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Review: UPDATED: Samsung Galaxy Note 7
3:02 am | August 19, 2016

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones | Comments: None

Review: UPDATED: Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Introduction, design, S Pen and iris scanner

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the large-screen phone for 2016 that Android power users have been anxiously waiting to upgrade to, and it takes several cues from the Galaxy S7 Edge.

Sure, the S7 Edge already stretched our fingertips into near-phablet territory with a 5.5-inch display in March. But it didn’t have two Note-series staples: a 5.7-inch screen and the S Pen.

The Note 7 maximizes the screen space, while minimizing its body, and it includes a small stylus that slides right into the phone – no matter which way you put it in this time.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlGejJ0p6e8&feature=youtu.be

All of this makes it larger and heavier than most of today’s phones. But it’s a worthy trade-off if you can wrap your meaty paws around its elegantly curved glass and aluminum frame.

Returning features include a microSD card slot for extra storage, absent from last year’s Galaxy Note 5, and an IP68 rating, normally limited to the S range, which makes this first Note phone that’s both waterproof and dustproof to a point.

New in the Note 7 is an iris scanner, Samsung’s latest novelty act and your next party trick. You never knew you needed to unlock your phone with your eyes – and, truthfully, you really don’t. The fingerprint sensor is still here and works just fine.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

This now-launching Android phablet is especially anticipated in the UK and Europe – the S Pen upgrade is long overdue there. Samsung made the bizarre decision not to launch the Note 5 outside of the US and a few other countries.

Skipping over the Samsung Galaxy Note 6 name, the Note 7 is meant to bring it into line with the Galaxy S7 series – and steal the thunder of Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

It’s certainly among the best phones available right now, big or small. Let’s take a look to see if the sizable Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the right fit for you.

Release date and price

  • August 19 in the US for about $33 a month
  • August 19 in Australia for AU$1,349
  • September 2 in the UK for £749

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 release date is August 19 in the US and Australia, and September 2 in the UK. Don’t worry, it’s coming this time. Pre-orders In the UK launch earlier this week, August 16.

Note 7 review

In the US, it costs between $33 and $36.67 a month on device payment plans with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint. That’s basically the full price spread out over 24 months. Without a contract, it’s anywhere from $850 (T-Mobile and Sprint) to $880 (AT&T). Sprint is the only one offering old two-year contracts in exchange for $350 upfront.

The Note 7 UK price is simpler, but still expensive at £749. In Australia, it’s pricey, too, at AU$1,349. But if you pre-order in certain stores, you’ll receive a bonus: either a Samsung Gear Fit 2 fitness tracker or a Samsung 256GB microSD card, your choice. Shop around.

Design

  • Stylish curved glass design with Gorilla Glass 5
  • Hot new Coral Blue shade is one of four colors
  • USB Type-C, microSD card slot and IP68 waterproof

You best like futuristic-looking edge-to-edge displays, because this screen wraps around the left and right sides of the handset with space-age curved glass. No, there’s no flat Note 7, grandpa.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

It’s a lot like the equally-stylish S7 Edge, only this phone has a slightly bigger 5.7-inch display. It comes together in a rich-looking, glass-and-metal-fused design that’s going to really wow people who are upgrading from those old, plastic-clad Note 4 and Note 3 handsets. Next to the similarly designed Note 5, it’s less breakable, too, thanks to an upgrade to Gorilla Glass 5. It’s still heavy compared to Samsung’s flagship S series, but it’s a tad lighter and noticeably slimmer than the Note 5.

What really makes the Note 7 superior is its gentler dual curved sides. Both the front and the back of the phone slope inward toward its frame, meeting at its metal band apex. The curves aren’t as pronounced as the S7 Edge’s one big curve, which boldly slopes the front glass all the way to its nearly flat back. But with a more dramatic curve comes more drama in the way of more false touches.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Thankfully, falses touches haven’t been as much of a problem on the Note 7, despite its larger size. It usually worked the opposite way in the past – bigger phones made our hands creep up on the non-existent bezels and we used to hit all sorts of crazy keyboard interference. If you’re still having issues touching the side, we recommend searching for a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 case.

