Do we have a good one for you today – maybe even a great one as the new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 goes up against the new LG V20. Despite the bad publicity on the Note 7's battery, all will be well (device-wise) after the recall. Until the breakdown of a few batteries, the Note 7 was receiving great reviews. With that out of the way, let's move on to what promises to be a tough comparison to judge. The Note 7 has many features not found on the LG V20, and the LG V20 has many features not found on the Note 7 – it may come down to which the features the user will find most important to them. Both devices are premium all the way – the Note 7 uses the metal frame wrapped around Gorilla Glass 5 while the LG V20 uses new aircraft quality aluminum all around. Both are solid as a rock and very comfortable to hold. Let's take a look to see just what these two devices have in common and then we will take a closer look at each device.
These two Korean made smartphones do have a lot in common. For starters, they have the same size display, although the Note 7 uses the Super AMOLED technology and the LG V20 still uses the IPS LCD technology – both use a QHD resolution. The Note 7 uses the always-on technology, and the LG V20 uses the second display on top of the primary one. The devices are similar in physical size, although the Note 7 is slightly shorter and narrower and weighs 5 grams less. The US/Canada version of the Note 7 uses the same Snapdragon 820/Adreno 530 combo found in the LG V20. They both pack 4GB of DDR4 RAM, and each has 64GB of faster USF 2.0 internal storage – both devices have expandable memory via a microSD card. Both devices use a 5MP front-facing camera (FFC) for selfies and video chats. Both have Hi-Res audio, although the LG V20 goes the extra mile for sound. They both have a fingerprint sensor to unlock the device or to authorize mobile purchases. They both have the usual suspects – WiFi, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS, NFC, and a USB Type-C reversible port for charging and data transfer.
Please take a careful look at the detailed Specifications Comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another – click on the "View Full Comparison" link at the end of the chart to expand the details. After that, we will look at each device in greater depth and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has found itself in a quandary – touted by some reviewers as the best smartphone you can buy, but now under a total recall by Samsung due to problems with a few batteries exploding and burning up the device. Many were excited when there was talk of a Note Edge model being sold – however: it ended up with a new dual curved display that certainly gives the new Galaxy Note 7 a more elegant and polished look. Samsung's relationship with Wacom has allowed Samsung to create a unique writing experience with the newest S Pen – it gets better every year and this year it is even waterproof and can only be inserted the proper direction.
The Galaxy Note 7 sports a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED QHD display and dual curved edges, giving it a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and 518 pixels-per-inch (PPI.) The display also incorporates the 'always-on' technology – much like the second display on the LG V20. Galaxy Note 7 models purchased in the US/Canada regions will pack a Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor with four cores clocked at 1.6 GHz and the other four cores clocked at 2.3 GHz. In other countries, it will sport an Exynos octa-core with a quad-core clocked at 1.6 GHz and a quad-core clocked at 2.3 GHz. Both models pack 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 64GB of the faster UFS 2.0 internal memory – thankfully this year, Samsung brought back memory expansion via a microSD card.
Samsung did not improve the camera hardware on the Galaxy Note 7. It uses the same winning camera found on the Galaxy S7/S7 Edge. It packs a Dual Pixel 12MP sensor that has a large aperture of f/1.7, faster phase detection autofocus (PDAF), auto HDR, and Smart OIS. For its FFC, it uses a 5MP wide-angle lens with the same large f/1.7 aperture and Live HDR to take excellent selfies and video chats. The Note 7 has a large non-removable 3500mAh battery providing the power but also features rapid charging as well as quick wireless charging capabilities.
The Galaxy Note 7 still carries the heart rate monitor and oxygen saturation sensor, as well as Samsung Pay, and built-in wireless quick charging. The S Pen has new added features giving it more functionality, and doubles the sensitivity – it is even waterproof, and the color of the pen matches your phone. The Galaxy Note 7 is the first smartphone to use Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back of the device. The Note 7 finally graduates to the newer USB Type-C reversible connector for charging and data transfer. Samsung added a new Iris Scanner for more security that allows you to unlock your Galaxy Note 7 by looking into the top area of the display and getting into your secure folder that nobody else can see. Samsung is planning a software upgrade to have the scanner authorize mobile payments – Samsung Pay as well as Android Pay. Depending on where you buy the Galaxy Note 7, it will come in Blue Coral, Silver Titanium, Black Onyx, and Gold. It measures 153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9 mm, weighs in at 169 grams, and will cost you about $865.
