By jumping from 5 to 7, Samsung is making it clear that its newest flagship phablet – the Galaxy Note 7 – is on the same level as its wildly popular, and impressive Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. But aside from a new curvy design and IP-68 waterproofing, the Note 7 bring some new features even its smaller siblings don’t have, which makes it a good time to compare all which one is right for you.
On paper, the current range of Galaxy phones are pretty similar. Overall performance should be nearly identical and despite being different sizes, all the phones feature a Super AMOLED screen with 2560 x 1440 QHD resolution. The Note 7 is the biggest at 5.7 inches, the S7 Edge in the middle at 5.5 inches, and the S7 has a 5.1-inch screen.
The Note 7 sports the same 12-megapixel camera as its cousins with dual-pixel focusing tech, so it's photos should look the same too. And now that the Note 7 features IP-68 resistance for dust and water resistance, it’s just as durable as the S7 and S7 edge. The one difference is that on the Note 7, Samsung switched to a USB Type-C port for charging and data transfer.
With new curved glass panels that are the same on front and back, the Note 7’s new design is easily a match for the gorgeous and sleek S7 Edge. In the U.S. Samsung is even offering a signature coral blue version of the Note 7, which is a refreshing change from the traditional blacks and silvers you get on a lot of handsets.
The Note 7’s 5.7-inch QHD display offers a bit more screen real estate, which is useful when you need to check a spreadsheet on the go, or just want to watch a movie on the plane. Samsung has even added support for HDR content, which means you should see brighter colors and better contrast when watching videos.
Finally, it’s important to mention that at 6.04 x 2.9 x 0.31-inches and 5.96 ounces, the Note 7 is the biggest and heaviest phone in the Galaxy line up. So if you prefer something a bit more pocketable, the standard S7 may be a better choice.
While all the Galaxy phones including the Note 7 feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM, where the Note 7 pulls ahead is with its S Pen. The pen, which hides in a handy slot on the bottom of the Note 7, is a fantastic tool for people who like to sketch or takes notes. It also gives you a more precise way to manage your apps, and new on the Note 7, you can create memos with the S Pen, and save them so that it will show up on the phone’s always on display.
With the Note 7, Samsung is making a bit of a deal about the Note 7 supporting the new Vulkan graphics platform, but since the company has said the S7 and S7 Edge will also get support for Vulkan, it’s kind of a wash on that front.
Every Galaxy phone features a fingerprint reader and Samsung’s Knox security platform, which allows big business to more easily, and safely secure its devices. However, the Note 7 takes security two steps further with the addition of a dedicated iris scanner that allows you to unlock your phone using your eyes and a new secure folder for protecting sensitive photos, files and even apps.
Samsung is works on bringing its iris scanning security to more apps in the future, including mobile banking.
If longevity is your number one concern, the Note 7 might not be what you want. That’s because its 3,500 mAh battery is actually slightly smaller than the 3,600 power pack in the S7 Edge. Then you figure in the Note 7’s slightly larger screen (5.7-inches for the Note 7 vs 5.5-inches for the S7 Edge), and you get a recipe for battery life that might not reach the S7 Edges mark of 10 hours and 9 minutes on the Tom’s Guide Battery Test (although we still need to do some testing to confirm).
There's no question that the Note 7 is a pricey phone. If you look at T-Mobile's lineup, for example, it costs $849.99 (or $69.99 down and $32.50 per month), versus $679.99 for the Galaxy S7 (or $28.34 per month for 24 months) and $789.99 (or $30 per month) for the S7 Edge.
So we're talking about a price difference of $60 between the Note 7 and S7 Edge and a whopping $170 delta between the S7 and Note 7. If you're going to spend S7 Edge-type money, you might as well get the Note 7 if you want a pen for a few bucks more per month.
What Should You Get?
Aside from a slightly smaller battery versus the S7 Edge, there’s very little to dislike about the new Note 7. It has pretty much everything you want in a big 5.7-inch phone, and its handy S Pen offers better productivity than pretty much any other phablet on the market. On top of that, the new iris scanner and secure folder offer more ways to keep your personal info protected, without being a hassle.
The 5.5-inch S7 Edge offers an immersive multimedia experience for about $60 less, while the 5.1-inch S7 is an easy pick for those who prefer a smaller phone with a great camera for $170 less than the Note 7.
In the end, if you’re a fan of big phones, the Note 7 deserves serious consideration.