We did still run into the issue of accidentally hitting the very sensitive capacitive buttons that no case can fix. The back and recent buttons flank the physical home button, and pretty much everyone we hand this phone to touches them only to immediately exit the screen we were trying to show off. It’s rather annoying, but present on all Samsung Galaxy phones except for the S6 Active and S7 Active, which use physical soft buttons.

Note 7 review

There are four Note 7 colors that vary by region: Black Onyx, Titanium Silver, Gold Platinum and the hot new color, Coral Blue. The UK, for example, is only getting Black and Blue initially. Samsung made a point that every phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack, a not-so-subtle jab at Apple, as the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus might not have the ubiquitous audio port.

Samsung did make one important switch at the bottom of the Note 7, however: it’s using the reversible USB Type-C connection instead of the insufferable, non-reversible micro USB port. This makes life easier when plugging in the phone, except you’re going to have to carry around a micro USB cable for many gadgets that won’t upgrade to the new standard for years. GoPro is the best example, as they only recently made the switch from USB mini in the GoPro Hero4 Session variant. Even Samsung’s own fast wireless charging pad sent to us along with the Note 7 uses micro USB. It’s going to be a while for USB-C to fully to kick in.

Display

  • Spacious 5.7-inch AMOLED screen is the world’s best on a phone
  • Mobile HDR future-proofs the display with expanded contrast ratio
  • Fewer false touches, but sensitive capacitive buttons are annoying

The Note 7 has a larger screen as the S7 Edge to go along with that same color-rich Super AMOLED panel and pixel-dense 2K resolution. It’s perfect for the new Samsung Gear VR and also supports Mobile HDR.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review

Let’s be honest, 0.2 inches of additional screen space doesn’t make a tremendous difference in a world where the 5.5-inch S7 Edge exists. It’s just a hair better for reading a few more words without scrolling, gaming with a smidge more room for on-screen controls without dying, and watching a 12-hour Netflix binge without feeling as badly for not stopping. It’s not your fault, it’s the immersive screen!

Mobile HDR, on the the hand, allows for darker blacks and brighter whites, and it’s more meaningful than any size increase or jumping to a 4K resolution. It’ll be up to Netflix, Amazon Prime and other popular services to deliver more content with the expanded contrast ratio. Right now, movies and TV shows with HDR are extremely limited and hard to find (often without proper labels). In the case of Netflix, HDR costs $2 a month on top of your current subscription. So the screen isn’t just futuristic-looking, it’s future-proof.

The Galaxy Note 7 takes Samsung's best phone to date – the S7 Edge – and it stretches it with a 5.7-inch curved display and adds an S Pen stylus. It has the same top-of-the-line camera and specs, but it's meant for big hands with equally big wallets.Samsung Galaxy Note 7

What you can enjoy right now from the screen are off-screen memos using the S Pen and an always-on display that shows the time, date, battery life and notification icons, even when the rest of the screen is asleep. An always-on display is new to the Note series and was a big hit on the S7 and S7 Edge. A few improvements have been made in the past five months. There are more color options and background choices, and more notification icons are supported.

S Pen and GIF maker

  • Samsung’s stylus embeds right in the phone for easy carrying
  • Off-screen memos can capture thoughts, even if the display is unlit
  • Can create and edit animated GIFs from non-DRM videos

There’s another reason the Note 7 edges don’t slope so dramatically: this phone is designed to use the tiny Samsung’s S Pen stylus, which has always made the Note series business-friendly. On occasion, drawing on the sides did mess up our critical business memos (aka our Snapchat game), but those instances were few and far between. It’s a happy medium between fashion and functionality.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

We relish the fact that Samsung chose to roll all S Pen notes into one S Notes app, unlike the splintered apps on the Note 5, and that off-screen memos return for jotting down notes on the unlit screen as soon as the embedded pen is unshethed, just like the Note 5. That’s great for penciling in a quick groceries list without ever opening up an app or your phone.

