Samsung Galaxy Note 7 specs vs. S7 Edge, Moto Z, iPhone 6S Plus and OnePlus 3

We compare the top phones on the market to Samsung's new Note phone.

Jessica Dolcourt Senior Editorial Director, Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Thought Leadership, Speed Desk and How-To. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica led CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
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Jessica Dolcourt
4 min read
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Watch this: Should I buy the Galaxy Note 7 or S7 Edge?

The new Galaxy Note 7 is the pinnacle Samsung phone in an already banner year that saw the Galaxy S7, an Editor's Choice winner, and the S7 Edge, CNET's first five-star phone. But competition is as fierce as always, and buyers have choices. How well does the Note 7 stack up against its closest rivals? Is the S Pen stylus good enough to change how you use the phone? How about the cost -- is the Note 7 worth its sky-high price? Here I compare the Note 7 against some of its strongest rivals, including a chart where you can see specs head-to-head. (Scroll to the end for that.)

Update, August 16: This story was originally published August 3 and has been updated with the findings from our Note 7 review.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

These two phones are insanely similar, but the Note 7's stylus makes it Samsung's most expensive -- and most powerful -- phone. Because the Note 7 builds on top of the S7 Edge, it starts with everything that the Edge already has. That includes those curved screens and the extra Edge software you can use to launch any number of shortcuts for apps, people, news and tools.

Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 looks awesome in 'Coral Blue'

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Both phones share 12- and 5-megapixel cameras and the Snapdragon 820 processor (or Samsung-made Exynos chipset, in some regions). That means the Note 7's performance is pretty terrific. Strangely, the Qualcomm version of the Note scored slightly lower in our diagnostic benchmark tests than the S7 Edge. It also came in two hours under the Edge in our looping video battery drain test: 17 hours, 40 minutes rather than 19 hours, 40 minutes.

In real life, you won't notice much difference. Battery life will last a full day if you aren't stressing your phone to the max (like streaming video while also navigating on GPS with the screen set to 10-minute timeout). But I did notice that the Note 7 lagged a bit when I used the pen tools heavily. This happened more when I switched tools than when I wrote and drew.

Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 tackles a day at the office

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The Note 7's slightly larger screen (5.7 inches versus 5.5) gives you a scosh more display to play with and also a slightly lower resolution -- so small, your eyes likely won't know the difference. The Edge also doubles the built-in storage space: 64GB versus 32GB.

Basically, if the Galaxy S7 is the phone for the masses and the curve-screen S7 Edge is the phone for design enthusiasts, then the Note 7 with its S Pen and wraparound sides is the phone for power users who enjoy the freedom and flexibility of using a digital pen to draw, write and navigate.

Note 7 vs. Motorola Moto Z

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Moto Mods snap magnetically into place.

James Martin/CNET

Motorola's Moto Z is all about the magnetic modules, or "Mods," that clack into place on the back of the phone. (Right now your choices are a case, charging case, audio speaker or quirky projector.) If you don't want the Mods, don't get the Moto Z. (And if you don't want the S Pen, don't get the Note 7.) Still, it's worth comparing these two high-priced handsets, which line up fairly evenly on paper.

In practice, the Note 7's larger battery gave it a 5-hour boost in our final assessment, but the Moto Z's snap-on accessories are a more mainstream customization option than the S Pen, which is there for expression and for helping keep the phone fingerprint-free.

The Moto Z's fingerprint reader confusingly looks like a home button, which is bad, and its camera just isn't the best -- another area where the Note 7 pulls ahead. The Note is the better phone, but you should still choose the Moto Z if you're happy with a good (not superlative) handset and want to explore those mods.

Note 7 vs. Apple iPhone 6S or 6S Plus

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A new iPhone's coming to town.

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If you're going to talk about top phones, you're going to talk about the iPhone. But with the iPhone 7 expected next month, comparing the Note 7 with the 6S and 6S Plus -- essentially last year's phones -- is purely academic. Rumors suggest that the iPhone 7 will, like the Note 7, be a water-resistant device with wireless charging and a big camera update -- but no headphone jack.

We'll know much more when Apple officially launches its new iPhone for 2016 in September, but the two should compete neck-and-neck.

Note 7 vs. OnePlus 3

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For half off, would you leave the bells and whistles behind?

James Martin/CNET

It has a smaller battery and none of the Note 7's stylus and iris-scanning tricks, but on paper, the OnePlus 3 holds its own against the Note 7's hardware, and for half the price. Yes, half.

Top-of-the-line phones are usually worth the investment if you plan to hold onto them for two years or more. But, if you like to switch up your phone every 365, then buying a solid midprice handset like the OnePlus 3 each year makes a really compelling case for saving you money while satisfying your craving for a fresh new phone.

If you're not too fussed about that S Pen, the OnePlus 3 reliably gives you all the photos and Android basics you need. It won't feel as premium or privileged a device as the Note 7, so if you're looking for luxe, the Note still presents the best experience.

The handy comparison chart

Samsung Galaxy Note 7Samsung Galaxy S7 EdgeMotorola Moto ZApple iPhone 6SOnePlus 3
Display size, resolution 5.7-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels5.5-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels5.5-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels4.7-inch; 1,334x750 pixels5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels
Pixel density 518 ppi534 ppi535 ppi326 ppi401 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6x2.9x0.3 in5.9x2.9x0.3 in6.1x3x0.2 in5.4x2.6x0.28 in6.01x2.94x0.29 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 153.5x73.9x7.9 mm150.9x72.6x7.7 mm155.3x75.3x5.2 mm138x67x7.1 mm152.7x74.7x7.35 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6 oz; 169 g5.5 oz; 157 g4.8 oz; 136g5 oz; 143 g5.57 oz; 158 g
Mobile software Android 6.0.1 MarshmallowAndroid 6.0 MarshmallowAndroid 6.0 MarshmallowApple iOS 9Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Camera 12-megapixel12-megapixel13-megapixel12-megapixel16-megapixel
Front-facing camera 5-megapixel5-megapixel5-megapixel5-megapixel8-megapixel
Video capture 4K4K4K4K4K
Processor 2.15GHz + 1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapgradon 820 processor (or Exynos, depending on region)2.15GHz + 1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processorUp to 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820Apple A9 chip (64-bit)2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Storage 64GB32GB, 64GB (varies by region)32GB, 64GB16GB, 64GB, 128GB64GB
Expandable storage 200GB200GBup to 2TBNoneNone
Battery 3,500 mAh (nonremovable)3,600 mAh (nonremovable)2,600 mAh (nonremovable)1,715 mAh (nonremovable)3,000 mAh (nonremovable)
Fingerprint sensor Home buttonHome buttonBelow screenHome buttonHome button
Connector USB-CMicro-USBUSB-CLightningUSB-C
Special features S Pen stylus, water-resistant, wireless chargingWater-resistant, wireless chargingMoto Mod snap-on accessoriesN/ANotifications toggle, dual-SIM, Dash Charging
Price off-contract (USD) AT&T: $880; T-Mobile: $849; US Cellular: $834AT&T: $795, Sprint: $750, T-Mobile: $780, Verizon: $792, US Cellular: $780NA$649 (16GB); $749 (64GB); $849 (128GB)$400
Price (GBP) £700£639TBA£539 (16GB); £619 (64GB); £699 (128GB)£329
Price (AUD) AU$1,349AU$1,249TBAAU$1,079 (16GB); AU$1,229 (64GB); AU$1,379 (128GB)Converts to AU$530