The Samsung Galaxy S7 hype is calming down and it is time to make a decision. Will you go for the Samsung Galaxy S7 / Galaxy S7 Edge, or is the more budget-friendly Nexus 6P still the better bet for your needs? These are two (well… three) handsets of high interest, so we had to put them head to head to find out which is the best handset for your money.

I have been playing around with these handsets for some time and it’s time to give you my full thoughts. Shall we get started?

Design

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These are all great-looking handsets, but their designs are vastly different from each other. Size is one of the main things to consider; the Nexus 6P towers over the Galaxy S7 Edge, and even more so with the smaller Galaxy S7. The Nexus 6P is also thinner in terms of width, largely thanks to its extensive top and bottom bezels. While both handsets are relatively ergonomically friendly, the larger bezels do make the Nexus 6P a lot tougher to use in one hand.

The vast difference in the size is largely due to the screen size; the Nexus 6P is the largest at 5.7 inches, while the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge sports a 5.5-inch screen, and the regular S7 is significantly smaller with its 5.1 inch display.

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As mentioned above, all phones here are beautiful, offering aluminum frames. But the Nexus 6P’s metal body does extend all the way to the back, while the Galaxy S7 handsets have a Gorilla Glass 4 backing. The curved back on the Galaxy S7 smartphones looks gorgeous, and it happens to make for a very comfortable feel in the hand.

The one thing I will say is that glass will accumulate plenty of fingerprints, and it can become very slippery in the hand. This extra slippery texture, mixed with the fragility of the glass on the front, kind of creates a recipe for disaster. Thankfully, Gorilla Glass 4 is pretty strong and will likely hold up against minor drops and scratches.

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The Nexus 6P’s aluminum housing looks just as beautiful, in its own way. It’s very smooth in texture, but will not fly off your hands as much as the slippery Galaxy phones. And fingerprints never really show up, at least on the silver model I have been touting for a while. Google’s flagship gadget can scratch pretty easily, though.

The 6P is a bit thinner than the Galaxies at 7.3 mm, vs the S7’s 7.9 mm and S7 Edge’s 7.7 mm. Sadly, the 6P’s camera does protrude a lot more from the rear, but it’s not the end of the world as it’s still manageable and it does have glass protecting the camera lens from scratching and damage.

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But of course, the biggest story here is the curved display on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. It is mostly there for aesthetics, even if it does serve some features. And it certainly works; the Galaxy S7 Edge will definitely turn more hands than the Nexus 6P, as well as the regular S7.

The way this curved glass reflects light and gives an illusion of a bezel-less look makes the S7 Edge, in my opinion, the best designed phone on the market. And even without this curved display on the standard S7, the thin bezels and minimal reflective backing still has the 6P beat.

Display

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Whether you like small, medium or large handsets, there will likely be a perfect size for you here. As I already mentioned, the Nexus 6P is the largest of the lot at 5.7 inches, which will be great for those who prefer the bigger handsets. You can go a little smaller with the 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 Edge, or settle for a more traditional size with the S7 at 5.1 inches.

That’s really where the differences end here, at least in terms of the screens. All phones have a QHD (2560×1440) resolution on an AMOLED panel. In fact, the Nexus 6P’s screens were supplied by Samsung, so these phones will all look very similar. The Nexus 6P colors are a tad warmer, but just barely. I will have to give the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge the upper hand here, though, as these do seem to have brighter screens.

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Otherwise, both displays look gorgeous, with vibrant hues and punchy colors. Of course, there’s also the curved Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and its morphed display. This creates a very cool effect when moving apps around or watching videos, but it can get annoying in certain situations. The edge can distort images and reflect unwanted light at times. Regardless, it does create a cool 3D-like effect.

All the displays here are beautiful, with the only big differences being the actual sizes. Big movie watchers or YouTube viewers are going to love the larger displays on the 6P and S7 edge, while some may just prefer the one-handed use of the S7.

Hardware

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There’s a very forgivable reason for those large bezels on the Nexus 6P – dual front speakers. These are amazing; one of the best speakers on any phone right now. The Nexus 6P speakers point right at you, which is ideal for any type of media consumption. They also get very loud and clear, which we all like.

Meanwhile, Both Galaxy handsets have the speaker on the bottom. This makes for sound that not only points away from you, but can be easily muffled when holding the handset. And in terms of sound quality these are not very good either. In fact, I would say they are a lot worse than last year’s Galaxy S6 speakers.

