Sam­sung Galaxy Note7

PC Advisor - - CONTENTS -

Sam­sung’s range of Galaxy Note phones has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing stylish, well built and con­tain­ing the lat­est tech­nol­ogy. The Note7 is the lat­est ad­di­tion to the line-up.


As you can see from our pho­tos, the Note7 re­tains the look of other mod­els of Note smart­phone but adds the style of the Galaxy S7. In par­tic­u­lar, the S7 edge, which also has a dual-edge curved screen.

What we are par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with is that de­spite the screen size re­main­ing at 5.7in, the Note7 doesn’t feel like a ph­ablet. In­deed, de­spite be­ing slightly big­ger than the S7 edge, we found it more man­age­able to use.

This slab of metal and glass looks and feels great, although be wary of the rear cover. We found that the glass meant the Note7 slid out of our pock­ets when sit­ting down.

Build qual­ity is up to Sam­sung’s usual high stan­dards. The phone is avail­able in a range of colours in­clud­ing Gold Plat­inum, Sil­ver Ti­ta­nium, Black Onyx and Blue Co­ral. The lat­ter is an eye-catch­ing com­bi­na­tion of blue and gold as you can see here.

The Note7 is the first in the range to be wa­ter­proof, match­ing up to the S7 in more than just looks. Ac­cord­ing to Sam­sung, it can be sub­merged in 1.5m of wa­ter for up to 30 min­utes thanks to its IP68 rat­ing. There’s no need to fid­dle with port cov­ers or even make sure the S Pen (which is also wa­ter re­sis­tant) is in the slot ei­ther. This is even more im­pres­sive con­sid­er­ing the sty­lus is stored in­side the phone.

We do, how­ever, have one mi­nor is­sue with the de­sign – a small groove be­tween the glass and metal at the top of the screen col­lects dust and dirt. This is not a big deal, though.

Op­tional ac­ces­sories in­clude a lens cover, wa­ter­proof bat­tery cover and a new GearVR head­set, which we’ll be look­ing at in a fu­ture is­sue.


Dis­play Stick­ing to tra­di­tion, the Galaxy Note7 has a 5.7in screen, so users of pre­vi­ous Note phones will feel right at home. De­spite ru­mours of a 4- or even 6K res­o­lu­tion, Sam­sung has sen­si­bly stuck to QuadHD (2560x1440, 518ppi), which can also be found on its S7 hand­sets.

It’s a gor­geous dis­play, us­ing the firm’s favoured Su­perAMOLED tech­nol­ogy, with the bonus of the dual edge. It works in the same way as the S7 edge, so there’s a sub­tle curve on ei­ther side.

This can be used, for ex­am­ple, to quickly ac­cess your favourite con­tacts or apps – we’ll talk more about it in the soft­ware sec­tion. Sam­sung has also brought over its ‘al­ways on’ screen fea­ture (which is op­tional). This means even when you turn the dis­play off, it will show you some in­for­ma­tion, such as the time and some no­ti­fi­ca­tions.

The Note7 is also ‘mo­bile HDR-com­pat­i­ble’, so like re­cent tele­vi­sions, it of­fers bet­ter con­trast and de­tail. You won’t be able to use this will all con­tent, but in our tests watch­ing Ama­zon Prime Video, we couldn’t see any dif­fer­ence. Im­ages still looks great, though.

Per­for­mance Bring­ing the Note range up to speed, quite lit­er­ally, the Note7 is pow­ered by Sam­sung’s own Exynos 8890 chip, which the com­pany also uses in the Galaxy S7. The phone also has 4GB of RAM.

While bench­mark re­sults are high, see op­po­site, the phone isn’t as good when it comes to real-world use. Dur­ing our test­ing we found

The Galaxy Note7 has a gor­geous dis­play, us­ing the firm’s favoured Su­perAMOLED tech­nol­ogy, with the bonus of the dual edge

that it oc­ca­sion­ally ex­hib­ited small amounts of lag and jerk­i­ness in gen­eral use. This would be when we, for ex­am­ple, opened an app or switched be­tween apps. It’s by no means a huge prob­lem – it’s silky smooth the vast ma­jor­ity of the time – but at this price, you ex­pect flaw­less per­for­mance.

Stor­age The Note7 comes with 64GB as stan­dard and re­tains the mi­croSD card slot for adding up to 256GB more. We think this is a good move on Sam­sung’s part as users com­plained about their omis­sion from the Note5 and Galaxy S6. Con­nec­tiv­ity and sen­sors Sam­sung has de­cided to fi­nally em­ploy USB-C (see be­low). The Note7 also has fast wire­less charg­ing (WMA and PMC), 11ac Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth 4.2, GPS, NFC, a heartrate sen­sor, fin­ger­print scan­ner and the ru­moured iris scan­ner, which we look at later. The only thing miss­ing, which Sam­sung has dropped af­ter us­ing it in its other phones, is an in­frared port. This al­lows a hand­set to be used as a re­mote con­trol, though its omis­sion isn’t a big deal.

USB-C and bat­tery life It was some­thing of a shock that Sam­sung didn’t make the switch to USB-C on its Galaxy S7 phones, but it has now done so with the Note7. The port is re­versible, mak­ing it eas­ier to plug in, but it also of­fers faster charg­ing and, in the­ory, data trans­fer rates faster than USB 3.0.

In our charg­ing test, us­ing the sup­plied ‘Adap­tive Fast Charg­ing’ adap­tor, we the Note7 took one hour 15 min­utes to go from 0- to 100 per­cent. That’s not bad con­sid­er­ing the large 3500mAh ca­pac­ity.