And now the S Pen is for more than for taking quick memos. New to the stylus’ capabilities is a GIF maker. It allows you to record just about any moving image and turn it into an animated GIF. You can’t record copyright-protected footage from streaming services like Google Play or Netflix (we tried), just like you can’t take a mid-movie screenshot. But we were able to pull off an animated GIF of The Simpsons care of an episode uploaded to YouTube. We then edited the GIF frame by frame (to axe the frames that had the YouTube pause button overlaid on top of it in the beginning) and sent it to a TechRadar colleague. It elicited the intended hahahaha response. That’s four ha’s! Perfect.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Other S Pen capabilities include Screen Select for clipping portions of the screen with lasso tools, Screen Write for annotating screenshots, and newcomers Translate and Magnify. Hovering over foreign text word-by-word with the S Pen’s Translate is a letdown when the far more comprehensive Google Translate exists, though we did find uses Magnify when photos and text were too small. Old people who whip out a magnifying glass to look at receipts will love this on their phone.

Iris scanner

  • With your eyes, unlock your phone and specific apps, files and photos
  • Second security layer allows you to share lockscreen code with kids
  • Doesn’t replace the tried-and-true home button fingerprint sensor

The iris scanner won’t, or shouldn’t, sell you on the Note 7. It’s not the breakthrough eye scanning technology that replaces the fingerprint sensor home button like you may be thinking at first pass, and to be fair, Samsung isn’t marketing it as such.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Instead, it’s a supplemental way to unlock your phone or password protect folders, apps and photos behind a second layer of security. This is a great idea for parents who are forced (read: guilted and/or tortured) into giving their kids their password for playing game apps (read again: Pokemon Go). They won’t have full access to your Secure Folder.

Here are the rare, but actual uses of the iris scanner:

  • You often exit a swimming pool or shower with incredible pruny hands and desperately need to check your phone
  • Your fingers are grasping the middle of this really big phone, unable to make it down to the home button
  • You want a second biometrically controlled way of accessing certain files and folders, far from your phone prying, Pokemon Go-playing kids
  • Your friends want you to unlock the phone from the bar stool next to you
  • You want a new party trick because no one fancies your smartwatch

The iris scanner worked well enough for us and even worked in the dark. It’s not faster than putting your finger on the home button, but it’s close enough and it can be a neat party trick. Only, be warned, the scanner shows an unflattering, low-resolution sliver of your face in black-and-white when it tries to read your eyes. It can be (and was) a party trick gone wrong when we tried it the first time at a party. Phone number not acquired. The phone managed still unlocked our sad face, so that’s good news.

What’s it like to use?

The Galaxy Note 7 is a powerful performer with top-of-the line specs, and just as importantly, it’s software is easier to use than ever.

Interface, reliability and compatibility

  • Redesigned new TouchWiz menus are more seamless than you remember
  • Misses Android 7.0 Nougat by a month, but has many of its feature already
  • SMS and video calls are hobbled in the US, but Google Allo and Duo will help

Anyone who tells you Samsung’s TouchWiz interface (which is the software that sits on top of the Android operating system) is slow and messy has been using the Galaxy Note 4 or earlier. Samsung has cleaned up its act in the last two years, with the Note 7 benefiting the most from our years of complaints. It’s just that (most of) TouchWiz’s most ardent critics have abandoned ship to LG or another phone maker, or haven’t upgraded yet.

Gone is the bloatware like Smart Scroll and Smart Pause that never really worked well anyway. Yes, there are still carrier imposed apps in the US, but Samsung’s software suite has reduced dramatically. Even its Video Editor app has to be downloaded separately.

What’s left is an easier-to-navigate interface that makes finding apps, widgets and settings a breeze. It’s the little things, really. We can now move apps by piling them into a temporary dock at the top (we call it the app train), then slide them all along to our many home screen panes (all aboard). No one else is doing that. You always have to drag a misplaced app, one at a time, several panes (more like pains), accidentally dropping it along the way.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

The settings menu is streamlined, and in case you go looking for something like Smart Stay in the Display submenu, at the bottom it says “Are you looking for Smart Stay?” Clicking the link will whisk you away to the proper submenu (Advanced features).

