This week, Samsung unveiled the seventh Galaxy Note, appropriately named the "Galaxy Note 7". As is usually the case with Samsung smartphones, the Galaxy Note 7 was a huge launch, and likely will be the most popular smartphone for the second half of the year, and into next year - at least until the Galaxy S8 comes at Mobile World Congress. Samsung packed it with the highest available specs, but they were still fairly similar to the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. The spec sheet includes a 5.7-inch 2560 x 1440 resolution Super AMOLED display that is slightly curved and it is covered with Gorilla Glass 5. Inside, there is the Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890 depending on the region, along with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and a 3500mAh battery. Samsung kept the same 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel cameras from the Galaxy S7 as well.
Don't forget, the Galaxy Note 7 also sports an iris scanner, so you are able to unlock the Galaxy Note 7 by using your eyes. Which is a pretty interesting feature, and one that you definitely don't see every day. The Galaxy Note 7 is a fairly high-end smartphone, but it also brings a relatively high-end price, sitting at $849 (and higher at some places) at least in the US. That begs the question, whether the Galaxy Note 7 is better than what Google will release soon, in the Nexus lineup? Now obviously, we can't exactly look at the spec sheet and see which smartphone is better, seeing as the new Nexus devices haven't been announced just yet. And the Galaxy Note 7 is obviously much better than the nearly year-old Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X that Google worked on with Huawei and LG respectively.
So what do we know about the new Nexus devices, which are codenamed "Marlin" and "Sailfish" and supposedly being built by HTC? The larger device is "Marlin" which is expected to sport a 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB or 128GB of storage and a 3450mAh battery inside. It's also likely to be sporting a 12-megapixel camera on the back and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. Now the smaller one is "Sailfish" which is thought to be sporting a 5-inch 1080p AMOLED display, powered by a 2.0GHz quad-core processor with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It's also supposedly powered by a 2770mAh battery inside, and will likely sport the same 12MP and 8MP cameras. Both devices should have USB-C ports and Bluetooth 4.2. Of course, it's important to note here that this information is based on leaks and rumors and should be taken with a grain of salt, at least until Google unveils the devices - which current rumors are pointing towards October, despite Android 7.0 Nougat being rumored to release this month.
These days, specs aren't the whole story. Especially when it comes to the processor and RAM powering these devices, many are only seeing minuscule changes in terms of performance, and it's likely that the Galaxy Note 7 and Marlin will be sporting the same Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM. Which means the differences there will be on the software side. Depending on how optimized the software is, it can be a huge difference, between the two devices. Samsung also has a leg up on the Nexus line when it comes to cameras. While the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P both sported some amazing cameras, they are still far behind what Samsung offers in their flagships. Even with the same sensor, the Galaxy Note 7 will likely outperform Marlin and Sailfish, and again that comes down to the software. Post-processing software can make a huge difference, when it comes to the cameras.
On the battery side of things, they are pretty similar. Although on paper, Marlin should sport better battery life. Since it has a smaller display and just a slightly smaller battery (3450mAh vs 3500mAh in the Galaxy Note 7). It's tough to gauge how good or bad battery life will be on the Sailfish model though, with its 5-inch 1080p. Then there's the displays. We can already pretty much guarantee that the Galaxy Note 7's display will be better than any other smartphone on the market, including these two new Nexus smartphones. Samsung always has the best displays in their smartphones, and even though these two smartphones will sport AMOLED, they are likely getting them from Samsung and Samsung doesn't sell their best displays to their competitors. Which means Marlin and Sailfish displays will be similar to the Nexus 6P's display. That's not a bad thing, but it definitely won't be "the best" unfortunately.
The biggest differences between the Galaxy Note 7 and Marlin (we'll leave Sailfish out since it is likely the "lower-end" Nexus) is software. While the Galaxy Note 7 is launching on the latest version of Android, which is Android 6.0 Marshmallow, it won't be the latest for long. Android 7.0 Nougat will be available on these two new Nexus devices, although whether it'll be first is another story as LG has said that they will launch the LG V20 with Android 7.0 Nougat on the device in September. Android 7.0 Nougat isn't the biggest update to Android, but it is still a fairly big one. Of course, some of the features coming its way are already in Samsung's own 'TouchWiz' UI skin, particularly multi-window. As usual, there are quite a bit of changes going on under the hood here in Android 7.0 Nougat, one of the big ones is with Doze Mode. Doze has allowed the Nexus 6P to get even better standby time, through the developer previews of Android N. The Galaxy Note 7 will likely be updated to Android 7.0 Nougat, but when that happens is anyone's guess. Luckily, Samsung and other Google partners have had access to the code for Nougat for quite some time. Hopefully that shortens the wait time for Nougat to roll out to the Galaxy Note 7 and other flagships.
Now when it comes to sales, the Galaxy Note 7 will definitely sell better than both of these Nexus devices combined. So if you are looking for a popular device, the Galaxy Note 7 will be the way to go. And this is due to the Galaxy Note 7 being sold at the wireless carriers (although some rumors have said that Sprint will be selling the new Nexus devices, it's not likely), as well as their marketing budget. They market their products very well, which is what gets the attention of the "average consumer" and persuades them to buy the device. Unfortunately, Google's advertising isn't that strong - which is kind of ironic since they are an ad company in the first place.
Is the Galaxy Note 7 better than the next Nexus smartphones from Google? Yes and no. You see, for those that don't care about the latest version of Android, or that don't care about Daydream, the Galaxy Note 7 is going to be the better smartphone. Especially since it has micro SD card expansion, while both the Marlin and Sailfish Nexus devices will not. Giving customers a bit more flexibility here. But for those that love stock Android, and want the latest and greatest from Google, the Galaxy Note 7 won't be the way to go. Of course, these Nexus devices will also likely be much cheaper than the Galaxy Note 7, which is another point for Marlin and Sailfish. In the end, it's really all up to you and what you want out of your smartphone, along with how much you can afford to spend on a smartphone. These days, smartphone prices seem to be all over the place. You can actually get a really decent smartphone for under $400. Makes you wonder how much longer Samsung can get away with selling their flagships for $750 and even $850 with the Galaxy Note 7 here.