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29
Sep

iPhone 7 and BMW Owners Experiencing Bluetooth Audio Issues


Over the past two weeks, an increasing number of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus users have experienced Bluetooth audio issues in vehicles. The majority of users experiencing problems appear to be BMW owners, regardless of model, but other vehicle brands such as Hyundai and Kia appear to be involved in limited cases.

The issues range from audio cutting out to connectivity issues with infotainment systems. BMW users in particular report being able to stream music for about 5-10 seconds, at which point the ConnectedDrive system freezes. Fixing the system requires restarting the iPhone, but the issue reemerges once the connection is reestablished.

MacRumors reader YachtMac posted in our discussion forums:

My iPhone 7 Plus with iOS 10.0.2 will not stream audio for more than a few seconds in a BMW 4 series with the latest multimedia software. I have researched the issue and others with BMWs and other makes seem to be experiencing the same or similar streaming issues. Moreover, once the fault occurs the mobile telephone connection then becomes flakey as well. The only thing I can do is to disable the audio streaming option in order to have a phone that works in the car as a phone.

Apple Support Communities member Chandy911 echoed the same problem:

I just upgraded to an iPhone 7 Plus running iOS 10.0.1 and I am having issues playing music through Bluetooth on BMW ConnectedDrive. I’ve upgraded the BMW software on my car to the latest version from BMW’s website, but I still get disconnected on Bluetooth after about 5-10 seconds after playing music. I’ve tried to restore the phone and set it up as a new phone. I’ve deleted the connection both on the device and car, but the issue persists.

MacRumors reader PorscheRain:

iPhone 7 in 2015 BMW 235i disconnects from Bluetooth after steaming audio for 10 seconds. Once disconnected, iOS no longer sees the vehicle’s Bluetooth source. The only recourse is to forget the device in Settings and repair with the vehicle. I’ve isolated iOS as not the key issue (iPhone SE works fine on the same iOS 10.0.1, so did my prior iPhone 6s). Apple had me swap out the device at the store; the same thing is occurring on the new iPhone 7.

BMW itself has acknowledged the issues and said it is working with Apple to ensure iPhone 7 compatibility in its vehicles:

We are aware of the concerns you speak of and we are currently working directly with Apple to ensure iPhone 7 compatibility in our vehicles. At this time, the Apple iPhone 7 is not an approved device for our vehicles until testing has completed. We do not currently have an estimated time frame regarding the completion of iPhone 7 testing. Please continue to look for an update from Apple for a new iOS and our update website to help resolve your concerns: http://www.bmw.com/update. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

Apple has seemingly told some customers the fix will be included in an upcoming software update. The issue is still present on iOS 10.1 beta. BMW owners are recommended to update to the latest version of ConnectedDrive as a preparative measure. BMWs equipped with CarPlay do not appear to be affected.

These types of issues have been seen before. In 2014, some users experienced trouble pairing their devices to their vehicles via Bluetooth after upgrading to iOS 8 or purchasing a new iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. Apple fixed the issues in iOS 8.1. Similar issues affecting some iPhone SE users were addressed in iOS 9.3.2.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: BMW, Bluetooth
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29
Sep

Use this hack to ‘vacuum seal’ any freezer bag – CNET


When freezing foods for long-term storage, you want to remove as much of the surrounding air as possible. Contact with air is what can lead to freezer burn, which is why vacuum sealing your frozen foods is recommended when possible.

But what if you don’t have an expensive vacuum sealer? Fear not. There’s a trick that works in a pinch, and all you need is a large container, water, zip-top bags and some food to freeze.

How to seal foods airtight without a vacuum sealer

We’ve all tried the age-old squeeze every last bit of air out of a zip-top bag before sealing it lightning fast by hand method. But that method is flawed. Without crushing your food or releasing the bag, it’s nearly impossible to get all the air out.

