Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 is finally here, and it’s skipped a number. It borrows a lot of design cues from the Galaxy S7 Edge, but it’s still got the incredible S Pen stylus in addition to the Edge panel. It seems like a long time ago, but the Note 7 arrives almost exactly a year after the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and the Note 5. These three phones have a lot in common, but they have their share of differences. Which Galaxy will win this shootout? Read on to find out.
Galaxy S6 Edge Plus
Galaxy Note 5
Galaxy Note 7
|Size||154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9 mm (6.1 x 2.98 x 0.27 in)||153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm (6.03 x 3.00 x 0.30 in)||153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9 mm (6.04 x 2.91 x 0.31 in)|
|Weight||153 g (5.40 oz)||171 g (6.03 oz)||169 g (5.96 oz)|
|Screen||Dual-edge, 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED||5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED||Dual-edge, 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED|
|Resolution||2,560 × 1,440 pixels||2,560 × 1,440 pixels||2,560 × 1,440 pixels|
|OS||Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, upgradeable to 6.0.1 Marshmallow||Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, upgradeable to 6.0.1 Marshmallow||Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow|
|Storage||32GB, 64GB||32GB, 64GB||64GB|
|MicroSD card slot||No||No||Yes, up to 256GB|
|Processor||Exynos 7 Octa 7420||Exynos 7 Octa 7420||Qualcomm MSM8996, Snapdragon 820 (U.S. Models),
Exynos 8890 Octa (International Models)
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, GSM, 4G LTE, HSPA||Wi-Fi, GSM, LTE, HSPA||Wi-Fi, GSM, 4G LTE, HSPA|
|Camera||Front 5MP, Rear 16MP||Front 5MP, Rear 16MP||Front 5MP, Rear 12MP|
|Video||2160p 4K UHD||2160p 4K UHD||2,160p 4K UHD|
|Bluetooth||Yes, version 4.2||Yes, version 4.2||Yes, version 4.2|
|Battery||Non-removable Li-Po 3,000mAh battery||Non-removable Li-Po 3,000mAh battery||Non-removable Li-Po 3,500mAh battery|
|Wireless charging||Yes, Qi and PMA||Yes, Qi and PMA||Yes, Qi and PMA|
|Marketplace||Google Play Store||Google Play Store||Google Play Store|
|Color offerings||Black, gold, silver, white, pink||Black, gold, silver, white||Black, white, gold, silver|
|Availability||AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile||AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile||AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile|
|DT review||3 out of 5 stars||4 out of 5 stars||4.5 out of 5 stars|
It’s a little odd comparing last year’s tech to what’s current — there’s no doubt the Galaxy Note 7 will beat out its predecessor and the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 820, which benchmark site AnTuTu placed at the top of its high-performing smartphone chips list. Samsung even has a newer Exynos 8890 chip that will be powering the international variant of the Galaxy Note 7, compared to the default chip found in the other two smartphones. That’s not to say that the 7420 Exynos chip is poor — it’s still a high-performing chip, but both the 8890 and 820 are a step above it.
All three devices have 4GB of RAM, which should be plenty enough for multi-tasking. They all also have the same 2,560 x 1440p Super AMOLED Quad HD 5.7-inch screen and a fingerprint sensor. Hardware-wise, the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus is the lightest, but the Note 7 comes in second. In terms of internal storage, the Note 7 wins thanks to its support for a MicroSD card. The Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and Note 5 have 32GB and 64GB options — the Note 7 only has one 64GB option, but the added slot lets you bump that number up to 320GB if you get a 256GB MicroSD card.
But of course, the most chalked up feature of the Note 7 is its iris scanner — it lets you unlock your phone just with your eyes. In our initial tests, it was fast, though it did have trouble unlocking the device in certain lighting conditions. You can also use it to unlock apps and folders, and while it’s a little more than a gimmick — the S6 Edge Plus and Note 5 don’t have one.
The battery for the Note 7 also has gotten a 500mAh boost, and the addition of USB Type-C is certainly a plus thanks to its fast-charging capabilities. All three devices support wireless charging and quick charging.
Even the S Pen is better all around on the Note 7, compared to the Note 5. Spec-wise, the stylus has a smaller tip and improved pressure — that allows writing with it to feel a little more natural. The S6 Edge Plus doesn’t come with a stylus.
