Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review: A beautiful, but rehashed S7

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review: A beautiful, but rehashed S7
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Published August 21st, 2016 - 05:00 GMT via

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The Galaxy Note 7 comes in 64GB capacity and three colours in the Middle East- Black Onyx, Silver Titanium and Gold Platinum. (Samsung)
The Galaxy Note 7 comes in 64GB capacity and three colours in the Middle East- Black Onyx, Silver Titanium and Gold Platinum. (Samsung)
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I remember when the original Galaxy Note was released by Samsung and how it was ridiculed. However, over time, the phablet started becoming more mainstream and Samsung definitely got the last laugh with the Note going from strength to strength.

Today I’m looking at the latest iteration of it which should’ve been called the Galaxy Note 6 but Samsung decided to skip one model number and is calling it Galaxy Note7. If it was up to me, I would have called it the Samsung Galaxy S7 Note and you’ll find out why reading the article below.

Priced at AED 2999, the Galaxy Note 7 comes in 64GB capacity and three colours in the Middle East- Black Onyx, Silver Titanium and Gold Platinum. Sadly, the new Blue Coral isn’t available in the Middle East at launch but Samsung hasn’t ruled out the possibility of bringing it at a later date. It's slightly narrower and lighter than the Note 5 making it easier to hold in your hand. Bundled with the phone, you also get a 128GB Samsung EVO MicroSD card as well as offers from The Entertainer and Holiday Factory.

Inside the packaging, you'll find the fast charger with a USB Type C cable, a USB Type C to Type A converter (so your old cables work), a 3.5mm headset and the Samsung USB connector to transfer data from your old phone. A SIM tool is also included along with the warranty info and a quick-start guide. Finally, Samsung includes a clasp and some pins to change the tips on the S Pen.


The Galaxy Note series has gone from a flat screen to a single-side edge screen and then back to flat. With the Galaxy Note7, Samsung chose a dual edge screen which makes the device look similar to the Galaxy S7 Edge released earlier in the year. Sadly that means the Galaxy Note7 is as much of a fingerprint magnet and super slippery, so I highly recommend a case to protect your investment.

In my opinion, the S7 Edge was the best looking phone released this year but the Note7 tops that because it has more rounded curves on the sides than the S7 and thus easier to handle. Samsung describes the design as perfectly symmetrical, top to bottom, side to side, and front to back. I agree.

Like the S7 Edge and the Galaxy Note 5, you have the volume buttons on the left and the power button on the right. The hybrid SIM tray which can accept either two SIM cards or one SIM card and one MicroSD sits on top while the bottom holds the S-Pen and the new USB Type C connector. Like the S7, the Galaxy Note7, as well as the S Pen is now water-proof.

Specs & Features

From a specs perspective, the Samsung Galaxy Note7 is almost identical to the Galaxy S7. Here in the Middle East, Samsung is releasing the Exynos 8890 version of the phone which has eight cores and 4GB DDR4 RAM. Samsung has doubled the internal storage to 64GB which is a great move, especially if you’re planning on using two SIM cards on the phone because you'll lose out on the MicroSD slot.

For security, Samsung has added an Iris Scanner to the Note7 which, like the Lumia phones we’ve reviewed, allow you to unlock the device by scanning your eyes. This sounds good on paper, but like the Lumia, isn’t as quick to use as you need to position the scanner correctly which means at a certain distance and a particular angle. Even with that, I didn’t have a 100% success rate and found it much quicker to unlock the phone the fingerprint sensor because using the Iris scanner involves clicking the home/power button followed by a swipe to bring up the Iris scanner to unlock the device. The fingerprint sensor is identical to the S7 and works well but not as fast as the iPhone 6s or the One Plus 3.

Display & Sound

The Galaxy Note7 has a similar 5.7-inch screen size to the Note5, however, since the display is curved, it looks slightly smaller. Samsung continues to stick with 2k resolution of 1440x2560 pixels which is perfect for such a screen size and the Super AMOLED panel certainly makes the colours look gorgeous. It’s basically a slightly bigger sized screen found on the Galaxy S7 Edge.

What I liked the most about the Note7, and I’m sure this will have an equal number of critics as well, is that Samsung has reduced the sensitivity of the screen. This makes the Note7 much easier to use than the S7, S7 Edge or the Note5. No longer does the screen (or the capacitive buttons below it) register a tap when you simply pick the phone up or pass it to someone. If I was to compare the sensitivity of the screen, I’d say the Note7 is somewhat similar to the LG G5. 

