Samsung’s latest phablet, the Galaxy Note 7 is the best Android smartphones for those seeking just a little more from their phone.
The Note 7 features some subtle design improvements. Under its shiny glass housing is a big battery, wireless charging, iris scanning, fingerprint sensor, expandable memory and the SPen.
The Note 7 is the first in the Note series to be IP68 water and dust resistance certified, including the SPen.
There’s a lot to like about the Note 7, Samsung has taken all the best features from the S7 edge and morphed it into the latest generation of its phablet device.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Design
Taking it out of the box, it looks sleek, and feels premium – it definitely feels like a $699 smartphone. Compared to Apple’s phablet, the iPhone 6S Plus, the Note 7 is not as wide in hand, yet it offers a 5.7 inch Super AMOLED display panel and weighs less, making it really comfortable and natural in hand.
One of the design features Samsung is proud of is the dual curved edges. It allows the Note 7 to really maximise the display span and the only qualms I have with it is where the display panel meets the corners.
Compared to the S7 edge where it looks flush, it doesn’t on the Note 7 – attention to detail Samsung. Although that is very pedantic, to say the least, it’s just something that can’t be unseen once you notice it.
Upfront there’s a home button which is also your fingerprint scanner (more about how well it performs later) for unlocking the device. Looking up, you’ll notice some black holes depending on which colour you get; one is a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, the other two are used for Iris scanning.
Using your Iris (eyes) to unlock your smartphone is an extra layer of security that Samsung added, it’s new and it works seamlessly (again, more about this later on).
Next to the camera is a LED indicator light and to its right is your earpiece. Screen to body ratio is spot on and complaining about its size is irrelevant as it’s aimed at those who wants a big display for better productivity or media consumption.
On the back, there’s a 12-megapixel shooter with dual pixel technology. We’ve seen this in action already on the S7 and S7 edge, and performance is second to none. Next to the camera are the LED flash and infrared scanner for HR monitoring and can also be used for taking photos – again those aren’t new but a welcomed continuation.
Taking a look at the left side of the Note 7, you have two buttons, both for adjusting volume settings and on the right is the lonely power button.
Up top on its metal frame is where the sim card goes and a micro SD expansion, you can expand the 64 GB of internal storage with a 256 GB card and go beast mode on storage space – now that Amazon allows you to download TV series to SD card, this could be a winner.
Down below is where some of the magic happens. There’s a 3.5mm audio port, and with all the rumours surrounding Apple about them ditching this port, Samsung and Android fans can relax for now.
Next to it is a USB Type-C port for faster data transfer and it also supports fast charging. To the right of the charging port, you have a microphone, one down-firing speaker which Samsung could have improved upon, and the SPen slot.
To remove/eject the SPen, you just have to push it in and it releases the stylus pen. Once it’s out, it activates SPen features which most Note users would be familiar with by now. One thing I like about the Spen is the clicky top, it feels like a pen’s click, so if you have a habit of clicking your pen when working or thinking, thank Samsung later.
All in all, the Note 7 definitely stands out design-wise, it feels natural to hold in-hand, looks premium and buy a case for it, otherwise, it’s a serious fingerprint magnet.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 SPen
The SPen has come a long way and Samsung continues to refine it without making a mountain out of a molehill – It already offers some of the best features any stylus can offer.
So what’s new? the SPen’s precision has been improved so you can write better, draw better and point better in general. It’s also IP68 water and dust resistant – not sure when you’d be making notes underwater, but if you need to get some ideas down while it’s raining, you won’t have to worry about that anymore.
Some new tools have been added to Air command. The Spen is now armed with translate which lets you hover over a word or an image of a word to get a translation on the spot using Google translation API.
Magnify tool is great for accessibility – you can enlarge small text and images. It comes in very handy on websites where zooming is not possible.
Finally, smart select has also been improved to let you create, save and share GIFs. You can go on a YouTube video, select a segment and save as GIF – no need for a separate app.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Processor Performance
When it comes to performance, the Note 7 will leave most smartphones in the dust, it’s the Usain Bolt of the smartphones. With 4GB of RAM, 14nm FinFET Exynos Octa Core processor, and Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow), it’s fluid and even with Samsung’s Touchwiz overlay, it still runs buttery-smooth.
