LG V20 vs. Samsung Galaxy S7: Flagship Showdown

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The LG V20 is, quite literally, one of the biggest new phones of the year. The 5.7-inch phablet is the successor to last year's LG V10 and comes with the same distinctive always-on secondary display.

There are some big changes, though, including a metal body, a dual-camera setup on the back, and powerful Snapdragon 820 processor under the hood. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 would normally be the V20's most natural competition, but with the Note 7 currently being recalled due to battery exploding issues, we'll compare the V20 to the flagship Galaxy S7 instead.

Name LG V20 Samsung Galaxy S7 (Verizon Wireless)
 
Lowest Price %displayPrice% %displayPrice%
Editor Rating
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Dimensions 6.3 by 3.1 by 0.3 inches 5.61 by 2.74 by 0.31 inches
Weight 6.2 oz 5.36 oz
Screen Size 5.7 inches 5.1 inches
Screen Type IPS LCD Quad HD AMOLED
Screen Resolution 2,560 by 1,440 pixels 2,560 by 1,440 pixels
Camera Resolution 16MP and 8MP Rear, 5MP Front-Facing 12 MP Rear; 5 MP Front-Facing
Wireless Specification 802.11n (2.4+5 GHz Dualband) 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth Version 4.2 4.2
microSD Slot Yes Yes
  Read the Review Read the Review

A Big Difference Design
For starters, the V20 is big. Measuring 6.3 by 3.1 by 0.3 inches (HWD) and weighing 6.2 ounces, it's by no means a phone you can comfortably use with one hand. The S7 (5.6 by 2.7 by 0.3 inches, 5.4 ounces) by comparison is just the opposite. Its compact dimensions and light weight make it ideal for subway straphangers who want to text or browse without straining their thumb.

LG V20 open

Build material is another big difference. The S7 has two pieces of glass on the front and back, with a band of metal along the sides. The V20 is all-metal, but unlike the semi-modular LG G5, it has a more traditional removable back panel that clicks open using a release button on the side. Opening it up lets you pop out the battery, something you can't do with the S7, though both phones have microSD card slots for expandable storage.

Also notable, the S7 is IP68 waterproof, letting it survive under six feet of water for 30 minutes. The V20 is not, but it is more durable, with MIL-STD-810G transit-drop protection, giving it better survivability.

Beautiful Screens for Everyone
Neither the V20 nor S7 will disappoint in terms of display quality. The V20 has a 5.7-inch 2,560-by-1,440 IPS display, matching the S7's 5.1-inch Quad HD SAMOLED in resolution. Pixel density will be higher on the smaller S7, at 577 pixels per inch (ppi) against the V20's 515ppi, but both screens are crisp, bright, and have excellent contrast. The main difference between the two (aside from size), is that the V20 has starker blues and whites, while the S7 has true black. The choice between them is largely a matter of preference since both are excellent.

The V20 does stand out, though, thanks to its secondary display, which can be found on the top right corner. It gives you access to time, date, notifications, and quick access to apps, tools, and camera controls (when the camera app is open). The S7 has a somewhat similar feature in the form of its always-on display, but it's a bit more limited in functionality, only showing you time, date, and notifications. Neither should drain much power.

Powerful Performance
The V20 should be as capable a performer as the S7, as both phones are powered by top-of-the-line Snapdragon 820 processors. Performance should be equally smooth for both, and high-end gaming shouldn't be a problem. The V20 does have 4GB of RAM compared with the S7's 3GB, but you're unlikely to ever hit the RAM usage limit on either.

Audio Makes a Difference
The big differentiator between the V20 and the S7 is going to be audio quality. The V20 has four digital-to-analog converters (DACs) inside. According to LG, the quad DACs should improve sound quality and reduce distortion and white noise. There's also 75-stage fine volume and L/R Balance controls, as well as support for lossless music formats like AIFF, ALAC, DSD, and FLAC. A HD audio recorder capable of capturing 24-bit/1920KHz FLAC is built-in, while video recording can record up to 132 decibels of sound in a lossless format. By contrast, the S7 has no special audio features, so the V20 seems like it's going to be the phone for audiophiles.

The Best Shooters in Their Class
To date, the undisputed king of smartphone shooters has been the Galaxy S7, with its 12-megapixel, rear-facing sensor. Fast focusing, reliable, and capable of excellent shots outdoors and in low-light settings, the S7's sensor is a pleasure to use. But it may have some competition this year with the V20, which has a 16-megapixel main sensor and a 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor. It's the same setup found on the G5, but LG has incorporated Hybrid autofocus, a feature that integrates Laser Detection Autofocus, Phase Detection autofocus, and Contrast autofocus. The three together should improve focus in low-light pictures, improve pictures of moving objects, and refine shots.

Price and Availability
When the LG V20 launches it will be the first phone to run Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. The S7 currently has Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, but we also expect it to get the new Android update at some point.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 has been out for some time now and is available at a full retail price of $672 on carriers and $699.99 unlocked. LG has remained quiet about carrier availability and price, but it's reasonable to expect a similar carrier availability and price.

Ultimately, these are two fairly distinct phones that vary in size and features, but you can be sure that no matter which one you choose you'll get excellent performance on both. We'll be putting the V20 through its paces here at PC Labs, so stay tuned for our full review. Until then, check out Sascha Segan's hands on with the phone from last night's event in the video below.

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