This trick, which comes from the SeriousEats YouTube channel, but has been used for years in the sous vide community, replaces your writhing and squeezing with a bucket of water. Here’s how it works:

seal-foods-seriouseats.gif SeriousEats/YouTube

  • Place your food in the zip-top bag and zip the seal, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) open.
  • Find a large container, such as a storage bin, large pot or even a 1 gallon (3.8 liter) pitcher and fill it with water.
  • Slowly lower the bag of food into the water, until only the corner you left open is above the water.
  • Seal the remaining corner of the zip-top and remove the food from the water.
  • Allow the bag to dry off completely before placing it in the freezer.

This hack uses the natural pressure of a body of water to squeeze out a lot more air than you are normally capable of by hand. It contours the zip-top bag around the food almost like a glove, leaving very little air in the bag.

Of course, this isn’t quite as effective as a vacuum sealer, which sucks the air out of the bag. Some air will ultimately remain in the bag, especially if you’re freezing a more solid food, such as cooked chicken or steak. Air pockets will form between the chunks of food, so you might want to jostle the food a bit while it’s under water to try and squeeze out even more air.

Still, this can prolong the shelf life of frozen foods in your freezer better than the manual squeeze under your arm method can. And it doesn’t crush your food to boot. And since you’re filling a large container with water, it makes quite a bit of sense to seal and freeze your foods in one large batch, rather than wasting several gallons of water each time.

29
Sep

4 little-known streaming music services you should try right now – CNET


Limiting yourself to a handful of major music services is like eating only at chain restaurants: You’ll get a good meal, sure, but you’ll be missing out on all the little cafes that might be serving up amazing alternatives.

Indeed, it’s easy to stick with the likes of Pandora and Spotify, both of which are great at what they do. But consider expanding your streaming-music horizons a bit. There are lots of lesser-known services — nearly all of them free — that cater to different tastes.

8tracks

Price: Free

Mobile app: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone

Works in mobile browsers: Yes

Remember Songza? The beloved streaming service Google bought and then shuttered? 8tracks might be the next best thing, but with a decidedly indie bent. You choose your preferred music genre and then a particular artist or mood; the site produces any number of DJ- and user-created playlists that match.

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8tracks offers a huge variety of indie music, all of it curated into mood- and artist-specific playlists.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

It’s a little confusing in spots, because a playlist might have tags indicating a particular artist without actually having any songs from that artist. But the idea is to deliver the kind of music you’re likely to like, if not the specific tracks or bands.

You also don’t get to see a track list, so you’ll have to just sit back and (hopefully) enjoy the playlist ride. You don’t have to sign up for an account, but doing so lets you build collections for future listening.

8tracks service supports every platform known to man, and even offers plug-ins for Joomla and WordPress.

Focusmusic.fm

Price: Free

Mobile app: No

Works in mobile browsers: Yes

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An interface that’s simple and relaxing, much like Focusmusic.fm itself.

Focusmusic.fm/Screenshot by Nick Hide/CNET

True to its name, Focusmusic.fm does one thing and one thing only: play music designed to help you focus. Call it “music to work by,” the default being a steady stream of mostly non-vocal, mostly electronic (think trance) background audio. It’s free, and I find myself using it more and more.

The service operates on the simplest possible interface: one large play/pause button and two skip-track arrows. If you want to know the name of the track you’re hearing, click the musical note icon.

If you find the music selection a little too up-tempo, there’s a white-noise alternative: Click the little headphone icon and choose Rain. Other musical genres recently added are Downtempo and Classical.

Hype Machine

Price: Free

Mobile App: Android, iOS

Works in mobile browsers: Yes

If you like to discover new music by reading blogs and reviews, but realize you’re barely scratching the surface of what’s out there, head to Hype Machine. It’s an aggregator, plain and simple, one that catalogs the most popular songs from blogs around the world.

Each entry includes the number of blogs that mentioned the track and links to various download sources, if available. But you can stream any of the songs just by clicking play, and if you register for an account, you can mark favorites and build your own playlists.

Hype Machine works in mobile browsers, but also has standalone apps for both Android and iOS.

Noon Pacific

Price: Free

Mobile app: Android, iOS

Works in mobile browsers: Yes

Remember mixtapes? Not the hassles of producing your own, but the joy of receiving one from someone else. You can experience that same joy at Noon Pacific, which delivers a new 10-song “mixtape” via email every week. Think of it as a curated version of Hype Machine, with songs handpicked from “the best music blogs,” according to curator Clark Dinnison.

