Galaxy Note 7 is the result of evolution of six generations of Samsung Galaxy Note series. Galaxy Note 7 is the best Samsung phone by now and maybe, the best smartphone in the Android world. Stay with us to read the review of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and learn about its pros and cons.
Galaxy Note 7 is the name of the sixth edition of Samsung Galaxy Note series. Having ignored the 6 number completely, Samsung has chosen the name of its new product to fit to its S series; you can even see it in the phone’s design. But does skipping a generation and naming a new phablet Galaxy Note 7 mean a progress as much as 2 generations for this device?
Since its release in 2011, Samsung Note series has got attention for its large display and after that with insistence of Samsung and successful marketing, it managed to turn this series into a popular phone and actually introduced phablets to the market. Now, in the sixth generation of this series, Samsung has started to name its products in accordance with the S series and named this phablet Galaxy Note 7 what has been reflected in its design as well.
Like before, in Galaxy Note 7 Samsung has focused on solving problems from the previous generation (which was achieved in S7 series as well) and didn’t change its phone design a lot. Also it picked up the hardware similar to Galaxy S7 for its new phone and encouraged Galaxy Note 5 fans to buy the new phablet of Note series by solving its issues. Can Samsung become successful in this field? We’re going to review Galaxy Note 7, continue reading…
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At first sight Galaxy Note 7 is very similar to Galaxy S7 edge and for an ordinary person it might be even difficult to see the difference between them. However, if you pay attention a bit, you`ll see many differences. All ports and buttons are similar to S7 edge, but Samsung has equipped Note 7 with USB Type C port for the first time as well as the S pen, which Galaxy S7 edge does not have.
The tip of the S pen is thinner compared to the previous models (0.7mm) and it’s more sensitive to pressure. The interesting thing is that you can write even on some curved parts of the display; although that’s not easy to do and Samsung hasn’t designed the pen for this purpose. Like before, the phone as well as the S pen is water and dust resistant what gives users the ability to take notes underwater. This feature is not useful by itself, but there is an important point. For example, it will be helpful if you decide to use the phone in the rain or on a cold day when you wear gloves.
The fingerprint scanner in Samsung Note series has started from Galaxy Note 4, and it seems that this sensor has evolved in Galaxy Note 7. The sensor reacts very fast and recognizes fingerprints in almost any situation. Of course, sensor accuracy will be reduced if the finger is wet or oily. Setting up the fingerprint sensor is also very simple and quick; your fingerprint will be registered if you touch the sensor 6 or 7 times. In our tests, the performance of Galaxy Note 7 fingerprint sensor is better than in Galaxy S7.
In Galaxy Note 5 Samsung showed that a curved rear panel can be more comfortable. In Galaxy S6 edge plus Samsung showed how comfortable it can be to use a phone with curved front panel. Now, in Note 7 Samsung has made both panels curved what added up to the beauty of its design and made it more comfortable to work with the phone. But unlike Galaxy S7 edge, this curve is more subtle and the phone is perfectly symmetrical what gives users a better feeling. As the result, the display looks like it doesn`t have any edges at all, and despite its large 5.7-inch display, phone’s dimensions are smaller, compared to many similar phablets in the market.
Unintended taps was one of the negative points in Galaxy S7 edge with its curved panel, which damaged user experience; but in Galaxy Note 7 Samsung combined performance and beauty, and unintended taps on display edges have reduced. Also the color of the metal frame around the phone is different from the phone color. For example, a blue phone has a golden frame and a black phone has a black frame what made the design more special.
Another major difference is in the area of the phone`s front speaker. There is another camera beside the front camera and an infrared sensor on left from the speaker. This camera with the sensor is designed to scan the eye iris and we’ll review its performance and accuracy in details very soon.
