Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs. iPhone 6S Plus

samsung galaxy note 7 vs apple iphone 6s plus versus 0001
Sadly, the gorgeous Galaxy Note 7 has been the focus of a massive recall. Now, replacement units have been catching fire and that’s forced Samsung to temporarily halt production. Samsung officially declared an end to the Note 7 in early October.

“For the benefit of consumers’ safety, we stopped sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note 7 and have consequently decided to stop production,” Samsung told Digital Trends in a statement.

If you have a Galaxy Note 7, please return it immediately to the place where you purchased it. You are entitled to a full refund or an exchange for a replacement device of equal value, as per the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall. Please see our full guide on how to return your Note 7 here. The guide also includes recommendations of which device to buy instead.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 is here and it’s packed with top-of-the-line specs we’ve seen in many other flagships this year. While it shares a lot of internals and design cues, such as the dual-edge display, with the Galaxy S7 Edge, the Note 7 stands out by being Samsung’s first flagship smartphone with a USB Type-C charging port and an iris scanner.

Below continues our original spec comparison of the iPhone 6S Plus and the Note 7.

Specs and design

Specs

iPhone 6S Plus

Galaxy Note 7

Size 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3mm (6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 in) 153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9 mm (6.04 x 2.91 x 0.31 in)
Weight 6.77 ounces (192g) 5.96 ounces (169g)
Screen 5.5-inch IPS LCD Dual-edge, 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED
Resolution 1,920 x 1,080 pixels 2,560 × 1,440 pixels
OS iOS 9, upgradeable to iOS 9.3.3 Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Storage 16GB, 64GB, 128GB 64GB
MicroSD card slot No Yes, up to 256GB
NFC support Yes (Apple Pay Only) Yes
Processor 64-bit Apple A9 processor Qualcomm MSM8996, Snapdragon 820 (U.S. Models),
Exynos 8890 Octa (International Models)
RAM 2GB 4GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi, GSM, CDMA, HSPA, EVDO, LTE-A Wi-Fi, GSM, 4G LTE, HSPA
Camera Front 5MP, Rear 12MP Front 5MP, Rear 12MP
Video 2160p 4K UHD 2,160p 4K UHD
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.2 Yes, version 4.2
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Iris scanner No Yes
Misc. 3D Touch S Pen
Water resistant No Yes
Battery Non-removable Li-Po 2,915 mAh battery Non-removable Li-Po 3,500mAh battery
Charger Lightning USB Type-C
Quick charging No Yes
Wireless charging No Yes, Qi and PMA
Marketplace Apple App Store Google Play Store
Color offerings Gold, silver, gray, and rose gold Black, white, gold, silver
Availability AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile
DT review 4.5 out of 5 stars Pending

It’s hard to compare the specifications of an Android device with an iPhone — many of the iPhone’s internals are optimized for iOS, meaning it doesn’t necessarily require 4GB of RAM, for example. Still, the Note 7 uses the same Snapdragon 820 processor as the Galaxy S7 Edge. When the S7 Edge duked it out with the A9 processor in the iPhone 6S Plus, the Snapdragon 820 chip won. Again, that’s like comparing apples to oranges as the A9 chip is Apple’s self-designed chip for the iPhone, meaning it’s optimized far better for the device than Qualcomm’s 820 is for the Note 7.

In terms of storage, Apple starts out with 16GB — which is abysmal in this day and age — but it progresses with a 64GB and 128GB version. There is no MicroSD card slot, so unless you get a case that can add extra storage, you’re stuck with whichever variant you choose.

Apple’s iPhone 6S Plus 64GB variant is priced at $850, which is the same cost as the 64GB Galaxy Note 7. Samsung’s phablet only has the one storage option, but Samsung wins out here — the Note 7 has a MicroSD card that can support up to an additional 256GB. Even better, the Korean giant is giving away its 256GB MicroSD cards (or a Gear Fit 2) for a limited time when you purchase the device. That’s 320GB of storage for $850.