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Noon Pacific

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Now years into its existence, Noon Pacific has over 200 playlists you can stream. While listening to any track, you can click to share it on Facebook or Twitter or buy it from Amazon.

Curiously, however, the web and app interfaces don’t directly connect you to 8tracks.com, which is where the playlists are hosted. But that’s where you have to go if you want to “like” or bookmark a playlist. Thus, you might be better off simply heading to the 8tracks Noon Pacific page and working from there. Or, subscribe to the Noon Pacific mailing list: Each new playlist — delivered Monday at, you guessed it, noon PT — sends you to 8tracks.com.

Have you found other music services outside the mainstream? Tell us about them in the comments! In the meantime, be sure to check out CNET’s Music Download and Streaming Directory.

29
Sep

2017 Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta Release Date, Price and Specs – Roadshow


29
Sep

Garmin Vivofit Jr Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


rvivofitjrfamilyhr34532.jpg Garmin

Garmin is entering new territory with its first fitness tracker designed for kids.

The company on Thursday announced the Vivofit Jr, a swim-proof fitness tracker with one year of battery life. The tracker is a child-size version of the Vivofit 3, and can measure steps, distance, calories burned, active minutes and sleep. Other features include an always-on and sunlight-readable display and a move bar to remind kids when they have been sitting for too long.

The tracker is also compatible with a task management app that parents can use to assign chores and responsibilities and give kids recognition for completing certain tasks, such as making their bed or setting the table. You can also set a timer from the app that will count down on the tracker, which could come in handy for limiting television watching or as a study timer.

The Vivofit Jr is designed for kids ages four to nine. The one-piece band is available in black, broken-lava, digi-camo, purple-strike and “real flower” band patterns and fits wrists up to 145 millimeters (5.7 inches). Garmin is offering larger bands for wrists between 146 to 170 millimeters (up to 6.7 inches), but you can also use accessory bands from the Vivofit 3.

The Vivofit Jr is available now from Garmin and at Target and Best Buy for $80 (£80, AU$130). It will arrive at Toys R Us, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart and additional retailers later this fall.

Smartwatches and fitness trackers to tackle…
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29
Sep

Ferrari GTC4Lusso T Release Date, Price and Specs – Roadshow


29
Sep

2018 Audi Q5 Release Date, Price and Specs – Roadshow


29
Sep

What to do if you’re locked out of your phone after resetting it


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While it’s for our own good, Factory Reset Protection can trip you up when you reset your phone. These tips can help.

Getting stuck when trying to reset your phone seems to be a fairly common thing. The reasons for it are good — Google has methods in place to try and cut back on phone theft — but when it’s your phone and your data, it can be frustrating if you can’t use it. Here are a few pointers that can help if it happens to you, as well as what you can do to prevent it from happening.

Why do I need to know the old account information?

In recent versions of Android, once a phone has been tied to a Google account you need to use the same account and password to “unlock” it if you reset it. It’s called FRP (Factory Reset Protection), and it’s done to make stolen phones less valuable; if you steal my phone you can’t unlock the screen to use it, and if you reset it you need my Google account information to set it up again. If you can’t use my phone, you’re less likely to steal it. Or if you’ve found a phone and can’t use it you’ll be more likely to turn it over to the police. Every company that makes phones with access to Google Play is using this feature and some also have their own version that can do the same thing through their accounts.

Even a great idea seems bad when it keeps you from using your phone.

The problem is that if you reset your own phone, or buy a used phone that still has FRP active you might need to know the account username and password that was last used on the phone to sync with Google’s servers. Resetting the phone through the settings should remove the account before it erases the data, but it very often doesn’t. Sometimes we forget those details, or if we bought a phone from someone else we might not be able to get them. While people are always looking for exploits to work around the FRP lock, once found they quickly get patched. (Though sometimes those patches take a while to work their way through manufacturers and carriers, so it’s always worth a Google search.)

