Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Flagship phablets battle it out, but only one can take the crown

As much flak as Samsung has taken for allegedly copying Apple over the years, the iPhone's move into phablet territory came well after the Galaxy Note established the space.

And Apple hasn't necessarily made the perfect case for its super-sized iPhone 6s Plus. It has a larger, sharper screen than the iPhone 6s and slightly better battery life, but it also feels larger than it needs to be and doesn't really have any other big-phone bonus perks.

Meanwhile, the just-announced Galaxy Note 7 seems like an ideal pairing of phablet productivity smarts with the brilliant design philosophy that Samsung's been sporting of late. Now that we've had plenty of time with the Note 7 and posted our review, here's our take on how the two handsets match up.

Design: Fancy vs fanciest?

The iPhone 6s Plus is a slim and sleek phone and, thankfully, a bit thicker and sturdier than the iPhone 6 Plus, which introduced the world to "Bendgate". However, the extra bezel on the sides means that Apple's biggest phone feels a little larger than it should, which sometimes makes holding it feel clumsy.

And while the iPhone 6s Plus' ultra-minimal design is quietly attractive, it lacks the Galaxy Note 7's wow factor. It's not just the curved display, the matching curved glass on the back feels and looks great, too. It's big and beautiful, but it also feels comfortable in the hand. The Note 7 wins this one all around.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Display: 2K or 1080p?

As is usually the case when a new Samsung phone goes against the competition, it's no real battle in this category: the Galaxy Note 7's 5.7in AMOLED display is a 2K stunner. It delivers vivid colours, deep blacks and staggering crispness to everything you view on it. Every top-end Samsung screen since the Galaxy S6 has been an absolute winner and nothing's changed here.

The iPhone 6s Plus has the best screen you'll find on an iPhone: it's a 5.5in 1080p LCD with natural-looking colours and great contrast, but place the two together on a table and you'll notice the Galaxy Note 7 just pops. Then again, Samsung's screens even beat rival Android phones' 2K/Quad HD options, so it's not that fair of a fight. Also, it has those sweet, sweet curves.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Camera: Serious shootout

The Galaxy Note 7 uses the same sensors as the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, and believe it or not, that's the best smartphone camera on the market today. Curiously, Samsung trimmed down the megapixel count for this year's flagships, from 16MP on the great Galaxy S6 and Note 5 to 12MP this time around.

But it's the other details that make it a better overall camera: the f/1.7 aperture and 1.4μm pixel size. The iPhone 6s Plus also has a 12-megapixel back camera, but with an f/2.2 aperture and 1.22μm pixel size. Ultimately, the Galaxy cameras seem to pull in a little extra light and deliver a bit more detail and vibrancy in the best shots.

Both have optical image stabilisation and shoot sterling 4K video, and honestly, both are among the best cameras you'll find on top-end phones today. But the Galaxy Note 7 looks to have the upper hand.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Power: battle of the beefcakes

We're not going to fuel the Android vs. iOS wars with any mudslinging here: both operating systems are slick and useful, and both have positives and drawbacks.

With iOS, you get a closed ecosystem that's super user-friendly, but not very customisable – but you do get access to the best mobile app and game selection by far. On Android, the selection isn't as strong and compatibility can be hit or miss at times, but there's more core OS functionality and you're allowed more freedom to form the experience into what you want it to be.

Samsung's TouchWiz launcher isn't quite as ideal as stock Android, but it's still a fine-looking and totally useable OS. We love both iOS and Android. Pick your favourite.

When it comes to processing punch, the A9 processor in the iPhone 6s Plus might score lower than the Galaxy Note 7's Exynos chip in benchmark testing, and the iPhone has half the RAM (2GB vs 4GB). However, in real-life usage, both are super speedy across each respective OS and in games and media. We're calling this one a draw.

Winner: Draw

Essential extras

When it comes to bonus features that go above and beyond the standard set, the Galaxy Note 7 is built for both work and play. It has the S Pen stylus, of course, which pops out and lets you jot down notes, quickly create animated GIFs from videos, translate words from other languages, among several other things.

It's also compatible with the Gear VR headset, which is the best mobile virtual reality experience on the market right now (although Google Daydream is coming). Also, unlike the iPhone 6s Plus, the Note 7 has built-in wireless charging. It's also IP68 water and dust-proof rated, has a microSD slot for expandable memory and includes iris-scanning security features.

Really, the only one-of-a-kind hardware perk you'll find on the iPhone 6s Plus is 3D Touch, which is a big one: that pressure-sensitive screen tech lets you press harder into the display to access quick-use menus, added features and gameplay elements.

It's still a relatively new feature and hasn't become completely indispensable, but it's handy and will become more useful in time. Still, if we had to put these features on opposite ends of a scale, the Note 7's bundle of perks just seems a lot weightier overall.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7


Bit of a lopsided battle here, isn't it? The iPhone 6s is a great phablet for Apple fans, but honestly, we were more enamoured with last year's Galaxy Note 5 – and the new Galaxy Note 7 looks to improve upon its design and features across the board.

Of these two phones, the Note 7 has the more exciting design and more comfortable shape (based on our hands-on test), a much nicer screen, a slightly better camera and lots of handy perks you won't find on an iPhone.

Apple has the advantage in app selection, but if you're looking for a big phone that'll do loads of stuff and do it well, the Galaxy Note 7 may well be your best option on the market soon. It's the best phablet out there... but we'll see what happens when the iPhone 7 Plus debuts next month.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7