With Samsung having increased its lead over Apple as the world's largest smartphone maker, the pressure has been on Tim Cook and Co. to hit back with something big. With the release of the iPhone 7, Apple certainly has.
But has Apple really leveled the playing field with Samsung's flagship phones? Let's compare and contrast the specs and features of the two most important smartphones on the market.
Starting with a new finish and a new jet black color option, the iPhone 7 looks to match the super slick design of the glass-backed Galaxy S7. The iPhone 7 has also upgraded its durability with IP67 water resistance. That means it should withstand a quick dunk underwater, but it's still not quite as durable as an IP68-rated Galaxy S7 which can survive a dunk in water up to 5 feet for up to 30 minutes.
The iPhone 7 also sports an improved home button which Apple has made to be faster, more sensitive and provide even more feedback based on how hard you press it, thanks to integration with Apple's new and improved haptic feedback engine. App makers will be able to take advantages of those presses on the iPhone's home button, just as they can now do with the 3D Touch feature that registers different presses on the iPhone's display.
Speaking of displays, Apple says the improved 4.7-inch screen on the iPhone 7 should be 25 percent brighter than older models and feature even wider colors. Unfortunately, the iPhone 7's resolution remains at 1334 x 750 — the same as the iPhone 6s — and that's a far cry from the pixel density on the S7's 2560 x 1440 QHD display. Also, the S7 sports a significantly larger 5.1-inch display, which should make it a better choice for people looking for a more immersive multimedia experience.
On the iPhone 7, Apple is stepping up its game by including optical image stabilization on the iPhone 7 in addition to the 7 Plus. The resolution on the f/1.8 rear camera remains the same at 12-megapixels, although Apple has also added a new quad LED true tone flash and a new light-detecting flicker sensor that should help gives you brighter more accurate colors even when you're indoors. The iPhone 7 Plus goes even further by offering not one, but two cameras that offers a true 2X optical zoom, and a new portrait shooting mode with even better depth of field, but to get one you'll have to upgrade to a significantly larger — and more expensive — handset.
Even with those improvements, it will be an uphill battle to dethrone the S7, the current king of smartphone cameras. While the rear camera on Samsung's phone has a 12-megapixel sensor, it also feature dual-pixel focusing tech for faster focus.
Specs and Performance
While it's tough to compare devices running different OSes, Apple hasn't forgotten about keeping the iPhone 7 speedy. Armed with a new A10 Fusion chip, Apple claims that the iPhone 7 is 40 percent faster than the iPhone 6s, and twice as fast as a standard iPhone 6. However, the quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC in the Galaxy S7 is no slouch in its own right.
A big improvement for the iPhone 7 is that the phone will now come with 32GB of storage as standard, instead of a meager 16GB. You also have the option of 128GB and 256GB models. While that matches the S7's base storage with starts of 32GB, a microSD storage allows for almost unlimited storage.
For the first time ever, the iPhone 7 will sport stereo speakers. This should give the iPhone 7 a leg up over phones like the S7 which features just a single, bottom-mounted speaker.
More important, though, is the lack of a headphone jack on the iPhone 7. To counter the loss of the a beloved headphone jack, Apple will include a earbuds with a lightning connector in the box, as well as a lighting to 1/8th-inch jack adapter. Contrast that with the Galaxy S7 and its support for micro USB and a headphone jack, giving you options for both analog and digital audio without needing a dongle like the adapter Apple is including with the iPhone 7.
Starting at $649, the iPhone 7's price hasn't increased from last year's model, but now that Samsung's Galaxy S7 can be had for $599 or less, the iPhone still commands a $50 premium.
For people in the Apple camp, the iPhone 7 is probably a no brainer. It offers improved battery life over its predecessor, a brighter and more colorful screen, water resistance and an improved camera. But when it comes to choosing between the iPhone 7 and the Galaxy S7, things get much more difficult.
With 1334 x 750 4.7-inch display, the iPhone 7's scree features a significantly lower resolution and less real estate for watching movies, as well as less contrast thanks to the S7's 5.1-inch QHD AMOLED screen. And while the iPhone 7's 12-MP camera has seen some nice new improvements, if you're a photo fanatic, you'll likely want the iPhone 7 Plus' dual camera setup. For a lot of people, it may come down to audio and how prepared you are for life with stereo speakers but no headphone jack, and that's good news for Samsung's Galaxy S7.