With the Nexus 6P, Google offers the purest Android experience possible with a flagship device. In the other camp, is the latest and greatest from Samsung. Unveiled only a few days ago at MWC 2016, the Galaxy S7  and S7 Edge certainly pack in all the bells and whistles when it comes to hardware, though Samsung further toned it down on the software side. How do these phones compare? We find out in this quick look at the Samsung Galaxy S7/Edge vs Nexus 6P!

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Design

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The Galaxy S7 doesn’t feature a major overhaul in design, but that’s not a bad thing, considering that Samsung did get a lot right with its predecessor. As expected, the Galaxy S7 comes with a premium metal and glass unibody construction, but there are some key refinements made that help with the handling experience. The corners and sides are more rounded off, and the backing now has curves along the sides, similar to what was seen with the Galaxy Note 5, which helps the device nestle nicely in the palm. The camera protrusion has also been significantly reduced, making it more aesthetically pleasing, and also less worrisome when handling the phone.

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On the other hand is the Nexus 6P, and with different OEMs given the opportunity to make the Nexus smartphone year from year, the Huawei-made device obviously comes with a fresh design compared to predecessors. The Nexus 6P is the most premium Google smartphone yet, featuring a full metal unibody design, with a black bar on the back housing the camera setup, that actually looks really good when you see the phone in person. Featuring a large 5.7-inch display, the Nexus 6P is a touch unwieldy, and outside the realm of comfortable one-handed use for most people.

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Choosing between two smartphones based on design always boils down to personal preference, but what you get here are two very premium smartphones that certainly don’t disappoint. If the handling experience and one-handed use are important aspects however, the Galaxy S7 holds an edge in this regard.

Display

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The Nexus 6P comes with a 5.7-inch AMOLED display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 518 ppi, while the Galaxy S7 features a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED screen, also with a Quad HD resolution and a pixel density of 577 ppi. Meanwhile, the S7 Edge goes up to 5.5-inch, keeping the same resolution. Quad HD is the order of day when it comes to current generation flagships, and with AMOLED tech at the base, both displays are impressive. You get vibrant, saturated colors, deep blacks, and good viewing angles and brightness with both, but Samsung does manage to make things pop just a little more. However, gaming and media-centric users will definitely appreciate the additional screen real estate available with the Nexus 6P.

The Nexus 6P comes with an Ambient Display feature, which gives a quick look at the time and your notifications without unlocking the phone. That said, it is quite difficult to trigger, and only picking up the phone is when it actually seems to work all the time. Samsung took things one step further by offering an Always On display, letting you see the time, your notifications, the calendar, the weather information, and more, with a glance, and without needing to wake the device.

Performance and hardware

The Nexus 6P comes with an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, and is backed by the Adreno 430 GPU and 3 GB of RAM, while the Samsung Galaxy S7/Edge features the latest and greatest from Qualcomm, and is powered by the Snapdragon 820, backed by the Adreno 530 GPU and 4 GB of RAM. Things remain smooth and snappy while doing anything on these smartphones, but we’ll have to spend more time with the Galaxy S7 to see whether the Snapdragon 820 betters the performance of the Snapdragon 810 significantly in real world tests.

In hardware, the big story is the return of expandable storage and dust and water resistance with the Galaxy S7, and Samsung fans will certainly appreciate them coming back. Expandable storage was never a part of the modern Nexus line, and its continued unavailability isn’t particularly surprising.

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Both smartphones come with fingerprint scanners, but their different placements make for differing experiences, and it’s up to you as to which you prefer. The scanner of the Nexus 6P is on the back, and is placed perfectly around the area where your index finger rests. It’s very easy and quick to unlock the device when holding the phone, but obviously, you won’t be able to use the scanner when the phone is resting on a table. That isn’t an issue with the Galaxy S7/Edge, with the fingerprint scanner once again embedded into the physical home button up front. This placement might make it a little awkward to reach though, but shouldn’t be as much a problem with the relatively compact Samsung flagship. Both fingerprint readers are definitely fast and accurate, but we’ll have to test the Galaxy S7 more to check for reliability.

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Nexus phones don’t usually pack a whole lot of extras in the hardware department, but with the 6P you do get a dual front-facing speaker setup, which will likely prove to be far better than anything possible with the bottom-mounted single speaker unit of the Galaxy S7/Edge. The Nexus 6P also comes with an USB Type-C port, and it was kind of surprising to see Samsung yet to adopt the latest standard with their newest flagship.

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In battery, the Galaxy S7 comes with a large 3,000 mAh battery, which is a much needed upgrade, given the generally average battery life available with its predecessor, but we’ll find out more about the battery life of the Galaxy S7 when we get to the full review. The S7 Edge amps things up to 3,600 mAh. The Nexus 6P, on the other hand, features a larger 3,450 mAh unit, and given Huawei’s prowess for great battery management, along with the availability of Doze, the Nexus 6P can last up to two full days quite comfortably. While both devices offer some form of fast charging capabilities, the Galaxy S7 also comes with wireless charging.

Camera

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The Nexus 6P comes with a 12.3 MP camera with an f/2.0 aperture and a 1.5µm sensor, that allows for better performance in low light conditions. The Galaxy S7 takes things to another level however, with its also  12 MP rear camera with an f/1.7 aperture lens, and the sensor also sports a larger 1.4µm pixels, which should also  make for great performance in low light. The Nexus 6P does lack optical image stabilization though, which is available with the Galaxy S7/Edge. We can’t wait to put the camera of the Galaxy S7 through its paces and find out exactly how it performs in the upcoming full review and more in-depth comparisons.

Software

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Finally, on the software side of things, you get the latest iteration of TouchWiz on top of Android Marshmallow with the Galaxy S7/Edge. While things remain largely the same aesthetically, save for a more toned down color scheme,  perhaps the biggest change in the software is a new experimental feature, found in the Galaxy Labs section of the Settings menu, that allows you to turn off the app drawer altogether. Samsung also greatly improved the functionality of the Edge apps suite, allowing you to do more with the sides of the phone.

On the other hand, the Nexus 6P offers the latest and purest version of Android currently available, and while there are a few useful features to be found, such as Google Now on Tap, App Permissions, and Doze, things remain as minimalist as ever. That said, with all trends pointing towards the app drawer going by the wayside with Android N, this version may be the last time you get to enjoy it.

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Conclusion at a glance

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So there you have it for this quick look at the Samsung Galaxy S7/Edge vs Nexus 6P! Both are undeniably premium smartphones, but choosing between the two comes down to what is more important to you. The Nexus 6P offers a pure Android experience, a larger display, and fantastic front-facing speakers, while the Galaxy S7/Edge sees its advantages in expandable storage, dust and water resistance, and extra software features like the Always On display and more.

Joshua Vergara
Writer, blogger, and videographer - Josh is a former support technician that learned much about technology by fixing everyone else's. On the side, he wrote and performed spoken word, maintained his own personal blogs, and began his own video podcast. Now, he's here at Android Authority looking to put it all together!
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