|+ Stunning design||- Overly similar to S7 Edge|
|+ Great screen||- Iris scanner doesn't convince|
|+ Lots of power||- Battery could be bigger|
"The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is big, powerful and impressive, but feels like a conservative upgrade".
With the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge Samsung made two of its best phones yet so there was understandably a lot of excitement around the Galaxy Note 7, a phone which at the very least promised to be a supersized version of them.
With the addition of an iris scanner, a USB Type-C port, a tweaked design and the best version yet of the S Pen it’s more than just a bigger S7, but is it the perfect phablet? Read on for our first impressions.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1440 x 2560.
Let’s break that down: The size is 0.2 inches larger than the already quite big Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, putting it firmly in phablet territory, while the Super AMOLED technology delivers bright, vibrant visuals and the QHD resolution leaves it a sharp 518 pixels per inch.
It’s also got two curved edges, just like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, though the curves are slightly less pronounced here, meaning you’re less likely to accidentally press on them when using the phone.
It’s also got a new trick up its sleeve in that it supports HDR content, meaning it can display brighter whites and deeper blacks than a normal screen. In practice there isn’t much content designed to take advantage of that just yet, but it helps futureproof the phone.
With a metal frame and a glass back the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 looks a lot like the Galaxy S7 Edge at first glance, but the corners are less rounded, while the back is more so, leaving it with a slightly classier look, though it’s entirely subjective whether it looks better and both handsets have a very premium appearance.
It’s also IP68 certified dust and water resistant, just like the S7 Edge, but its frame is built from 7000 Series aluminium and its screen uses Gorilla Glass 5, both of which make it stronger and more durable than most handsets.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has an octa-core Exynos 8890 processor, with four cores clocked at 2.3GHz and four running at 1.6GHz, along with 4GB of RAM and if that sounds familiar it’s because it’s exactly the same spec as the Samsung Galaxy S7.
But that’s ok, because Samsung’s early 2016 flagship is still one of the most powerful phones on the planet, so you can expect slick performance from the Note 7.
The camera on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is much the same as the S7’s too, with a 12MP snapper on the back complete with optical image stabilisation and a dual pixel sensor, giving it a fast, accurate autofocus.
Photo quality seems as great as you’d expect, rivalling the Galaxy S7 and up there with the best smartphone camera performance around. Even in low light it does a solid job and it can record video in crisp 4K.
The front-facing camera is less remarkable, as it has just a 5MP lens, but this again is the same as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and it’s more than capable of taking a solid selfie.
There are two big features on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, one of which is old and the other new. The old one of course is its S Pen stylus, allowing you to write by hand and sketch on the phone’s large screen.
It’s better here than in previous versions though, providing more accuracy, working when the screen is wet and adding new features, like the ability to write on the screen while it’s off (and have the results permanently displayed), highlight text to automatically translate it, magnify the screen and even make GIFs.
You can also use it a bit like a paint brush, blending colours together to create your own shades. These are largely small additions and improvements, but they combine to make the S Pen more compelling than it’s ever been.
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The big new feature is the Note 7’s iris scanner. This is in addition to rather than instead of a fingerprint scanner and that’s a good thing, as the requirement to line your face up with two circles on the screen makes it a bit clunky to use. But it’s impressive when it works and a nice extra option to have.
Disappointingly the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 actually has a slightly smaller battery than the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, at 3500 mAh where that phone has a 3600 mAh one. Coupled with the larger screen this is likely to lead to less life, though it’s too early to say for sure.
Still, it’s unlikely to be a poor performer given how long lasting the S7 Edge is and it’s an upgrade on the 3000 mAh Samsung Galaxy Note 5.
It also supports fast charging and plugs in via USB Type-C, meaning you can connect the charging cable either way around.
Memory comes in at a generous 64GB and that’s coupled with a microSD card slot which supports cards of up to 256GB, so there’s plenty of space.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 appears to essentially be a larger Galaxy S7 Edge with an S Pen stylus. Given that it’s a newer phone that may be disappointing to some but it’s still a top tier handset and looks set to be a huge improvement on the Galaxy Note 5, which is what most people will be comparing it to.
The iris scanner is unconvincing and it remains to be seen how well the battery life will hold up, but in all other ways this looks to be the best phablet around, with a large, impressive screen, a premium design that’s been refined since the S7 Edge, a great camera, a useful stylus and loads of power.
It doesn’t come cheap, but if you’re a fan of mobile media or productivity the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 could easily justify its price.
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Note: The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has been confirmed as coming to Three.
Dimensions (mm): 153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9
Weight (g): 169
Battery capacity (mAh): 3500
Colours: Blue Coral, Gold Platinum, Silver Titanium, Black Onyx
Screen size (inches): 5.7
Resolution: 1440 x 2560
Pixels per inch (PPI): 518
Processor: 2.3GHz octa-core
Processor make: Exynos 8890
Internal storage: 64GB
Expandable storage up to (GB): 256
Camera: 12-megapixel (5-megapixel front-facing)
Operating System: Android Marshmallow
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