iOS vs Android. Apple vs Samsung. The debates rage on, and pick up steam whenever a new flagship from either company is released. With the recent launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, it’s natural to wonder how these devices stack up against the latest and greatest that is available from Samsung.
Samsung continues to refine the look and feel of the design language the company adopted last year, with the Galaxy Note 7 featuring the metal and glass unibody construction we’ve come to associate with high-end Samsung phones. The refinements are seen in the form of a more symmetrical, and narrower, feel, with the Galaxy Note 7 now coming with a dual curved edge display.
The curved glass on the front and back meet the frame at the middle, making for a very smooth feeling side. Apart from that, the Galaxy Note 7 is easily recognizable as a Samsung device, with all the usual design elements returning here.
Moving on to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, we see that any changes that have been made are more functional than aesthetic. The main change comes with the home button, or rather, the home surface, with it no longer being a tactile button.
Instead of pressing a button, what you are now doing is place your finger on a concave surface, and then use Force Touch. A haptic vibration recreates the feel of a physical button when you press on this surface hard enough, but admittedly, this change can take some getting used to.
Both smartphones retain the design language of their predecessors, but while the Samsung phone has a curved display now, the only visible difference with the iPhones are the re-designed antenna lines on the back, and the introduction of a couple of new color options.
What Apple has been able to do this year is introduce protection from the elements to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, with both devices coming with a IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. Samsung brought back this feature with the latest Galaxy S smartphones, and it also made its way over to the current Galaxy Note.
We put both of these smartphones through a drop test, and it was the Galaxy Note 7 that eventually ended up with a cracked display, when the edge of the curved screen was the point of impact, while the iPhones survived relatively unscathed. So, you can rest assured that both smartphones can certainly brave a fall, and now a splash, and still be able to keep going.
The display is one aspect where there is still a significant gap, at least on paper, when it comes to iOS and Android flagships, which is more than evident here. While the Galaxy Note 7 comes with a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED screen with a Quad HD resolution, the iPhone 7 features a 4.7-inch display with a resolution of 1334 x 750, and the iPhone 7 Plus packs a 5.5-inch Full HD panel.
The Galaxy Note 7 has the largest display of the bunch, but Samsung still managed to keep the overall footprint smaller than what is seen with the iPhone 7 Plus. A feature that the Galaxy Note 7 also packs is the Always On Display, allowing for a little bit of information to be available on the screen at all times.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, which is the processing package found with every current generation flagship smartphone in the Android world. 4 GB of RAM might not feel like enough, given all the extra capabilities the Note 7 now packs, but certainly gets the job done.
On the other hand are the latest iPhones, powered by the new Apple A10 Fusion processing package. iOS 10 doesn’t require as much power as Android to provide a smooth experience, but both smartphones have received a boost in the RAM department, with it bumped up to 2 GB and 3 GB with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus respectively.
As expected, performance is as smooth as can be with all three smartphones, and while we haven’t spent a lot of time with the latest iPhones yet, we haven’t run into any noticeable performance issues yet.
The Galaxy Note 7 packs in a lot more in terms of hardware features when compared to the new iPhones. First, the Galaxy Note 7 comes with a staple of the series, the S-Pen stylus, and as is the case with every iteration, the new S-Pen comes with a slew of improvements and software features to make better use of it.
Samsung brings expandable storage via microSD card back to the Note line, with a possibility of up to an additional 256 GB of storage to bolster the 64 GB that is built-in. In the case of the iPhones, 32 GB is the base storage option, but with no expansion available, users will have to depend on the more expensive 128 GB and 256 GB iterations.
Both the iPhones and the Galaxy Note 7 feature fast and accurate fingerprint scanners up front, but Samsung takes security to another level, with the iris scanner. While the iris scanner is surprisingly easy to use, fast, and accurate, with the great fingerprint scanner available, the iris scanner may not be something that many will use all that often.
The iPhone 7 comes with a 1,960 mAh battery, while the iPhone 7 Plus obviously packs the larger battery of the two, with a capacity of 2,900 mAh. However, the Galaxy Note 7 has both devices beat, with its large 3,500 mAh unit. Further, the Galaxy Note 7 features fast charging and wireless charging capabilities out of the box.
The iPhone does take a step back when it comes to audio with the removal of the headphone jack. This is going to be a controversial topic for a lot of people, but you do get a pair of Earpods that can be plugged into the lightning port, as well as an adapter that lets you use a regular set of headphones. There are also wireless solutions available, including Apple’s own Airpods, so the lack of a headphone jack may not ultimately be as much of a big deal.
The iPhone 7 Plus received a major upgrade in the camera department, with it now boasting a wide angle and zoom lens, that provide different options when it comes to taking photos and videos. Both cameras are of the 12 MP variety, with the wider angle lens coming with a f/1.8 aperture, while the zoom lens features a f/2.8 aperture and 2X optical zoom. The iPhone 7 comes without the zoom lens secondary camera.
The camera app of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are definitely the same as before. There aren’t any major changes to the way that you are going to use the cameras, but a manual mode is available via an app that can be downloaded from the App Store.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 also comes with a 12 MP rear camera with a f/1.7 aperture, which is the same camera package that is available with the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. As we’ve already seen thus far, the Galaxy Note 7 camera provides some really good quality images and videos. The camera app, as expected, is packed with features and modes, including a Pro mode, that allows for that manual control in photography.
It remains to be seen which of these two will be the better performer in terms of photo and video quality. However, you can rest assured that these camera setups are the best that both of these companies have ever provided.
Finally, on the software side of things, we have slightly more robust, and more refined, versions of both operating systems.
The Galaxy Note 7 comes with Samsung’s take on Android, with the major change in aesthetics being the update to the color scheme to make it a bit easier on the eyes. The software package remains as packed with features as ever, with everything from Multi-window, S-Window, and more, to all that the S-Pen is capable of, available here.
On the other hand, iOS 10 is the newest version of Apple’s software, and it does bring a few changes that might take some getting used to. Granted, it is largely the same user interface that Apple users love and are familiar with, but there are some interesting additions that have been made.
For example, in the lock screen, you can now swipe to the left to directly access the camera, or swipe to the right for a place that widgets can live. There are a very specific number of widgets that can be added to this space, but is still a nice way to get a quick look at some key information without having to even unlock the phone. The same screen is also available to the left of the home screens, and notifications can also be found here, making it easier to get to them, instead of having to pull down the notification dropdown.
As always, it comes down to what operating system you want to use. The Galaxy Note 7 comes with the highly-customizable Android, which means that you can get it to look, feel, and perform, exactly the way you want it to. On the other hand, iOS remains a “what you see is what you get” affair.
There are some apps that are exclusively available on iOS and not Android, and vice versa, but for the most part, you will be able to get through your main tasks everyday, with no problems, regardless of which device you pick.
Conclusion at a glance
So, there you have it for this quick look at the iPhone 7 / 7 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 7! Both the iPhone 7 and the 7 Plus are available now, but it might take a little while to get your hands on the latter, with it being sold out almost everywhere. The same can also be said for the Galaxy Note 7, which is currently not on sale, until Samsung is able to fix the battery issues that have led to the massive recall.
Once these smartphones are widely available however, this comparison can come down to one main factor, loyalty. If you are an Android user, the Galaxy Note 7 might just be one of the most feature packed and well made devices that the Android world currently has to offer. Of course, if you are an Apple fan, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are the newest and best ones that you can get your hands on in the iOS camp.