Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs Apple iPhone 7 / 7 Plus: preliminary specs comparison

It's now official: the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (yes, Samsung skips the '6'th generation and goes straight to '7' to match is Galaxy S line) will get officially unveiled on August 2nd.

Make no mistake: Samsung is moving the announcement of the Galaxy Note 7 a month earlier than usual to gain a competitive advantage over Apple's iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, two phones that usually take most of the tech media attention in September.

However, a month before the unveiling of the Galaxy Note 7 and two months before Apple shows us its new iPhones, we already know a lot about their specs, features, design and performance. It's time to take a look at all these rumors and paint an early picture of what to expect of the biggest phone battle of late 2016: the Galaxy Note 7 vs the Apple iPhone 7 Plus.

Design: if it ain't broke, don't fix it

If it's not broken, don't fix it. That seems to be the mantra of all successful companies and products. In fact, big changes to popular products often corrupt their status with users. That's why it's no surprise that the Galaxy Note 7 keeps the familiar design that it started with the Galaxy S6 nearly a year and a half ago.

Apple is also not bringing any major changes to the design it launched with the iPhone 6: it's largely the same thin metal phone with rounded edges. There are some minor alterations, though: the antenna bands are more discreet and the camera module has a different design. This is not that big redesign that Apple traditionally unveils every two years or so. In fact, the latest rumors even say that the company will reflect this in the name of the phone: it could turn out to be an Apple iPhone 6SE rather than iPhone 7 altogether.

Performance: Apple A10 vs Snapdragon 821

While there are no radical redesigns in outwards appearance, the Note 7 and iPhone 7 family are expected to bring heaps of improvements under the hood. The Galaxy Note 7 is expected to run on the Snapdragon 821 in the United States, while in all other places, Samsung is likely to use its own Exynos 8893 system chip. We saw the same split of chips in the S7 series, where various tests confirmed that the Exynos version performed a bit better and lasted a bit longer.

The iPhone 7, on the other hand, should debut the new Apple A10 system chip. Developed in-house by Apple, the A series of chips have long held the leading positions when it came to single-core performance with the large footprint of the individual cores. Recently, however, we have seen the new Kryo core in the Snapdragon 820, as well as the Exynos CPU cores catch up, so we're curious to see whether Apple will be able to pull ahead this year.

It's also likely way too early for 10nm chips to arrive on devices: those are expected next year, and no new manufacturing process usually results in more modest performance gains.

Interface: mature design, evolving

The Note 7 and iPhone 7 family will both come with familiar, but improved and slightly polished interfaces. In the Note 7, we will see the debut of a new version of TouchWiz, unofficially referred to as Grace UX: its main highlight is simpler icons and a redesigned notification dropdown, where you no longer have a horizontally scrolling list of toggles, but a nice full panel.

Apple's iPhone 7 family, on its part, is set to be the launch platform for iOS 10: one of the bigger iOS remakes recently. While icons on iOS 10 remain mostly unchanged, Apple has changed some core fundamentals: you no longer unlock iOS 10-based iPhones with a swipe (you have to tap on the homescreen to go to the home screen), and lockscreen widgets take a more prominent place on your lockscreen and a separate home screen panel. Also, there is a new neat quick-start camera shortcut: rather than swiping up on the tiny camera icon from the lock screen, you now swipe left from the lockscreen to go directly in the camera.

Camera: end to the megapixel race

After what seemed like an endless megapixel race, it seems that more and more consumers these days understand that more pixels don't necessarily mean better quality. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and Apple iPhone 7 neither will come with the most pixel-dense sensors out there, but still expectations are that they will continue to be seen as two of the very best camera phones out there.

Both are expected to have 12-megapixel cameras. Samsung upped the ante with its Dual Pixel auto-focus technology that made easily made the phone the fastest camera out there: fastest to start and fastest to focus, while Apple still uses the common phase-detection focusing tech, which is slower. However, with the iPhone 7 Plus model, Apple is expected to introduce something different: a dual-camera setup that should allow you to control the depth of the background (for the so called 'bokeh' effect), and add a ton of interesting computational photography options.

Battery: will we see Quick Charging on the iPhone?

Rumors vary on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery size, but expectations are that it will be somewhere between 3,600mAh and 4,000mAh. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, are likely to have batteries of a similar size with their predecessors: 1,715mAh on the 6s and 2,750mAh on the 6s Plus.

With both Samsung and Apple having excellent records with battery life, we expect the Galaxy Note 7 and new iPhones to easily last a full day, even for heavy users.

Another very important aspect of battery life is recharge speeds: Apple is way behind here, and while there have not been any rumors, we are still hopeful that the new iPhone 7 family implements some form of quick charging. It currently takes more than two hours to fully charge an iPhone from 0% to a 100%, while the Samsung Galaxy S7 takes just around an hour and fifteen minutes. That's especially important for people who need a quick, 30-minute charge-up during lunch time: such battery pit stop could result in a nice juice-up on Samsungs, while for iPhones it will only bring a modest relief.

Extras: iris scanning, USB-C

When it comes to introducing new technology, Samsung is clearly first to take initiative. The Note 7 will be no exception: it is set to become the first mass Android phone to come with an iris scanner up front: just look at a new camera on the front of the device, and it will scan your iris and unlock your phone once it recognizes that it's you. This new technology has quite a long list of limitations: it does not work at all distances (you need to have your phone at an arm's length, but not too far away), it does not work with all eyewear, and might not be as fast and as efficient with some eye types. Nonetheless, it's a neat option when used as a secondary unlock mechanism in addition to fingerprint scanning.