When this happens on your own account and you have access from another phone (or tablet or computer) first instinct is to have the password you forgot reset so you can move forward. But that only locks the phone setup completely for at least 24 hours because another security feature stops you from adding access to your Google account on the phone right after a password change or other “suspicious” activity. On phones running Lollipop, this might be 72 hours — Google changed it in May 2016 and some phones need a software update for it to take effect. Every time you try starts the 24-hour clock new, and we all would keep trying over and over out of frustration.

So what should I do?

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There are three ways to get in. The first, using the Google account recovery tool, will only work if you took the time to set up a backup phone (and can swap your SIM card with another phone to get a text) or second email account. We’ll go over how to do that in the next section, but if you already did it you can click this link to start the recovery process. Make sure your phone is charged and turned on, and make sure you have access to a phone using the recovery number or the recovery account email. If you’re using two-factor authentication, you’ll need a way to authorize your account. If that would usually be the phone you’re trying to unlock, the recovery tool will walk you through the steps to disable 2FA or use a CAPTCHA code.

The next step is to reset your account password from another device, then wait 24 (or 72 — see above) hours before trying to set it up. You can leave the phone powered on or shut it off, just don’t try to do anything with it while you’re waiting or you may reset the countdown. Waiting a full day (or three) really sucks, but it’s better than not having any access to your account and not being able to use your phone ever again.

If you bought used, you’ll need to contact the original owner for some help.

The third option is for advanced users, and may not work on your particular model. You can try to wipe the phone’s data and cache partitions through the device recovery. This used to work on some models, never worked on others, and even triggered a dialog asking for the same account details as setup does on others. But if you’re into fiddling with things, this is pretty easy to try. The other thing to try is to reflash the operating system. Using whatever tools are needed on a computer (Fastboot, Odin, LG Flash Tool, etc.) and the correct factory image to completely erase the phone and start from scratch. This too isn’t 100%. Rooted users can try ADB through recovery and then remove specific files from the settings database — search your particular model for more on this.

If none of these solutions work you can try filling out this form or calling 650-253-0000 to work through the Google Accounts customer service menu. You can also try checking with the company you bought the phone from, as they may have experience solving the issue.

If you aren’t the original owner and don’t have access to a way to recover the account, you’ll need to contact whoever you bought it from.

Account recovery options

Save yourself some headache and set up your account recovery options. Visit your Google account settings page and run the “Security Checkup” you’ll find in the left column. You can tell Google how to send you a token to get into your account if you’re locked out and select recovery questions as part of the first step. We recommend you provide all the detail you can here. Just because the FRP “issue” hasn’t hit you yet doesn’t mean it never will.

With password managers and 2FA settings, the days of just remembering a simple account password are over for a lot of us. Don’t think that you’ll never be locked out of your own phone and your own account! Take a few minutes and make sure Google can help you get in if you need them to.

29
Sep

Save $35 on this Bluetooth speaker that will keep your party going!


Right now you can grab Sharkk’s Commando+ Bluetooth speaker for $75 at Amazon, a savings of $35 with coupon code Sharkk35. This powerful speaker has a 20w driver inside to get your music going loud, and the battery will last around 16 hours per charge to keep it flowing all night. The rugged design is paired with an IP65 rating so you can get it wet, just not fully submerge it. Unlike some other speakers, this one has the play/pause, volume adjustments, skip track and answer/end call buttons on the top of it, so you can do things without reaching for your phone.

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If you are looking for a portable speaker that gets loud and gives you great sound, you’ll want to check this one out. This discount won’t last long so be sure to get your order in before it is gone! Remember, you’ll need coupon code Sharkk35 for the full savings.

See at Amazon

29
Sep

Galaxy Note 7 vs iPhone 7 Plus: Function over form


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Should I buy an iPhone 7 or a Note 7?

Samsung stumbled out of the gate with the Galaxy Note 7 in a way that may permanently damage the Note brand, but that doesn’t change our thoughts on the phone itself. The Note 7 represents unprecedented polish from Samsung, and a well-tuned feature set that can’t be easily replicated. It’s the best Android phone you can buy today if price isn’t a concern, which makes it the perfect phone to compare to Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus.

