Samsung… I never really was a fan of its smartphones. When Android was starting to gain traction a few years ago, there was the Samsung Galaxy S and the HTC Desire. I chose the HTC primarily because of the software skin, and then, the phone’s built.
The Galaxy S was plasticy, it seemed a bit laggier because of the skin, the weird home button is huge at the bottom, and it just didn’t feel like a premium device overall. The following Galaxy phones that came after that stuck to its plastic roots.
I did eventually get a Samsung though; it was the Galaxy Tab 7.7. Yeah… what was I thinking? What seemed like a fantastic idea at that time didn’t turn out so good. I loved having a large screen for everything, but I hated bringing it around.
Anyway, that’s besides the point, I also liked that device because it had a metal back with a nice looking bezel, and no hard keys. I of course rooted it, and got rid of Touch Wiz almost immediately.
The last iterations of Samsung’s flagship — the S6 and S6 Edge along with the Note 5 — were alright. I didn’t think there was anything out of the extraordinary, and over the past year, there has been numerous complaints of the Note 5, with many going back to the Note 4.
Samsung skipped the Note 6 name and went straight to the 7 to be in sync with the S7 and S7 Edge. That’s a pretty smart move, because it doesn’t make the Note seem like it’s a step behind, which it isn’t.
Also, the Note 7 is essentially an S7 Edge with a stylus and additional functionality anyway. Everything else is taken from the S7 Edge, including the curve screen.
I naturally overlooked the S7 and S7 Edge flagships, as the Huawei P9 and LG G5 caught my attention.
The Note 7, however, is a totally different beast, and it is easily the best smartphone released this year, to date.
The non-Samsung fan in me, is actually very interested in the Note 7. Here’s why:
The Note 7’s screen is curved, so is the back, which means the metal and glass body is symmetrical to the front’s curve, making it easy to hold and fits nicely in your hand. The curved screen on the front also means that the phone has minimal bezels, making it small for a phone with a 5.7-inch screen.
Samsung has also made the phone lightweight, which really adds up with a reduction of size and weight, making it easy for you to carry around.
The 5.7-inch screen is a 2K, or 2,560×1,440 resolution display, meaning 518 pixels per inch. The AMOLED screen is amazing, with very vivid colours and defined black and whites. This helps with the screen’s always on feature, which shows calendar and time even when the phone is not on.
My favourite part of the always on screen is the ability to pop out the S-Pen with the screen still locked, and start taking notes. That note will now be on your lock screen. A forever on to-do list: just what I needed.
The Note 7 is also the first ever note to be IP68 certified, meaning it is dust and water resistant. The S-Pen is also water resistant, meaning you can write under water if the situation ever arises.
The S-Pen’s physical form has been improved, and the length is similar to that of a ballpoint pen now. It is slightly slimmer, which means gripping it for writing is not as comfortable, but you can no longer push it in top first. The pen has been redesigned so that it only fits in one way.
Speaking of firsts, the Note 7 boasts the first ever Iris Scanner on a smartphone. Much like Microsoft’s Surface Pro face/iris scanner, the Note now incorporates this so you just pick up the phone and look at it.
Users with contact lenses and glasses may find this a less effective way to get into the phone though. The added security feature also allows you to choose which apps or folders require the Iris Scanner to access.
Samsung’s Note 7 is also the first Samsung to feature a USB-C connection instead of the usual micro USB port for charging and data transfer. The battery on-board is a 3,500 mAh, not the 3,600 mAh as found on the S7 Edge. Perhaps the pen took up more space on the innards.
On the inside, is the latest Snapdragon 820 processor, accompanied by the 4GB RAM and an Adreno 530 Graphics Unit, same as the S7/Edge. The two earlier phones were blazing fast, so no less can be expected from Note 7.
Internal storage starts and ends at 64GB, which is a nice move from Samsung, because no one uses 16GB smartphones anymore. There’s a microSD card slot which can get you up to 2TB of extra storage if needed.
You heard right, 2TB support, even though it’s not even close to being made now. So realistically, you’ll be able to expand the storage by another 256GB. If you’re not shooting 4K Videos exclusively on the Note 7, then you can swap out the microSD card for a second SIM.
The similarities don’t stop there as the Note 7 adapts the same 12-megapixel camera on the rear with larger pixels, and is probably the best smartphone camera on earth now.
So the hardware is excellent, what about TouchWiz?
The Note 7 is looking at a seriously toned down version of TouchWiz. Over the years, Samsung has fine-tuned the software in every update, and I am so glad that they did away with the silly cursive cartoon fonts. The less-intrusive TouchWiz now makes the Note 7 a pleasure to use, and the icons look a bit more in-line with Android now. The curved screen also allows you to swipe at it to bring up a new tab with additional shortcuts.
The software also integrates the S-Pen beautifully. You can circle words to be translated on the screen, or magnify up to 300 per cent if you have terrible eyesight. The S-Pen also includes a feature that I really like — a GIF maker. Use the pen to highlight any part of the screen, and that can immediately become a GIF which you can even scribble over and share immediately. Fun!
The Note 7 ticks all the boxes, except one; the launch price tag. $1,168 or $1,150 and anything north of $850 is not a phone that I will purchase at this day and age. There are way too many smartphones to choose from now, and asking for $1,000 is too much to spend for a device.