Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 is finally here, and it's shaping up to be the company's most stunning phablet yet. The Note 7 is sleeker, sturdier and more feature-rich than its predecessors, and boasts some robust security features as well as Gear VR support. Of course, The Note 7 has some serious competition in the form of Apple's iPhone 6s Plus, which offers genuine innovation in the form of 3D Touch and Live Photos. Here's how the two heavyweights stack up.
Both phones are gorgeous, but the new Note 7 is certifiably jaw-dropping. Samsung's phablet continues to take design cues from its smaller Galaxy S sibling, with a curved-edge Gorilla Glass 5 display and sleek rounded aluminum edges. The phone comes in black, silver and an especially stunning blue coral variation, and is IP68 rated to endure some splashes.
The 6s Plus, on the other hand, doesn't mess with the formula too much, offering a sturdier take on the slim, rounded and striped design that debuted with the iPhone 6. The phone looks great in silver, space gray, gold and the new rose gold option, but the bezels are a bit thick—especially compared to the borderless Note 7.
Here's where the Note 7 wins by a landslide. Samsung's phablet feels like a phone from the future, with a new iris scanner that lets you unlock the device with just your face. It also packs a slew of new S Pen features, including the ability to scribble a note on the screen that stays put even when the phone is locked—perfect for grocery store trips. You can also use the pen to make GIFs out of videos. The Note 7 also works with the latest version of Gear VR, allowing you to enjoy a good chunk of virtual reality games and apps wherever you are.
The iPhone 6s Plus is tamer by comparison, but still plenty innovative. The device's 3D Touch feature provides a whole new way of interacting with a smartphone, with pressure-sensitive commands that let you get to your navigate your favorite apps more quickly. It also takes GIF-like Live Photos, which add a bit of animation to your shots and can be shared with your Facebook pals. Both the 6s Plus and Note 7 sport fingerprint readers, and can make mobile payments via Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, respectively.
Specs and Camera
The Note 7 borrows the Galaxy S7's Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM, so you can expect very speedy performance. The phone's 3,500-mAh battery supports USB-C fast charging as well as wireless charging, and its generous 64GB of starting storage can be boosted to 256GB via a microSD card (you'll even get a free one for pre-ordering).
Samsung's phablet packs a 5.7-inch 2560 x 1440 display, which should be ideal for watching movies on the go. Plus, you'll be able to stream HDR content from Amazon and other services, which means better contrast and more realistic colors.
Apple's smartphone is no slouch in the specs department either, with a zippy 64-bit A9 processor. Unfortunately, Apple's phones still start with a measly 16GB of storage, with no options for expansion. The 6s Plus' 5.5-inch 1080p screen doesn't boast the size or resolution of the Note 7's display, but it still looked fantastic in our testing.
The two phablets are nearly identical in terms of camera specs, both offering 12-MP rear shooters with optical image stabilization as well as 5-MP selfie cams. The iPhone 6s Plus takes fantastic outdoor shots and great low-light selfies, but, judging by our time with Samsung's most recent phones, the Note 7 will likely give it a run for its money.
On paper, this contest isn't even close. The Note 7 is looking like the ultimate super-sized smartphone for power users, thanks to its bigger, more dynamic display, expandable storage, fast-charging battery and high-tech features such as iris scanning. If you'd like to stay inside the iOS ecosystem (with its plethora of excellent apps), there's still plenty to love about the iPhone 6s Plus, thanks to its clean interface and game-changing 3D Touch controls. Still, while we'll have to wait until our full review to be sure, the Note 7 is shaping up to be the phablet to beat.