Samsung Galaxy S7 vs LG G5: What's the best Android phone of 2016?

It's got tougher competition in 2016, particularly from LG, but we think Samsung has done enough in the Galaxy S7 to retain its crown for the best Android phone of the year. We compare the specs in our Samsung Galaxy S7 vs LG G5 comparison. Also see our Samsung Galaxy S7 review and LG G5 review.

We won't make a final decision on which is the best Android phone of 2016 until we've spent some more time with both the Galaxy S7 and the LG G5. We're eager to do some thorough testing of the cameras, which have been upgraded in both smartphones, and to properly benchmark each handset, assess their screen quality, sound quality and so forth. For now this comparison is based on our hands-on experience and specifications, and it will be updated in due course. Also see: Best new phones, tablets, laptops & more at MWC 2016.

If your choice of phone was based on which has the most innovative new features, you would surely go for the LG. The G5 is a compete revamp of the G4, whereas Samsung has made just a few - but very welcome - tweaks to its S6 in the Galaxy S7.

Samsung Galaxy S7

But we're not convinced. Samsung may not have made any revolutionary changes, but it has changed the things that matter to fans - every one of its upgrades will be useful to the majority of end users. We can't say that for the LG. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S7 launch as it happened | Samsung Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge UK release date, price, new features and specifications.

What makes the LG so different is its 'Friends' - clip-on accessories, such as a camera grip or audio amplifier. But in order to take advantage of these you have to a) want to, and b) buy them separately. We're not convinced that the majority of users will want to do so, potentially making it a gimmicky feature that adds little value to the G5. Also see: Best smartphones 2016.

You can get a VR headset and a 360 camera for both these smartphones, but Samsung has been working to refine its Gear VR headset for much longer - and it shows.

In common with the Galaxy S7 the G5 also has a new always-on screen, which uses minimal battery power to always show you at a glance the time, date and your notifications. Samsung's implementation is marginally better, with more scope for customisation. Both feature Quad HD screens: the LG's is slightly larger at 5.3in against the Samsung's 5.1in, and uses IPS technology in place of the Samsung's SuperAMOLED. Also see: LG G5 release date, price, specs and features.

LG has also added a fingerprint scanner, yet the S series has had one through several generations (plus a [gimmicky] heart-rate scanner). But while the Galaxy S7 has lost its IR blaster, the LG G5 is fitted with one. Other connectivity specs are the same. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

LG G5

Performance will see a boost in both the G5 and S7, which each use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with Adreno 530 graphics and 4GB of LP-DDR4 RAM - but only in some territories. We've just had confirmation that the Galaxy S7 will feature the Exynos 8890 processor in the UK. We can't wait to find out which comes out on top in our performance benchmark charts.

The Snapdragon 820 builds in support for super-fast Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, but of these smartphones only the G5 supports it. Samsung's excuse: people don't have the necessary accessories just yet, and Quick Charge 2.0 is fast enough - the same excuse it uses for not adding a USB-C port, as LG has done. But while the G5 supports faster charging, the S7 also supports fast wireless charging and has a higher-capacity battery.

One of the biggest tweaks to the Galaxy S7 is the return of the microSD slot and waterproofing, which tackles two of the three key criticisms levelled at its predecessor. The third is the loss of the removable battery, which Samsung hasn't rectified, but it has taken some steps to smooth over the issue with a higher-capacity battery inside. (To be honest, the loss of the removable battery was never that big a deal to us, since we'd rather carry a power bank than a spare battery.) The LG, meanwhile, has both a removable battery and a microSD slot, but no support for waterproofing. Also see: LG G4 vs LG G5.

Your buying choice is as likely to come down to price or design as it is features and performance, of course. LG hasn't officially announced its pricing for the G5, although MobileFun was taking pre-orders at £499.99 (the price has now been updated to TBC - perhaps it knows something we don't). The Galaxy S7 is £70 more expensive - for now - available to pre-order from Samsung now at £569, but it's a well-known fact that Samsung phones quickly drop their value by as much as 20 percent within the first few months. Those who preorder the S7 will also get a free Gear VR headset. Also see: Best Samsung Galaxy S7 deals.

Design is largely a personal choice, and we prefer the premium-looking metal frame and glass front and back design of the Galaxy S7 to the newly metal LG G5. The Rear Key has gone in the revamped G5, but now at the rear you'll find two cameras - a 16Mp shooter and an 8Mp wide-angle camera (which is great if you know enough about photography to know when you to use which). Samsung has just the one rear camera, now just 12Mp but with larger pixels and an f/1.7 aperture to improve low-light photography. It's impossible to tell which is best on paper, but we will update this comparison once we've finished our evaluation of each smartphone. Also see: Best Samsung phones 2016: What is the difference between Galaxy Note, Galaxy S, Galaxy A and Galaxy J?

Samsung Galaxy S7 vs LG G5: Specifications

 

LG G5

Samsung Galaxy S7

Price

£499.99

£569

Operating system

Android 6.0 Marshmallow, LG UX 5.0 UI

Android 6.0 Marshmallow, TouchWiz UI

Processor

Qualcomm Snapdragon 820/Exynos 8890

Qualcomm Snapdragon 820

Graphics

Adreno 530

Adreno 530

RAM

4GB LP-DDR4

4GB LP-DDR4

Storage

32GB, microSD support

32GB, microSD support

Screen

5.3in Quad-HD (554ppi) IPS, always-on

5.1in Quad-HD SuperAMOLED, always-on

Primary camera

16Mp, 8Mp wide-angle

12Mp

Selfie camera

8Mp

5Mp

Connectivity

Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS, GLONASS, Cat.9 LTE, IR blaster

Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS, GLONASS, Cat.9 LTE

Extras

Fingerprint scanner

Fingerprint scanner, heart-rate scanner, IP68 waterproofing

Battery

2800mAh removable, QC 3.0, USB-C

3000mAh non-removable, QC 2.0, fast wireless charging, Micro-USB

Dimensions

149x74x7.7mm

142.4x69.6x7.9mm

Weight

159g

152g

Accessories

Friends, VR headset, 360 camera

Gear VR headset, 360 camera

Read next: Best new phones coming in 2016.

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Samsung Galaxy S7: Specs

  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 5.1in Quad HD IPS (1440x2560)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • Micro-SD card slot (up to 200GB)
  • 12Mp rear camera with f/1.7
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 4G LTE
  • Micro-USB
  • 3000mAh non-removable battery
  • IP68
  • 142x70x7.9mm
  • 152g
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 5.1in Quad HD IPS (1440x2560)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • Micro-SD card slot (up to 200GB)
  • 12Mp rear camera with f/1.7
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 4G LTE
  • Micro-USB
  • 3000mAh non-removable battery
  • IP68
  • 142x70x7.9mm
  • 152g

OUR VERDICT

Our early impressions suggest the S7 wins this battle, but it's going to be a very close call. Check back soon for our full verdict after some more in-depth testing.

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