Phones

A galaxy of choices to swop for the Samsung Note7

A Samsung representative serving a customer at The Crescent at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre during the exchange arrangement for the Samsung Galaxy Note7 last month. (From left) The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Apple's iPhone 7 Plu
A Samsung representative serving a customer at The Crescent at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre during the exchange arrangement for the Samsung Galaxy Note7 last month. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
(From left) The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Apple's iPhone 7 Plus, the LG V20, the Huawei P9 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.
(From left) The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Apple's iPhone 7 Plus, the LG V20, the Huawei P9 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. PHOTOS: SAMSUNG, APPLE, LG, HUAWEI

Now that Samsung has stopped production of and future support for the Note7, users can look at these alternatives instead

From today, Samsung Galaxy Note7 owners can indicate on Samsung's website (www.samsung.com/sg/ note7exchange) whether they prefer a full refund ($1,168) or an exchange of their Note7 for the Galaxy S7 edge (valued at $1,098) and get a cheque for $250 on top of that.

In addition, those who have bought original Note7 accessories can get a full refund if they return the equipment.

But, if you are still tempted to hold onto the Note7 despite its propensity to burst into flames, you should know that the phone is already banned by airlines around the world.

Samsung has also stopped producing the Note7, so there won't be any software updates in the future.

In other words, it is time to get a new smartphone. Here are some of our top picks, assuming you chose the Note7 because you wanted a flagship phablet or a stylus.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

$1,098

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is probably the closest thing you'll get to the Note7.

Samsung has also stopped producing the Note7, so there won't be any software updates in the future. In other words, it is time to get a new smartphone.

There is also the $250 sweetener that Samsung throws in to persuade consumers to stick with its phones. This works out to an extra $180 after accounting for the differences in retail value between the S7 edge and the Note7.

The S7 edge lacks a stylus and its 5.5-inch screen is slightly smaller than the 5.7-inch Note7.

However, it has a similar industrial design. Like the Note7, it supports wireless charging, has a microSD card slot, and is IP68-certified to be dust-proof and water-resistant.

The S7 edge even has a larger 3,600mAh battery than the Note7's 3,500mAh one.

More importantly, it uses the same TouchWiz software as the Note7, so users do not need to adapt to a different interface.

In fact, some S7 edge users have reported Samsung pushing certain Note7 software features to their phones, such as its Always-On Display, which lets users display a photo, clock or notifications on the standby screen.

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

From $1,248 (32GB)

I know ex-iPhone users who have switched to the Samsung Galaxy Note phablets because of their bigger screens. Of course, this was before Apple launched its own plus-sized iPhones.

For these folks, the new 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus would seem like an ideal replacement for the Note7.

Unless you are a die-hard Android user, Apple's iOS platform arguably offers a more polished user experience.

In terms of water-resistance, the iPhone 7 Plus (rated at IP67) loses out to the Note7 (IP68). But its ability to survive unscathed at down to a depth of 1m for up to 30 mins (compared with 1.5m for the Note7) is still handy.

But the iPhone lacks wireless charging and there is no microSD expansion option.

On the other hand, the Apple device has a dual-lens camera system that gives it a 2x optical zoom feature and the ability to easily create a bokeh, or out of focus, effect.

The iPhone's new A10 processor is also faster than anything you'd find on an Android smartphone.

However, the removal of the 3.5mm audio jack from the new iPhone may cause some inconvenience for users.

LG V20

$998 (64GB), available from Nov 5

The LG V20 is the first Android smartphone to come with the Android 7.0 Nougat operating system pre-installed. Based on what I have seen, LG has restrained itself from excessively tweaking the software and interface, so users should enjoy a mostly stock Android experience.

Its hardware is impressive, from a 5.7-inch quad-HD IPS display to a 32-bit Hi-Fi DAC for lower noise and distortion. The V20 also has a second screen at the top for app shortcuts and notifications.

There is support for a microSD card, but the V20 lacks the Note7's water resistance. There is no stylus either.

On the other hand, the V20 has a removable 3,200mAh battery and a dual-lens camera system.

Huawei P9 Plus

$998 (64GB only)

Huawei's flagship phablet has a different take on the dual-lens camera system. Its second camera has a monochrome image sensor instead of a colour one.

This lets it capture more detail because the monochrome sensor absorbs more light.

The camera, co-developed with Leica, is not the only unique feature on this 5.5-inch device. The P9 Plus has a pressure-sensitive touchscreen that, like the 3D Touch feature introduced with the iPhone 6s, adds another dimension to the user experience.

However, it has a full-HD screen resolution compared with the Note7's quad-HD display.

It also lacks the wireless charging or water resistance of the Note7.

The P9 Plus looks like a premium smartphone, with a metallic unibody chassis. This also means that the battery is non-removable, though the 3,400mAh capacity is comparable to the Note7's battery.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

From $988 (32GB)

Unfortunately, Samsung has cornered the market on stylus-toting phablets. There is simply no good alternative to the S Pen stylus out there.

If you can't live without a stylus, last year's Galaxy Note 5 is your only option. The Note 5 has a similar 5.7-inch display, but its hardware is obviously a year older than the Note7's.

It has a smaller 3,000mAh battery, a less powerful processor, no water-resistance capability and it lacks a microSD card slot. Its rear camera is also not as good as the one on Samsung's current flagship phones.

However, if you can get a second-hand Note 5 at a good price, this phone may tide you over till Samsung releases a new stylus-equipped flagship phablet.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2016, with the headline 'A galaxy of choices to swop for the Samsung Note7'. Print Edition | Subscribe