If you take all the iPhone 7 rumors and throw them in one big pile, they don't add up to a phone half as exciting as the Galaxy Note 7 has turned out to be. Sure, you'll probably get a faster processor, an improved camera (maybe two!) and probably a missing headphone jack, but based on what's been revealed thus far, Samsung's phablet seems like it will still be the big-screen phone to beat come Sept. 7 when Apple is expected to have its big event. Here's why.
A Much Better OLED Display
Most iPhone 7 rumors point to Apple not changing the screen on the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, which means you'll get the same ho-hum LCD technology and same low-res panels of 1334 x 750 for the smaller iPhone 7 (really, in 2016?!) and 1920 x 1080 for the Plus. The Note 7 not only rocks a higher resolution of 2560 x 1440, but its Super AMOLED panel offers richer colors and wider viewing angles, making everything from movies to Facebook posts pop. It's the screen I'd rather use.
Sexier, Narrower Design
The iPhone 7 is reportedly losing the ugly antenna bands on the back and may even be getting a new blue hue. Otherwise, Apple isn't expected to offer any major design changes on the iPhone 7 or the bigger Plus. The Note 7, on the other hand, boasts a striking dual-curved screen that wraps around to meet a curved glass backside, making this the sexiest phone you can buy (the S7 Edge is a close second).
Plus, assuming Apple keeps the dimensions the same on the Plus this time around, the new phone will continue to sport a bezel that's too wide for easy use with just one hand. The Note 7 is narrower and has almost no bezel.
S Pen on Board with New Powers
Call the S Pen gimmicky if you want, but I really like its ability to take notes, sketch and annotate on the go. Those with less-than-stellar eyesight will love the new zoom feature, which blows up the screen up to 300 percent when you hover the S Pen over content. I'm also having a blast playing with the GIF creation feature, which lets you make GIFs by recording videos. I'm never going to use the language translation option, but I do like the Screen Off Memo function, which lets me scribble without turning the screen on.
There may be an Apple Pencil on the way for the iPhone 7, but it hasn't shown up in the rumor roundups, and I haven't seen any mockups with a holster for a Pencil in the prototype designs. The Apple Pencil has been a great addition for the iPad Pro, but if Apple charges extra for the iPhone that will be one more point for Samsung.
I'm constantly frustrated with the iPhone's Touch ID sensor, which has trouble reading my finger at least a third of the time. And while it might get better with the iPhone 7's rumored pressure-sensitive Home button, nothing's easier than just looking at your phone. The iris-scanning feature on the Note 7 allows you to log into your phone with your eyes, and it works blazingly fast. However, I do wish I didn't have to hold Samsung's phone so close to my face for it to work.
A Headphone Jack!
Apple probably has its reasons for ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7, whether it's about better audio quality through the Lighting port or achieving a waterproof design. But with the Note 7 you don't have to bother with a dongle or an adapter to use your favorite earphones or headphones with the handset. It just works.
Virtual Reality a Real Option
Unless Tim Cook has something shocking up his sleeve, Apple likely won't debut a VR headset this September along with the iPhone 7. The CEO has said that he's very interested in augmented reality, but there's no telling when it will materialize in an actual product.
Meanwhile, Samsung has just unveiled a new version of its Gear VR that’s more comfortable and it offers a wider field of view for virtual reality games, videos, sports events, concerts and more. Plus, you can make your own VR content with the Gear 360 camera.
Apple could still surprise us with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Maybe there will be a Smart Connector (at least on the Plus) that lets you connect various accessories. Maybe its touch-sensitive home button will be truly innovative, instead of just full of potential like the 3D Touch display. But as of now, the Note 7 is the big-screen phone to beat, and it doesn't look like that will change anytime soon.
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Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.