Samsung Galaxy Note 7 camera shoot-out: head-to-head with GS7e, Note 5, and iPhone 6s Plus

Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 is finally official, and earlier today we got the full run-down on the phablet's latest tricks, including a dual-curved-edge screen, water-resistant construction, and that fancy new iris scanner. And while there's plenty of new stuff like that to make the Note 7's launch interesting, it's important to remember that this new flagship shares more than a little in common with Samsung's earlier-year launches.

In addition to landing with the same processor and memory options as the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, the Note 7 also picks up one of the best-received hardware components from these hero phones: their 12MP main camera with “Dual Pixel” technology.

The idea of Samsung dialing back camera resolution from the GS6's 16MP shooter might have seemed like a tricky sell at first, but all it took was seeing the kind of sharp, evenly-exposed, and all around great-looking pics the GS7's camera was capable of producing to quickly win us over in support of Samsung's decision.

Now with the Note 7, we're expecting more of that familiar, really satisfying camera performance. Is that what we're actually going to get? At today's Unpacked launch event we took a few moments to put the new Galaxy Note 7's camera to the test, comparing it to the Galaxy S7 edge, last year's Galaxy Note 5, and the Apple iPhone 6s Plus.

Well, we're glad to report that there's not much in the way of surprises here. Going side-by-side with the pics snapped by the Galaxy Note 7 and Galaxy S7 edge – whose cameras both feature the same sensor, and run nearly the same camera software (the Note 7 version mainly offering UI changes) – we see much of the same color reproduction, range of brightness, and focal performance.

Even some of the same flaws crop up, like the occasionally over-exposed bit. Mind you, the pics aren't straight-up identical, as we were contending with the wildly oscillating light show that is a smartphone launch event, but it was no stretch to believe that the GS7's camera magic is back for the Galaxy Note 7.

With another 12MP camera of its own, Apple's pics from the iPhone 6s Plus start off looking pretty similar to those we captured with this year's Samsung phones, but just as we've noticed in past comparisons, there's an unmistakably different character to Apple's photos. Contrast is toned down, and while we don't see some of the same exposure extremes, that helps bring out a ton of detail in mid-range elements.

Finally, even though it's Samsung's previous-generation model, the Note 5 doesn't outright embarrass itself – though it also offers some of the weakest photo performance here. Shots came in too dark at one moment, and too light the next, and with the f/1.9 aperture we found close-up pics struggling to stay in focus. There's also the stylistic choice of its widescreen sensor (at least at max 16MP resolution) to contend with, and while some users will prefer the shape of its shots, the boxier pics we got from all the other cameras felt a lot more flexible.

But really, the big takeaway is that the Note 7's camera performs just as good as we'd expect it to, given its lofty pedigree. Keep on the lookout for our full Galaxy Note 7 review in the weeks to come, with a much more in-depth analysis of the new phablet's camera capabilities.


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36 Comments

1. ctdog4748

Posts: 797; Member since: Mar 05, 2016

All these pics are pretty similar, so what any normal person would take away from this is that all four phones have fairly similar quality cameras. Sure in a particular area one might be slightly better than the others, and vice-versa, but again overall any of these phones cameras are fantastic.

6. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

You're right, they all look good.

12. Unordinary unregistered

They are all also pretty poorly taken photos. Each of these phones can outperform each of these photos shown. Its all the photographer.

25. tedkord

Posts: 17452; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Not exactly a controlled environment. They probably had to be taken quickly.

2. abdoualgeria

Posts: 928; Member since: Jul 27, 2015

Mkbhd spotted lol

24. tedkord

Posts: 17452; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Ha. Good eye!

32. phonearenarocks

Posts: 607; Member since: Mar 26, 2015

Heheheh lol!

3. BradyCrack

Posts: 835; Member since: Dec 29, 2015

They all look fantastic.