You can also get 256GB MicroSD cards starting from $80 on Amazon, so even without the deal it’s still cheaper to go that route instead of opting for the 128GB variant of the iPhone 6S Plus at $950. It’s worth mentioning that internal storage is faster and more stable, but you’ll end up paying a lot more money for it.

Spec-wise, Samsung also beats the iPhone out with 4GB of RAM, though Apple optimizes its hardware with its software really well — both devices should be able to handle multiple tasks easily.

The Note 7 comes with the S Pen stylus, but the iPhone 6S Plus has 3D Touch. Still, the Note 7 may beat out the iPhone in features thanks to the iris scanner, IP68 water resistance, wireless charging, and fast charging. Samsung’s phablet also has a bigger battery, though iPhones have always had a better standby time.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Design and durability

Design is purely subjective — Samsung has come to form its own design language, and Apple’s famous iPhone design scheme has continued to improve since the first iPhone. There are some notable differences to consider, however. The Galaxy Note 7 has a glass back and front — that means it’s prone to fingerprints and may be harder and costlier to replace if the glass breaks. On the plus side, Samsung is using the all new Gorilla Glass 5 on both sides, which means the glass is tougher than ever.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends
Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends

The Note 7 also has an IP68 rating, meaning that you can dunk it in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. The S Pen also has the same rating, in case you wanted to jot some notes down while in the pool.

There’s also the dual-edge display on the Galaxy Note 7 to consider — if you like the look of the Galaxy S7 Edge, know that Samsung has improved on it to make the Note 7 comfier to hold. And while there are a few new Edge Panel features, the dual-edge display wins points for its design aesthetic — it makes the Note 7 look drop-dead gorgeous.

The iPhone 6S Plus is simple, sleek, and sexy — it’s more rounded and is completely metal. While that may help in durability tests, one flaw is that it doesn’t allow for wireless charging — a feature the Note 7 has.  Regardless, the iPhone is always an elegant choice with its durable unibody, and you won’t find fingerprints on this phablet.

One last factor that may swing your vote is that while the Galaxy Note 7 has a slightly larger display at 5.7-inches, compared to the iPhone 6S Plus’ 5.5-inch screen, the dimensions for Samsung’s device are actually smaller. That means the Note 7 is lighter and smaller, despite having a larger screen size — that’s thanks to the narrowed bezels.

Between phablets, it seems like the Note 7 has a little more to offer for its size and features. But of course, design is only one part of the equation — the iPhone is likely easier to repair and won’t be covered with smudges.

Winner: Tie

Display, camera, software, and pricing

Display

The iPhone 6S Plus isn’t as big as the Galaxy Note 7, but the latter is actually an ever-so-slightly smaller and lighter device, according to dimensions. The iPhone has a smaller 5.5-inch Full HD display with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. Samsung, in typical fashion, has gone a little further with its 5.7-inch display and Quad HD resolution of 2,560 x 1440 pixels.

So with the slightly larger screen, you’re getting a higher resolution. You’re also getting a higher pixel density with 518 pixels per inch. The iPhone packs 401 pixels per inch.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends
Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends

The Note 7 also uses Samsung’s Super AMOLED display, which offers deeper blacks and brighter colors — though they can be a little over-saturated at times. The iPhone uses older technology, IPS LCD, but that doesn’t means its displays suffer. You’ll still find sharp details and good color.

The iPhone also has a pressure-sensitive screen, which is required for 3D Touch. 3D Touch is kind of like right-clicking a mouse on desktops — you get more options and shortcuts to actions for apps. It’s a brilliantly-useful feature, but Samsung’s not without its own tricks.

The Edge Panel lets you add shortcuts to all sorts of apps and content, and it makes the smartphone look gorgeous at the same time.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Camera

Cameras have always been one of the hallmarks of the iPhone, but Samsung has taken the crown on multiple occasions in recent years. The Korean company has done it again — the Note 7 maintains the same dual-pixel cameras that power the Galaxy S7 Edge.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends
Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends

You’ll find that both devices have the same megapixel count — the rear camera packs a 12-megapixel camera, and the front camera for both has 5 megapixels. But the pixels in the Note 7 camera sensor are larger, providing faster autofocus and improved shots in low-light situations. Samsung also has an aperture of f/1.7 lens for both cameras — that means images can get brighter and offers more depth of field.

