Both the Galaxy Note 7 and Galaxy S7 edge tidily package all of Samsung's high-end advantages. They're both slick, powerful devices with a luxurious in-hand feel and ample computing power for serious users. Their biggest difference can be ascertained at first glance: The Note 7 is a full-on phablet with a capacious screen and nimble stylus. The sans-stylus S7 edge is just a notch below the Note in size and adaptability. Read on, as we compare their features and specs.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is a few scant millimeters larger than the GalaxyS7 edge in every dimension, about 6.4 percent larger overall. When considering size, know that Samsung does a great job of maximizing screen size on the space available. The screen wraps around the horizontal edges, with relatively little header and footer space on the vertical borders of the display.
The Note 7 weighs 7 percent more. Not only is it larger, it's a hair more dense.
The devices' constructions aren't dramatically different, except the glass curves around a bit differently on the Note 7 than on the S7 edge. On the Note the curve creates more of a rounded edge, whereas on the S7 the aluminum in between feels distinct.
This small design tweak creates a dramatic improvement in the looks, ergonomics and feel of the Note 7. The minimal aluminum frames nearly disappear into the smooth contours of the front and back.
The two have in-line color schemes. The Note has an additional "blue coral" option.
The screen of the S7 edge is bigger than the standard S7's, but is 7 percent smaller than the Note's. Samsung must feel it's hit a sweet spot with the Note display: it's been sitting pretty at 5.7 inches for the last four generations.
The displays have the same resolution. Since the S7 edge has the smaller display of the two, it has a 3 percent pixel density advantage over the larger Note 7.
We're looking at Super AMOLED, Samsung's favorite, on both phones.
Taking a cue from smartwatches, Samsung is one of the first to incorporate a dim always-on display option for showing core notifications like time and number of messages.
Both of these phablets have curved front displays. On the Note 7, the curves seem to start a little closer to the edge, perhaps for stylus maneuverability.
The Note 7 uses its trademark "S Pen" stylus. The S7 edge is exclusively fingertip-operated.
For this Note, Samsung gave the S Pen a finer tip and made it water resistant (we'll get to that below). The S Pen also has twice the pressure level sensitivity of the previous model, which is much more noticeable when using the stylus for tasks like writing onscreen notes than day-to-day use like navigation. Software updates give the pen a few new tricks, like translation, magnification and GIF-making shortcuts.
Nope. Android has yet to follow in the steps of Apple's 3D Touch, which offers iOS shortcuts based on how hard you tap.
Previous generations of both these phones had 16 MP rear-facing cameras. Now, they're down to 12 MP. But Samsung definitely traded up, replacing those heaps of unnecessary pixels with improved low-light photography.
This makes for better images in all types of conditions, so you'll never miss the MP. Check out our look at the S7 series for some photo samples.
Camera aperture (rear)
The new f/1.7 lens means a larger possible aperture, one of the driving factors behind the improved low-light photography.
Less light requires longer exposure times, which in turn means more opportunities for blurring and camera shake. Both these phones have Optical Image Stabilization to help obtain crisp, clear photos from handheld shooting.
Physical camera shortcut
In both cases, you can launch the camera with a double-tap of the home button.
Both flagships have hefty batteries for longer life. We'll need to wait for our review, though, before having much to say about the Note 7's battery life.
You can use the stock cable to recharge a depleted battery with lightning speed.
Samsung continues its trend of including wireless charging in its flagships. If you add on a Samsung-made charging pad, you can even get fast wireless charging. But the fast wireless charging still lags behind the zippy speed of fast cabled charging.
These batteries are staying put.
The S7 edge is compatible with both the new Gear VR (thanks to its microUSB adapter) and the previous version.
Both phones have the Snapdragon 820 64-bit quad core 2.15 GHz processor in large markets like the U.S., China, and Japan. In smaller, developing markets, Samsung is using its own octa core Exynos 8990 processor.
We're looking at 4 GB RAM in both devices, which should be ample (twice the amount seen in Apple phones).
There is 64 GB of built-in storage in the Note, and three different storage tiers for the S7 edge.
MicroSD external storage almost makes the amount of built-in storage moot. It's not fully expandable in the sense that your phone still differentiates between internal and external storage, but you can always store necessities like apps on the phone while storing pics and other files externally.
Both flagships are equipped with Samsung Pay, but only in U.S. and Korea so far. Samsung Pay may not have the same name recognition as Apple Pay, but since it can work by emulating your credit or debit card (in addition to NFC, which Apple Pay requires), it's accepted in more places. Merchants do not need a special contactless point-of-sale terminal.
The biometrics-driven technology is reliable, secure, and easy to use.
If fingertip scanning isn't James Bond enough for you, the Note 7's iris scanning technology might make your futuristic security dreams come true.
Whether it's actually more secure than a standard fingerprint biometrics scan, like what the S7 edge offers, is debatable. In all actuality, are your fingerprints ever going to be hacked?
After a year's hiatus, Samsung has re-introduced IP68 water resistance to its high-end phones. Accidental splashes or submersion aren't a problem; the devices are rated to handle being underwater up to 1.5 meters (almost 5 ft) deep for up to 30 minutes. Impressively, the Note 7 is water resistant with or without the stylus in its dock, no flaps required.
The S7 edge was released in March 2016. The Note 7 is available for preorder and officially launches August 19.
Starting price (full retail)
These are unquestionably high-end devices. Still, the prices might raise a few eyebrows, even compared to similarly appointed phablets. The S7 edge is around US$790, while the Note 7 is about $850. Prices vary by country, carrier and package.
If you're willing to fork out this much cash for a premium phablet and you appreciate Samsung's approach, either of these devices should fit the bill. They're very similar --Samsung even went right from the Note 5 to the Note 7, probably to signify the Note's likeness to the rest of the Galaxy 7 series (and maybe pit it as a more direct rival to the upcoming iPhone 7).
In all likelihood, the decision between the Note 7 and the S7 edge will come down to whether or not you're a stylus user. With a lack of other viable options, it's easily the best choice for stylus devotees overall.