Samsung Galaxy Note7 review: Thinking Big

GSMArena team, 16 August 2016.

Introduction

All great speeches start with carefully prepared notes. For yet another year Samsung has taken the role of a modern-day orator, pushing for a return to personal handwriting against the trend of detached digital text.

It's the S Pen that gives the Galaxy Note7 and its predecessors their unique identity and writing on the screen with the new S Pen feels the most natural yet. And with this generation, you can even scribble notes where the screen is off and it would happily venture where most electronics would not dare - underwater.

The Note7 also represents the first major design change in the flagship Galaxy line since the S6 (the S7 was just a thicker version of that). The symmetrical dual-curved design makes the beautiful screen appear borderless while making a big phone feel smaller than it is.

Key features

  • S Pen stylus; 4,096 levels of pressure, 360Hz tracking; works underwater
  • Curved 5.7" Super AMOLED display of 1440p resolution; 518ppi; Always On capabilities; HDR
  • Gorilla Glass 5 front and rear panels; metal frame
  • IP68 certified - dust proof and water resistant (a first for a Note)
  • 12MP f/1.7 main camera with dual pixel autofocus, optical image stabilization, LED flash
  • 2160p video at 30fps; 1080p@60fps; 720p@240fps; HDR
  • 5MP f/1.7 front-facing camera, 1440p video recording at 30fps
  • North America model: Snapdragon 820 chipset - quad-core Kryo processor (2x 2.15GHz and 2x 1.6GHz cores); Adreno 530 GPU; 4GB of RAM
  • Global model: Exynos 8890 chipset - octa-core processor with four 2.6GHz Mongoose and four 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 cores; Mali-T880 MP12 GPU; 4GB of RAM
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow at launch; 7.0 Nougat later
  • Iris and fingerprint scanners; Knox and Secure folder; Samsung Pay
  • 64GB of built-in storage (~52GB user available); microSD slot up to 256GB (hybrid slot)
  • Optional dual-SIM; up to Cat. 12 4G LTE (600Mbps); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, ANT+; NFC; GPS, GLONASS and Beidou
  • USB Type-C; USB On-The-Go
  • 3,500 mAh non-removable battery, fast charging (wired, wireless); wireless charging (Qi/PMA)
  • Heart-rate monitor, barometer, SpO2 sensor

Main shortcomings

  • Unless you need the S Pen, the S7 edge offers the same specs for less money
  • Iris scanner needs you to hold the phone awkwardly close to your face
  • Hybrid slot means people using the dual-SIM model can't expand the storage (64GB should be enough for most, though)

While the S Pen is undoubtedly the heart of the Note experience, the screen is a close second. The Edge features that debuted with 2014's Note Edge were perfected through the S6 edge and S7 edge of the following years. Even the Always on screen was improved, despite being only months old (perhaps it was just waiting for the S Pen, their interaction is the best new feature).

Samsung Galaxy Note7: Onyx Black - Samsung Galaxy Note7 review Samsung Galaxy Note7: Silver Titanium - Samsung Galaxy Note7 review Samsung Galaxy Note7: Silver Titanium - Samsung Galaxy Note7 review Samsung Galaxy Note7: Silver Titanium - Samsung Galaxy Note7 review
Samsung Galaxy Note7: Onyx Black Silver Titanium

Some things may not sound particularly exciting, but users have waited a long time for them. The S5 was waterproof, but there hasn't been a waterproof Note before, the Note7 is the first one. The microSD slot came back after only a year of absence but to some Note 4 users looking for an upgrade that was a year too long.

Then there are features that are completely new to Samsung phones in general - the iris scanner, the USB Type-C port, and the HDR video capable display. We think at least two of those will become a mainstay of flagship phones.

Samsung Galaxy Note7: Gold Platinum - Samsung Galaxy Note7 review Samsung Galaxy Note7: The new Coral Blue - Samsung Galaxy Note7 review Samsung Galaxy Note7: The new Coral Blue - Samsung Galaxy Note7 review Samsung Galaxy Note7: The new Coral Blue - Samsung Galaxy Note7 review
Samsung Galaxy Note7: Gold Platinum The new Coral Blue

Perhaps we mentioned the Note5 too often for an intro to the Note7 review. But you have to understand that the 5 was the trouble child of the family, and it left a void, especially in Europe, where the S6 edge+ had to replace it.

And it didn't do too good with the Note crowd, which swears by their S Pens. But the dual-curved screen stuck and that's how the Samsung Galaxy Note7 was born.

The Galaxy Note7 is available with two different chipsets - Snapdragon 820 and Exynos 8890. We're covering both with this review.

Reader comments

  • Asif Mir

Any update about release of Refurbished Note-7 with 3200mAH Battery ??? Will it be released in Pakistan as well ?

  • Ezduzit777

Think TSA and/or major airlines are ready for this re-issue? I want one!

  • AnonD-314089

Well, the good news is that Samsung is already working on the new firmware d if the note 7, now Note 7R( from refurbished). Still not mention the market where it will be sell.