iPhone 7 Plus vs Note 7: Which is better?


This post contains logic and sense. If you’re a blind Apple or Android fanatic who has no regard for rationality, this is not the post for you. I am here to debate, not to argue.

Since the announcement of Note 7, Android enthusiasts have been hailing the phone as a marvel of technology. They’ve been raving about it’s features, going gaga about its design and planning their next scuba diving experience with the phone in tow. With no other phone to compete with the Note 7, the Samsung flag flew high and mighty for a while, until it came burning down. Literally.

As reports started pouring in of Note 7s catching fire, Samsung issued a global recall. Amidst the charred ruins of its reputation, the Korean giant fumbled to stand steady before it was blown over by a wild gale from the far West …

… the iPhone 7 had arrived.

As was expected, the world suddenly got divided into two camps – the Android-Samsung camp and the iOS-Apple camp. Comparisons were made, taunts flowed freely, and jokes were launched from both sides of the barbed wire. Instead of talking about the specs and features of two phones, it has turned into an ego-based rivalry.

If we must have a discussion, let’s do so keeping a level head on our shoulders. And that’s what this article hopes to do. Here’s an un-biased analysis of both the phones.



Features

The iPhone 7 spec sheet runs just as deep (if not more) as the Note 7’s. But length isn’t the only thing common to them. In term of physical dimension, built-quality, resistance to the elements, battery backup, processing speed, camera, and a million other specs we can’t stop ourselves from quoting, both the iPhone and the Note are more or less the same. If one trumps the other on camera, it gets beaten by the opponent’s battery life.

For this reason, it’s difficult to decide which phone wins and which one loses. The line that separates both is extremely fine. Also, if we were to look at it more realistically, these differences don’t really mean anything. They will vanish over a period of time, leaving users with nothing more than specs on a sheet to quibble about.



Inputs

Samsung and Apple take different approaches when it comes to input. Apple wants to explore the physical touch more, enhance it further, and add new layers to it. Hence, they’re heavily invested in the 3D Touch, making this technology one of the few true innovations to come out of Cupertino.

Samsung, on the other hand, is pushing hard in exactly the opposite direction. They want to separate stubby human finger from the small screen. They want to push in the exactitude of a stylus and the S-Pen is indeed the marvel of design and technology.

While both schools of thought are valid in their own right, the question, inevitably, is that of choice. Some people are way more comfortable with their fingers, others still are in awe of the S-Pen. Just because you prefer one form of technology over the other is no reason to hail one as innovative or diss the other as being old-fashioned.




Bloatware

Both the companies are equally guilty of loading their phones with unnecessary bloatware. (For those who don’t know, ‘bloatware’ refers to the bunch of pre-installed apps that come with your OS, most of which are never used by anyone).

Bloatware is annoying as hell and for a long time there was no way to get rid of them. Only recently has Apple allowed its users to delete stock apps. And by ‘delete’ we mean that you can ‘remove them from the home screen’. Besides, the problem with Apple, especially for us in India, is that most of the stock apps don’t really work. Things like Stocks, Weather, etc. are of no use to us at all.

Samsung is a little more forgiving in this regard. There are a lot of third party apps to clean your phone of the junk. Besides, with its recent iterations, Samsung has made many of these pre-installed apps useful. With the Note 7, for example, the stock note-taking app, the gif maker, and the S-pen support app are all very useful.

What’s the conclusion? When it comes to bloatware, both the phones are equally bad, but the Note 7 gains over Apple just the slightest bit.



Technology v/s Pride

Technology grows at such a rapid pace that it’s difficult for us to keep up with it. No matter how advanced a phone you buy, it’s going to be ‘outdated’ in less than a year. Newer, thinner, flashier models will replace your device in no time, leaving you feeling dejected and unwanted.

This feeling of dissatisfaction tends to affect iPhone users more. This isn’t a personal observation, there’s actual scientific evidence that owners of old iPhones start believing that their phones have become sluggish each year around September/October — the exact time a new iPhone is released! And it is this belief that sends them overboard in their desire to buy the latest model.


