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Lenovo Moto Z vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: has David met his Goliath?

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is generally considered as the heavyweight champion for all smartphone categories, a real giant for which contenders tremble when they hear the name. The Moto Z, on the other hand, is itself no lightweight seeing as it was created by Lenovo/Motorola. Is the latter fit to step into the Android ring contesting against devices like the S7 Edge.

Lenovo Moto Z vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: design and build

The Galaxy S7 is known for its premium design which was unique in style before its contenders started copying it. I am obviously thinking here about its curved edges on the right and left sides of the screen which, for many people, are synonymous with the Edge range. The Moto Z also has a premium look but in a completely different manner, as we will see further down.

Before studying the details, let us observe the device's dimensions. The Galaxy S7 Edge is 150.9 mm in length and 72.6 mm in width, dimensions that are quite representative of phablets. The Moto Z is slightly bigger with a length of 153.3 mm and a width of 75.3 mm. The difference is more significant when it comes to weight though, with 11 grams difference between both devices, the Galaxy S7 being the heavier one at 157 grams.

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Design, two philosophies in opposition. © AndroidPIT

Why is there such a noticeable difference in weight? Being just about 5.2 mm in thickness, the Moto Z is much thinner than its Korean contender, which is 7.7 mm. This is one of Lenovo’s strategies, the emphasis is placed on creating a slim and lightweight device. That being said, other elements are to be taken into account in order to understand the phone correctly. The back of the device offers a premium look though two elements tarnish this beautiful picture: on the one hand, a camera juts out and on the other hand, there is the presence of connectors to attach the MotoMods, which are accessories that attach onto the device such as a speaker for better sound (JBL Sound Boost) or a projector to be connected to the smartphone (Moto Insta-Share Projector) etc.       

I don’t think I am alone in thinking that having the lens of a camera sticking out is not a very attractive feature and neither are the small connector points at the bottom. Lenovo uses a fabric-made cover to hide these eye sores. When attached to the device, this cover gives the phone a totally new look, which in my opinion is certainly less premium. That being said, this is the price to pay for such a customizable phone. The cover also allows for more stability as the device is less likely to slip out of your hand.     

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All the buttons on the Moto Z are on the right side. On the S7 Edge, the volume buttons are on one side and the power button is on the other. © AndroidPIT

The buttons are located on the sides but, unlike many devices currently on the market, there is a slot for SIM and SD cards at the top of the device and not at the front. Since we are on the topic of buttons, the Moto Z also has a button (but non-functional) on the front, under the screen. Unlike the one from Samsung’s, it is not oval but square and it does not serve as a Home key, it is a simple fingerprint reader. It is located below the “Moto” logo (which is also below the screen), which I think is quite an unfortunate decision, aesthetically-speaking.    

In summary, two philosophies are facing each other: the Galaxy S7 Edge offers Samsung’s entire collection and premium range of features (curved edges, IP68 certification, Gorilla Glass 4…), whereas the Moto Z combines premium (considering aspects like Gorilla Glass 4, for example) with the customizable (use of Mods and the possibility of using a cover).  

Lenovo Moto Z vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: display

Here, our two protagonists find themselves on a level playing field with their 5.5 inch screens, though it is necessary to specify that the screen/dimension ratio is a lot more interesting on Samsung’s device since the screen covers 76.1% while on the Moto Z, it's only 72%. The S7 Edge’s screen uses Super AMOLED technology, while its rival uses AMOLED; though there’s a difference in digitization, in practice there is hardly a difference. Super AMOLED is more a Samsung brand name than a real technological gain.

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The screens are similar on the whole. © AndroidPIT

The resolution is also the same for both devices, that is to say QHD (1440 x 2560 pixels), now a typical feature for 2016's high-end phones, and is more than sufficient for all types of usage. Seeing as virtual reality is also a growing fad, 4K displays would definitely have been more beneficial but the market is still a newbie in this area.   

Lenovo Moto Z vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: software

The two devices run Android Marshmallow by default but not exactly the same version: the Moto Z has Android 6.0.1 while the S7 trucks along with 6.0. Clearly, the two devices will use Android Nougat at some point as well.

Getting back to the idea of opposing philosophies: Motorola and Moto smartphones (distinguishing here past Motorola phones to present ones from Lenovo) bring us a refined interface along the lines of Android stock, which is a must-have for purists: no bloatware and Nexus-like graphics (that is to say, quite dark). In contrast, Samsung uses TouchWiz as its usual customized interface, deeply integrated in the device, containing several pre-installed devices (there are differences based on country) but at least it has benefit of being a lot brighter (great for reading, not so great for your battery). In practice, this also means that more modifications will have to be carried out to get Nougat on TouchWiz since its interface is fairly different from Android stock.

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Different interfaces, different launchers. © AndroidPIT

Unlike its rival, Samsung’s device has several distinctive features (thanks to both its affiliation to the Samsung family as well as that to its Edge range), like its quick access to apps or shortcuts thanks to the curved-screen edges. Samsung’s AMOLED Always On Display mode is also a useful feature allowing you to check the time, the calendar or other notifications without actually turning on the entire screen.

Lenovo Moto Z vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: performance

The Moto Z and the US version of the Galaxy S7 Edge carry the same lightning-fast processor, the Snapdragon 820. Lenovo has chosen the most popular processor of the year, which has already proven itself on devices such as the OnePlus 3, which is one of the most noteworthy devices in the field. The European S7 Edge uses a different processor, the Exynos 8890, a top-hitter in benchmark tests.    

