Samsung Galaxy Note7 review: Thinking Big

Thinking Big

GSMArena team, 16 August 2016.

Performance

Samsung is building two versions of the Galaxy Note7 - the international one with an Exynos 8890 chipset and one for North America and China with Snapdragon 820. Both come with 4GB of RAM. That's right, there's basically no improvement since the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.

We have both versions to test. They promise similar performance though they do differ in a few places. It's not enough of a difference to be worth importing the version not available in your region. Also, note that China is getting a version with 6GB of RAM (and 128GB storage), but so far there are no plans to bring that to the international market.

Samsung Galaxy Note7 review

Last year Samsung easily claimed the performance crown - as Qualcomm Snapdragon stumbled, Exynos ruled the land. This year the Snapdragon 820 is excellent and many phones use it, so the Note7 will not enjoy a performance lead like the Note5.

In the opening salvo, the Moto Z Droid and OnePlus 3 top the Note7 in overall performance (at least according to AnTuTu 6). The OnePlus does have 6GB of RAM, but that's probably not it - both it and the Moto use leaner, less customized Android builds than the Samsung phone.

AnTuTu 6

Higher is better

  • Moto Z Droid (Snapdragon)
    151619
  • OnePlus 3 (Snapdragon)
    141764
  • Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    134660
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    132849
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    130111
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Exynos)
    129229
  • Huawei P9 Plus (Kirin)
    97392
  • Galaxy A9 (S652)
    64591

Basemark OS 2.0 shows the Moto Z Droid as maintaining a very narrow lead. It seems to like the Exynos version of the Galaxy Note7 a lot more than it did the S7 edge (Exynos). Samsung definitely tuned things under the hood - some benches aren't affected by that, but others show signs of improvement.

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Moto Z Droid (Snapdragon)
    2690
  • Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    2676
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    2432
  • OnePlus 3 (Snapdragon)
    2365
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    2352
  • Huawei P9 Plus (Kirin)
    2099
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Exynos)
    2050
  • Galaxy A9 (S652)
    1529

So far Snapdragon 820 and Exynos 8890 Galaxy Note7s perform fairly evenly. Digging into details reveals some differences.

The Exynos wins in multithreaded tests - it has eight cores to Snapdragon's four. The Huawei P9 Plus also has eight cores, and they run at higher clock speeds than Note7's so it claims the top place here.

The 820 isn't out of the competition yet, it takes back a point in single-core tests - the individual Kryo cores are faster than even the custom Mongoose cores in the Exynos.

Chipset trivia: Mongoose is Samsung's answer to Cortex-A72/A73. The Exynos 8890 has four of those in a big.LITTLE setup with four standard A53 cores. Kryo is a fully custom core designed by Qualcomm.

So that's the trade off - few big cores or many smaller ones. In practice, you may not notice a difference outside of synthetic tests.

GeekBench 3 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Huawei P9 Plus (Kirin)
    6660
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Exynos)
    6600
  • Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    6311
  • Moto Z Droid (Snapdragon)
    5566
  • OnePlus 3 (Snapdragon)
    5520
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    5420
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    5391
  • Galaxy A9 (S652)
    4759

GeekBench 3 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 3 (Snapdragon)
    2383
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    2345
  • Moto Z Droid (Snapdragon)
    2345
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    2344
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Exynos)
    2151
  • Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    2143
  • Huawei P9 Plus (Kirin)
    1892
  • Galaxy A9 (S652)
    1466

The one place the Snapdragon 820 clearly has the upper hand is graphics. Qualcomm has its in-house Adreno team to call on and the 530 is a little beast. Samsung meanwhile relies on ARM's Mali division and Exynos 8890 has 12 cores of Mali-T880. Comparing that to the Huawei P9 Plus, its Kirin 955 chipset has only 4 cores.

The differences mostly show up in 1080p offscreen tests as opposed to the full res QHD on-screen tests but those matter, too . From the Game Launcher you can force any game to a lower resolution - 1080p or even 720p.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    32
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    32
  • Moto Z Droid (Snapdragon)
    32
  • OnePlus 3 (Snapdragon)
    31
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Exynos)
    29
  • Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    28
  • Huawei P9 Plus (Kirin)
    10
  • Galaxy A9 (S652)
    9.3

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 3 (Snapdragon)
    30
  • Moto Z Droid (Snapdragon)
    18
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    16
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    16
  • Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    15
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Exynos)
    15
  • Huawei P9 Plus (Kirin)
    11
  • Galaxy A9 (S652)
    9.1

The most recent GFX Bench test - Car scene - shows a pretty big difference even in the onscreen test.

GFX 3.1 Car scene (offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    20
  • Moto Z Droid (Snapdragon)
    19
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    18
  • OnePlus 3 (Snapdragon)
    18
  • Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    16
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Exynos)
    15
  • Huawei P9 Plus (Kirin)
    6.2

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 3 (Snapdragon)
    18
  • Moto Z Droid (Snapdragon)
    12
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    11
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    10
  • Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    8
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Exynos)
    7.8
  • Huawei P9 Plus (Kirin)
    6.8

A different game engine might show different results - the Exynos chipset tops the Snapdragon in the Basemark ES 3.1 Metal test.

Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal

Higher is better

  • Galaxy S7 edge (Exynos)
    733
  • Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    727
  • Moto Z Droid (Snapdragon)
    648
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    629
  • OnePlus 3 (Snapdragon)
    625
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    624
  • Galaxy A9 (S652)
    253
  • Huawei P9 Plus (Kirin)
    214

Settings matter too, Exynos is faster than Snapdragon in Basemark X, but only when it is set to medium graphics.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Moto Z Droid (Snapdragon)
    36322
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    33520
  • OnePlus 3 (Snapdragon)
    32715
  • Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    32648
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    32160
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Exynos)
    28480
  • Galaxy A9 (S652)
    15290
  • Huawei P9 Plus (Kirin)
    15058

Basemark X (medium)

Higher is better

  • Moto Z Droid (Snapdragon)
    42493
  • Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    41845
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Exynos)
    40998
  • Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    36554
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    35194
  • Huawei P9 Plus (Kirin)
    27158
  • Galaxy A9 (S652)
    26081

The Samsung Galaxy Note7 is one of the fastest phones on the market, consistently sticking close to the top of charts. There is plenty of competition with Snapdragon 820 out there, however, so this year the Galaxy Note doesn't completely dominate the field.

We don't think there's a big difference if you get a Snapdragon or Exynos powered Note7. Yes, the Snapdragon puts out a few frames per second more in some games, but in others, the Exynos is better. Don't fret it.

Reader comments

  • Asif Mir

Any update about release of Refurbished Note-7 with 3200mAH Battery ??? Will it be released in Pakistan as well ?

  • Ezduzit777

Think TSA and/or major airlines are ready for this re-issue? I want one!

  • AnonD-314089

Well, the good news is that Samsung is already working on the new firmware d if the note 7, now Note 7R( from refurbished). Still not mention the market where it will be sell.