Battle Of The Smartphones

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. On paper, the new Samsung Galaxy S7 phone has an awesome camera, with faster auto-focusing and better low-light performance.


Back to back photos taken on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (left) and Apple iPhone 6S (right.) Notice the brighter blues on the Galaxy to darker reproduction on the iPhone.

So naturally, we had to take it out here for a shoot-out vs. the reigning champ, the Apple iPhone 6S Plus, to see which was truly superior.

Apple Monday introduced a new, smaller 4-inch iPhone, the SE, with many of the features in the bigger, 4.7 inch iPhone 6S and 5.5 iPhone 6S Plus, including the improved camera. The phone begins pre-orders on March 24th for $399.

The specs for the new Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are pretty identical to the newer iPhones, with a 12 megapixel image sensor, but the Galaxy has a 1.7 maximum aperture, which lets in more light than the iPhone’s f. 2.2 aperture.

That means the Galaxy should produce better looking images from an evening party, concert, school recital, those sort of things.


The Manhattan Beach Pier at dusk, shot on the Apple iPhone 6S.


The Manhattan Beach Pier at dusk, shot on a Samsung Galaxy S7.

The Galaxy offers 10 choices of different photo modes, which is probably too many, but here’s what you get–the usual, auto, slow motion, super fast time-lapse, panorama and a category which should be beloved by all the Yelpers and Instagramers out there–Food.

The one that I glammed onto is Pro, and it’s the most important mode there.

Simpley put, smartphoneography is great–we’re picking up shots we normally wouldn’t get because we always have a camera at our sides.

The downside is that everything has to be generally shot in automatic mode, while the fun of photography is setting the light, color balance and focus the way you see it.

In smartphone photos, everything is always in flat and in focus. With cameras, we put our subjects in focus, and keep the attention on them by blurring the background.

In my tests this week, the selective focus shots on the Galaxy looked terrific–and the same shots on the iPhone were dull and flat.


Side by side shots on the Manhattan Beach Pier, photographed on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and Apple iPhone.

Overall, the results are subjective. I may prefer the color in one over the other, while you might disagree. There is no right or wrong, just personal taste.

But in test lab results from, which like USA TODAY is owned by Gannett, shows the Galaxy besting the iPhone in two important categories.

— Autofocus Speeds

One of the best selling points for the Galaxy is faster autofocus in low light. In dark situations, we both found the Galaxy finding the focus much faster than the iPhone.

Reviewed’s tests in a dark room found the focus in 0.7-0.8 seconds, vs. 1.8 seconds on the iPhone.

–Camera Sharpness

Both phones did well in this department, but Reviewed gives Galaxy a slightly higher score, 9.84, vs. 9.67 for the iPhone.

For white balance accuracy, reproducing colors more naturally, Reviewed game the edge to the iPhone, with an 8.6 out of 10 score, vs. 7.4 for the Galaxy.

I’m with Reviewed that the Galaxy is “slightly” better than the iPhone, in terms of faster focus and better low-light performance, and would also add in the Pro manual adjustments.

But as a longtime iPhone user, I like the ease of use of the iPhone and its place in the Apple ecosystem. But I preferred the color reproduction on the Galaxy images.

So for now, the victor is Galaxy. It will be interesting to see how Apple responds in the fall when it unleashes the latest iPhone, the 7.

(Source Cowan: USA Today)

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