4. chaosnightmare

Posts: 182; Member since: May 20, 2010

In the last group of pictures you can see that there may be a notorious processing improvement over the S7 edge with less aggressive noise reduction allowing to keep more detail without a lot of artificial over sharpening and better color reproduction in areas with higher exposition.

5. darkkjedii

Posts: 31529; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I'm not even gonna get into which pics look best. All I can say is come 8-19-16, I'll be snapping pics, recording vids, making gifs, and I may even shower while making notes, with my new blue coral N7. These next 17 days are gonna move like molasses. And as much as I'm not a fan of SD, I'll be getting a 128, or 256 gig Samsung EVO SD 95mbs. Mxy, my body is ready bro lol.

26. tedkord

Posts: 17452; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Ha ha. You're weak. Talking all bad, "I'm not getting any phones this year, I'll skip until the Note 8 and iPhone 7s." ;p You did the same thing last year with the 6s.

29. darkkjedii

Posts: 31529; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

8-19-16 should make me a little stronger.

7. HouTexan

Posts: 462; Member since: Jan 08, 2012

That coral blue is stunning, bro, and I cannot WAIT to get my hands on it.

8. darkkjedii

Posts: 31529; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Man, I keep looking at it lol. I'm in love. Also, they've finally launched Samsung cloud. I'm sprung bro lol. https://youtu.be/N3a819Ufs2U

9. Furbal unregistered

Yeah coral blue is looking good. I liked the opal blue on the v10 but couldn't justify the price on it from att

10. darkkjedii

Posts: 31529; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

You thinking of getting an N7?

11. InsertUsernameHere

Posts: 430; Member since: Aug 31, 2014

That Coral Blue Note 7 is gonna be mine soon.

13. darkkjedii

Posts: 31529; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

As soon as I leave work tomorrow, I'm headed directly to AT&T to preorder mine. I may do Next, or buy it out right, and let the money come back over my next couple paydays. I can't wait to use those new S-Pen features. The translate will come in handy, since we'll be on a cruise around Mexico in September.

15. InsertUsernameHere

Posts: 430; Member since: Aug 31, 2014

Same here. The Note 7 is a beast.....now I'm just waiting on the new iPhones. Really hope Apple delivers this year. They've become too complacent lately.

17. darkkjedii

Posts: 31529; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I hope they release a compelling device this year. If not, on to 2017.

14. darkkjedii

Posts: 31529; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

https://youtu.be/N3a819Ufs2U The unpacked event in its entirety. How dare Samsung make a phone this gorgeous, and make us wait 17 days to get it.

16. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Do a frkn blind camera comparison iPA and let everyone have their say. These 1-person opinion articles are useless...besides to get clicks.

20. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

It was just a hands on, so the crew wouldn't have gotten enough time to fulfill your wishes.........have some patience!

23. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

They've had the LG G5, S7 and iPhone 6s+ in their hands for months, but they never did one. They instead kept posting 1-person opinions on the matter...

33. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

They have done several blind camera comparisons, were you sleeping at those times??

34. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Ok smartypants, link to one containing the iPhone 6s+, S7 or G5...

35. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

I don't remember one containing all three, as my mind does not bookmark the links for someone like you. But yeah there could be one such in many. Also, I never stated that there ever was a comparison including all the three flagships together; it's just that all have been compared at some point before. As I already said, a comparison having all 3 of the above could be somewhere on this huge site, find it yourself if you are too curious to know instead of complaining before that there is no such comparison. ⭐️Sorry for this long comment but what l meant from my previous reply (#33) was that several blind camera comparisons have been made by phonearena. It's just that you need to open your eyes to find them.

36. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Latest they've done is with the S6 vs iPhone, nothing has been done this year.

18. mahima

Posts: 743; Member since: Nov 20, 2014

p. a shouls stop making 100 articles when a new phone is coming, be it iphone or samsung. give 3-5 articles which probably is enough

31. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

this 100%, I literally stayed away just because of all the damn articles burying everything else. I get it, its a new phone, any new phone, but I don't need so many articles to literally say the same thing over and over and over.

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