What’s missing is a competent messaging app and a seamless video calling experience. That’s a universal problem among Android devices and a bigger deal in the US, where SMS is still a king, and WhatsApp and WeChat are not. Give someone your digits in the US and the texts will land in Samsung’s barebones SMS app or another app you installed that accepts SMS. But coaxing them to the non-SMS side of your chat client is difficult. The iPhone does it better with iMessages by overlaying an internet messages client on top of SMS. If both people have an iPhone, it’s sent as an iMessage. SMS is just a backup plan.

HD video calls are also troublesome in the US. You have to be on the same carrier and own a newer Android phone to make this happen (otherwise it’s greyed out). This is why iMessages and FaceTime are so powerful, and it’s really unfortunate. No one uses the same messaging app on Android, and there’s a power struggle that splinters everyone. Hangouts was little little too late. Our hope is that the forthcoming Google Allo and the new Duo app make this a problem of the past on Android phones and tablets.

Note 7 review

You aren’t getting Android Nougat out of the box. The Note 7 is missing Google’s big operating system refresh by mere weeks, with the debut said to be on the LG V20. But it really doesn’t matter, as far as we can see it. Samsung phones already contain many of the new Nougat features and have for years: split screen apps, a clear all button on the recent menu and movable quick settings. The only thing it’s missing out on are lockscreen quick replies and Doze Mode 2.0 battery enhancements.

Samsung actually goes beyond what Google is doing in some cases, adding a blue light filter to rival Apple’s Night Shift mode on iOS 9.3, and its keyboard is more customizable and resizable (but not necessarily smarter with predictions and autocorrect than Google’s keyboard). Its wallpaper even has a neat dynamically color mode depending on your viewing angle, taking parallax to a new level. The only thing sorely missing is the Mobile Hotspot from the quick settings notification shade. Don’t worry, it’s still buried within the regular settings menu.

Unique to Samsung’s curvy phones is the Edge UI that lets you reveal a hidden side panel that mostly act as shortcuts. People Edge gives you faster access to your most frequent contacts, Tasks Edge lets you jump into your favorite apps and new third-party options include a Facebook Messenger panel (created by someone outside of Facebook) that costs $1.99. Third-party developers are finally expanding on the idea.

Movies, music and gaming

  • Big, bright and colorful for watching movies and playing games
  • Gamers may run into occasional issues with the curved design
  • The single speaker is this phone’s multimedia weak point

Enjoying any sort of multimedia on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is fantastic with a side of caution. Samsung’s 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display provides a vibrant-looking picture that no other phone can match right now. Mobile HDR is only going to make that better when content players catch up with more movies and TV shows filmed with high-dynamic range imaging.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

However, its curved screen can be irksome, especially for gamers who make mistakes near the edge of the display. It’s not as frequent as it was on the S7 Edge, but it can still be an easy way for you to excuse yourself for dying in a game so stupidly. That said, being able to turn off the capacitive buttons while gaming is a huge win for gamers. No excuses there.

Music sounds fine (and by fine, we mean the passive aggressive fine: “Yeah, not great, but not horrible”). It pumped out Google Play Music tunes as a normal volume, but pales in comparison to the front-facing speakers we’ve been appreciating on other phones. The HTC 10, Moto Z and ZTE Axon 7 have gotten in right. It’s time for Samsung to catch up. It’s phone is so much better in every other area. We’re hoping that happens with the redesigned Samsung Galaxy S8 next March.

Specs and performance

  • The same fast chipset as the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge
  • 64GB of storage and microSD card slot give you ample space
  • Doesn’t support UFS cards for faster read and write speeds

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the tale of two phones, all dependent on where you are in the world. Some regions (like the UK) have a faster phone than others (like the US).

We tested out both for our review. In the US, that means we used the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, while the UK team, benefited from Samsung’s own Exynos 8890 processor. Don’t worry too much. The differences on paper are greater than they are in real life.