With so many features packed inside one device, It’s amazing to see how well it still handles everyday tasks. using the SPen, Iris Scanner, gaming and rendering graphics is no issue at all – you can even screen capture your gameplay or live stream to YouTube. There are so many things to be liked about the Note 7 and its performance is one of them.
Although some may argue that Samsung should have included a bigger RAM like the One Plus 3, I personally believe if it’s not broke, why fix it?
I can imagine that the next iteration of the Galaxy Note may feature a bigger RAM, but with the way processors are going, they are very efficient and do better at managing how power is distributed to apps in order to ensure an optimal performance at all times. Keeping that in mind, there’s always room for improvement over the next generation of upcoming Note devices.
For those of you who loves to see benchmark scores, I’ve included one above, although I don’t see the point of benchmarking devices anymore as it doesn’t really translate into the real world.
This year’s Galaxy Note 7 saw the introduction of an Iris Scanner for unlocking your device. Rather than this being the primary form of security for the Note 7, it’s just an added measure for the security and privacy-conscious people out there.
Besides just unlocking your smartphone, you can also use it for locking apps, folders, media files you don’t want others seeing and more.
I’m particularly impressed with how well it works; it was very easy to setup, taking less than two minutes for the whole process, although those who wear contact lenses or glasses may spend just a few seconds longer getting it all setup.
Samsung played it smart also by not making it a mandatory medium for unlocking your device as it requires a new behaviour and if it every fails to pick up your eyes then it can be frustrating for the users.
Samsung played it smart also by not making it a mandatory medium for unlocking your device as it requires a new user behaviour and if it ever fails to pick up your eyes, then it can quickly become quite frustrating for you.
Lifting up your smartphone and placing it in front of your eyes may be something a little awkward to do in public so I found myself not really using it in public, however, I do get it out to show off too.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Camera Test
If you have used the Galaxy S7 or the S7 edge before you’ll know that the camera produces some amazing photos and videos; the Galaxy Note 7 follows that trend with a 12MP dual pixel camera with OIS (Optical Image Stabiliser) with F1.7 aperture on the rear (primary camera) and on the front, there’s a 5MP F1.7 shooter too for selfie lovers.
How does that translate into the real world? it means you can shoot in low light without having to worry about sharpness and general image quality.
With OIS, you can shoot video with shaky hands and not worry about it. It’s all good telling you about the quality, but take a look at the images below and see for yourself.
No matter what the weather looks like outside for lighting, you can rely on the Note 7 to take a good picture to the best of its ability. Images look sharp, colours are very natural and true to what you can actually see, and when lighting is all over the place, you can switch on HDR to get the dynamic range as accurate and as eye-catching as possible.
Note 7’s camera interface is also worth talking about. It’s been refined for simplicity, whereas before the deeper settings (manual controls) are sort of hidden away, now all you have to do is swipe left for extra settings or swipe right to view the built in eight filters that could add a little extra to your pictures.
On the filters menu, you can rearrange them to suit your need or you can even download more if the ones there aren’t good enough for you.
As mentioned before, you can swipe left for deeper camera settings and modes. By default, you have auto, pro, panorama, selective focus, slow motion, hyperlapse, food, virtual shot, video collage and live broadcast.
On the download page, you can get surround shot, sports shot, animated GIF, dual camera and rear-cam selfie. There’s really no excuses for a bad photo!
Should you buy the Note 7?
I’ve probably mentioned this too many times already, but once more, there’re so many reasons to like the Note 7 and few faults to be found and most of them are just pedantic.
The design is solid with a premium-build. It offers a great camera performance, battery life is good, and the processor performance is definitely spot on – although a bigger RAM could future-proof it.
The beauty mode effect when taking selfies is still something I don’t get, I would have made that feature less prominent. Spen is definitely great for productivity and creating GIFs is easier than ever. IP68 is needed and I’m glad Samsung added that. The list goes on!
Should you buy it? absolutely, there are only a handful of smartphones that can get away with a £699 price tag, and the Note 7 is one of them.
It’s also built with features and functionality that means you can use it for business or pleasure for two years or more – just get yourself a case to keep it pristine. For more information, visit Samsung’s website.
The review device was provided by Samsung and was tested over two weeks. All opinion are UNILAD’s.
I write about all things tech!