The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the best big-screen phone with a stylus you can buy. It's artfully designed dual curves make holding it manageable and just as stylish as the Galaxy S7 Edge. It has expanded S Pen functionality, a slick operating system (TouchWiz critics, go home) and a bigger battery than the Note 5.
It takes a lot from the S7 and S7 Edge, including the world's best camera on a phone that will make you the go-to person for snapping photos (be warned, this is an annoying compliment). We also really like the smaller details, like the fast selfie camera flip gesture.
The potential of Mobile HDR has yet to be realized and the phone isn't any more powerful than the S7 or S7 Edge. It's missing the 6GB of RAM that is only making its way to a Note 7 variant in China, but the numbers game isn't important as long as you can get over the one figure: its high price.
Who's this for?
If you're still clinging to your old Note stylus in 2016, this is your next smartphone upgrade. Business professionals and power users who want to be on the cutting edge will appreciate the added functionality of the S Pen. They'll also have (or be more willing to spend) the extra money on the Note 7. It's a serious investment meant for people who are serious about their phone.
Should you buy it?
Yes, in an ideal scenario in which money isn't an issue, this is the feature-packed phone that is a top-performer. It won't let you down in day-to-day use. However, if you don't see yourself using the S Pen after the one month honeymoon phase or can't handle a phone with a 5.7-inch display, then stick to the 5.5-inch S7 Edge or more hand-friendly 5.1-inch S7. They have the same bright, Super AMOLED displays, specs and camera that haven't been beat so far in 2016.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
With a 5.5-inch display, Samsung's other flagship phone makes the Note 7's ability to stand out difficult. It too has a curved glass display, the same amazing camera and an identical chipset.
Besides the Note's clear advantage with the 5.7-inch screen, Gorilla Glass 5 and S Pen, the only other difference comes down to the internal storage sizes: 64GB of the Note 7 and 32GB for the S7 Edge.
If you're going to get out of the stylus, the Note 7 is an obvious choice. The iris scanner doesn't make it a convincing enough buy on its own. Otherwise, save your money and stick with the S7 Edge.
The LG G5 is the best alternative solution to what long-time Note users may be missing: namely the removable battery. LG really marketed this to its advantage, along with the microSD card support, when the LG G4 launched with those features last year and the Note 5 axed them. The Note 7 has a microSD card slot again, but the removable battery remains absent.
The LG G5 specs are the same and it comes with a modular twist, but its design isn't nearly as stylish and the display is also smaller at 5.3 inches. The camera is great and takes convenient wide angle photos to capture vast landscapes and tall building – it's just not as detailed as the one that Samsung uses. What may tempt you to the LG G5 in the end is its more wallet-friendly price.
iPhone 6S Plus
Apple doesn't have the best phones in the world anymore, but it does have a user-friendly ecosystem and often gets apps and app updates before Android. iMessages, FaceTime and easy interoperability with Mac computers makes the 5.5-inch display of the iPhone 6S Plus a good choice for fans of Apple in place of the Note 7.
But, be warned, the camera isn't as good and that iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus announcement is right around the corner. You're best advised to wait to see what Apple unveils in September if you're on the iOS and Android fence.