Samsung and Apple have both placed a premium on quality camera experiences, the fastest, most accurate fingerprint systems, and an external design that reinforces brand recognition. Here’s what happens when you put the two side by side.

Hardware

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Apple and Samsung have done their level best to release exquisitely polished rounded rectangles with cameras on the back and home buttons on the front. On both phones, the display takes up a significant portion of the front, and whatever color you choose to buy dominates an otherwise featureless rear.

That all may sound generic, but it makes a solid point: the two phones look more similar than ever before. We’re comparing Apple’s Black iPhone 7 Plus to Samsung’s Black Onyx Note 7, and it’s genuinely difficult to tell them apart from across a room when they are sitting face up. If we had somehow been able to secure a Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus, a feat that is at the time of writing close to impossible, the differences would be even less obvious. This point is interesting for two reasons. One, it’s unusual for Apple to release a phone outside of the S cycle that doesn’t have a significant external redesign; and two, Samsung’s industrial design really is that damn good nowadays.

When you pick up the Note 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the differences become a lot clearer. The matte black iPhone offers a textured surface with a little grip, while Samsung’s glass back encourages you to firmly grasp the sides to prevent slipping. This detail is more important for the noticeably larger iPhone 7 Plus, whose body makes it difficult to reach all the way across the screen with a thumb. Apple has done nothing to improve screen-to-body ratio on the 7 series which produces a device that is larger than the Note 7 despite a smaller display.

The display isn’t just smaller, it’s also packing a lower resolution — 1080p vs 1440p — and is a full 118ppi less dense. There’s simply no contest between these two displays. Samsung offers a brighter panel with sharper text, and the curved AMOLED design means images simply fall off the edge of this phone. Both displays even make us of the new, 26% wider DCI-P3 Color Gamut, which means you’re seeing true-to-life colors more akin to a human eye. Reds are redder, and yellows more sunny.

Earlier I referred to the iconic indented circle on the front of iPhone 7 Plus as a button, but that’s no longer accurate. There’s no physical button there anymore, just pressure-sensitive glass and a fingerprint sensor. This is Apple’s “Taptic Engine”, similar to what you’ll find in an Apple Watch or a MacBook trackpad. In Apple’s other experiences, this new vibration motor offers a unique experience that not only accurately simulates a button press, but delivers enjoyable tactile feedback in a non-disruptive way.

That these phones are the only two that sit on this very expensive pedestal as truly premium experiences is significant.

On the iPhone 7 Plus, this experience doesn’t quite mimic the press of a button. You feel the click all the way through the body of the phone, which is a little disorienting for the first day or two that you use it. One thing it does not do is negatively impact the performance of Touch ID, which is still one of the best fingerprint sensor experiences available today. It’s no more or less convenient than it was before, which means it still offers something nearly identical to what you get on the Galaxy Note 7. The only real benefit to this new design will be found over time, with no need to get the home button replaced after two years of aggressive use.

It wouldn’t be a Note without the S Pen, and as with every previous year Samsung has improved pressure sensitivity and made some mild ergonomic changes. You either rely on that pen every day and love that it exists or you pull it out once to confirm it exists and never use it again, and that’s fine. It’s a great tool for those who want the feature, and that’s what Samsung is all about right now. Samsung also continues to include a 3.5mm headphone jack, removable storage, and wireless charging. None of these features can currently be found on the latest iPhone, and whether any of these features needs to exist continues to be a heated topic of debate.

Both of these phones look and feel excellent from the moment you pick them up in the morning to the moment you set them down to charge at night. The build quality for both is exceptional, and that these phones are among the only two that sit on this very expensive pedestal as truly premium experiences is significant.

Software

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It doesn’t usually make a lot of sense to compare iOS to Android. Google and Apple focus on entirely different things, and at the end of the day you either place value in polished singularity or unified diversity. Android connects as many aspect of your apps to each other for a great overall experience. For iOS, each app is its own special playground that only talks occasionally to a handful of other apps, but it’s a really nice playground. In short, this section is not about to debate the merits of iOS and Android.

