It is that time of the year again. The Korean smartphone giant got the flagship Galaxy S7 out of the way earlier in the year—and that, incidentally, still remains by far the best Android flagship smartphone to buy, no matter what the HTC 10, LG G5 or the Sony Xperia X may have to say about it. Now, it is time for the bigger sibling to step into limelight. The Galaxy Note 7 is perhaps Samsung’s boldest smartphone in years, and what is even more significant is that it seems to be focusing more on the user experience rather than just outright specifications or a plethora of perhaps eventually underutilized features.
Also Read: Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has its eyes on you
We take a look at what stands out in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, and how that is different from the phone it succeeds, the Galaxy Note 5.
Dual-edge screen, and more
This isn’t the first time Samsung is making a smartphone display which curves on either side. We have seen the likes of the Galaxy S7 Edge and Galaxy S6 Edge+. But with the Note 7, the edge concept is going mainstream. Thus far, Samsung has had the dual line-up, which involved one flagship phone and then a second variant which had the curved screen. This time around, the Note 7 will be the real deal. What you will get is a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED screen with the 2,560x1,440 resolution.
Is this the first phone to offer an edge curved screen? The answer is no—something as understated as the BlackBerry Priv had an edge curve display. But the reality is that Samsung has pretty much nailed down the fact that when we think of a curved screen smartphone, Samsung is the default brand that pops into our minds.
In fact, Samsung has added a display resolution change feature as well—we don’t remember any other smartphone with this feature till now. You essentially head into the battery saving mode, and select among the 1,280x720 or the 1,920x1,080 or the full 2,560x1,440 resolution modes. The idea is, and this will be very relevant for a lot of users, that turning down the active resolution of the display will enhance battery life since there will be less pixels to light up.
It was true for the previous generations of the Galaxy Note, and it holds true for the Note 7 as well. The version that will arrive in India will be powered by the company’s own Exynos 8890 octa-core processor. In contrast, certain other countries will get a variant that would be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. Both variants will have the same amount of RAM though—4GB.
The battery size has been boosted, in comparison to the predecessor—3500mAh as against 3000mAh. The fast charging capabilities are very much there, but we will only be able to understand any potential differences after we test the Galaxy Note 7 in detail.
By default, the Note 7 will come with 64GB internal storage. And the hybrid slot (which can be used either for a second SIM or for a memory card) supports up to 256GB more.
Samsung has also finally adopted the USB Type-C charging standard, and that may further enhance their Adaptive Fast Charging feature.
While a lot of the design language remains the same, including the blend of metal and glass design, there are still subtle differences. The Note 7 is slightly taller and thicker, but is narrower. In fact, at 169grams, it is 2grams lighter than the predecessor. The Note 7 packs in a bigger battery, and yet managed to shave off some weight, which in itself is quite interesting. Also, the curved right and left side spines tend to make the phone look even thinner, and the Note 7 resides better in the hand as well.
It seems more like a design evolution, rather than a revolution. The idea seems to be to refine the design of the Galaxy Note 5 and address the issues raised over the past few months—the microSD card is back and the phone also gets the IP68 water-resistance rating.
A lot of users are still tuned to make judgement on a camera’s capabilities based on just the megapixel count. And the fact that Samsung has swapped the Note 5’s 16-megapixel camera for a 12-megapixel camera in the Note 7 would be a bit perplexing. But before you launch into a tirade of expletives, it is important to understand that the pixel size in the Note 7’s camera has larger pixels (1.4-micron each versus 1.12-micron each). And that means each pixel will capture more light in environments where illumination might not be optimum. The real-world performance will depend on various factors, but bigger pixel size is definitely a good start.
The S Pen stylus has been the single biggest stand out element for the Galaxy Note series for many years now. And the stylus now gets a new set of improvements. The stylus now has a thinner tip—0.7mm compared to 1.6mm earlier. There are also more pressure points on the Galaxy Note 7’s screen, which would perhaps make it easier to draw thinner or thicker figures.
To make the S Pen even more useful, Samsung has added the Screen-off Memo function. Even if the phone’s display is off, you take the stylus and start scribbling on the screen to note down points that may have otherwise been lost in time. We will test this feature in greater detail to understand the sort of flexibility it potentially offers.
There are improvements all through, such as the ability to select different pen types before you scribble a note or annotate.