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iPhone 7 Plus vs Galaxy Note 7: Cameras
It's here that the iPhone edges ahead. The Note 7 takes the Galaxy S7's 12Mp camera and doesn't get an upgrade. That's no bad thing: it's a brilliant camera which takes great photos and videos in a wide range of scenarios and lighting conditions. Photos shot in low light are particularly impressive for a phone camera.
We've yet to properly test out the 7 Plus' cameras - all three of them. On the rear is a bulge which houses a wide-angle lens (similar to that on the 6S Plus) and a telephoto lens, which effectively give a 2x optical zoom. Using a new, speedier image signal processor, you can 'zoom' between the two cameras, and then use digital zoom up to 10x for photos and 6x for videos. We're firm believers in never using digital zoom, but even if you stick with the two focal lengths offered by the two lenses, this does offer a benefit the Note 7 can't.
From the photos we've seen from the 7 Plus (which still shoots at 12Mp), it looks like Apple is edging ahead over its rivals here, and the f/1.8 aperture also helps it (as does the Note 7's f/1.7 lens) when light is low. You also get the benefit of a new sensor which supports the same Wide Colour gamut as the screen, which means colours can be more vibrant - also in low light.
iPhone 7 Plus owners will soon get a software update to the camera app which enables blurry backgrounds - the much loved Bokeh effect you see in DSLR portraits - but as this is software-based we need to see just how effective it is.
If you're serious about photography, the new iPhone also supports RAW + JPEG capture, but not in the default camera app. You can also choose to shoot in RAW on the Note 7.
Around the front, the Note has a 5Mp camera, the iPhone 7 an upgraded 7Mp sensor. We haven't yet tested the latter, so it's impossible to come to a conclusion as to which is better. It's likely to be a close-run thing.
iPhone 7 Plus vs Galaxy Note 7: Performance
We haven't benchmarked the iPhone 7 Plus yet, but looking at Geekbench 4 scores around the web, it outperforms the Note 7 but a big margin, especially the Snapdragon 820 version. The Samsung Exynos 8890 (which is octacore versus the 820's quad-core design) is faster, but it's still behind Apple's quad-core A10 Fusion chip.
Here are the scores (single core / multicore):
- iPhone 7 Plus: 3367 / 5491
- Note 7 (Snapdragon 820): 1666 / 3757
- Note 7 (Exynos 8890): 1880 / 5326
Although the Exynos-toting Note 7 almost matches the iPhone on its multicore performance, the iPhone is roughly twice as quick as both versions of the Samsung phone when using only one processing core. That's a huge difference. To put the results in context, the iPhone 7 Plus beats every Macbook Air and is about as powerful (in this particular test) as a 2013 MacBook Pro.
Ifixit's teardown has revealed the iPhone has a 2900mAh battery (a little bigger than the 6S Plus). The Note 7 has a 3500mAh battery, which in our general use lasts around 24 hours with 15 percent remaining. It's too early to say whether the iPhone matches this, but you can't simply compare their capacities and declare the Note the winner: it's all about power efficiency. Apple claims it will last around an hour longer than the 6S Plus, and that phone can go a day and a half with 'normal' use.
iPhone 7 Plus vs Galaxy Note 7: Software
While you can read our iOS vs Android comparison, we can go into the specifics a little more here. Samsung is one the companies which heavily modifies Android and changes quite a bit of the interface, from the home screens to the notification and shortcut bar and the settings app.
Some like it, others don't. It's not easy to turn an Note 7 into a 'stock' Android phone, but you probably wouldn't want to lose some of Samsung's additions and tweaks, such as all the software which makes the S-Pen work.
Samsung has also long been a proponent of multi-window and the Note 7 lets you run two apps side by side so you could have a YouTube video playing while you read your email or look at a map on the other half of the split screen. You can also reposition the divider to make one window larger than the other.
Apple has introduced splitscreen on the iPad, but it's yet to be seen on an iPhone. As with the other iPhone Plus models, you can run some apps in landscape, such as Mail and the home screen, but there's no way to have two apps on screen at once. It doesn't even support the iPad's picture-in-picture mode for having a floating video window while you use another app. You could argue that a 5.5in screen is too small for multitasking, but it would be nice to at least have the option.
However, one of iOS's advantages is that it's optimised to work on the iPhone's hardware and it's very slick indeed. iOS 10 adds a great number of new features and tweaks that make it even nicer to use, too. You'll find much more in-depth information in our iOS 10 review.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: Specs
- A10 Fusion processor chip with 64bit architecture and M10 co-processor
- 5.5-inch IPS LCD with 3D Touch, 1920 x 1080, 401ppi
- 1300:1 contrast ratio (typical)
- 2x 12Mp rear-facing cameras, ƒ/1.8, optical image stabilisation and 4K video recording
- 7Mp front-facing with, ƒ/2.2, 1080p video recording and burst mode
- 32GB/128GB/256GB storage
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.2
- 4G LTE (up to 450Mb/s)
- Lightning connector
- Touch ID fingerprint scanner