This iPhone 7 Plus regularly takes the Note 7’s lunch money when it comes to performance.

Instead it’s important to credit Apple for such an incredibly polished software experience on iOS 10, due in no small part to the amount of control Apple has over its processor. Put simply, the iPhone 7 is the fastest phone in existence today. Downloading apps from the App Store happens in the blink of an eye, and opening those apps has never been faster. This iPhone 7 Plus regularly takes the Note 7’s lunch money when it comes to performance, from the smoothness of rotating from portrait to landscape to the sub-second launching of the camera app. It’s more than a little impressive, and you can feel it in every aspect of the software.

That being said, it’s time for Apple to catch up with some much needed features. It doesn’t do the user any good to make the camera launch this fast if you still have to jump through hoops to get to it in the first place. Samsung’s home button double tap means I can reach into my pocket and have the camera app loaded before I’m even ready to line up the shot I want to take. Apple needs an equivalent, and it doesn’t exist yet because they’re only just now figuring out that people want a clear all button for their notifications.

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If Apple can be dinged for moving too slowly on obvious features, Samsung needs to be held accountable for stuffing everything but the kitchen sink into their version of Android. Between carrier bloatware, a retina scanner than only works occasionally, and an entirely separate apps store with its own rules, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by Samsung’s offerings. Some of it is well hidden, like the Virtual Reality platform that only activates when you connect your phone to the Samsung Gear VR, but not everything treats the user with the same level of respect.

If Apple can be criticized for moving too slowly on adding features, Samsung needs to be held accountable for stuffing everything but the kitchen sink into their version of Android.

Samsung and Apple both face interesting software challenges this year. Apple is polishing themselves into a corner, creating UI experiences where there are back buttons in the notification tray and design guidelines that lead to frequent accidental taps. Samsung still lacks overall optimization, and has a nasty habit of pushing things on the user. Neither experience is “the right way” for everyone, but it’s not hard to see how so many would see Apple’s offering as the more palatable choice.

Camera

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Few places in the smartphone world have been as competitive and engaging as the camera. For years Apple was the name when it came to the best phone camera, but the last two years Samsung and others have stepped up in truly significant ways. Apple furthered that conversation with the addition of a second sensor and lens in the iPhone 7 Plus, which offers 2X optical zoom (a 56mm equivalent focal distance) without needing to rely on digital zoom.

That slight difference in aperture turns out to mean there’s a difference in low light photography, and it usually works in Samsung’s favor.

Samsung’s focus this year is on a single great 12MP camera with an f/1.7 aperture and OIS. On paper it’s very similar to Apple’s 12MP sensor, paired with lenses at f/1.8 or f/2.8 depending on whether you’re activating the zoomre shooting in. Both phones capture plenty of detail and fantastic colors, but Apple also takes photos in the same DCI-P3 Wide Color Gamut as on the iPhone 7 Plus display, which means those colors are more true to life. Samsung’s Note 7 sensor will capture lots of amazing color, but it can occasionally appear artificially saturated.

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iPhone 7 Plus on the left, Galaxy Note 7 on the right.

That slight difference in aperture turns out to also mean there’s a slight difference in low light photography, and it usually works in Samsung’s favor. Night photos with iPhone 7 Plus are greatly improved over its predecessor, but still introduces noise to compensate for the darkness. You also don’t want to use the 2X zoom mode at night at all if you want great shots, which is unfortunate. Despite being slightly less low light-capable, Apple maintains the same motion capture capability at night, and Samsung currently does not. Low light blurriness isn’t a constant problem for the Note 7, but it can occasionally ruin an otherwise great photo.

You really can’t go wrong with either camera here. They’re both amazing for smartphones, and the quality differences between the two are so slight you’re unlikely to ever be able to tell the two apart — something we put to the test quite recently with a blind camera test.

