iPhone 7 Plus vs Galaxy Note 7: Which phablet is for you?


The iPhone 7 Plus is something Apple dismissed as a concept just four years ago. Remember the iPhone 5 advert that said that 4in phones were perfectly evolved for the human thumb?

That “common sense” has now been abandoned for three generations in a row with the iPhone 7 Plus being the third phablet Apple has released. Samsung, of course, have been doing this for years and the Galaxy Note is now in its sixth iteration. Confusingly, it’s called the Note 7, even though there was no Note 6 and the Note 5 wasn’t released in the UK. Phone naming conventions are simultaneously boring and weird.

Does that extra experience make the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 a better bet than the Apple iPhone 7 Plus? While we don’t have all the details at the moment, here’s how the two stack up in a head-to-head battle. We’ll be updating this as we get more information, and when we’ve had more dedicated hands-on time with Apple’s big new addition to its phone lineup.

Apple iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 7 – Design

By now, all top-of-the-range phones look pretty damned sleek, and it should come as no surprise that both the iPhone 7 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 are both quite the lookers. The iPhone 7 Plus doesn’t look too dramatically different from the iPhone 6S Plus – although the jet black colour is new – while the Note 7 works on the super design work from the Galaxy S series.

Both wear their phablet dimensions as a badge of honour. The iPhone 7 Plus has a slightly smaller screen at 5.5in to the Note 7’s 5.7in. Despite this, the Note 7 is the smaller handset overall: it’s 153.5 x 73.9mm to the iPhone 7 Plus’ 158.2 x 77.9mm. It’s lighter too, with the Note 7 tipping the scales at 169g to the iPhone 7 Plus’ 188g. The iPhone 7 Plus is thinner though – it’s just 7.3mm thick, managing to shave off a little bit of its girth as it ditched the headphone jack (the Note 7 is hardly fat at 7.9mm).

Apple iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 7 – Screen

So let’s talk screens. As mentioned, the iPhone 7 Plus is a 5.5in jobby. It’s an IPS display which kicks out a resolution of 1,080×1,920 offering a pixel density of 401 pixels per inch. That’s plenty of pixels… but not as many as the Galaxy Note 7, which packs a resolution of 1,440×2,560 into its display meaning a pixel density of 518ppi.

We can’t really do a fair comparison of the qualities of the displays until we have the iPhone 7 Plus in for review, but tantalisingly, Apple has promised a display that is 25% brighter than previous models. In our test, the iPhone 6S Plus produced a top brightness of 584cd/m2, meaning that a 25% increase would hit 730cd/m2 – very bright indeed. Not quite as bright as the Note 7, however, which managed 872cm/m2.

Apple iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 7 – Specs

Let’s get one good piece of news out of the way first. Apple has finally killed off the 16GB entry level for iPhones. That’s good, because it was hugely stingy, but also kind of irrelevant here as the Note 7 starts with 64GB storage – and it also keeps the microSD card expansion slot, something which Apple refuses to budge on.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 also comes with the S Pen, of course: Samsung’s clever stylus that allows you to doodle on the screen. The iPhone 7 Plus doesn’t, but the two do both come with waterproofing for the first time, meaning that both should survive an accidental (or intentional, should you like to live dangerously) soak in the tub. And of course the Note 7 comes with a headphone jack which the iPhone 7 Plus infamously doesn’t. Not to be outdone on the inconvenience stakes, the Note 7 is the first Samsung phone to ditch the micro USB port. There are all kinds of advantages to USB Type C, but in the short run, you’re probably going to struggle to find spare cables around. On the plus side, it does have wireless charging which, again, the iPhone 7 lacks.

Away from this direct comparison of features, things get a bit more murky, thanks to Apple’s vagueness about what’s doing the heavy lifting on the inside. So, while we know that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 uses the Exynos 8890 chip (the same one you’ll find in the S7 range) backed by 4GB RAM, the iPhone 7 Plus has 2GB RAM and the A10 Fusion Chip. We know nothing about the A10 Fusion Chip other than what Apple tells us.

So what does Apple tell us? Well, we’re told it will be 40% faster than the A9 processor that powered the iPhone 6S Plus. Here’s how the Note 7 and iPhone 6S fared in our Geekbench 3 tests:

Apple iPhone 6S Plus

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Geekbench 3 single core

2,523

2,114

Geekbench 3 multi core

4,396

6,175

So, if we give those scores a 40% boost, the iPhone 7 Plus should come out with scores of 3,532 and 6,154 respectively. Obviously, until we’ve had time to run the test on the iPhone 7 Plus, you should take this with an enormous pinch of salt, but if Apple aren’t massaging their figures you should be looking at a comparable performance, with better single core optimisation.

Apple iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 7 – Price

Brace yourself. You could make a case for there being no winners in this particular category. SIM free, you’re not getting either for less than £719 at launch.

That particular honour belongs to the iPhone 7 Plus 32GB model in either silver, black, gold or rose gold. For the next size up – 128GB – you’re looking at £819 and an optional jet black finish.

The Note 7, on the other hand, starts at £740 – but it is worth remembering that it comes with 64GB of storage built in.

Contract deals will spread out the pain, but neither are cheap, basically.

Apple iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 7 – Verdict

At this stage, it’s very hard to be definite either way, although it’s pretty clear that both will be an excellent choice of phablet. While the Note 7 offers a number of features that the iPhone 7 Plus can’t match (wireless charging, the S Pen, expandable storage, a headphone jack) iOS is still the better supported platform in terms of apps, and operating system familiarity can make a huge difference.

We’ll be updating this when we can properly benchmark the camera, battery life and performance, but for now, both are looking like excellent – if very expensive – phablets that won’t let you down.

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