Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs Apple iPhone 7: Samsung’s new phablet will face its biggest competitor when the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus arrive later this year.
Samsung has just announced the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which brings the premium design of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge to its business-oriented phablet range.
Given the timing of its release in mid-August, Samsung’s new phone will have a couple of months to build up a lead over Apple’s next flagship phone, the iPhone 7. But how will the two devices compare?
While we’ve gone hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, we can only speculate as to the final form and feature-set of the iPhone 7. Still, a number of leaks have given us a fairly good idea of what to expect.
Here’s how we see the Galaxy Note 7 and the iPhone 7 stacking up.
DESIGN – SAMSUNG FTW
As we’ve already alluded to, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 borrows much of its design from the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Which, as regular readers will know, is pretty much our favourite phone design on the market right now.
It’s got the alluring dual-curve display, the all-glass back (which is also curved), and that shiny finish that changes according to the angle of the light.
Conversely, the iPhone 7 is widely expected to look quite a lot like last year’s iPhone 6S – itself a dead ringer for 2014’s iPhone 6. Which, even at the time, wasn’t exactly viewed as much of a looker.
Of course, the iPhone 6S is also a surprisingly rugged phone that can stand up to general nicks and scrapes surprisingly well. Samsung’s recent designs, on the other hand, seem to scratch and dink if you so much as look at them sharply.
One way in which the Galaxy Note 7 will probably be tougher than the iPhone 7, however, is when it comes to taking a dip. The Samsung is IP68 certified, while none of Apple’s phones to date have been. The Note 7 will also feature Gorilla Glass 5, so should be a little tougher than Samsung’s previous phones.
DISPLAY – SUPERIOR SAMMY SCREEN
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has a stunning 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display. Given that the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge currently have the best displays in the business, we’re pretty confident that the Galaxy Note 7 will at least match them.
It will probably be even better, with Mobile HDR set to lead to an even more vivid, contrasty picture.
Conversely, we’re not expecting any great advancements from Apple’s next smartphone. The company has stuck with the same basic pixel density (326ppi) and IPS LCD panel technology for years now, and it finds itself trailing Samsung on pretty much all counts.
Both displays will have extra tricks up their sleeves. In the case of the Galaxy Note 7, that trick takes the form of the S Pen stylus. Popping out of the bottom of the device, it lets you jot down your thoughts and messages in a naturalistic fashion. This time you get an improved 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, too, and you can also use it to instantly translate foreign text or create speedy GIFs from YouTube videos.
As for the iPhone 7, we’re expecting it to continue with the 3D Touch technology that debuted with the iPhone 6S. This lets you access further UI elements by pressing a little harder on the screen, which is accompanied by a subtle series of vibrations via a sophisticated vibration motor.
With iOS 10 set to take these 3D Touch elements even further, the iPhone 7 promises to be an extremely flexible tool.
PERFORMANCE – APPLE MIGHT JUST OVERTAKE
The Galaxy Note 7 is certainly not what you’d call underpowered, but it uses the same chip as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. That means either the Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890 CPU, depending on where you live.
Both chips are capable, and they nudge out the iPhone 6S’s A9 CPU in a number of areas. But we’re expecting the iPhone 7 to debut Apple’s next-gen A10 chip. If Apple continues with its rate of CPU performance improvement (the A9 is 50 to 70 percent faster than the A8), then the A10 could well be the new mobile CPU champ.
The Galaxy Note 7 will probably have double the RAM of the iPhone 7 – 4GB versus 2GB – but that’s never been a particularly useful metric for comparison. Android and iOS are simply too different, and with Samsung applying its own clunky custom skin, Apple’s phones have always felt a little smoother than Samsung’s.
CAMERA – ALL TO DO FOR APPLE
One key battle between these two phones will be for the camera crown.
For several years, Apple made the best smartphone cameras around. It’s still one of the best, and it arguably remains the easiest to use and most consistent, but for outright quality – not to mention low-light results – Samsung took over with the Samsung Galaxy S7 (if not the Galaxy S6 the year before).
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 packs exactly the same camera as the Galaxy S7. We’re talking the same 12-megapixel camera with phase detection, Dual Pixels, OIS, an f/1.7 lens, and a 1/2.6-inch sensor, and we’re not complaining one bit.
Still, this lack of progress could allow Apple to steal back into the lead with the iPhone 7’s camera. You can put money on Apple coming up with a better camera than that of the iPhone 6S, and there are even reports that the new phone (or one model at least) will feature a dual-lens camera.
This dual-lens setup should go way beyond the gimmicky effects of previous dual-lens efforts, and could actually boost image quality and low-light performance significantly.
It seems unlikely, at this stage, that the dual-lens technology will make its way into the smaller iPhone 7. But the Galaxy Note 7 may not be the best-snapping phablet around for long.
SOFTWARE – APPLE WINS OS SHOWDOWN, AGAIN
The one are we can confidently say the iPhone 7 will beat the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, even before the former has reared its head, is when it comes to the OS.
Put simply, Apple does software much better than Samsung. While the South Korean phone maker has stepped up its game considerably in recent times, it still employs a custom Android UI that inherently compromises the speed and functionality of the Android OS at its core. Not massively, but enough.
Apple’s iOS, on the other hand, goes from strength to strength. iOS 9 borrowed a bunch of features from Android, which means its much more flexible and powerful than before. What’s more, the iPhone 7 will debut iOS 10, and it’s set to be better still.
In particular, we’re looking forward to vastly improved notifications and deeper 3D Touch support.
As for the Galaxy Note 7, it runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow – a great OS in its own right. However, it’ll be out of date within a couple of months, as Android Nutella is set to launch. It’ll be updated, but probably not as quickly as you might hope.
We’ve only spent a little time with the Galaxy Note 7, and we won’t even know the iPhone 7’s name or what it looks like until some time in September.
However, we’re pretty confident that Apple’s new phone won’t give the Galaxy Note 7 anything to worry about in terms of screen or design quality.
Where it could make things interesting is with its rumoured new camera tech. The Galaxy Note 7 takes awesome pictures, but it’s no better than the Galaxy S7 on that front.
Meanwhile there’s the age old disparity between the quality of Samsung’s software and Apple’s. If a slick native UI is all-important to you, the iPhone 7 may still prove the better pick.
We’ll have a much better idea of which phone is the more appealing in just a couple of months’ time.