Generally, the design of Galaxy Note 7 is very similar to Galaxy S7 edge, but we can say that with small changes it underwent, the language of Samsung design has become more mature. If we ignore the fact that the back panel is too slippery and easily gets stains, it can even be said that, Galaxy Note 7`s design is perfect and does not have any problems. Its being mature lets us ignore its small issues; and in terms of design, we can call Galaxy Note 7 the most beautiful phone that has ever been made till now.
Galaxy Note 7 supports IP68 which means it’s resistant against water and dust. Just like Galaxy S7, Galaxy Note 7 is waterproof inside what prevents the phone from changing its appearance allows users to keep its ports uncovered. Of course, this type of waterproof decreases the speakers` volume. IP68 standard means complete protection against water and dust down to 1.5 meters underwater. But, please, note that if for any reason liquid gets inside the phone and damages it, it will be out of warranty.
Iris scanner was one of the topics that Samsung focused on during its presentation.
This scanner had also been used in some other phones like Lumia 950 before; but it was actually replaced with a fingerprint scanner in Lumia 950. However, Samsung, in addition to a fingerprint scanner, has embedded iris scanner in its phablet too. First of all, we need to mention that the iris scanner isn’t faster than the fingerprint scanner, and maybe, it will not change in the near future, especially if you have glasses or use contact lens.
Note that you can only adjust one pair of eyes with this scanner. To set up the iris scanner, you just need to go to the Iris setting in the Security settings and adjust the phone in front of your eyes and follow the instructions. Setting up process takes 2-3 seconds. To unlock the phone using the iris scanner, you just need to turn the phone on with the power button, swipe the screen; and the iris scanner will be activated automatically. Now, you just need to take the phone closer to your eyes to be scanned so that your phone will unlock.
When it comes to the performance of the scanner, it must be said that after using this scanner for a while, your eyes will be recognized quickly and the phone will be unlocked fast, but the preparation step such as turning on the display, swiping it and taking the phone in front of your eyes, makes the total process time of unlocking the phone take much more than for the fingerprint scanner. However, maybe, the best use of this feature is when you want to use Secure Folder option or when you wear gloves and can’t unlock the phone with your fingerprint. We’ll explain more about Secure Folder feature in the software section.
Samsung phones speakers have never been a strong point for its series, and the same can be said about Galaxy Note 7. The speaker used in Galaxy Note 7 is exactly the same as in Galaxy S7 edge and is placed on the bottom part of the metal frame. Like before, the performance of this speaker is average.
Both the maximum sound volume and its quality are average. The placement of this single speaker is not appropriate as well. This big-screen phone was made for watching videos or movies. But if you take Galaxy Note 7 horizontally, your hand will cover the speaker completely what will reduce sound volume.
The headphones that come with the phone are good quality. Although, unlike HTC 10 and LG V10, Galaxy Note 7 does not have a separate audio connector (DAV), the output sound of these headphones is appropriate.
Like in the past years, Galaxy Note 7 has a 5.7-inch display which is AMOLED with QHD resolution. Of course, Samsung has applied some changes to this display what makes it look more attractive. Samsung’s display and panels have always been the best and it may turn into the best display among smartphones during the recent years.
Galaxy Note 7’s 5.7-inch screen is not an exception, and it must be said that this phone has the best screen among smartphones. Black color depth is very high in this display and colors are saturated. Anyway, you’re able to change the color profile if you want and make displayed colors more similar to standard and natural colors using its basic mode.
Display brightness of Galaxy Note 7 is very high and there won`t be any problems while using it even under direct sunlight. Moreover, its minimum brightness is low enough in order not to hurt your eyes while using it in darkness for a long time. Samsung has added new feature called Blue Light Filter which removes blue color that disassembles sleep rhythm when you use the phone at night; and it gives users the ability to use the phone in the dark for a long time.
But Galaxy Note 7 has other features, too. Galaxy Note 7 is one of the first smartphones that support HDR videos. This video format shows more details both in the dark and light parts of the image. Of course, HDR videos/movies are few at the moment.