Overall in terms of internals and the S Pen, it’s clear that the Galaxy Note 7 is the winner here.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7
Design, display, and durability
We all know design is purely subjective, but what’s not subjective is that all three of these devices look incredibly similar. Samsung hasn’t changed the design theme much — save for the fact that the Note 7 has the same dual-edge display as the S6 Edge and S7 Edge. In that regard, the Note 5 is the odd one out as it still retains the normal flat display. The Galaxy Note 7 offers the most comfort with the dual-edge panel thanks to new improvements, and it’s the most refined iteration of the Edge devices to date. It’s also much more comfortable than the S6 Edge Plus, which dug into your palms. If you’re thinking about a non-edge display device, there’s always the Galaxy S7 variant if you want something more contemporary and not the year-old Note 5.
The Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, Note 5, and Note 7 all have the same resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, as well as the same pixel density at 518 pixels-per-inch. They also carry the same Super AMOLED screen size at 5.7-inches — Samsung has some of the best OLED panels in the market, and you won’t go wrong with any of the displays on these three smartphones.
But what allows the Note 7 to take the cake is its durability. It’s IP68-rated, meaning it’s dust-and water-resistant — you can hold it under a meter of water up to 30 minutes. You can’t do that with either the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus or the Note 5. The Note 7 may be wrapped in glass, but it’s also one of the first smartphones to come shipped with Gorilla Glass 5 — its glass is tougher and more scratch-resistant than ever before. The latter devices are stuck on Gorilla Glass 4.
The Note 7’s design allows it to be held more comfortably than the S6 Edge Plus, and it certainly beats its predecessors through durability thanks to an IP68 rating and Gorilla Glass 5.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7
You may think the Note 7 suffers in camera quality because it has a 12-megapixel rear camera instead of the 16-megapixel camera on the S6 Edge Plus and the Note 5, but you’d be wrong. Samsung increased the pixel size to allow the Note 7 to capture more light for low-light settings. So yes, the cameras are indeed better on the Note 7 than the other two devices.
You won’t find much of a difference with the front camera, though, as all three have one that’s packed with 5-megapixels.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7
You would think this category would see a draw, but no — the Galaxy Note 7 reigns here as well. While the Note 7 is layered with Samsung’s TouchWiz like the other two devices, the company has significantly improved the Android skin’s aesthetic and simplicity. The Note 7 comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but you can upgrade the other two to the same version. Where the Note 7 beats out the competition again is that it will be the first of the three to receive Google’s upcoming Android version — 7.0 Nougat.
The Note 7 also has a few new S Pen features, such as Air Command — this shows you a handful of apps and actions whenever the S Pen is removed from its tray; and Magnify. You can also easily create GIFs with the S Pen, and write a note on the always on display, when the smartphone is in standby mode.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7
Pricing and availability
Of course, pricing and availability play an important factor in your decision. Being a new smartphone, it’s obvious the Note 7 will be priced higher than its predecessors. Thankfully, though, the Note 7 is compatible with all bands and carriers. The Galaxy Note 7 starts at $850 for the only 64GB variant, but keep the following in mind: Sprint only has the 32GB variant of the Note 5 on its website.
- AT&T: The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 costs $880 at full price or $29.34 per month for 30 months. The Note 5 costs $840 at full price or $28 per month for 30 months. AT&T does not have the Edge Plus variant of the S6 on its website.
- T-Mobile: The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 costs $850 at full price or $32.50 per month for 24 months. The Note 5 costs $790 at full price or $28.75 per month for 24 months. T-Mobile does not have the Edge Plus variant of the S6 on its website.
- Verizon: The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 costs $864 at full price or $36 per month for 24 months. The Note 5 costs $792 at full price or $33 per month for 24 months. Verizon does not list the Edge Plus variant of the S6 on its site for ordering.
- Sprint: The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 costs $850 at full price or $35.42 per month for 24 months. Sprint does not have the 64GB variants of the S6 Edge Plus or the Note 5.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Of these devices, the Galaxy Note 7 is hands down the best smartphone. It beats the S6 Edge Plus and the Note 5 in every category, and it should — those are both year-old devices now. There’s no reason to opt for one of the other two devices at this point — the prices are off by only about $100, and the S6 Edge Plus is clearly difficult to find via the carriers.
The Note 7 is water-resistant, dust-resistant, takes better low-light photographs, runs more efficiently, is more comfortable and durable, has a larger battery, and more. The winner is an easy choice — Buy the Galaxy Note 7.