Both LG and Samsung unveiled brand-new flagship phones at Mobile World Congress. And if you’re an Android fan in search of a new phone, you might be asking yourself whether you should go with the Samsung Galaxy S7 or the LG G5. They’re both cutting-edge phones that bring significant upgrades to their respective flagship lines. And both run Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which is a major selling point for Android fans who are still waiting for the update to make it to their current smartphones. So how do you choose between them? Let’s start by reviewing each smartphone’s specifications and features (just to refresh your memory, which may already be overwhelmed by all the cool devices announced at Mobile World Congress) before trying to compare the two. Here’s a brief summary of what each one brings to the proverbial table.
Samsung’s new Galaxy S7 offers a 5.1-inch quad HD Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a microSD card slot (which will support a card up to 200GB). The camera is a new-and-improved 12MP system optimized to let in more light than the S6’s camera, and the phone features a non-removable 3,000mAh battery. The device is water- and dust-resistant, and features a micro-USB port. (The Galaxy S7 Edge has a 5.5-inch screen with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440-pixels and a non-removable 3,600mAh battery.) The waterproofing and the reintroduction of the microSD card slot demonstrate that the company is actually listening to what its customers want.
The LG G5 has a 5.3-inch quad HD IPS display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, a Snapdragon 820 with an Adreno 530 GPU, 4GB of RAM, and support for microSD cards up to 2TB. The aluminum-bodied device features two rear-facing cameras: a 16MP camera with a 78-degree field of view and an 8MP camera with a 135-degree field of view. The phone is powered by a 2,800mAh battery, and features a USB Type-C port. As Adrian Kingsley-Hughes reports for ZDNet, the G5’s biggest selling point is that it’s modular, meaning that you can snap off the bottom piece of the phone to swap out the battery, or even replace the piece with a camera grip module (which includes a shutter button, zoom wheel, and expands the battery capacity to 4,000mAh) or a HiFi module (which was developed with Bang & Olufsen and adds a digital-to-audio converter and a 3.5mm headphone jack).
Kingsley-Hughes notes that on paper, the two phones sound quite similar. But in his assessment, the LG G5 “feels gimmicky,” with its twin rear cameras and modular add-ons. “Even the USB-C port feels like it’s more of an item to add to the sales brochure than something that’s really essential,” he writes. While he thinks that the LG G5 “has what it takes to be a killer handset,” he notes that “the modules and twin camera feel like they are there as a distraction from the fact that there’s little separating high-end Android devices from one another.” As Rob Triggs points out at Android Authority, the camera module doesn’t offer any way to improve image quality beyond what you could achieve with another smartphone, and it’ll take listening to the amplifier circuits in the HiFi module to determine whether it actually makes a noticeable difference in the listening experience.
Neither Samsung nor LG has published prices for its new flagship phones, and Kingsley-Hughes posits that they’re both going to be priced similarly to their predecessors. However, he thinks that the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will be “the flagship Android smartphone for 2016.” Samsung’s phones bring an appealing set of features — including waterproofing and an “edge” display that’s proven, against all odds, to not be a gimmick — which gives Samsung’s smartphone an advantage over LG’s G5.
Triggs writes that the two flagship phones hint at how the two manufacturers are looking at the smartphone market. “Samsung has made improvements to its main hardware, including the SoC and camera, but remains firmly focuses around retaining its image and brand,” he writes, noting that meanwhile, “LG had veered off in a much more drastic direction, not only changing up its core hardware but also clearly trying to build a new brand image through its wide range of accessories.”
Perhaps because of the perceived gimmicks of the G5, many reviewers who have tried the phones (or are simply offering an opinion after studying the specifications of the phones) seem more confident in the polish of Samsung’s smartphone. The Galaxy S7 is certainly more evolutionary than revolutionary, something already attracting criticism from detractors, but feels less gimmicky and more complete than LG’s new flagship.
Zach Epstein reports for BGR that with the most “hotly anticipated” Android phones of the year finally revealed, users in the Android subreddit took to the site to weigh in on whether they were leaning toward the Galaxy S7 or the G5. While users who prefer each phone have made compelling arguments for their favorite, fans crowning the S7 the winner seemed to outnumber those by G5 supporters by “a pretty wide margin.”
The lengthy thread, however, simply serves to reinforce the proven principle that there’s not usually a clear winner when it comes to comparing two smartphones. The one that’s better for you is going to depend on your preferences and priorities, and in the case of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the LG G5, both are excellent phones that have solid foundations. Choosing between them will come down to which specifications and features are the most important to you, which brand you prefer, and which company’s software you’d rather interact with on a daily basis.