Note 7 review

Neither configuration is slow. Each comes with 4GB of RAM, skipping out on the opportunity to give users 6GB of RAM and a little more overhead when it comes to running many apps at once. The OnePlus 3 and Asus Zenfone 3 have 6GB of RAM, but truthfully, the Note 7 is isn’t necessarily slower than either of its number-focused rivals.

It did come up short in our Geekbench 3 benchmark tests, trailing the top-performing Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge at times. In the US, this meant an average multi-core score of 4,635, and in the UK using the Exynos chip, it averaged 5863, once breaking the 6,000 multi-score ceiling.

Reflecting these scores in real life, we did experience rare slowdown when pushing the phone to the limit: re-downloaded all of our apps, using GPS and playing music at the same time. You’re probably not going to be juggling that much in everyday use.

The Note 7 isn’t any faster than the S7 and S7 Edge, but here’s how it is built for power: it includes more internal space than other entry-level Samsung phone. It has 64GB of internal storage instead of providing a cheaper 32GB model. That’s both good and bad when you think about it. In the long run, Samsung is betting you’ll be thankful in the long run.

If you do need more storage than that, the Note 7 supports microSD cards again, with a slot for the tiny memory card format tucked inside of the nanoSIM card tray. It’s good for holding photos, movies and music as a spill over space or for easy transferring. However, newly launched UFS microSD cards are not supported, which is a shame. Samsung’s memory card division touts the faster read and write speeds of UFS for things like 4K video recording, but it’s not on its top-billed phone.

The US also drew the short straw when it comes to getting an unlocked phone. It took the S7 and S7 Edge about four months before Samsung started selling the phone at full price without all of the carrier restrictions. Moving between networks on the Note 7 isn’t possible without paying a hefty early termination fee or a much higher full price.

Battery life and camera

Battery life

  • 3,500mAh battery capacity is 17% bigger vs Note 5
  • Lasted a day-and-a-half with normal use
  • The best battery life menu we’ve seen offers estimates, power saving tweaks

Samsung is really smart about the Galaxy Note 7 battery life, and that’s good news because the capacity is actually smaller than that S7 Edge. Fitting that stylus into the phone cost it 100mAh.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

But you won’t really notice the difference between the new Note’s 3,500mAh and S7 Edge’s 3,600mAh. In fact, you’re more than likely going to observe a big gain compared to the Note 5 and Note 4 if you’re upgrading within the Note series. This one doesn’t just go all day, it’s more like a day and a half. Welcome to 2016 on most Androids.

During our real-life battery life tests, we found that the Note 7 went just shy of a day and a half with steady, normal usage (reading and sending messages, browsing the web, playing music and a few uses of the GPS for Google Maps). The S7 Edge mustered about two hours more. The always-on display was on because it’s a great feature we don’t want to live without, but be warned, our phone lost 8% of a 100% battery overnight. That adds up in a 24-hour span.

TechRadar’s lab tests proved that Samsung’s 2016 smartphone batteries are about even in longevity. Running the same 90-minute video loop, the Note 7 lost 12% of a full battery, while the S7 and S7 Edge in the US dropped 14% and 16% respectively at launch in March (meaning when we had a fresh battery out of the box, not four months into a weaker battery).

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Helping the Note 7 eke out a win are really deep battery life settings. The new battery menu gives you an bold estimate of how much time is left before you scramble for a charger and offers ways to length than time. There’s a Power Saving mode that can be set to Off, Mid or Max, and, best of all, the menu reveals totals on how much extra time each mode will earn you. Tapping them also tells you the changes made to the phone (limiting the max brightness, changing the resolution to Full HD or HD).

The are a bunch of neat tricks that really make this battery life sustainable. Yes, the battery is nonremovable now, just like it was on the Note 5, but it’s a significant change from when the S6 and S6 Edge debuted with non-removable batteries and were dead before the day was through. It’s worth giving this one a chance if that’s your one and only gripe.

Camera

  • Same class-leading camera as the S7 and S7 Edge
  • You won’t find a better low-light performer on a phone
  • Selfie flip gesture makes front-to-back camera switching easy

Here’s the short of it: Samsung’s cameras are the best among mobile phones right now. You won’t find a better low-light performer, despite what a phone’s megapixel number may read.

