Wednesday, November 2, 2016

IPhone 7 vs Galaxy S7

I had a friend recently ask on Facebook if anyone  had an recommendation between the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Apple IPhone 7/7 Plus.  I spend a lot of time reviewing and testing phones so I thought I would write down some of what I have learned.  They are both great phones and this article is not meant to push one over the other but rather to show that it depends on what you are looking for in a phone.  With that said here are the pros and cons of each.

Advantages of IPhone 7/7 Plus

  • Battery Life.  IPhone simply has more dependable battery life.  By dependable I am basically referring to stand by time (that time when your screen is off).  It's very easy to use your S7 for a few weeks and then, one day, you turn off the screen with your battery at 70% and wake it up two hours later with your battery at 55%.  This is not really the phones fault; it's the fault of the OS.  The S7 has good battery life but the way the Android OS is structured means that apps you install can leave  behind services that run all the time.  Recent updates to Android have tried to address this and Google itself has said they realize this is a significant problem and are trying to fix it.
  • Battery Usage Reporting.  To go along with battery life the reporting of what is eating your battery is 1000% better on IPhone.  Both systems have an area that lists apps that have used your battery along with a usage graph.  However on Android the data never seems complete and much of the usage is hidden behind cryptic process names like "Android System".  I've been in technology for 30 years and very often can't figure out the Android battery usage meter.  With IPhone it's very simple and will actually tell you how long each app was on screen.  Truly useful.
  • Apps are better.  Yes the Google Play Store has tons of apps but the apps in the Apple App Store are normally much better.  There are certain apps that simply don't work on IPhone (like lock screens or replacement text messaging apps)  but apps like Facebook, Twitter, etc are typically better on IOS.
  • Voice interactions.  This is a big one for me as I really enjoy interacting with my phone using my voice especially with my headphones.  There are many use cases.  You are at a soccer game listening to music and you want to text a friend or you want to find out if that local diner is still open.  Ok Google can be made to work on the Galaxy S7 but out of the box it uses a voice assistant called S-Voice.  S -Voice is terrible compared to Siri or Ok Google.  As I said you can get Ok Google to work on the Galaxy S7 and that mitigates this a bit but I've found Siri to be a bit better in this regard.
  • Always On Voice Wakeup.  This one is a no brainer.  With this feature your phone is always listening for a special phrase to wake it up and give it commands.  With the Galaxy S7 you can customize the wake up phrase so you can use something like 'Hey Jarvis' if you wanted to whereas with the IPhone you have to use the phrase 'Hey Siri'.  The problem is that the S7 only supports voice wake with S-Voice and, as I said before, S-Voice is terrible.  You don't want to use that.  This makes voice wake on the S7 a non starter.
  • Messaging - Both platforms have tons of messaging apps (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc, etc).  What really sets the IPhone apart here is iMessage.  Apple has added iMessage apps and they are crazy.  Not only can you send animated gifs but there are over 1000 apps that you can play with your other IPhone friends right inside iMessage.  You can send move times, sports scores, even create your own JibJab gif with your own face.  Very fun.
  • Security and updates - Apple's IOS is known to be a bit more secure than Android with more frequent updates.  I've already received 3 updates to iOS 10 just in the last 4-6 weeks.  With the Galaxy S7 you will not get updates that often and it may take months to get on the latest OS (Nougat).
  • Faster - Whether it's looking at Antutu scores, GFXBench scores, or SunSpider scores the IPhone are simply faster, sometimes by a lot.  

Advantages of the Galaxy S7

  • Camera - The S7 does have a better camera, slightly.  DxoMark scores the S7 camera at an 88 and IPhone 7 at 86.  What this means is they are both great but the average user will love them both.
  • Always On Display - This is like the old Nokia Glance screen.  You can set things like calendar and notifications to show on the screen even when the screen is off.  This is a useful feature and allows you to see if you have missed a call or text just by glancing at your screen with no need to actually turn the screen on.  This feature doesn't work with every app; in fact it really only works with Samsung apps but it is useful.
  • Gear VR - The Galaxy S7 has a high enough display that it works well with the Gear VR headset.  This means that you can  use the headset to play games in VR space.  This is fun and compelling.
  • Flexibility of Android - Android is more flexible allowing some things that IOS simply doesn't allow.  One example is changing out lock screens or having apps that automatically change your wallpaper on a schedule.  Another example is having a launcher that includes an app drawer.  This makes it much easier to organize your app icons.
  • Widgets -- This is a feature of Android and not specifically the S7.  Widgets are cool though I don't typically use them.  This are basically small mini apps that sit on your 'desktop' .
  • Wireless charging - The S7 supports wireless charging.  This does help to declutter your nightstand.

Things That Are Basically The Same Between The Two

  • Waterproof - While the S7 is touted as being IP68 certified and IPhone 7 is only IP67 certified, tests have shown that the IPhone 7 actually survives in deeper water than the S7. I wouldn't want to test this personally but this appears to be a push.
  • Headphone jack - Yes Apple removed the headphone jack on the IPhone 7.  They include a set of headphones in the box that work with the phone and an adapter that allows it to work with any headphones but quite a few folks are still a bit dismayed at this choice.  It doesn't bother me because moving from analog to digital headphones should bring better quality aidio and more features and we are already seeing IPhone 7 compatible headphones come on the market.  This may seem like a negative against the IPhone 7 but I consider it a wash at the moment.  
  • Third party keyboards - Both platforms support 3rd party keyboards but Android has many more choices.  The other thing to be aware of is that at the time of this writing third party keyboards on iOS are not allowed to present the voice dictation button.   I really dislike this as voice dictation is something I use from time to time.  
  • Chromecasting - We love casting videos and movies to our Nexus Players or Chromecast devices and that works from either device.
I've left out many things like mail apps, etc that basically come down to personal preference.  As I said at the start of this article they are both great devices but if I was pressed to pick a device for my mom it would be an IPhone.  The experience is just more dependable and in most cases better.