Experience

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Despite the unusually small number of changes to the exterior of this phone, the iPhone 7 Plus feels alien to me. The home “button” doesn’t feel like a button, but that doesn’t stop me from pressing it as I once did out of habit. This habit took a full day to break, and now I’m comfortable with pretending. I know if I press down I’ll feel a click all the way up in my fingertips, but it’s alright. The whole bottom of this phone is a button now, as strange as that is to say. Even with the ability to adjust how hard that button taps back it’s never going to feel like the button on the iPhone 6s Plus, much less the incredibly well made button on the Note 7.

I don’t really notice the missing headphone jack on the iPhone 7 Plus.

I don’t really notice the missing headphone jack on this phone, much like I didn’t miss the headphone jack on the Moto Z, but I enjoy having it on the Note 7 for one very specific purpose. Samsung’s Gear VR experience is amazing with headphones, and Bluetooth often means dealing with slight delays in audio delivery which is not at all good for VR. Since the lower resolution and lesser pixel density on the iPhone means it’s already not very good for any form of VR, this entire experience doesn’t really have an equivalent on iOS.

Speakers are something different, and in this I give a huge point to Apple. The iPhone 7 Plus fires from both the top and bottom when delivering audio, whereas the Note 7 only fires from the bottom. This isn’t a musical quality benefit since Apple’s speakers aren’t evenly distributed, with one set firing straight at you from the headset holes and the other firing down from the bottom of the phone. For many other things, like when I stick my Note 7 in my cupholder with GPS navigation running, that top speaker on the iPhone 7 Plus is sorely missed.

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There really is nothing that compares to Samsung’s display. Apple can tout color accuracy all they want, but the Note 7 is brighter outdoors by a mile, darker in a room with no lights on, and makes everything on it looks amazing.

Once you work those Samsung features into your workflow, it’s downright painful to use a phone without them.

That amazing display means something on the Note 7 is less amazing than the iPhone 7 Plus, battery. The 2900mAh battery in the iPhone 7 Plus is noticeably smaller than the 3500mAh battery in the Note 7, yet somehow Apple is able to routinely deliver a full hour more use. The Note 7 still has no problems getting me to the end of a 15-hour day with 20% or more remaining, which is more than enough for a lot of people, but the iPhone 7 Plus regularly ends the day at 28-30%.

While it’s true many Note 7 owners never unsheath the S Pen after the first week, I happen to love mine. The ability to quickly take a note just by removing the pen is an incredible feature. Grabbing a screenshot to doodle on is great, as well. Samsung has worked hard to make this much more than something you’d give someone who likes to draw, and it’s totally unique to the Note line. It’s one of those things Samsung does well if you dive in and take a look at the features offered. The same can be said of Samsung’s Edge features, which are great if you love a quick launcher for apps you regularly use or want a peek into your calendar.

Once you work those features into your workflow, it’s downright painful to use a phone without them. There isn’t any one thing about the iPhone that offers the same feeling, though it could be argued that pure software polish is that one killer thing.

Which should you buy?

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Ultimately, what makes the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 special is the collection of great ideas you can mold into the experience that works best for you. There’s no single feature or experience that grabs you as this truly exceptional thing, but the ability to put these individual ideas together and create your own no compromise phone with its own fun set of features is fantastic. It’s also a little clumsy and a lot confusing if all you want is a “phone that does apps” and lets you post to Facebook.

The iPhone 7 Plus represents more than the next iteration in Apple’s design and software, it’s the next iteration of Apple’s whole ethos. This is a phone that works well as long as you use it exactly the way Apple thinks you should use it. Apple “courageously” created a singular experience that is beautiful and powerful in its own way, but also weirdly limiting and occasionally artificial in ways that are just plain unnecessary.

More: Should you upgrade to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus?

Which should you buy? Well, if you want a phone you can explore and make your own, knowing it has features you’ll probably never use but will still be a great overall experience, you want a Note 7. If you want the most powerful phone with the truest to life imagery, and don’t mind being told you don’t need other features you might find interesting in order to have that experience, the iPhone 7 Plus is exceptional.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

  • Galaxy Note 7 recall: Everything you need to know
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review
  • The latest Galaxy Note 7 news!
  • Here are all four Note 7 colors
  • Complete Galaxy Note 7 specs
  • Join the Note 7 discussion in the forums!

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