There is another feature called Video Enhancer that works as a third-party application. This feature can be used for photography as well, and it actually simulates HDR mode on this content and makes photos brighter and colors more alive. This feature also increases sound quality of videos.
Contrary to the expectations, Galaxy Note 7 is equipped with Android 6.0.1. The name of UI for the new Samsung’s phablet is Grace UX which shows Samsung’s effort for applying some changes to TouchWiz. It means, the trend of the last years has been continued, and Samsung tried to make its UI simpler. However, there are still several applications to perform one task. By default, you have two browsers, two email applications and two gallery applications; although the number of such applications has become smaller, many of them remain out of use.
There are changes in the new Samsung’s UI which has a new name now. For example, notifications bar is full screen and all shortcuts in this section can be accessed with one swipe. You’ll find more changes in the Settings. Now, the menu looks simpler; each icon has its own shape and color, and the names of submenus are written under each section. In addition to changes in the menu appearance, Samsung has made some changes to the icons too, so they don’t look cartoon-ish like before.
The features of the new Samsung’s UI are not limited to this. You can reduce display’s resolution to save battery life in Galaxy Note 7. Display’s resolution is QHD in normal mode and can be changed to Full-HD or even HD. Changing resolution through battery consumption profiles affects different parts of the phone and is very easy to notice.
Another new feature that improves privacy and security is Secure Folder. To access this app you`ll need to use the fingerprint scanner, code or iris scanner. After adding applications to the Secure folder, a copy of them will be created and they will act completely independently from their version in the main menu.
Galaxy Note 7`s curved edges have additional functions presented in ins software. You only need to swipe in at the edge to see different sections. For example, you can read the latest Yahoo News or add your favorite apps or contacts to these two columns.
Apps Edge: You can add apps that you use a lot to this menu and access them only in one swipe.
People Edge: Your most important contacts can be added to this section and you can contact them fast and easily. Also, the color of each person`s icon has specific meaning. When you receive a call from someone from this list, the edges of the phone will turn into the color assigned to this contact.
Task Edge: You can as well set different tasks for applications and make a shortcut for each task in this section. For example, taking a selfie with the camera app or writing a text can be put as a shortcut in task edge. Of course, only system apps support this ability, and their number is very limited.
Like before, Samsung UI has many functional features. For instance, you can change phone graphic format completely and make it very similar to pure Android or even add some attractive colors to your user interface. You can also change phone’s font and adjust keyboard’s height as you prefer. You can even change icons completely by downloading different icon packs in Galaxy Note 7.
There’s still Always On feature in Galaxy Note 7, but it changed a bit compared to its previous version. Now notifications of non-system applications like Whatsapp & Telegram will be shown on the phone’s screen. With these changes the feature has finally become useful, and it explains higher battery consumption as well (it has increased by 20-25%).
Another interesting feature is combined with Screen Off Memo. This feature has been available since Galaxy Note 5 in Note series and it lets you pull out the stylus and start writing on the screen even when the phone is in sleep mode. In Galaxy Note 7 you can pin your note on the screen and it will be shown alongside Time and Always On Notifications.
Another attractive feature has been created especially for gamers. This feature is called Game Launcher and it allows taking screenshots or recording video when you’re playing. Also, when this feature is activated, you can block notifications, disable physical navigation buttons and minimize the game. Although these features look small and insignificant, they can be very useful and functional for gamers.
S Pen Stylus
However, Note series is known by its stylus. The stylus has 0.7mm nib and acts more similar to a real pen. Also, it’s more sensitive to pressure now. Of course, Samsung has tried to make stylus more functional by adding new features. Ability to translate words is one of these new features. You only need to hover over the word with S Pen and its translation will be shown in your target language.
Some new sections have also been added to Smart Select feature. The most interesting thing among them can be saving the screenshot in GIF. For example, you can save a part of a long video in GIF. As before, S Pen works well, but it`s not for everyone, most people won’t use it a lot.
