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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

[Guide] So you can't get the Note 7 - now what?

So we've received a few questions about the Note 7 and for those who were looking to upgrade, its now off the table (sorry Samsung) - but the question becomes, okay - now what do you buy?  We're glad you asked!  Without further ado, here are some thoughts on what you might want to consider if you are wanting or needing to pick up a new smartphone this year.

If you were already using the Note 7 (or are using another Note size device) we'll assume for the moment that you want something with a similar size and are already using Android.  So, with that in mind, the options would likely be:

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Why choose the Galaxy S7 Edge?
Yeah, I know what you're thinking - Samsung just basically quit on the Note 7 because well...it was catching fire and stuff.  I get that.  But the Galaxy series (in both the S7 and the S7 Edge) have been out for a while now, and there's no shenanigans going on with them.  We have a S7 in the house and its a great, great phone.  The S7 Edge is probably going to be the way you want to go if you 1) want a great display (at 5.5" instead of the Note's 5.7"), a great camera, SD card storage as an option, and IP68 water resistance.  The S7 Edge ticks all these boxes, and then some.

Why *not* choose the Galaxy S7 Edge?  
If you just don't trust Samsung anymore AT ALL, I get it.  I'd say that's a bit silly, but you're entitled to your opinion.  If you aren't in love with the dual curved displays, that's another reason.  It does make the phone a little slippery in hand to hold, so if you go that route, be sure to get a good case.  If you want to ensure you get timely updates on Android directly from Google, you might want to avoid the S7 Edge as well, as Samsung hasn't had a great track record with this either (but I hear that Android Nougat 7.0 should be coming soon) - that's pretty much all that's not to like here.

Photo courtesy of Droid-Life.com - the Pixel XL
Why choose the Google Pixel XL?
Google is getting into the hardware game with their own branded mobile device.  In the Pixel and Pixel XL, people are being told this phone will represent the best that Google and Android have to offer with a great hardware and software experience.  The Pixel XL will be the way to go if you 1), want a solid display (a 5.5" QHD AMOLED display - rumored to have come from Samsung current generation displays), 2) a highly touted mobile camera, and 3) a clean, fast, stock Android experience including new features like Google Assistant and free unlimited native resolution storage of all your photos - forever.  The Pixel XL is available for pre-order but won't be released til the end of October.

Why *not* choose the Google Pixel XL?  
The Pixel XL isn't available yet, as noted above.  So if you need a phone NOW, you won't be going the Pixel route.  If you can wait, you still might be put off by the high price tag (the XL 32GB starts at $769) and the lack of things like water resistance or SD card external storage (neither of which the Pixel has, but you could purchase a 128GB base storage model if you chose, for a whopping $869)  The Pixel is also mostly an unknown commodity, so if you aren't keen about being an early adopter, then you should probably hold off on the Pixel XL as well.

LG V20
Why choose the LG V20?
LG's latest big boy flagship is going to be out there soon, in stark contrast to the earlier released LG G5 which was not met with a ton of enthusiasm.  However, the V20 has got a lot going for it.  You might consider the V20 if you want 1) the same size display as the Note 7 (the V20 sports a 5.7" QHD LCD display, 2) SD card storage, 3) are REALLY into audio (as the V20 has an internal DAC and amplifier), and 4) want or need a removable battery.  The V20 has an all metal chassis and also sports a dual camera setup on the back for regular and wide angle shots.  

Why *not* choose the LG V20?  
Like the Pixel XL, the V20 won't be available until the end of October in most places, so if you need a new phone NOW, scratch the V20 off your list.  Its also rumored to weight in at the healthy $800ish price point, so you might avoid it if you can't take the sticker shock.   It's not going to have a better display than either the S7 Edge or Pixel XL, but it does have a secondary display like a ticker across the top which has some nice functionality.  But its still an LCD display, so that means its not likely to have colors that pop or deep blacks in its color gamut.  Its big - bigger than both the Edge and XL, so if you want something a little more....svelte?  Try one of the others.

There you go - some options for those saddened by the demise of the Note 7 and looking for other options this year.  If you're interested in another device we didn't mention (the iPhone 7 Plus) well, that's because we assumed above you were using a Note Android device, and the iPhone doesn't run Android (obviously) - but if you want our thoughts on that phone as well, hit us up at silicontheory@gmail.com and we'll give you some feedback.

Cheers, and hope that helps!

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