The Galaxy Note 7 rear camera uses a 12MP sensor and a f/1.7 aperture that shows so much detail and picks up such vivid colors that we shocked people in side-by-side comparisons with the iPhone 6S Plus during our tests. It doesn’t hurt that the 5.7-inch Note 7 screen has double the pixel count and overall looks better than Apple’s 1080p display. But even when we got the photos on the same monitor, the results remained the same: the Note 7 is a true winner.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

What’s really amazing is how far Samsung has progressed in the last three years. Reading a lot of your comments, we saw that people were still holding onto the Note 4 and Note 3, bypassing (or unable to buy) the Note 5 and waiting for the Note 7. So, what did we do? Brought out all four Note phones (ridiculous!) to see how much it progressed in 36 months. It’s kind of amazing.

HDR has really changed the game on the back camera, especially when we threw in really difficult backlit tests (difficult, but common among the photos normal people take). Without HDR, the Note 3 shows shadowy characters in backlit locations and pitch black results in darker rooms. The Note 4 has offers lighting, but the detail still suffers. There’s a tremendous jump in quality from the Note 5, but it’s not the star-performing that is today’s Note 7.

The Note 7 camera outshines the past Note phones by far

The same results were proven in front-facing photos thanks Samsung’s 5MP camera with the same f/1.7 aperture and HDR OIS. You can’t even make out the two shady characters in the Note 3 photo. It’s Note 3 people who are going to be most excited about the Note 7 upgrade.

The Note 7 camera isn’t perfect. It goes out of its way to be vibrant, which works to its benefit in nearly every situation – from stunning beach sunsets to in-focus group shots. But sometimes people look red-faced with embarrassment in what turns out to be awkward photos. That’s the camera really cranking up the saturation levels. It’s great for making skies look lush, but horrible for slightly sunburnt folks or radioactive-looking hot dogs. There’s also a bit of barrel distortion – on the front camera, especially – that can be frightening or flattering, depending on your face structure.

Here’s another way the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 camera is better than an iPhone or any Android phone: it provides way more modes, options and controls through its default camera.

New to the Note 7 is the handy camera selfie flip gesture. It lets you easily switch between the front and back camera with swipe up and down on the screen. It essentially turns the middle of the display into one giant, invisible button. You no longer have to hunt for the tiny, insufferable camera flip button when you find yourself in a fleeting Kodak moment. Selfie flip is an idea taken from the LG G5 (and several LG phones before that) that has the same gesture running side-to-side, and it works just as well here. It’s something we’ve complained about in the past, and Samsung finally listened.

Samsung’s camera interface is cleaner than ever, despite the assortment of options. This is because the company hid all but a few settings from the main viewfinder screen: the HDR, flash and (for some reason) camera flip toggles still remain at the top along with a fourth button to access the settings menu. We’d rather have seen the timer icon (now hidden deep within settings) in place of redundant camera flip, since the smarter selfie flip gesture exists.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Also in settings are options for shooting in RAW, enabling Motion Photos (like Apple’s Live Photos, but with more user-accessible short video clips), and weird adjustments like Shape correction. The beauty slider, for better or worse, appears on the both front and back cameras.

All of the camera modes and filters are hidden in another gesture, this time swiping left and right on the viewfinder. To the left we have stock photo modes: Auto, Pro (manual), Panorama, Selective focus, Food and Virtual shot (for 360 photos) are the stock photo modes. More can be downloaded from Samsung’s Galaxy Apps store.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

When it comes shooting video, the Note 7 can record 4K video at 30 frames per second and shoot slow motion video at 720p. Hyperlapse is here as Samsung’s time lapse mode and unlike on other phones, it has more than just an auto setting for speeding up the frame rate. Everything looks smooth thanks to OIS (better than an iPhone in our side-by-side comparisons) to reduce the amount of shake associated with walking and recording at the same time. Finally, in case you want to take your broadcasts public, YouTube Live mode returns after making its debut in the Note 5.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

What’s it missing? Now that we successfully asked for the camera flip gesture and got it, we’d like to see the Samsung Galaxy S8 be able to flip the camera mid-video. Facebook Live, Periscope other video streaming apps can do it (with a slight delay in video broadcasts, sure), so there’s no reason phones should be without this handy feature. Having to start, stop and start videos again when you’re narrating a vacation video is a pain during recording, and combining it all is just as annoying in post.

