The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has officially launched and pre-orders have opened up in the US, confirming the weeks of rumors about its curved design, 5.7-inch display, top-of-the-line specs and S Pen stylus.
The Note 7 acts a lot like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, but it takes the flagship’s 5.5-inch curved display that debuted in March and stretches it out to the Note’s trademark 5.7 inches and includes an S Pen.
This makes the Note 7 bigger and heavier than the S7 Edge, but it’s actually slimmer than last year’s Note 5. Yet it has returning features like a microSD card slot and IP68 waterproof rating, both missing from the Note 5. There’s also a new iris scanner that’s turning heads.
All of this is a big deal for the UK and Europe – the S Pen upgrade to the Galaxy Note 4 is long overdue. Samsung didn’t launch the Galaxy Note 5 outside of the US and a few other countries.
Just don’t call it the Samsung Galaxy Note 6. The Galaxy Note 7 has more to do with the Galaxy S7 series and is prepping itself for the ultimate comparison with next month’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
Watch our Samsung Galaxy Note 7 hands on video review
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 release date and price
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 announcement happened on Tuesday, August 2 at Samsung’s Unpacked event, and we were there in New York and London to go hands-on.
The actual device pre-orders started on August 3 in the US, while the official delivery date is August 19 in the US and Australia. That’s also the physical release date for the new Samsung Gear VR with a USB-C connection. The Note 7 will come in four colors: Coral Blue, Gold, Silver and Black.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 UK release date is a little later: September 2. UK pre-orders open this Tuesday, on August 16, and it will only be available in Black and Coral Blue at first.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 pricing is being worked out by US carriers. T-Mobile it for $32.50 for 24 months and $69.99 upfront, or a retail price of $849.99. Verizon is $36 a month for the same two years (no upfront fee), or $864 at full retail price. AT&T has it for a slightly higher $36.67 over the course of 24 months or $880. Sprint charges $35.42 a month spread out over 24 months, $349.99 upfront with a two-year contract, or $849.99 for the Note 7 at full price.
That’s more than the Galaxy S7 Edge price, which debuted at $299 on contract ($769 SIM-free unlocked four months after it launched), or $33 monthly.
The Samsung Note 7 UK price is simpler, and unsurprisingly big, too: £749. That’s a big bump from the S7 Edge, which is priced at £640 when it launched four months ago.
The price in Australia follows the same expensive pattern: AU$1,349. Galaxy Note 7 will be available in Australia from Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Samsung Retail and Samsung’s online store.
If you preorder a Galaxy Note 7 in the US and Australia between August 5 and August 18, you’ll receive a bonus at certain stores: either a Samsung Gear Fit 2 or a Samsung 256GB microSD card, your choice.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 design and display
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 reflects the S7 Edge look and feel thanks to its curved 5.7-inch screen, but it maintains the Note build and S Pen functionality.
Its dimensions are 153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9mm, meaning the Note 7 is a meaningful 2.2mm narrower than the Note 5. That’s ideal for staying comfortable in your hand – you’ll drop it a lot less, too.
Hand-holding is also helped by the curved back, a returning design feature from the Note 5 and one that wasn’t a part of the S7 Edge. It brings the Note 7 frame to a smooth point.
The dual edge curved screen on the left and right is more subtle here, but it reduces false touches that have been a problem for some people with the more elaborate S7 Edge curves.
The 5.7-inch Super AMOLED panel supports Mobile HDR, so we expect The Note 7 to garner another world’s best smartphone display trophy. And a new Motion Wallpaper lockscreen shifts colors as you move it, giving us something new to look at besides Parallax mode.
The Note 7 has shed some weight, coming in at 162g. That’s still heavier than the S7 most other phones today, but a reasonable weight considering the size of this device.
Finally, it’s waterproof again, with an official IP68 rating. That means it can survive at a depth of 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) for 30 minutes before suffering damage.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Iris scanner
The Note 7 iris scanner is the nifty new technology that Samsung is using to unlock your phone and your most private folders. It feels futuristic, just like the fingerprint sensor did a few years ago.
With a swipe from the left on the lockscreen, the iris scanner screen reveals an iris scanning menu that seeks your eyes. Within a second, it’ll unlock your phone.
The Note 7 iris scanner is by no means a replacement for the normal fingerprint sensor button. It’s a supplement that works best when you’re exiting the shower or a pool, and your fingerprint just won’t unlock your phone right away.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Specs
There’s no big surprise when it comes to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 specs. It basically has the same internals as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge from five months ago – meaning it’s still powerful.
At its heart is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor in the US version, and Samsung’s own Exynos 8890 octacore processor in the UK and almost everywhere else. The latter is the faster of the two, the Qualcomm’s chip supports American and Chinese CDMA networks.
The Note 7 sticks with 4GB of RAM, shying away from the 6GB RAM upgrade that had been rumored at time leading up to the phone launch event and which is enjoyed by the OnePlus 3, Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe and a variant of the ZTE Axon 7.
The big upgrade for the Note 7 this time around is the fact that it starts with 64GB of internal storage. Gone is any sort of 32GB option, which is an even bigger deal if you’re moving from an Apple’s 16GB nightmare.
In addition to the larger built-in storage size, the Note 7 includes a microSD card slot (tucked into its nano SIM card slot) to expand storage by up to 256GB. There’s no second SIM card slot to speak of, however.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 software
The Galaxy Note 7 runs Android 6.0.1, but you probably wouldn’t know it looking at the menus. Samsung uses its TouchWiz interface, so this looks like an evolved version of all of its previous phones.
It includes all of the Google apps you know, love and need, including Gmail, Google Docs and the Google Play Store, and also Samsung’s own apps, which you’ll likely never use outside of the recommended Samsung Pay.
The early August launch means the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 won’t get the Android 7.0 Nougat upgrade right away, like a new Nexus phone.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 camera
When it comes to the camera, the Galaxy Note 7 and Samsung’s other 2016 devices are alike, too. It has the same 12MP sensor and f/1.7 aperture, and it’s fantastic in low-light conditions.
Both OIS and dual pixel image sensor technology combine to put even the darkest photos in focus. This is why the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is highly lauded.
While the Note 5 had a 16MP camera, Samsung proves this isn’t a numbers game by any means. The phone also has a 5MP f/1.7 front-facing camera, and the main camera can shoot 4K video.
Battery life and USB-Type C
The Samsung Note 7 has upgraded to a 3,500mAh to support its large screen. That’s a big 17% increase over the similarly sized Note 5 battery from last year.
Best of all, it takes the same amount of time to charge as the smaller Note 5 battery, thanks to USB Type-C connectivity, which will be a big switch from microUSB for some people.
There’s a lot more to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 to be discovered, and we’ve been spending some hands-on time with the new phone.