Samsung used to like to play with numbers in the past and used to try to get people`s attention by increasing the number of megapixels in its camera. Cameras of Samsung flagship phones have always been one of its strong sides. But now Samsung has finally listened to users` request and taken their experience into account. Instead of increasing the number of pixels, Samsung has used a sensor very similar to Galaxy S7 edge. Galaxy S7 edge`s camera is one of the best among other smartphones and Samsung decided not to change its winning formula in Galaxy Note 7. Camera app is very quick, too, and you only need to push the home button twice to run camera.
Camera app has not changed a lot compared to the past and you’re able to adjust ISO and other options manually. There are new features that have been added to Galaxy Note 7 such as swiping up to change camera modes or to the left/right to switch the main camera and selfie camera. If you’re familiar with camera parameters, you can adjust them manually to take an ideal photo. Although, most of the times Automatic mode remains to be the best for photography.
Photos taken with Samsung Galaxy Note 7 are detailed and high quality. Colors look dynamic and a little saturated. Like before, contrast of the images is very high and Samsung software algorithm makes images very sharp what reduces image depth a little.
On the other hand, lens with f/1.7 aperture results in smaller focal length, so although you can focus on the subject very well when you get too close to the subject, the background will be blurred and you’ll miss its details. Nevertheless, macro photos turn out just amazing. The only issue with the camera that we can mention relates to the exposure. Bright parts of the subject are brighter on the photo than they are in reality. This issue showed itself more in Galaxy S7 edge and is seen less in Galaxy Note 7. Photos taken in low light are much better than those of Galaxy Note 5 and it could be because of lens with f/1.7 and big pixels. There are some noises in the pictures, but they don’t affect the quality.
As before, Galaxy Note 7 selfie camera is equipped with 5-megapixel sensor, but this lens is with f/1.7 aperture too and has focal length compared to the rear camera. Photos taken with this camera are high quality and, of course, they’re not saturated and sharpness is not applied to them. Maybe the best ability of Galaxy Note 7 camera is a feature called Dual Pixel which allows the camera to focus fast. This feature works perfectly and focusing on the subject is done really quickly.
Another interesting point is it focuses fast even in dark environment what can be rarely seen in smartphone cameras. Dual Pixel technology is rare, even among professional DSLR cameras in the market. This technology acts extraordinary and gives immediate focus ability to its users. The high speed of focusing is also evident in video recording, and it results in high quality of recorded videos. This feature plus a very nice camera have turned Galaxy Note 7 into an amazing phone for recording video and photography.
In general, we can say that like Galaxy S7 edge, camera’s quality in Galaxy Note 7 is absolutely amazing. The camera app runs quickly, the camera focuses fast, users are able to adjust photography parameters manually – all this lets us choose Galaxy Note 7 camera as one of the best.
Sample images taken by Galaxy Note 7:
Efficiency & Performance
Contrary to our expectations from Samsung, Galaxy Note 7 is equipped with Exynos 8890 processor (like Galaxy S7 edge) and has 4 Gigabytes of RAM. Although this amount of RAM looks enough, Samsung has changed its trend of previous years and doesn’t pay much attention to technical specifications and increasing numbers. This issue will be more important when we find out that smartphones with 6GB of RAM have been released at cheaper price and there are even rumors about introducing smartphones with 8GB of RAM.
Of course, Samsung considers a version of Galaxy Note 7 with 6GB of RAM for Chinese market because technical specifications are more important for Chinese people compared to people from other countries.
As before, we’ve tested Galaxy Note 7 with different benchmarks and here is the result.
As expected, processing power of Galaxy Note 7 is great, and you certainly will not have any problems with running heavy tasks like playing games. Of course, there are still issues with RAM management and closing background apps in Galaxy Note 7, like in the first versions of Galaxy S7 edge, but it will probably be solved in future software updates. Those who buy flagship smartphones expect performance at the best level and as it was expected, Galaxy Note 7 satisfies them.