Camera samples

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

View original Note 7 photo

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

View original Note 7 photo

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

View original Note 7 photo

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

View original Note 7 photo

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

View original Note 7 photo

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

View original Note 7 photo

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

View original Note 7 photo

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

View original Note 7 photo

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

View original Note 7 photo

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

View original Note 7 photo

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

View original Note 7 photo

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

View original Note 7 photo

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

View original Note 7 photo

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

View original Note 7 photo

Verdict and Competition

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the best big-screen phone with a stylus you can buy. It’s artfully designed dual curves make holding it manageable and just as stylish as the Galaxy S7 Edge. It has expanded S Pen functionality, a slick operating system (TouchWiz critics, go home) and a bigger battery than the Note 5.

It takes a lot from the S7 and S7 Edge, including the world’s best camera on a phone that will make you the go-to person for snapping photos (be warned, this is an annoying compliment). We also really like the smaller details, like the fast selfie camera flip gesture.

The potential of Mobile HDR has yet to be realized and the phone isn’t any more powerful than the S7 or S7 Edge. It’s missing the 6GB of RAM that is only making its way to a Note 7 variant in China, but the numbers game isn’t important as long as you can get over the one figure: its high price.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Who’s this for?

If you’re still clinging to your old Note stylus in 2016, this is your next smartphone upgrade. Business professionals and power users who want to be on the cutting edge will appreciate the added functionality of the S Pen. They’ll also have (or be more willing to spend) the extra money on the Note 7. It’s a serious investment meant for people who are serious about their phone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Should you buy it?

Yes, in an ideal scenario in which money isn’t an issue, this is the feature-packed phone that is a top-performer. It won’t let you down in day-to-day use. However, if you don’t see yourself using the S Pen after the one month honeymoon phase or can’t handle a phone with a 5.7-inch display, then stick to the 5.5-inch S7 Edge or more hand-friendly 5.1-inch S7. They have the same bright, Super AMOLED displays, specs and camera that haven’t been beat so far in 2016.

Competition

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

With a 5.5-inch display, Samsung’s other flagship phone makes the Note 7’s ability to stand out difficult. It too has a curved glass display, the same amazing camera and an identical chipset.

Besides the Note’s clear advantage with the 5.7-inch screen, Gorilla Glass 5 and S Pen, the only other difference comes down to the internal storage sizes: 64GB of the Note 7 and 32GB for the S7 Edge.

If you’re going to get out of the stylus, the Note 7 is an obvious choice. The iris scanner doesn’t make it a convincing enough buy on its own. Otherwise, save your money and stick with the S7 Edge.

Two words: removable battery

LG G5

The LG G5 is the best alternative solution to what long-time Note users may be missing: namely the removable battery. LG really marketed this to its advantage, along with the microSD card support, when the LG G4 launched with those features last year and the Note 5 axed them. The Note 7 has a microSD card slot again, but the removable battery remains absent.

The LG G5 specs are the same and it comes with a modular twist, but its design isn’t nearly as stylish and the display is also smaller at 5.3 inches. The camera is great and takes convenient wide angle photos to capture vast landscapes and tall building – it’s just not as detailed as the one that Samsung uses. What may tempt you to the LG G5 in the end is its more wallet-friendly price.

Note 7 vs iPhone 6S Plus

iPhone 6S Plus

Apple doesn’t have the best phones in the world anymore, but it does have a user-friendly ecosystem and often gets apps and app updates before Android. iMessages, FaceTime and easy interoperability with Mac computers makes the 5.5-inch display of the iPhone 6S Plus a good choice for fans of Apple in place of the Note 7.

But, be warned, the camera isn’t as good and that iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus announcement is right around the corner. You’re best advised to wait to see what Apple unveils in September if you’re on the iOS and Android fence.

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