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There is also a very valid reason for this downside, though. Keep in mind the new Samsung flagships are water resistant. There is a protective coating over the speaker, making for a muffled sound. Yes, there are no annoying flaps protecting the ports this time around. These are protected from the inside. The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge can survive under 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.

You can find fingerprint readers on all 3 phones, but there is a clear difference in placement. I happen to be a fan of the NExus 6P’s, as it is located on the back of the phone, in an area where your phone rests all the time. The Nexus 6P’s scanner is also a little faster, although both are among the fastest in the market. You likely won’t notice much of a difference.

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A big surprise this year was Samsung’s use of the mciro USB standard, as opposed to adopting the new USB Type C port. The Nexus 6P does use the newer technology, and can take advantage of its faster transfer speeds and reversible port. This could be a good thing for those of you who would rather not buy a bunch of new cables, though.

A welcomed addition on Samsung’s smartphones is the inclusion of microSD support. The slot can be accessed by pulling out the SIM tray, and you can use cards with up to 200 GB of storage. Curiously, when you pull out the Nexus 6P’s SIM tray it seems like the plan was also to include microSD support, but this never made it to market.

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Also, it’s worth noting that while you get on screen navigation buttons with the Nexus 6p, you have 2 capacitive buttons on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Which one you like is a matter of preference. 

Performance

2016 is upon us, so it’s obvious to expect the newer Samsung devices to come with better specs. Samsung is using a Snapdragon 820 processor, while the Nexus 6P takes advantage of last year’s Snapdragon 810. Samsung’s phones also have 4 GB of RAM, while the Huawei-made Nexus 6P only sports 3 GB.

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When it comes to the Samsung Galaxy S7 and and S7 Edge, both phones have the same internals, save for battery capacity. The largest Samsung device offers 3,600 mAh of juice, while the standard S7 comes with a 3,000 mAh battery. Meanwhile, the Nexus 6P sports a 3,450 mAh battery.

Geekbench gave the Galaxy devices a higher score, beating the Nexus 6P at around 5,500. Antutu also has the Samsung products above the Nexus 6P by a large margin at a score of about 130,000. Although the Nexus 6P is running pure Android, the S7 and S7 Edge’s faster processing package allows for apps to open and load faster. The only area the 6P is faster in is the opening of the recent apps screen. Surprisingly, RAM management seems to be about the same, despite the Nexus 6P having a whole GB of RAM less.

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Galaxy S7 Edge performance on AnTuTu

Battery life is really good on all devices, but if you want your phone to last the longest possible you will definitely prefer the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. The Nexus 6P would last me all day, with about 4:15 of screen-on time. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge will last me all day too, but if I stretch my day out very long, I can manage close to 5 and a half hours of screen-on time. 

Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S7 lasts me for 3-4 hours of screen-on time, but that is still a huge improvement over last year’s Galaxy S6. It will mostly last me all day, but not every time: there were days where it died about an hour before bed time.

That being said, the Galaxy S7 Edge is a in a whole other league when it comes to battery life; as we covered in our Galaxy S7 Edge review, the battery life on Samsung’s latest flagship can exceed 8 to 9 hour’s screen on time! All three phones are capable of fast charging, however. Even with their different charging cables, the Galaxy S7/S7 Edge is capable of wireless charging, while the Nexus 6P is not.

Software

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Another area where these phones couldn’t be any more different is software. The Nexus exists to showcase Google’s software, as well as where the Search Giant wants to take Android. These phones have no skins or tweaks; it’s just Android as it naturally is. There is another great advantage you will get with the Nexus 6P; Nexus devices are always the first to get updates, and they are pushed straight from Google’s servers.

With Samsung devices – along with all other non-Nexus devices – you’ll have to wait plenty of time to get your updates. These Samsung cellphones are flagships, so they get priority, but the wait is still usually months long. For now they all run Android Marshmallow, though.

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The Nexus 6P offers a lot of Material Design elements, such as the pull-down notification shade. Simply swipe down once to show the notifications and twice to expand your shortcuts. Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S7 only requires one swipe down to show everything.

One cool feature the Samsung devices have is the ability to view multiple apps at once, but that is something Nexus 6P users will also be able to do later this year, when Android N is released. As it stands, the Nexus 6P is all about simplicity, which is great, but also means features can be lacking. Meanwhile, the Sasmung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are loaded with all kinds of helpful tools.