The LG V20 switches metal from the type used on the LG V10, moving from stainless steel to aluminum, to achieve its durability and a smoother design to keep its good looks. They added silicone 'bumpers' to the top and bottom of the device for added safety if dropped. The V20 kept the same sized 5.7-inch display and smaller secondary display over the top – only much brighter. Of course, the internal specs were stepped up this model. The LG V20 is directly aimed at those interested in experimenting with photography, and that want a device with great sound. Will these improvements be enough? Will the LG V20 be worth its price and beat out the Galaxy Note 7?
The LG V20 sports two displays – the primary IPS Quantum QHD display measures 5.7-inches with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and 513 PPI. The secondary display, near the top of the device, is a 1040 x 160-pixel display that is also 513 PPI. The purpose of the secondary display is – like an always-on display – is to function while the main display is locked. This secondary display is used to save battery life, although the always-on method seems less technical and easier to implement. This year LG brightened the display making it easier to see those notifications – the weather, the time/date, app shortcuts and more. The LG V20 uses the best processor out there and the same one found in the Note 7 – a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor with dual cores running at 1.6GHz and dual cores running at 2.15GHz. The LG V20 packs 4GB of faster DDR4 RAM and 64GB of faster UFS 2.0 internal storage with room to expand an additional 2TB.
The new camera area on the LG V20 uses a dual sensor affair – the main 16MP sensor is still there, but they add another 8MP wide-angle lens that operates independently for those times when you need a wider view. LG added laser and phase detection autofocus (PDAF,) a large f/1.8 aperture (f/2.4 for the 8MP), OIS and a dual-tone LED flash. Then, LG decided to go back to the single 5MP FFC with a f/1.9 aperture for selfies or video chatting. The LG V20 packs a 3200mAh removable battery that should last through the day, and Quick Charge 3.0 makes charging faster.
With all of its sound enhancements, the LG V20 has only one speaker on the bottom of the device. It includes four DACs (Digital-to-Analog Convertor) to improve the sound as well as providing an excellent EQ with left/right balance controls and is B&O Play certified. The LG V20 is built so sound that it has achieved the MIL-STD-810G certification. The V20 measures 159.7 x 78.1 x 7.6 mm and weighs in at 174 grams. The LG V20 is available in the colors Titan, Silver, and Pink. Last, but certainly not least, the LG V20 will be running Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box.
…And The Winner Is…
This was a tough decision – a very tough decision. Spec-for-spec, the Galaxy Note 7 wins – it has the AMOLED display, the S Pen technology, IP68 certification, heart rate sensor, oxygen saturation sensor, a barometer, an iris scanner, and Samsung Pay. However, the LG V20 is MIL-STD-810G certified, has better sound, a removable battery, is running Android 7.0 Nougat, and it's considerably cheaper.
I only picked the LG V20 as the winner in this comparison because many consumers do not want or would not use an S Pen – one huge appeal of the Note 7. Most Note 7 users may not even use the heart rate/oxygen sensors or care about Samsung Pay. The LG V20 has an exciting camera area, although the Note 7 takes excellent pictures. The LG V20 camera may attract more use for the average smartphone user. Same with the extra effort put into the sound with 4 DACs – many customers would appreciate that feature. The fact that it is running Android 7.0 out-of-the-box is a huge win for the LG V20 – of course, the Note 7 will soon be getting its taste of Nougat as well…but when?
Either device will satisfy the needs of its users – if you covet the S Pen, then, by all means, get the Galaxy Note 7, but if you are more interested in photos and sound, you may want to pick up the LG V20 – neither will disappoint.