OnePlus says its smartphones are flagship-killers, and the OnePlus 3 proves they aren’t kidding - but the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is loved by everyone and has been crowned one of the best smartphones money can buy. How do they compare to one another? Are there areas where the OnePlus excels and others where it falls short? Let’s find out in our OnePlus 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge comparison.
OnePlus 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge - design and build quality
Samsung’s Edge range has lots of fans, and it’s considered by many as the most beautiful range of phones that Samsung makes. The S7 Edge is no exception: it’s gorgeous. The OnePlus 3 isn’t quite as pretty. It isn’t ugly, but it doesn’t have the strong, distinctive character of its Korean competitor. It doesn’t really stand out from the rest of the smartphone crowd, although it’s perfectly well made and comfortable to hold. It just isn’t much to look at.
The Galaxy S7 Edge is a big phone, but it’s actually slightly smaller than the OnePlus: it’s 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm compared to the OnePlus 3’s 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.4 mm. The Edge’s curves make it look smaller than it actually is, but in terms of weight the phones are evenly matched: if you can tell that the Samsung is 1 gram lighter than the OnePlus you should probably sell your hands to science.
The main differences between the two phones’ designs are in the buttons. Samsung has the familiar oval home button and fingerprint reader, as does the OnePlus, but only Samsung offers a tactile button you can properly push. The OnePlus has an extra button to mute notifications, similar to the one you’ll see on Apple’s iPhones.
Do we have a winner? The Samsung’s much prettier but feels more fragile too; if we were to bet on which one would survive an accidental drop, we’d put our money on the OnePlus.
OnePlus 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge - display
As we’ve come to expect from Samsung the S7 Edge packs a Super AMOLED display. This one is 5.5 inches with qHD resolution of 1,440 x 2,560 pixels. The OnePlus has an AMOLED too, but its resolution is plain old Full HD at 1,080 x 1,920. There’s not that much difference between the screens in everyday use, but the Samsung one is sharper.
The Edge has another display trick, of course, and that’s its curved display which enables you to have shortcuts and notifications on either side of the main display. We’re not convinced that the curves are essential, but they’re certainly useful - as is Samsung’s Always On mode, which uses the AMOLED display’s ability to light individual pixels to display key information without hammering the battery.
The Samsung display is clearly superior, although just how superior depends on how important you think extra pixels and curved edges are. If you’re not so keen on the curves but want to stick with Samsung, you might prefer the plain and slightly cheaper Galaxy S7 instead.
OnePlus 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge - software
Neither phone comes with stock Android, although they come pretty close. OnePlus has its OxygenOS, while Samsung has TouchWiz. Both interfaces are based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and retain all of its features; what’s different is what the manufacturer adds. in OnePlys’s case that isn’t much beyond interface tweaks, but Samsung adds a whole bunch of preinstalled apps from Samsung, Microsoft, Facebook, WhatsApp and Google. And don’t forget the curvy bits of the display.
The choice here largely comes down to personal preference, as both interfaces are stable with no obvious lag or application crashes.
OnePlus 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge - performance
There are two flavors of Galaxy S7 Edge: one with a Snapdragon 820 (US market) and one with an Exynos 8890 (Europe). We’ll focus on the European model here, which has an octa-core processor backed with 4 GB of RAM and an ARM Mali-T880 graphics chip.
The OnePlus 3 is one of the most powerful smartphones we’ve ever tested at AndroidPIT. It has the Snapdragon 820 running at up to 2.2 GHz per core, with 6 GB of RAM and an Adreno 530 graphics chip. If you’re reading this in 2020 then 6GB of RAM doesn’t sound like a lot, but here in 2016 it’s more RAM than anybody else’s flagship phones have got.
On paper, the OnePlus is faster: its AnTuTu benchmark was 140,573 points to the S7 Edge’s 128,603. But like the one gram difference between the phone’s weight, we can’t see any difference in real world use: they’re both flying machines.
OnePlus 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge - camera
Manufacturers like numbers: megapixels and apertures and ISOs. But you and I know that it’s quality, not quantity that matters: a crappy sensor can have all the megapixels in the world and still take crappy photographs. Samsung’s 12 megapixels doesn’t look like much on paper, but the f/1.7, dual-pixel system takes really good photographs. It’s one of the strongest features of the S7 Edge.
The OnePlus camera is better on paper and worse in reality. It’s a 16 MP, f/2.0 camera with optical stabilization, and we found it often took blurry photographs in automatic mode and poor quality images in low light. If you want to know where OnePlus had to cut corners to keep the price down, the camera is where we’d point our finger.
OnePlus 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge - battery
Someone at Samsung appears to have specified a tractor battery for the S7 Edge: its 3,600 mAh battery is enormous even by phablet standards, and could probably power a Tesla for a fortnight. The OnePlus has a relatively titchy 3,000 mAh, but its lower screen resolution is less demanding. In practice both devices run happily all day long, but the Samsung lasts fractionally longer while the OnePlus charges fractionally faster.
OnePlus 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge - verdict
We’re channeling Sir Mix-A-Lot here, who famously sang “I like big butts and I cannot lie”. We’ve got some big buts here. The Samsung has the better camera, but. The Samsung has a better battery, but. The Samsung has a better display, but. The Samsung has a curved screen, but.
All the buts come down to the same thing, and that’s money. The Samsung is a brilliant device, but it also has a €800 / $799 price tag. The OnePlus is €399 / $399. The Samsung’s better, but is it four hundred euro or dollars better? Let us know what you think in the comments.