The Note7 has the the always-on display introduced with the Galaxy S7 but with some added features. There are more clock faces that be customised to make the display look nicer. You also get notifications from all apps on the always-on screen, which is a lot more helpful than the S7 which only showed notifications from a handful of apps. 

One excellent new feature for the Note7 is the ability to use the S-Pen directly on the lock screen to write down notes which could then be saved to the Samsung Notes app or pinned to the lock screen. Both these option allow you to create and get to your notes very quickly.

The Note7 has a single speaker placed next to S Pen holster and it is reasonable loud  with decent quality- at least as far as smartphones are concerned. Samsung provides option to tweak the equaliser to your liking along with options such as UHQ Upscaler, Surround and Tube Amp if you have a headset connected through the 3.5mm jack or Bluetooth.

Software & Services

While the hardware stays almost identical to the Galaxy S7, Samsung has made some noticeable changes to the Galaxy Note7 when it comes to software and UI. Many of the app icons have been tweaked and look much nicer now, while the control panel has been redone to give it a more minimal look which feels very polished- though a bit like iOS. There are a couple of other areas that also feel like Samsung has borrowed from iOS such as moving the text cursor by sliding across the keyboard and changing the display’s blue light levels to a warmer shade when the sun goes down.

Samsung has also introduced Samsung Cloud with 15GB of storage that allows you to backup your contacts, calendar, notes, bookmarks, keyboard data and photos/videos. You can also use the Samsung cloud to create URLs for sharing larger pictures or movies. Considering that you already get almost all of that with your Google account, I’m not really sure why anyone would want one more cloud service to store data on, but it’s there if you want it. 

One new feature is the Secure Folder that allows you to store content such as photos, memos or even apps that you don’t want others to see, even if you hand your unlocked phone to someone. What is interesting is that you can have two instances of the same app- one in your secured folder and the other on your phone that shows different information. The Secure Folder can use any of the authentication types present on the phone such as fingerprint, Iris, a pattern or a pin. Using the Iris scanner makes more sense for the Secure Folder than for unlocking the phone. But again, I find the fingerprint sensor faster.


The camera on the Galaxy Note7 is identical to the one on the Galaxy S7 which is the best camera on any phone I've tested. I was hoping that rumours suggesting Samsung will use a dual lens camera were true but that's not the case. So while you don't get anything in terms of hardware innovation on the Note7, you can still take incredible pictures very quickly with it.

Samsung has made some tweaks to the software though. Previously you could swipe down to change between the front and back cameras but you can now swipe left for filters or right for camera modes making it very quick and easy to switch between different modes of shooting. Here are some samples from the camera- more samples will be added over the next day or two.

The S-Pen

From a hardware perspective, the S Pen now has a thinner tip (0.7mm vs 1.6mm) than the Note 5 which, according to Samsung, makes writing and drawing feel more natural. It’s also more pressure sensitive, going up from 2048 levels to 4096 levels. And finally, it works underwater though I’m not sure if writing or drawing underwater is something you’d be keen to test. As I mentioned earlier, the packaging includes some extra tips for the S Pen, and you can no longer insert the S Pen in the wrong direction which broke things for some Note5 users.

Coming to the software, the S Pen now allows you to clip any video and make an animated GIF out of it as well as highlight text and translate that into different languages. I played around with the pen briefly and the writing and drawing experience is quite good. That being said, I'm not much of a stylus/pen/pencil user so the S Pen will likely be my least used feature..


The Galaxy Note7 comes equipped with a 3500mAh battery which is bigger than the 3,000mAh found on the Galaxy Note5, but slightly smaller than the 3600mAh battery present on the Galaxy S7 Edge. Fast charging is supported through a wired or a wireless connection.

With the first full day I had with the Note7, I easily made it through the entire day. I unplugged the phone around 8AM and still have over 20% left when I hit the bed past 11PM. With the same times, the following day I had 4% battery life left. Like most modern phones, conditioning the battery over the next few days will result in the right stats but I'm hopeful that you'll get a full day out it.


The Good

  • Beautiful design
  • Gorgeous screen thats not hyper sensitive
  • Good UI improvements to Touchwiz
  • 64GB base storage

The Bad

  • Iris Scanner isn't very useful
  • Feels like a rehashed S7

Whatever I've tested so far on the Galaxy Note7 is impressive- though the phone feels more of an S7 Edge with the S Pen than a completely new phone. I do like the design of it more than the S7 Edge and if I was deciding between the two, the Note7 would definitely be my choice. It's an excellent update for Note5 owners but if you have already bought the S7, there isn't much that's new here. 

By Abbas Jaffar Ali


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