Mobile Technology

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs. Galaxy Note 5

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs. Gala...
New Atlas compares the features and specs of the new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (l) and last year's Galaxy Note 5
New Atlas compares the features and specs of the new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (l) and last year's Galaxy Note 5
View 30 Images
Camera aperture (rear)
1/30
Camera aperture (rear)
Battery
2/30
Battery
Build
3/30
Build
Camera megapixels
4/30
Camera megapixels
Color options
5/30
Color options
Processor
6/30
Processor
Curved display
7/30
Curved display
Dimensions
8/30
Dimensions
Display resolution
9/30
Display resolution
Display size
10/30
Display size
Display type
11/30
Display type
Fast charging
12/30
Fast charging
Fingerprint sensor
13/30
Fingerprint sensor
Gear VR compatibility
14/30
Gear VR compatibility
New Atlas compares the features and specs of the new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (l) and last year's Galaxy Note 5
15/30
New Atlas compares the features and specs of the new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (l) and last year's Galaxy Note 5
Iris scanner
16/30
Iris scanner
MicroSD
17/30
MicroSD
Optical Image Stabilization
18/30
Optical Image Stabilization
Charging/data port
19/30
Charging/data port
Levels of pressure sensitivity in S Pen (stylus)
20/30
Levels of pressure sensitivity in S Pen (stylus)
Starting price (full retail)
21/30
Starting price (full retail)
RAM
22/30
RAM
Release
23/30
Release
Samsung Pay
24/30
Samsung Pay
Software
25/30
Software
Storage
26/30
Storage
Stylus
27/30
Stylus
Water resistance
28/30
Water resistance
Weight
29/30
Weight
Wireless charging
30/30
Wireless charging
View gallery - 30 images

Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 may have a name that's two generations ahead of last year's Note 5 (no "6" for Samsung), but the new model's practical and aesthetic advances are pretty incremental, even for one year's progress. Is it still enough to warrant the upgrade? Let's glean what we can by comparing their features and specs, and weighing them against our own hands-on impressions.

Size

Dimensions
Dimensions

Sizes are very similar, with the Galaxy Note 7 coming out a pinch taller and narrower. It also measures 4 percent thicker than the Note 5.

What we loved about the new phone, that won't show up in spec sheets, is its rounded edges. With curved back and front (the Note 5 just had a curved back), the Note 7's glass front and back bleeding into aluminum edges make for a silky-smooth feel in hand. As strange as it sounds, this may be our favorite change in the new model (at least based on our limited hands-on time).

Weight

Weight
Weight

The Note 7 is a mere 1 percent lighter.

Build

Build
Build

Apart from the slightly different ergonomics we mentioned, design is largely unchanged. Like all of Samsung's 2015-16 era flagships, you get glass back and aluminum frame.

Colors

Color options
Color options

The Galaxy Note 7's color options are slightly changed from last year's Note 5 and inline with the Galaxy S7 series from earlier this year.

Display size

Display size
Display size

Screen size is also unchanged, as Samsung and other smartphone-makers appear to have backed off of the bigger is better mentality that saturated the Android ecosystem from around 2011 to 2014 (peaking with the humongous Nexus 6): The Note series has been sitting on 5.7 inches for the last four generations.

Display resolution

Display resolution
Display resolution

The Galaxy Note also stands pat at QHD resolution for the third straight generation. It looks like 4K smartphone panels aren't quite ready for primetime (or, perhaps more specifically, they would currently hurt battery life too much to justify their eye candy overkill).

Display type

Display type
Display type

Being Samsung, we have another Super AMOLED panel on our hands.

Curved display

Curved display
Curved display

As we mentioned, the Note 7's screen slopes off on either side, similar to the Galaxy S Edge series.

Here the slope starts closer to the edge, though, contributing to that rounded side of the phone we like so much.

Stylus

Stylus
Stylus

Of course one of the Galaxy Note's trademarks is its "S Pen" stylus, but the new phone gets a few new software-based tricks to along with its (narrower and now water resistant) 2016 S Pen.

These include translations (hover stylus over word, see pop-up that shows its equivalent in another language), magnifications (a little digital magnifying circle moves around the screen as you hover the pen around) and a GIF maker (drag box around video, get instant shareable animation).

Those are niche uses, though, and we can't help but notice that Samsung comes up with just enough wacky new stylus features to add to each new model – and leave off the previous one – every year, only to wash, rinse and repeat the process (after critics inevitably call some of the features gimmicks) the next year.

S Pen pressure levels

Levels of pressure sensitivity in S Pen (stylus)
Levels of pressure sensitivity in S Pen (stylus)

The Note 7's S Pen doubles the pressure levels from the previous two models, giving it better sensitivity. The last models were already very good in this respect, though, so this didn't strike us as a dramatic change during our brief hands-on. Stay tuned to our review to see if the improved model shows itself more over longer-term use.

Iris scanner

Iris scanner
Iris scanner

This is the big marquee feature Samsung's marketing team will push like a mother in labor for the next few months: The Note 7 has an iris scanner that can open the phone's security gates for you just by gazing at the handset.

In our hands-on, it worked perfectly (and was very fun for a quick novelty). But we also have to wonder if this is more of a new for new's sake addition than something that's going to change much of anything. Technical achievement aside, how hard is it, really, to place your finger on a home button/sensor? And is the iris scanner any more secure? That's yet to be determined.