The graphics chip in the Moto Z is an Adreno 530 and that in the S7 Edge (European) is Mali-T880. 32/64 GB of internal memory (possible extension with a microSD card), 4GB of RAM assist the processor in both models. This considerable amount of RAM ensures a smooth experience.

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Both phones contain high-end smartphone processors. © AndroidPIT

What does this all mean in practice? Both smartphones are simply excellent. You can play without encountering any problems or lags, including when playing demanding games. Though application crashes are unavoidable, I didn’t notice any specific problems or lags while using either device.

Regarding the SAR, both smartphones do quite well seeing as both are below 0.500. Having said that, it is quite difficult to find truly reliable information about a phone’s SAR, even from sites that are supposed to specialize for this. This is because the figures differ quickly (especially between the US and European markets since calculation methods are different).

Lenovo Moto Z vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: camera

The Moto Z did well but could have done better with an IMX230 camera, which was already present in the Moto X Force, that is to say a 13 megapixel lens, though this time it comes with an f/1.8 aperture. The S7 Edge follows the family tradition of doing a stand up job again and again. It uses a 12 megapixel lens with an f/1.7 aperture. Both devices have optical image stabilization (quite normal for high-end devices) but the Moto Z uses laser automatic focus whereas the the S7 Edge has phase-detection microscopy.

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Both smartphones offer different camera designs. © AndroidPIT

The Moto Z allows you to take good photos but it works better in a well-lit environment: the finish is really very good. As soon as darkness falls, the quality diminishes considerably. The Galaxy S7 Edge allows you to take very good photos in conditions where there is good lighting but also in darker settings, thanks to the larger aperture and different software features.   

Lenovo Moto Z vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: battery life

In order to achieve its desired thickness, Lenovo had to make sacrifices and was therefore not able to include a large battery: the Moto Z offers 2600 mAh, which is not necessarily bad in itself but for a phablet, it is not a lot. In practice, this should allow for an entire day of usage.

The Galaxy S7 Edge is once again a model student offering 1000 mAh more than that of its rival. That being said,  it’s not the size that counts how well the system has been optimized to use this power to its fullest. Samsung’s device will last one or even two days without a problem when used moderately. In both cases, you will find a quick charge system that is truly extremely useful on a day-to-day basis.

Verdict

The Moto Z causes the Galaxy S7 Edge to lose its balance, though not enough to make it topple. Regarding camera and battery, the Samsung smartphone remains unbeatable. As for design and software, this comes down to a matter of taste: one banks on simplicity, the other on pretty effects.

8 comments

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  • Interesting how you mention samsung's always on feature but ignore the superior moto display.
    Oh, and the camera hump and pins are there to be functional and in use for the backs at all times making any aesthetic comments when a back is not on the phone moot.
    To each their own, but I will always pass on a bloated mess Samsung phone. Top it off with usability, visibility, and fragility issues introduced by the curved display, and it makes me wonder why anyone would want to use it after picking it up and trying it.

  • Dazzler 1 month ago Link to comment

    It's easy to see how the Edge wins against any phone currently available, it has a huge screen in small frame, fully waterproof, SD slot, 2-3 day battery life, awesome camera but the kicker is that it has (in my opinion) the best design available.

    It LOOKS like an expensive designer product, all the other flat screen devices of similar or even greater specs just can't compete with that.

    • Expensive and fragile. The super fragile Edge display costs almost 300 bucks to replace and you cannot find a decent tempered glass protector to protect it.
      The Edge display is just a gimmick nobody uses.
      I have both phones since day one and I'm selling this Edge crap.

  • You really like Samsung Benoit? 😀 :) Why you don't compare Samsung with Moto z force ?

    • Moto Z Force is the competition for the S7 Edge and wins hands down with its awesome battery, faster storage speed and shatterproof display. The regular Z can go against the regular S7.
      Also, S7 Edge with Always On display is a battery hog, and can't make it through the day. The Moto Display feature doesn't use extra battery life since the Motorola Mobile Computing System processor takes care of that. It's also way easier to randomly press by mistake the screen on the edges on the S7 Edge. The back glass on the S7 is super fragile and slippery while the aircraft grade aluminum chassis on the Z combined with the a leather or wooden style shell is super durable and classy. The design on the S7 is actually a dissadvantage.
      Also you didn't mention how awesome the fingerprint print scanner is on the Moto Z since it's way faster than on the S7, more accurate and you can also press it with any finger to lock the screen too. The Moto Z charges faster, has dual tone flash for the camera wich makes night portraits more natural (the difference is huge) and also a front facing flash. The speaker also has better placement on the front so you don't cover it while holding your phone in landscape mode. And the Mods, they are awesome, and there's more to come with the dev kit program. Only the ones that don't/can't have them don't like them and makes the Moto Z more future proof and therefore a better phone. In fact, any Moto Z even the Play is more future proof than any other smartphone now thanks to the Moto Mods. Motorola is going to keep the same shape on the back for another 2 years so that any future Mod will be compatible.
      Official upcoming mods are: Walkie talkie, Adventure Mode (waterproof with fish eye camera) and OneCompute (connect to a screen and you gain a PC interface running the Android from your phone).

      • Someone's upset the phone they own didn't win? Come on get real, nearly all reviews are unanimous that the S7 Edge is better than the Z or Z Force

      • You haven't owned both for long enough to make a judgement. I have both since day one.

  • i had samsung s6 and i can say Exynos is the best in peeformance

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