum body and features a chamfered edge that runs all around the back of the phone. It may not feel like metal, though. LG has coated the phone in a primer and paint through a process they call microdizing, which is supposed to make the phone look more seamless, but as a consequence it feels less premium.
We can talk about the body all day long, but what really matters here is what you will find once you pull on the bottom part of the phone. The bottom chin is completely removable, and it’s an essential design factor in this case, because it makes the phone modular. You can swap in different modules like the camera grip or the HiFi DAC from Bang & Olufsen.
This is something completely different, not only for LG, but for the whole industry. It’s nice to see a company take bold moves like this one, but the feature certainly needs some refinement.
Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is made of the same glass and metal materials we saw last year. This makes for a mighty gorgeous smartphone, but also for a fingerprint magnet and a slippery body. It’s also bigger and a bit thicker than what we are used to, but the curved back and frame have been rounded off to make for a more comfortable grip.
As far as one-handed usability goes, LG definitely has the upper hand. It’s a much smaller phone. But it is also true that the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge feels a lot nicer, despite being bigger. And if size is really what matters, you could always go for the smaller Galaxy S7.
Specs-wise, the LG G5 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge are nearly identical. Both are powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor, Adreno 530 GPU and 4 GB of RAM. These phones are both super fast and powerful; we are sure you won’t notice much of a difference in real world use.
Also similar is the addition of a fingerprint reader in both handsets. The only difference is placement. The LG G5 has it on the back, while Samsung has decided to integrate it to the home button, on the front of the device. Which one you prefer is matter of preference, as both are fast and accurate.
I will say I like LG’s more, though, as their fingerprint reader can be set up faster and doesn’t require you to actually press a button to turn on the screen.
Where the Galaxy S7 Edge does have a leg up is with construction. This phone is both water and dust-resistant. It may not seem like it at first glance, as there are no protective flaps. This is because all the sealing is done from the inside of the phone. Regardless, if what you want is more peace of mind, the Galaxy S7 Edge is the obvious winner.
Both phones support Quick Charge 3.0, thanks to that Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, but only the Galaxy S7 Edge users will be able to enjoy wireless charging. The LG G5 does keep the removable battery, though, which is an important factor in keeping your phone alive: once you run out of juice it’s possible to swap batteries in a second.
And while we are on the battery subject, let’s talk about the actual units running the show here. The LG G5 carries a 2800 mAh battery, while the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge’s is a little bigger at 3600 mAh. The Galaxy S7 does have a smaller 3000mAh unit and while the Samsung units are larger than the Galaxy S6 family, the LG G5 is actually slightly smaller than the 3000mAh unit inside the LG G4.
Both will last you all day, as far as my experience goes. I have enjoyed both devices and neither has failed me to stay alive until I go to sleep. But if you value screen-on times, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge will win by a significant margin. On average, the LG G5 achieves between 3 and 4 hours screen on time, while the Galaxy S7 Edge is much higher, ranging anywhere from 7 to 10 hours.
Taking a look at the displays, the LG G5 is the smallest of the two with a 5.3-inch IPS LCD panel, sporting a 2560×1440 resolution. It truly has everything you would want in a high-end smartphone display. IPS LCD screens are known for their accurate colors and great viewing angles. And QHD resolution makes it super sharp, at 554 pixels per inch, compared to 534 ppi for the Galaxy S7 Edge.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge has the same 2560×1440 resolution, but on a larger 5.5-inch screen. The panel technology is also different. In usual Samsung fashion, this phone sports a Super AMOLED display. This means blacks will be amazingly deep and colors much more vibrant. Let me tell you this phone has one of the best screens in the market, if not the best.
The S7 Edge also features that curved glass that spills over the sides (hence the “Edge” moniker), so when you’re looking at videos or playing games, it creates an awesome looking waterfall effect that you don’t get with any other smartphone currently on the market.