Interesting thing about Galaxy Note 7 is the small size of its battery compared to Galaxy S7 edge; while dimensions and weight of Note 7 are bigger than S7 edge. Of course, taking into account the space occupied by the stylus, this reduced size of battery is reasonable.
Battery capacity of Note 7 is the same as S7 edge, so we’re expecting battery life similar to S7 edge in Note 7.
As before, we’ve set brightness of the display on 50%, turned off Wi-Fi and played an HD video until the battery ran from 100 to zero. Note 7 battery worked for 10 hours and 15 minutes before running out of the charge which is an appropriate time period for battery life. Note 7 can also guarantee 15 hours of web surfing for its users.
In addition, in order to find out if the phone battery was responsive during the day, it’s also important to know how many hours the display was on and in what way it was used. The best way to count for how long the display was on is Screen On Time option in Battery Settings. Please, note that it does not mean how long the battery works – it shows how many hours the display was on while the battery was getting from 100%-charge to zero.
We’ll share Screen On Time with you, so you could have a better sense of it. However, this time depends largely on how the phone is used, but we’ll describe how we’ve used it and show you a standard test for comparing the actual experience to give you a better view of smartphone batteries.
SOT in Galaxy Note 7 was about 5 hours on a regular basis in our experience on this phone. During these five hours, we watched video for about an hour and a half; we spent 3 hours surfing the web, checking social networks, instant messaging and the last 30 minutes was spent playing game and taking photos. It was our total use in a working day and it shows that a single charge of Galaxy Note 7 is enough for most users with semi-heavy use in one day. Of course, you should take into account that half of this time we were connected to the mobile Internet and the other half to Wi-Fi. If you use mobile Internet a lot, this time may be shorter.
As benchmark results shows, Galaxy Note 7 is able to handle any types of semi-heavy tasks for a full day with a single full charge. Of course, activating Always On feature reduces battery life. In our experience, this feature takes 1% of battery charge every hour. Also, Galaxy Note 7 supports fast charge ability which lets you charge your phone battery by 50% in only 30 minutes.
>> UPDATE: Within one month after the release of Samsung Galaxy Note 7, several explosions of this phone were detected. The sales were suspended and a recall of all sold phones worldwide was announced shortly after that. If you’re looking for a new smartphone, I recommend you take a look at OnePlus 3 or Motorola Moto G4. <<
Galaxy Note 7 isn’t very different from Galaxy S7 edge in appearance, however, Samsung has made small but functional changes during recent years instead of big changes to guarantee its users better experience. Of course, although there are not many changes compared to Galaxy S7 edge, but if we compare Galaxy Note 5 to Galaxy Note 7, we’ll find out that, in addition to big changes, there are also positive changes. Being water-resistant and dustproof, ability to add internal memory, curved edges on the back and front of the phone and larger-capacity battery – all these are changes that make buying new Samsung phablet reasonable for current owners of Galaxy Note 5.
Galaxy Note 7 is one of the most beautiful smartphones in diverse world of Android phones and even maybe we can call it the most beautiful phone that has ever been made. But the last question is that, do you need Galaxy Note 7 if you have Galaxy S7 edge? The answer is simple – buying this phablet would be a good decision if you need S pen of Note 7, but if you don’t, there are not many reasons to change Galaxy S7 edge.
In general, Galaxy Note 7 showed again that Samsung is a leader in the phablet world and it managed to benefit from its large screen with the S pen. In addition, excellent build quality, a very good camera and a perfect display, turned Galaxy Note 7 into an unrivaled smartphone in phablet world. But unanswered question is whether Galaxy Note 7 with its high price can get users` attention despite powerful $400 smartphones in the market or not. Only time can give us an answer to this question.
- Excellent build quality
- The best display among smartphones
- Excellent performance of camera
- Functional features to benefit from large screen
- Back panel is stainable
- High price
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