The Note 7 will also be the first top-end Samsung phone with a USB-C port for charging and syncing. USB-C is reversible and easier to use, so that's a welcome change.

Price, Release date and Expectations

Samsung is rushing to bring its Galaxy Note 7 before Apple this year: the company has officially announced a major event in New York for August 2nd, and expectations are that the Note 7 release date will also be on the same date. Apple, on the other hand, is expected to first hold an official announcement of its new iPhones on September 6th or 7th, and then officially release them on September 16th.

As to the price, the Galaxy Note 7 price is likely to stand at $800 for an unlocked phone, while the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are expected to have the same pricing as all new iPhones: $650 for the base iPhone 7 / 6SE model and $750 for the base model of the iPhone 7 Plus / 6SE Plus.

Apple is also likely to offer versions with more storage for both phones, and each upper tier usually comes with a $100 price premium, while Samsung will likely have one model available en masse (either a 32GB or 64GB version) with microSD card expansion slot.

All in all, while there aren't any major changes, the Note 7 and iPhone 7 series are expected to bring a number of under-the-hood improvements and knowing both companies, a few surprises as well. We're excited.

Related phones

Galaxy Note 7
  • Display 5.7" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2150 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3500 mAh
iPhone 7 Plus
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A10 Fusion, Quad-core, 2340 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 2900 mAh(21h 3G talk time)



1. JMartin22

Posts: 2370; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

They're both going to good phones. iPhones have been slowly catching up with the specsheet craze. And Samsung isn't buying into it as much, focusing on hardware and software quality. I think it's going to come down to what kind of visual experience you want.

2. strawhat67

Posts: 66; Member since: Jul 16, 2015

The bezels on the upcoming iPhone 7 huge as f*ck!

7. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Why phonearena? Once again you leave out some important information. The Note 7 is suppose to have that new micro SD card slot that can take those new super fast UFS microSD cards.

10. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Onboard storage is still superior to micro SD card storage.

11. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Explain pls.

19. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

He can't. But I can tell you this Cameras are now shooting 4K video, and micro UFS cards can be as fast as internal storage, with the ability to extract and write video without lagging. That is something regular micro-SD cards struggle with, especially in top-line cameras. Trying to get an intelligent answer from Mxyzptlk is just impossible.

40. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Micro-SD is still good cause its cheaper and portable. UHS-3 is more than enough for majority of people.

41. meanestgenius

Posts: 22074; Member since: May 28, 2014

Agreed. We all know that. Some people here just refuse to admit it.

42. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

It's called "being in denial". How about "deflecting", MG? :D

43. meanestgenius

Posts: 22074; Member since: May 28, 2014

Lmao! Exactly! +1 to you.

51. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Right! Mxy has been pissing everyone off, lately. He attacks people's posts by contradicting, without providing any fact or reasonable explanation!

54. meanestgenius

Posts: 22074; Member since: May 28, 2014

That's what he's always done. He's just amped it up to an all time high now.

59. deviceguy2016

Posts: 826; Member since: Jun 16, 2016

Mxy has I.M.S... Irritable male syndrome aka male PMS!!!

64. meanestgenius

Posts: 22074; Member since: May 28, 2014

Lmao! +100000000 for the truth!

82. Mxyzptlk unregistered

And then there's this guy.

85. meanestgenius

Posts: 22074; Member since: May 28, 2014

As long as you didn't say " guy." Keep your man-crush for me out of here.

81. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Not my fault if you're not getting any.

60. deviceguy2016

Posts: 826; Member since: Jun 16, 2016

What's up my friend MG?? Ya looks like he's on the rampage!! He probably has a flip phone and never owned a smart phone so he harasses us, why i don't know, he needs a job to keep occupied

65. meanestgenius

Posts: 22074; Member since: May 28, 2014

Absolutely. This guys trolling is ridiculously out of hand now.

74. deviceguy2016

Posts: 826; Member since: Jun 16, 2016

I guess the PA mods here like him?? Maybe he's one of them??? lol

76. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Actually, looking at the recent blackberry articles, your comments were flagged. Mine weren't.

86. meanestgenius

Posts: 22074; Member since: May 28, 2014

Actually, your comments were flagged in the latest BlackBerry articles as well as some recent Samsung articles. Nice try, though. And FYI: Not being flagged ISN'T equal to not trolling. Just sayin'.

61. deviceguy2016

Posts: 826; Member since: Jun 16, 2016

Read post 9 he's making new friends???

83. Mxyzptlk unregistered

You obviously have never seen a meanestgenius post on blackberry.

87. meanestgenius

Posts: 22074; Member since: May 28, 2014

But he's clearly seen you post on BlackBerry articles, as well as several others, to know that you troll. Now stop deflecting.

84. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Stop it ordinary, you're making too much sense. The point went over his head, a usual thing.

47. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Samsung makes SDcards which are fast enough for 4K, even without the new UFS cards. Also Sandisk UHS-1 cards are fast enough too. Those are the ones with the red/gold labeling. Example - They come as high as 128GB or as small as 16GB.

45. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

He/She can't because he/she is tech stupid.

77. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Have you seen stories of people having SD cards corrupt and erase data stored on them? I understand people are saying otherwise because I made the comment, but the proof is out there. All it takes is one Google search for evidence. The read and write speeds on the Galaxy S7 and S6 phones were very fast and reliable.

14. meanestgenius

Posts: 22074; Member since: May 28, 2014

Even if so, that has nothing to do with the fact that new microSD card storage slot was left out of the article.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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