You will rarely see something like this happening with Note 7 users. Yes, the Note 8 will be faster; yes, most Note 7 users will wish they had a Note 8, but they will never experience that restlessness iPhone users do to buy the latest iPhone. So at least in theory, the Note 7 will remain more relevant than the iPhone 7, and for much longer.

I have a feeling that there’s a psychological angle to the problem. For most iPhone owners, at least in India, the phone is not a device they’re buying for its features and its usefulness. Here, the iPhone is a status symbol. It’s an ornament, a piece of jewelry.

For such people, the features are never really a concern. They will feel obligated to buy the new iPhone every year, no matter what the upgrade, because they’re never going to feel satisfied otherwise.




Ecosystem

With the introduction of iPhone 7, Apple removed the headphone jack. While they do ship a converter to connect old 3.5 mm earphones, it’s a reflection of a problem much bigger than anything that can be fixed by a small connector.

I am taking about the Apple Ecosystem.

Because of the immense control Apple has over both its hardware and software, it was able to create an incredible ecosystem — one where everything worked with everything else, seamlessly and magically.  However, the moment you step out of the ecosystem, all hell breaks lose.

Recently, however, that problem has been affecting Apple’s own system. In a mad attempt to skin down the dimensions on their products, Apple has been cutting one too many corners. Take, for example, the last MacBook that came with a flimsy little USB-C port. How’s it even a laptop?

Samsung, because it runs on Android, suffered from inferior devices towards the beginning of its journey. But now it has found its stride. Google themselves have done a wonderful job of letting developers create custom ROMs that fit the needs of each mobile phone manufacturer. The Note 7 is arguably one of the lightest, fastest and best looking Android phones currently in the market.

More importantly, the Note 7 is compatible with other hardware in the market. It pairs easily with other phones and computers, accepts pen drives (and even hard drives sometimes) through OTG, and has a stylus that comes bundled with the phone. The best part is you can charge the phone and use your earphones at the same time!!

Apple’s ecosystem, once the pride of Steve Jobs, is a fractured propriety system that’s a hassle to deal with. Note 7, on the other hand, is a much more accommodating phone.




Costs (and added costs)

Continuing on the idea of a fractured ecosystem, I would like to point out that while Apple has a plethora of secondary devices that help bridge the gap, these are by no means cheap.

To buy the new wireless AirPods (that should ideally come bundled with the ‘jackless’ iPhone), you have to shell out Rs. 15,000 over and above the cost of the phone. Even with the iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil and the keyboard cover have to be bought separately. With Note 7, on the other hand, users get a stylus that comes as part of the bundle!

Apple also assumes a free reign when it comes to pricing their support/secondary products. It’s almost as if they are not worried about pissing customers off with their high prices. Possibly because Apple knows their customer will buy anything they sell, no matter how exorbitantly they are priced. While it may not matter much in the cash-rich Western market, it’s a huge barrier to entry in this price sensitive Indian market.




Parting thoughts

At the end of the day, they’re both just phones. More importantly, they’re two phones from two different ecosystems, optimized for two different sets of audiences. Comparing them would actually be like pitching Apples against Oranges and any conclusions we draw are aspirational at best, fanatic at worst.

Neither phone is absolutely the best. However, because I asked the question “Which is better?” and since we cater to an Indian audience, I’m honor bound to pronounce a judgment. So here it is:

The two phones are equally good (or bad) in terms of functionality. However, in India, the Note 7 has one distinctive advantage. It’s familiar. And considering just how expensive the two phones are, a lot of buyers will be apprehensive to shift to a new ecosystem, especially one that’s fractured, if not supported by other devices.

So for that reason alone, if not for anything else, the Note 7 will do much better in the Indian subcontinent.

Author Bio:

Varun is the Editor-in-Chief & Digital Strategist at Applesutra. When he isn’t busy devouring Apple blogs & podcasts, Varun spends his time following tennis (Vamos Rafa!), watching movies (superhero or super scary) or reading books (Audible/Kindle/old school).


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