The Galaxy S7 Edge is especially unique, thanks to its curved sides and added functionality. Edge Panels allow you to customize a special area that can be pulled from the side. Here you can find shortcuts to weather, news, mail, taking selfies and more. Furthermore, People Edge will also allow you to quickly get in touch with your favorite contacts. This make for a very nice way to organize your phone without cluttering your home screen with all kinds of widgets and shortcuts.

Always On Display is another feature found in this year’s Galaxy phones. Even when your Galaxy S7’s screen is off, a portion will stay on, showing you the time, date or calendar. The Nexus 6P has Ambient Display, which I prefer a lot more as it actually lights up the phone in a black and white mode as notifications come in, allowing you to see incoming notifications without powering on your screen.

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Touchwiz is known for it’s sluggish nature, but this year it has been improved by a decent amount. Once you disable certain laggy apps and widgets, like the Briefing screen, you have a very solid software experience. Even though stock android isn’t tinkered with, it’s not without it’s freezes and crash sometimes, especially when using certain apps that involve the camera.

Camera

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As it stands, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Nexus 6P have some of the best cameras in the smartphone market. This makes it a very tough call to say which is better, as both cameras will create amazing photos. This means it’s all really up to your own preference.

This year Samsung lowered the megapixel count from 16 to 12, while making the pixels larger to allow more light in. The NExus 6P uses a similar technique. In fact, Google’s phone actually has bigger pixels.

The main thing to take away here is that the Galaxy S7 seems to take much more vibrant shots, with great highlight control and saturated colors. Meanwhile, the Nexus 6P seems to be better at exposing shots properly. The Nexus will show more details in bright areas like skies and clouds. The Nexus 6P does seem to have more issues with shadows and you will find more detail in the highlights, but when things get darker you start losing quality.

You will also notice the Samsung Galaxy S7 tends to offer more post-processing sharpening. This vibrance and sharpness will make it seem as though the S7 produces better images at first glance, but closer eamination will show the Nexus 6P takes shots with more information.

Galaxy S7 / S7 Edge camera samples

If you are a fan of full manual mode, you will also prefer the Samsung Galaxy S7, which does offer that nifty treat. You can adjust the focal length, ISO, white balance and more with the Galaxy S7, while the NExus 6P doesn’t offer those capabilities.

Both cameras do a similar job when taking low-light photos, but things get really different once you switch HDR on (or HDR+, as it’s called in the Nexus 6P). The Nexus 6P gets rid of noise and boosts colors to make for gorgeous shots. And yes, the Nexus 6P does seem to be better at low-light photography.

But if you are a fan of selfies, you will really enjoy the Samsung Galaxy S7’s 5 MP camera. This is because that wide-angle lens is phenomenal. You will begin to lose a lot of detail once you move to an area that is not outdoors, though. Meanwhile, the Nexus 6P’s front shooter manages low light very well.

Now, with video the S7/ S7 Edge is hands down the winner. The Nexus 6P falls apart in video mode, stuttering to find the right exposure and focus. The Galaxy S7’s shot is very smooth thanks to its optical image stabilization. Also, the Galaxy S7 has the fastest focusing speeds on any smartphone, locking on to objects instantly, where the 6P will take a longer time, and sometimes just won’t even bother trying to focus.

Nexus 6P camera samples

It’s hard to say who’s a winner. In image detail and exposure, the Nexus 6P is definitely better, although when it comes to image control, color representation and video, the Galaxy S7 is the winner.

Final thoughts

So… which one is the better phone? This is likely one of the toughest comparisons we have done. These are said to be the best phones you can get at the moment, and they happen to be similar in many aspects.

The larger phones offer much better battery life, but the Galaxy S7 Edge is definitely the winner in this department. Furthermore, the Galaxy S7 seems to offer the best performance, but not by too much. They are all beautifully designed, but then again, I happen to prefer the S7 Edge’s looks.

One thing is for sure: hard-core Android fans will enjoy the stock Android experience the Nexus 6P has to offer, along with timely updates. The Nexus 6P also offers a USB Type-C, which is cool if you are into the new standard, but the lack of a microSD might give the upper hand to the Samsung Galaxy S7. I still think the Nexus 6P takes the crown for best smartphone picture quality, but at the same time it lacks manual controls and is pretty mediocre at video.

While the Nexus 6P seems to be perfect in some areas, it lacks in others. And while the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge may not be perfect in any areas, there is not an area to be found that is anything less than fantastic. Of course, you’ll all have your own opinions so let us know which one you’d choose in the poll below and let us know why in the comments!

Buy the Nexus 6P
Buy the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge
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