Really, these screens couldn’t be any more different, but they do have a similar always-on feature you will likely enjoy. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge has a much more fleshed out version that can be customized to show the time, calendar, notifications and more. It is brighter and “out there”, so to speak. The LG G5’s always-on display is much more subtle and quiet. Regardless, this isn’t exactly a make or break deal for either phone.
What people really want to learn about is the cameras in these handsets. LG and Samsung (and Apple) are always fighting over who has the best smartphone camera out there. Which one is the winner here?
Assimilating the V10, the LG G5 is rocking a dual-camera setup. The main camera features a 16 MP sensor, OIS, laser auto-focus and an f/1.8 aperture. The secondary camera clocks in with an 8 MP sensor, but it’s a wide-angle lens that will allow for taking awesome photos the Galaxy S7 Edge is simply incapable of achieving.
See also: Best Android smartphone cameras (March 2016)30
This time around Samsung decided to lower the MP count in exchange for better low-light performance (similar to what Google did with the Nexus phones). The pixel size in the sensor has been increased to 1.4 microns, which is why the sensor size has to be reduced to 12 MP. The aperture is also larger at f/1.7, and the main camera is aided by optical image stabilization. The S7 Edge is also utilizing a new dual pixel autofocus system that’s extremely fast – noticeably must faster than the G5’s laser auto-focusing, especially in low light.
LG’s camera software is very simple and intuitive, but at the same time offers a variety of different shooting modes. These include slow motion, time lapse, 4K video, the ability to shoot in RAW and DSLR-like manual controls. The same can pretty much be said about Samsung’s camera software. It’s simple, easy to use and offers a lot of the same features that LG does, like 4K video, shooting in RAW and manual controls with Samsung’s Pro mode. However, Samsung does include some unique features like hyper-lapse and YouTube live streaming.
LG G5 test shots:
Both cameras are magnificent, and really deciding which one is “best” will take more testing. What we can say is that the LG G5 shots tend to stay more towards the warmer side, while Samsung’s photos are more often cooler in tone. Another noticeable difference is how over-sharpened the Galaxy S7 Edge’s images can be. This can sometimes work in Samsung’s favor, but other times it just looks too processed and unnatural.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge test shots:
Even though the Galaxy S7 is supposed to do amazing in low light, somehow the LG G5 manages to beat it. The photos are sharper, more detailed, and there’s significantly less noise reduction in comparison to the S7. The S7 does however handle highlights a lot better than the G5. They’re a lot more blown out on the G5, whereas the S7 is able to keep them in check. Overall, the low light and night time shots generally look much better on the G5.
The LG G5 comes with Android Marshmallow out of the box. The latest version of LG’s UI skin does offer plenty of improvements. It is generally a much cleaner interface and feels more fluid. LG has also dialed back on software features… or at least they managed to hide them more and keep them discrete.
The biggest change you will see in the LG G5 software is obviously the lack of an app drawer. You will either love it or hate it, but this is Android, so it’s super simple to install another launcher or even go to LG’s own Home 4.0 Launcher.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge also comes with Android Marshmallow. I am basically going to be repeating myself, as Samsung also decided to clean up its software. This is probably the best TouchWiz version you have ever seen. It is clean and fluid. Animations are much nicer and the UI no longer feels slow.
With the S7 Edge you’re also getting those Edge specific features, like the apps edge, people edge, tasks edge and the edge panels that let you see a variety of information such as sport scores, stocks and weather.
See also: Best Android phones (April 2016): our picks, plus a giveaway171
The biggest question of them all is: which one should you buy? Obviously, you can’t really go wrong with either one because they both do the typical things that we expect out of a smartphone extremely well. They’re both fast, have great cameras, sport great displays and enjoy from good battery life.
For me, I prefer the S7 Edge because it’s a much more refined smartphone experience, whereas the G5 feels like a first-generation product… and in a lot of ways it is. Surely, LG will have it all figured out in the next version, but if you feel really compelled by the G5’s modularity, then give the phone a shot. If you’d rather play it safe, the S7 or S7 Edge are the safest bet money can buy.