Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the best Smartphone Samsung has built for 20 years, and at the same time, the most problematic. The chances of you owning this device, the latest of one of the most successful smartphone series on the market, is limited because Samsung recalled it after there were reports of the battery pack exploding.
Nevertheless, I had a chance to test the 5.66-inch phablet and discovered that critical battery flaw aside, the Note 7 is an incredible handset. Learn all about it in our Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 release date and price
The Galaxy Note 7 was officially presented by Samsung on August 22 and the first units went on sale soon after. The Note 7 would be sold in black, gold and silver for around US $849 (depending on the carrier) for 64 GB of internal storage space.
Galaxy Note 7 Total Recall
Due to problems with the device battery causing some units to explode when charged, Samsung started the biggest recall the company has seen for the past 20 years. And we don’t yet have a new date for the arrival of the device at international retail.
The recall has been conducted to protect consumers. Samsung was putting lives at risk and could have been on the verge of receiving a huge number of lawsuits. We’ll let you know when the Note 7 hits shelves again.
September 26: South Korean owners have already started receiving their replacements for the phablet but complaints have marred the re-release. According to the Wall Street Journal, the replacement Note 7s have been overheating and even losing battery power when they’re being charged. A Samsung spokesperson claimed that the incidents are “isolated” and “completely unrelated to batteries”.
About half of the 500,000 US replacement phones have already been sent out. We’ll see if there are further complaints as American owners continue to receive their new, hopefully, normal phones.
September 29: The Galaxy Note 7 nightmare continues for the South Korean smartphone giant. It’s well into the exchange program that is supposed to end in October but now there are several reports of replacement devices overheating in the United States.
Samsung is aware of these problems and released the following statement today:
“There have been a few reports about the battery charging levels and we would like to reassure everyone that the issue does not pose a safety concern”. The company added that “In normal conditions, all smartphones may experience temperature fluctuations.”
If owners have issues with their replacements, they can get a second Note 7 replacement. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 design and build quality
The Galaxy Note 7 design is inspired by the Galaxy S7 Edge with some small optimisations. The result is a symmetrical design and it’s undoubtedly one of the nicest smartphones I’ve ever had in my hands.
The symmetry of Note 7 can be seen on the sides. The metal frame has been tuned perfectly, curved to reach the display and to roll around to the back. At a glance, it might seem like an insignificant difference, but the change is felt when you have the device in hand. When you hold the new Galaxy Note, compared to the S7 Edge, the impression is that this is not a 5.7-inch device. It’s easy to hold in one hand.
When comparing this model to its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 5, we see even more changes, notably the curved screen and the fact that the Note 7 has more angular corners than the Note 5.
At the front of Note 7, we have the iris scanner at the top of the screen and the start button, which also acts a fingerprint scanner, at the bottom.
On the bottom of the device to is the 3.5 mm minijack, stylus holder and the USB Type-C battery connector. This handset is almost as thick as the Galaxy S7 edge. To give you an idea of its size compared to the competition, the dimensions of the new iPhone 7 Plus are 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm, with a 5.5-inch screen, the Note 7 dimensions are 153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9 mm.
The Galaxy Note 7 also offers the IP68 certification for resistance to water and dust, which extends to the S Pen. Thus, there are no longer any worries about accidentally dropping the stylus in water. This feature is extremely good for when you want to use the device with wet hands.
The S-Pen has also undergone improvements. The tip of it is thinner than before, which makes the experience of writing and drawing more fluid. Further, pressing the button on its side for a few seconds turns it into an eraser, meaning you can edit notes you’ve created without needing to activate this function on the phone itself.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 display
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 display uses Super AMOLED technology and comes in QHD (2566 x 1440) resolution. What makes it unique compared to other models in the series is its dual-edge design.
It has vivid colours, deep blacks and super sharp images, everything we should expect from a Super AMOLED display from Samsung. Among the main screen features of the Note 7 is support for HDR10, a blue light filter to reduce eye-strain and Gorilla Glass 5 protection.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 special features
One of the most exciting features of the Galaxy Note 7 is the iris scanner. This scans your eyes to unlock the phone and it’s fast but it’s not as functional as the fingerprint reader of this smartphone.
The great advantage of using the iris scanner is safety. Each person has a unique iris pattern which remains unchanged throughout a person’s life, making it a great way to identify someone.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 software
The Galaxy Note 7 interface has been adapted from TouchWiz and is called Grace UX. In a direct comparison with TouchWiz on the S7, I can say that Grace is more mature and subtle.
The device leaves the factory running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and, although Samsung has not yet officially confirmed when the device will receive the update to Android 7.0 Nougat, T-Mobile says that it will receive the newest version of Google’s operating system.
With the change in Note 7’s UI, some features became hard to find. During my tests, the “Smart Lock” menu repeatedly evaded me – I had to locate it using the search icon in the settings. Quick tip: use Smart Lock in conjunction with the biometric sensors (fingerprint or iris scanner) of Galaxy Note 7 to make your experience even better; you can make it so that you don’t need to unlock the screen when at home or at work.
If you want to protect your files from prying eyes, Samsung implemented a feature called Secure Box on the Note 7 that you can take advantage of. In it, you can store everything you want to keep private and the access it only by using a biometric sensor.
Game Launcher, a software feature for games Samsung introduced on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, is also present on the Note 7. This feature automatically adds your games to a specific folder and creates a floating button called the ‘Game Tool’ which can be used within these games.
Using the Game Tool, you can record footage and share this with other users and disable the capacitive keys during play.
The ‘Screen Edge’ feature from the S6 Edge and S7 Edge is present in the Galaxy Note 7, allowing users to swipe to the right or left of the screen to access a list of services. This feature offers the user a shortcut to up to five favourite contacts and favourite websites.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 performance
The Galaxy Note 7 was announced with two processor variants, one with Snapdragon 820, the other with the Exynos 8890. The unit we tested made use of the Exynos and comes with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage which can be expanded up to 256 GB via microSD card.
During my time with the Note 7, one thing was clear, the device does not deliver the performance you would expect from the tech specs mentioned. Samsung should have followed in the footsteps of OnePlus and added 6 GB of RAM to the new Galaxy Note.
Don’t get me wrong, the performance of Galaxy Note 7 is satisfactory, but an update to the Grace UI could transform the experience with this device into something very impressive. During a game of Nova 3, the system choked sometimes, the opposite of what happened when I played the same game on the OnePlus 3.
In the Note 7 benchmark tests, I noticed virtually the same scores achieved in S7 Galaxy Edge but many of the devices that have been tested here at AndroidPIT that come wth a Snapdragon 820 show equivalent or better performance than the Exynos 8890.