The Galaxy Note 7 might be Samsung’s newest and hottest smartphone thanks to a premium materials and an advanced feature set that includes the enhanced S Pen and the new Gear VR powered by Oculus. That said, shoppers might be surprised to find out the Galaxy Note 7 isn’t packed with the latest high-performance hardware. We took a closer look at what Samsung did and didn’t include with the new Note 7.
Build and Design
From the outside the Galaxy Note 7 features quality craftsmanship with a symmetric edge design that encases the curved QHD Super AMOLED screen and makes the front and back of the phone feel almost identical in your hand. The QHD screen is the showpiece of this device, enabling you to stream HDR video with brighter colors and deeper blacks.
The curved screen offers improved durability with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 while the Edge Panel provides one-tap access to applications, news, contacts, calendar or the selfie camera.
The next most impressive design feature of the Galaxy Note 7 isn’t immediately visible … unless you drop the phone in a toilet. The Note 7 is highly water resistant and IP68-compliant, meaning the device will continue to operate even after submersion in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.
When it comes to the ports, the biggest change with the Galaxy Note 7 is that Samsung has finally switched from microUSB to the newer USB Type-C standard. This not only allows for potentially faster data transfer rates and faster charging over USB, but the Type-C port means you won’t have to worry about plugging in the cable upside down. The cable, like the phone, is symmetrical.
Thankfully, you won’t have to worry about buying a microUSB-to-USB Type-C adapter if you own other microUSB devices. Samsung includes an adapter at no extra charge. On that note (pardon the pun), the Note 7 includes the new S Pen at no additional cost and includes a storage and charging port for the S Pen at the bottom of the device next to the USB Type-C port.
Impressive Specs … Mostly
Despite the list of improvements we are surprised to see the new flagship uses the same dual-pixel sensor technology introduced on the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. Not only is the camera unchanged, but Samsung decided to use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor for the Note 7 here in the US rather than the newer Snapdragon 821 or 823. Sure, the processor and camera tech still deliver great results, but we expected to see a spec bump here rather than being forced to wait for the next generation Galaxy S and Galaxy S Edge in the spring of 2017.
On the bright side the built-in storage capacity is now 64GB and the Galaxy Note 7 also features expandable storage via microSD with support for up to an additional 256 GB card. The Galaxy Note 7 is equipped with a 3,500 mAh battery and charges quickly using the new USB-C port or wherever wireless charging is available.
New and Improved S Pen
The enhanced S Pen that comes with the Galaxy Note 7 is more than just a writing tool thanks to improved features and sensitivity that is a result of Samsung’s partnership with Wacom. You don’t even have to unlock the screen to record a short memo and pin it to the Always On Display. The S Pen also allows users to quickly create and share GIF animations from a video file or still images using the Smart Select feature. In addition, the new Translate function has been added to Air Commands so users can immediately translate any written words simply by hovering over the word with the S Pen. Samsung also streamlined the process for recording and finding a variety of notes with the new Samsung Notes app collecting handwritten notes, sketches and memos in one location.
While those new features are nice, the two hardware changes to the S Pen that impressed us the most were the smaller 0.7mm tip and IP68 water resistance to match the waterproof nature of the Note 7. The smaller tip makes using the new S Pen feel much more like using a standard ballpoint pen and the water resistance means you won’t have to worry about writing on the screen when it’s wet.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Specifications
- Display: 5.7” Quad HD Dual edge Super AMOLED 2560 x 1440 (518ppi)
- OS: Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
- Network: LTE Cat.12 / LTE Cat.10 / LTE Cat.9
- Dimensions: 5 x 73.9 x 7.9mm
- Weight: 169g
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Quad Core (2.15GHz Dual + 1.6GHz Dual), 64 bit, 14 nm process
- Memory: 4GB RAM (LPDDR4) , 64GB (UFS 2.0)
- Cameras: Rear Dual Pixel 12MP OIS (F1.7), Front 5MP (F1.7)
- Battery: 3,500mAh, Fast Charging on wired and wireless Wireless Charging compatible with WPC and PMA
- Payment compatibility: NFC, MST
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), MU-MIMO(2×2) 620Mbps, Bluetooth v 4.2 LE, ANT+, USB Type-C, NFC, Location (GPS, Glonass, Beidou)
- Sensors: Barometer, Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, HR Sensor, Iris Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB Light Sensor
- Audio support: MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA
- Video support: MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM
Of course, a new Note 7 means an opportunity to upgrade the Gear VR as well. Samsung’s updated Gear VR headset powered by Oculus allows users to experience virtual reality content anywhere. The Galaxy Note 7’s Super AMOLED screen makes the viewing experience on the new Gear VR noticeably better than the current Gear VR. The new headset also features extra padding (less pressure around your eyes), and a wider field of view increased from 96 degrees out to 110 degrees. The new Gear VR comes in black rather than just the classic white and includes adapters to work with both microUSB and USB Type-C.
Gear VR for Galaxy Note 7 Specifications
- Dimensions: 207.8(W) x 122.5(L) x 98.6(H)mm
- Weight: 345g (312g without Front Cover)
- Field of View (FOV): 101°
- Sensors: Accelerometor, Gyrometer, Proximity
- Colors: Blue and Black
- Compatibility: Galaxy Note 7, S7, S7 edge, Note 5, S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ (USB Type-C and Micro USB connectors). USB-C pass through power and data support.
The Galaxy Note 7 goes on sale in the United States on August 19; preorders begin August 3 with exclusive offer for a free Gear Fit2 or 256GB microSD card. In the U.S., the Galaxy Note 7 will be available in Blue Coral, Silver Titanium and Black Onyx. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless will carry the Galaxy Note 7 in stores beginning August 19, with pre-orders starting on August 3, 2016.
The new Gear VR will be available beginning August 19, with pre-orders starting on August 3, 2016 through select channels.