LG V20 or Galaxy Note 7 – which is the better phone? It’s a question that will come up a lot in the coming weeks. And for a couple of unexpected reasons, the answer is less clear than we were anticipating it to be just a few weeks ago. One, the LG V20 is a really great phone. Two, the Note 7 is dragged down (at least for now) by an unprecedented global recall.

The V20 and the Note 7 are evenly matched, and that makes the confrontation between these Android powerhouses that much more exciting. Without further ado, here’s our quick look at the LG V20 vs Galaxy Note 7.

LG V20 vs Galaxy Note 7: design and build quality

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Despite the fact that the V10 was well received last year, LG chose to completely redesign the V20, which now features an all-metal build and it’s utilizing the same grade of strong aluminum that we see in aircraft and mountain bikes.

This choice of material makes the V20 extremely lightweight and durable and allows it to maintain its predecessor’s MIL-STD 810G compliance against drops and mechanical shocks. Put another way, this phone can really take a beating, as you can see for yourself in our LG V20 drop test.

The design isn’t quite as unique as last year’s V10, but it’s a really good looking phone and it feels very sturdy in the hand. The bottom and top caps of the phone are made of a material called silicon polycarbonate, but everything else is aluminum.

But even though LG’s gone with a metal design on the V20, it’s actually not unibody. A button on the right side lets you pop off the metal back plate giving you access to the removable battery and microSD card slot. We have to give LG props for moving to a premium metallic design, while still managing to come up with an elegant way of keeping the features that people typically identify with LG.

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With the Note 7, you have Samsung’s now well-known design that was first introduced with the Galaxy S6. The two glass panels and the finely rounded metal frame sandwiched in between add up in a design that is very different from the all-metal build of the V20, but it feels fantastic and extremely comfortable to hold.

There’s no way around it – the Note 7 is a heavy fingerprint magnet, but aside from that, Samsung has done a really great job with refining their glass and metal design. Bottom line, the Note 7 is definitely one of the most beautiful looking phones that anyone has have ever made.

The Note 7 doesn’t have a removable battery like the V20, but it does carry a microSD card slot. On the flipside, the sealed construction makes it possible to have water and dust resistance, which is something you wouldn’t get if you opted for the LG V20.

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The build quality on these two phones is top-notch, but despite having the same screen size, the Note 7 is quite a bit smaller and a lot more manageable in one hand.

Along the bottom, you’ll notice that both of these phones have USB Type-C, a single firing speaker and a headphone jack – and of course with the Note 7, you also have that dedicated slot for the S Pen. The S Pen on the Note 7 has been improved in a lot of ways. It has a much finer tip, more levels of pressure sensitivity and, importantly (f0r some), it can no longer be put in backwards. You can also now use it to magnify anything on the screen, to quickly translate text or images, and create GIFs from videos to send to your friends.

LG V20 vs Galaxy Note 7: specs and features

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The LG V20 and the Galaxy Note 7 are both beautiful, well-built computing machines. But they are also evenly matched when it comes with the specs they offer, even if their unique talents set them apart when it comes to special features.

The V20 and the Note 7 share the same screen size – 5.7 inches – and the same display resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels. However, with the V20 you’re dealing with an IPS LCD display of the Quantum variety (for vivid colors and deeper blacks), while on the Note 7 you have Samsung’s well-known Super AMOLED technology.

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With the V20 you also have a secondary display that can show you the time, date, battery life, notifications and system shortcuts when the screen is turned off, as well as app shortcuts and your most recently used apps when the screen is turned on. This V20’s secondary display is now brighter and more legible compared to the V10, and that makes it that much more usable and enjoyable to use.

The Note 7 doesn’t have a secondary display, but perhaps it doesn’t even need one. After all, its Always On Display functionality can do a lot of the same things as the V20’s secondary display, including showing you the time, date, battery life, and any unread notifications that you might have. Plus, because everything is part of the Note 7’s AMOLED display, this feature looks much sleeker than the V20’s secondary display, which was very prone to light bleed in our experience.

Both the Note 7 and the LG V20 feature Snapdragon 820 processors, with four gigabytes of RAM, and 64GB of storage space, expandable via microSD. Fingerprint sensors are present on both devices.

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This similarity shouldn’t really surprise anyone, because pretty much every flagship that came out this year shipped with these specs. As a result, performance shouldn’t really be much of an issue on either one.

One of the more interesting features of the V20 is its built-in quad DAC and we don’t know exactly how well this works just yet (not without a full audio review), but it’s supposed to deliver a very high quality audio experience when listening through headphones.

LG V20 vs Galaxy Note 7: cameras

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On the back of the V20 is a dual lens camera setup with a 16 megapixel main sensor and an 8 megapixel wide angle camera similar to what we saw earlier this year on the G5. The V20 brings back the same manual video controls from the V10, with an improved interface and a lot more features, including built in focus peeking which is extremely useful for making sure that the subject of your shot is in focus.

The front camera features a 5 megapixel sensor, and there’s only one front facing camera this time (there were two lenses on the LG V10). You still have the option to switch between a standard and a wide angle when taking selfies.

With the Galaxy Note 7, you’re getting a more traditional camera setup with a 12 megapixel sensor and f/1.7 aperture with dual pixels for very fast and accurate autofocus. It’s the same sensor from the Galaxy S7, which takes fantastic photos, and on the Note 7 Samsung revamped the camera app with an interface that’s a lot cleaner and much easier to navigate, especially with one hand.

LG V10 vs Galaxy Note 7: software

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One of the biggest highlights of the V20 software experience is that it’s going to be the first phone to ship with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. That will give you access to all of the features of Nougat, like direct reply from the notification shade, customizable toggles, split-window support, quick switching between apps, and Doze on the go, which saves even more battery than before.

LG’s overlay however is still a little on the cartoony side and still feels the same as what we saw on the G5, so it’s definitely in need of an update to better match Android Nougat.

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The Note 7 is currently on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Samsung’s familiar TouchWiz skin. It’ll definitely be updated to Nougat, but it’s tough to say when and how quickly it’ll get that update. On the bright side, TouchWiz is actually a really nice experience on the Note 7. Samsung’s controversial skin is a lot cleaner than before and areas like the notification shade and the settings menu are much more streamlined. Samsung has also done a really great job with reducing bloatware on the Galaxy Note 7, with preloaded apps and features reduced to a minimum.

Wrap up

The LG V20 is bringing a lot to the table and it’s shaping up to be a phone that can go toe to toe with the best flagships on the market. It can definitely hold its own against Samsung’s very powerful Note 7, despite being a very different phone. The choice may boil down to personal preference in this case, as the V20 and Note 7 are both great pieces of hardware that you cannot go wrong with.

But what do you guys think about the V20 and the Note 7? Which phone would you rather pick? Feel free to let us know down in the comments below.