That hardly means the iPhone’s camera is subpar; in fact, it holds up incredibly well. But compared to the Note 7, it does have an f/2.2 lens, which means it won’t have as good bokeh as its Korean counterpart.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Software and usability

This category is similar to design, in that it’s subjective. Most people have already decided their camps — whether it’s iOS, Android, or even Windows 10 Mobile. Android is more customizable, and Samsung’s skin, TouchWiz, has really been toned down on the Note 7. While more options for what you can do is always a good thing, it can sometimes get complicated. For that reason, if all you want is a smartphone to power on and have everything accessible at your fingertips, you should go the iPhone route. It’s the simpler OS to use.

Apple iPhone 6S Plus
Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends

It’s not that the Note 7 or Android isn’t — there’s just a lot more you can do on the surface that really depends on whether you want to take the time to customize your smartphone to your liking.

You’ll never be let down by a lack of apps on either platform. Both app stores on the operating systems are thriving, and while many apps tend to release on iOS first, an Android version usually follows quickly. There are several notable apps that have also launched on Android first.

Note 7-wise, there are some features that stand out from other Android devices. For example, you can pin notes to the always-on display; you can magnify and translate text with the S Pen; and you can store secure files in Secure Folder, which can be unlocked with your iris.

Still, iOS 9.3.3 has a large list of features that would take a while to go through, and even then it still comes down to personal preference.

iOS does get more updates for security and new features, which gives it the edge here.

Winner: iPhone 6S Plus

Pricing and availability

Both of these devices are among the most expensive mainstream smartphones available. The Galaxy Note 7 started at $850 for the only 64GB variant, and the iPhone 6S Plus starts at $750 for 16GB, $850 for 64GB, and $950 for 128GB.

They’re mostly equally matched in price when you choose the iPhone variant with the same internal storage, but remember — the Note 7 comes with a MicroSD card that lets you add up to 256GB. And Samsung has a limited-time deal that offers up the Gear Fit 2 or a 256GB MicroSD card for free when you purchase a Galaxy Note 7.

Of course, the Galaxy Note 7 is no longer available from any carrier — so you’ll only be able to get the iPhone 6S.

  • AT&T: The iPhone 6S Plus 64GB costs $750 at full price, or $25.00 per month for 30 months.
  • T-Mobile: The iPhone 6S Plus 64GB costs $650 at full price, or $26.00 per month for 24 months.
  • Verizon: The iPhone 6S Plus 64GB costs $650 at full price, or $27.08 per month for 24 months.
  • Sprint: The iPhone 6S Plus 64GB costs $650 at full price, or $14.59 per month for 24 months with a $100 down payment.

Winner: iPhone 6S Plus

Galaxy Note 7 wins

The Galaxy Note 7 beats the iPhone 6S Plus in our eyes, but it wasn’t really a surprise, was it? The iPhone 6S Plus is almost a year old and it still managed to hold its own. The Note 7 is Samsung’s testament to being the king of mobile — it refines on the Galaxy S7 Edge and offers even more, at a higher cost.

Key updated features over the previous Note 5 are the iris scanner, the USB Type-C port, and the dual-edge display. The smartphone is great all-around, but it’s not exactly revolutionary even with an iris scanner.

Choosing between an iPhone and an Android device is difficult, because they’re two distinct operating systems that offer great experiences — but it’s all personal preference. If you want a great display, camera, a stylus, a water resistant phone, a wireless charge-compatible device, and more, go for the Note 7. If you want a device that just works out of the box, is easy to use, and doesn’t require much set up, go for the iPhone 6S Plus, though you may want to wait a few weeks to see what Apple launches in September.

Of course, there’s another thing to consider — you don’t really have a choice in which phone to buy. Between these two phones, you can only get the iPhone 6S Plus.

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