Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs Galaxy S7 Edge

Which of Samsung's curvy phablets should you buy?

We've just reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, and the Note 5's successor – yes, they skipped a digit – is a real winner for the productivity-minded phablet crowd.

But this is not the first large, curved-screen phone that Samsung has debuted this year: we're only months away from the release of the brilliant Galaxy S7 Edge, which until recently was our third-favorite smartphone in the world.

The Galaxy Note 7 is actually very similar to the S7 Edge in many ways - not only with the curves but the processor and camera within, which makes this a less obviously contentious showdown than you might expect. Still, there are key differences that set them apart and if you're in the market for an Android phone in the coming months, you'll need to know what you're getting into.

Luckily, we've laid it all out for you: here's how the two phones compare based on our extensive testing, along with our recommendation on which phone is best for which kind of users.

Design: Mmm, symmetry

The Galaxy Note 7 isn't dramatically different in build and design to the S7 Edge, but there are some noteworthy differences. The larger 5.7in display on the Note 7 – as opposed to the 5.5in screen on the S7 Edge – means it's a little wider. It's also a hair taller and thicker since it has the S Pen within.

Still, we're talking about less than 3mm difference in width, just over 1mm in height and .2mm in added thickness. The Note 7 is also 12g heavier, but let's be honest: if you weren't holding them side by side, you might not realize that there's much of a difference.

What's especially nice about the Note 7 is the curved glass back, which gives it a nice, symmetrical feel, more so than the S7 Edge. It's a tiny, tiny advantage, but one we're going to give the Note 7 credit for. It gets the nod here.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Screen: the same but different

Both the Galaxy Note 7 and Galaxy S7 Edge have curved Quad HD displays, so they're exactly even, right? Not exactly, no: since the Note 7 screen is .2in larger, it makes the screen a little less crisp, to the tune of 518 ppi (pixels per inch) as opposed to 534 ppi on the S7 Edge.

Here's the thing, though: you won't notice a difference at all. At these screen sizes, that kind of minute variance is pretty much imperceptible to the human eye. Both AMOLED screens look absolutely spectacular, as is the trend for Samsung screens of late.

What makes the Note 7 especially appealing, however, is that the curves are a little less… well, curvy. That gives the phone more flat surface space without sacrificing the visual appeal. Given the occasional fumbles you might have using and holding one of Samsung's earlier curved phones, we say that's a move for the better.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Cameras: spy hard

When it comes to the rear camera, there's no real argument to be made here: they're identical sensors, as far as we can tell. Both have 12-megapixel shooters with optical image stabilisation, f/1.7 apertures, and 1.4μm pixels, and either way, are the best smartphone cameras around today.

But there's a key difference with the front camera now. You'll find a 5-megapixel camera on both phones, but the Galaxy Note 7 includes iris scanning as a security feature, letting you unlock your phone and access certain files and apps using your eyes. It's some real spy magic.

It seems to be speedy and effective, although holding the phone in a certain way may be more of a hassle than simply using the fingerprint scanner on the home button. Still, it's an added feature you won't find on the S7 Edge, so it's enough to sway this category in the Note 7's favour.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Extra features: stylus or extra battery?

Both phones have the special Edge screen perks, including quick access to apps and contacts as well as wireless charging, IP68 waterproofing and support for microSD cards. In other words, both are well-equipped with great perks.

But the Galaxy Note 7 obviously has the S Pen stylus included, which opens up a lot of extra functionality if you want it. You can doodle and jot down notes on the always-on locked screen, turn videos into animated GIFs in an instant, translate text and more. It's the key difference that makes this a battle between an everyday phone and an everyday phone that can also be a productivity machine.

The Galaxy S7 Edge does have one tiny advantage, though: its 3,600 mAh battery pack is a hair larger in capacity than the 3,500 mAh cell in the Note 7. That's a strange move, we think, given that the Note 7 has the larger body and screen, but it's also so miniscule that we're talking about potentially minutes in daily uptime difference between them.

In any case, the S Pen is enough to make the Note 7 the better-equipped of the devices, although admittedly not everyone needs a stylus for a smartphone. That's your call to make.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Power: core competencies

We don't have to say much here: both phones sport the same octa-core Exynos processor in most of the world, or the Snapdragon 820 chip in the States. Both also have 4GB of RAM. Maybe benchmarks will show some minute differences between them, but we're not expecting anything significant or noticeable in daily use. They're essentially identical here.

Same for the operating system: it's Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow dressed up with Samsung's TouchWiz skin, which has its benefits and minor drawbacks. The Note 7 will definitely get Android 7.0 Nougat, but we'd say there's zero chance that the Galaxy S7 Edge misses out on Nougat as well. In this category, it's flat across the board.

Winner: Draw


When it comes to features and functionality, the Galaxy Note 7 seems like the clear winner here. In terms of power and main camera specs, they're identical – but the Note 7 makes small tweaks and improvements with the build, the screen, the front camera and more.

And that doesn't even take into consideration the S Pen, which can transform a regular phablet into a more capable device for getting things done during the day. That's always been the difference-maker with the Note series, and the Note 7's pen is more sensitive and precise than ever, not to mention waterproof.

Really, the price is the most important difference here. You'll get more functionality with the Note 7 and some nice enhancements, but you'll have to pay extra to get those perks. Both phones are brilliant options for several months ahead. It's just a matter of what you want and how much you're willing to pay for it.

The Note 7's benefits are worth the extra scratch if you'll use the stylus and need a productivity-minded powerhouse, and it's our favourite of the two devices if money isn't a concern. But for most people (including us), money obviously is a concern, so you might still consider the S7 Edge if it'll be more of an everyday phone for personal use.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 here