If pricing were the same as last year, this wouldn't hurt anything. But the new Note costs an extra Benjamin this time around (read on) and, if a neat-o but unnecessary feature like iris scanning has anything to do with it, we aren't sure how much we'll be able to get behind that once it's review time.

Fingerprint sensor

Fingerprint sensor
Fingerprint sensor

Fingerprint sensors these days are great, doing basically everything the new iris scanner does, and the new Note 7 still has one of those as well.

Water resistance

Water resistance
Water resistance

The IP68 water resistance that showed up in the Galaxy S7 series also makes its way to the Note.

Gear VR compatibility

Gear VR compatibility
Gear VR compatibility

Both phones work with the best mobile virtual reality headset, the Gear VR. The only caveats are that the Note 7 requires the updated Gear VR, while the Note 5 can work with either the original headset or the new model.

Processor

Processor
Processor

The Note 7 gets the standard one-generation-newer processor upgrade that you'd expect from a next-gen phone. The most surprising thing here was that the pre-launch rumors about the Note 7 carrying the slightly faster Snapdragon 821 were off the mark, with the same 820 from the S7 and S7 edge taking its place.

Similar to Samsung's global strategy in past years, much of the world (outside of the US) will get an octa-core Samsung Exynos chip instead of the Snapdragon.

RAM

RAM
RAM

Samsung stood pat with 4 GB of RAM this year.

Storage

Storage
Storage

One thing to keep in mind when we get to that price hike is that Samsung is giving you a generous 64 GB internal storage as standard. The entry-level versions of the latest iPhones only give you 1/4 of that.

MicroSD

MicroSD
MicroSD

Unlike with the Note 5, you also get an expandable storage slot in the Note 7.

Battery

Battery
Battery

We also get a 17 percent bigger battery in the Note 7.

Samsung is releasing a separate battery pack accessory as well, that snaps onto the Note 7's back (via little "hooks" on the corners). Based on our hands-on, it doesn't look quite as gaudy as most battery cases.

Fast charging

Fast charging
Fast charging

Fast charging is standard on every major Android flagship these days.

Wireless charging

Wireless charging
Wireless charging

Samsung kept wireless charging around this year.

Port

Charging/data port
Charging/data port

With the Note 7, Samsung finally switched to the USB Type C standard.

Camera megapixels

Camera megapixels
Camera megapixels

It looks like the Note 7 gets the same terrific rear camera from the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. Despite the lower resolution you see in this visual, it's a notable overall improvement over the Note 5's camera.

Camera aperture (rear)

Camera aperture (rear)
Camera aperture (rear)

Part of that is due to its better low-lit photography, which is largely tied to aperture.

OIS

Optical Image Stabilization
Optical Image Stabilization

Optical Image Stabilization, which reduces the effects of jittery, over-caffeinated hands, is back in the new model.

Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay
Samsung Pay

Samsung's mobile payment system, Samsung Pay, naturally returns in the Note 7 as well.

We put that asterisk in to denote that the Note 7 lets you use not just the fingerprint sensor, but also the iris scanner to pay for things. Again, though, is there really much practical advantage to that? Or is it just neat?

Software

Software
Software

The Galaxy Note 7 launches with Android Marshmallow, but the new Android Nougat could release any day now. We don't expect it to be too long after that until the Note 7 gets the update (expect a longer wait for the year-old Note 5).

Release

Release
Release

The Note 7 is up for pre-order now, and launches on August 19.

Starting price (full retail)

Starting price (full retail)
Starting price (full retail)

Yikes, Samsung is getting really bold here. When, for US$400 unlocked and full retail, you can buy a high-end flagship with very few compromises like the OnePlus 3, is there any justification for paying over double that for the Note 7? It looks like a terrific phone, and really the only high-quality option if you like styluses, but you still may want to stop and take a deep breath before impulse-buying the new Note. This is one uncommonly expensive smartphone.

With that said, we did walk away from our hands-on eager to spend more time with the latest Note. Its smoother build feels amazing in hand, and it's a snappier phone with a better camera, bigger battery and double the storage of last year's Note. Maybe not $850 nice, but at least you can pay that off over two years with the carrier of your choice.

Consider this one where there's no way to even ballpark where our recommendation will fall until we spend much more time with it. Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, you can hit up New Atlas' reviews of the Note 7 and Note 5.

View gallery - 30 images
2 comments
VincentWolf
Note IV wins hands down--it has a replaceable battery.
PoppyAnn
it looks like there is nothing worth spending this amount of money on if you have already got a note 5 whilst the camera is slightly better on the F setting it is over 30% lower in pixels, I cannot find anything with reference to whether it can take photos in Raw like the note 5 which is the best format for professional photographers the waterproof is worth getting for people who for some reason have to take their phone into the shower or bath, for me removing the sharp edges and rounding off the screen is a down side as it just makes it harder still to keep hold off, the main thing that annoys me and many others is having the power button directly across from the volume buttons is a stupid idea as every time I put it down on the charging pad I try to power off the screen to save battery power but most of the time I just end up altering the volume and then have to pick it up again to turn it back up and try again, if they cannot move the button then give the option to set it so it does not turn on the screen every time I start to charge it.