In our real-world test, the Note7’s bat­tery life is rea­son­able, though not as im­pres­sive as we would have de­sired from a 3500mAh bat­tery. With a ‘nor­mal’ and var­ied us­age, we found that af­ter 24 hours, the Note7 has less than 15 per­cent juice left.

The only down­side for some is the fact that it’s non-re­mov­able, so don’t throw away that power bank if you have one.

Iris scan­ner One fea­ture that’s new to the Note7 is the iris scan­ner, which uses both the front cam­era and an LED sen­sor to check whether your eyes are in fact yours. It works in a sim­i­lar way to Win­dows Hello, which we’ve seen on Lu­mia 950 phones. It’s easy to set up, but not so much when it comes to ac­tu­ally us­ing it.

Dur­ing test­ing we had two main is­sues with the iris scan­ner. The first is that you have to wake the screen and swipe on the lockscreen to ac­ti­vate it, which is too many steps con­sid­er­ing how easy it is to touch the fin­ger­print scan­ner in­stead.

The other is that it’s quite flaky. When set­ting it up, you’re pre­sented with a huge list of warn­ings and caveats about not us­ing it too close to your face, wear­ing glasses, light­ing con­di­tions and the like. Dur­ing test­ing, we found that it strug­gled both in­doors and out­side in strong sun­light.

When it works it’s fast, but the Note7, more of­ten than not, tells you to, for ex­am­ple, hold the phone higher or open your eyes fully – you end up pulling faces at the de­vice while look­ing like you’re hunt­ing for cel­lu­lar sig­nal.

S Pen sty­lus The Note7 wouldn’t be a Galaxy Note phone with­out the S Pen sty­lus which, as usual, slots into the phone on the bot­tom. It works in the same way as pre­vi­ously and can be used to both re­place your fin­ger as an

In our real-world test, the Note7’s bat­tery life is rea­son­able, though not as im­pres­sive as we would have de­sired from a 3500mAh bat­tery

in­put de­vice for nav­i­ga­tion but also note tak­ing, and so on. It has a new 0.7mm tip, the pre­vi­ously men­tioned wa­ter re­sis­tance and the Air Com­mand menu now has a new ad­di­tions, which we’ll talk about in the soft­ware sec­tion op­po­site. It’s also wa­ter­proof, so you can use it when the screen is wet


The Note7 fol­lows in the foot­steps of Sam­sung’s Galaxy S7 phones, with a 12Mp cam­era (down from 16Mp but that doesn’t mean it’s worse). It’s a Dual Pixel cam­era with op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion (OIS), a very im­pres­sive f/1.7 aper­ture and 1.4μm pix­els.

Like its S7 brothers, the cam­era will shoot in auto-mode by de­fault with a 4:3 as­pect ra­tio. You’ll need to drop to 9.1Mp in order to get 16:9 and there are lots of dif­fer­ent modes to play with in­clud­ing Pro, Se­lec­tive fo­cus and Vir­tual shot.

You can launch the cam­era quickly with a dou­ble-tap of the home but­ton (even when the screen is off), which is handy, and the Note7 is able to fo­cus and take mul­ti­ple pho­tos quickly – af­ter all, no one wants to wait around be­fore be­ing able to take a sec­ond shot.

Don’t worry if the Pro mode is un­set­tling be­cause you’ll get fan­tas­tic pho­tos from the Note7 with­out chang­ing a thing. Like the S7, it of­fers ex­cel­lent lev­els of de­tail and colour. It can cope well with a wide range of sit­u­a­tions and weather con­di­tions.

The video mode shoots in Full HD if you don’t head into the set­tings and change it, but it’s ca­pa­ble of record­ing in up to UHD 4K (3840x2560), which is worth try­ing out, although that will fill your stor­age up much quicker. You also get modes such as Slow mo­tion (720p), Hyper­lapse (1080p), Video col­lage and Live broad­cast.

The front cam­era re­mains the same at 5Mp, with fea­tures such as an f/1.7 aper­ture, wide-an­gle 22mm lens and the abil­ity to record 1440p video. As with the S7, it’s a great choice for self­ies, of­fer­ing good qual­ity, eas­ily fit­ting a few peo­ple into the frame and the abil­ity to use the heart-rate mon­i­tor as a trig­ger.


It comes as no sur­prise that the Galaxy Note7 comes with An­droid 6.0 Marsh­mal­low pre­in­stalled, though it’s not Sam­sung’s own TouchWiz user in­ter­face. In­stead, it’s a new skin called Grace UX, a re­designed ver­sion of TouchWiz. We as­sume that it will get an up­grade to the up­com­ing An­droid 7.0 Nougat, but at the time of writ­ing we haven’t re­ceived of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion.

Long gone are the days when TouchWiz was crude, com­pli­cated and gen­er­ally over the top. Nowa­days, the user in­ter­face is much cleaner and closer to stock An­droid, though with use­ful ad­di­tions pre­sented in an eas­ier way to han­dle. Grace UX has sub­tle dif­fer­ences such as softer colours in the icons all add up.

Some ele­ments look very dif­fer­ent, such as the drop-down menu (in­clud­ing quick ac­tions) and the set­tings menu. We’re not so keen on the lat­ter as you can’t scroll hor­i­zon­tally through the icons – in­stead you have five and can then

pull down to re­veal more. You can or­gan­ise it to you lik­ing, though it’s more awk­ward than be­fore.

Other parts of the in­ter­face re­main the same, such as the up­day news feed (swipe right from the main home screen) and the re­cent apps menu.

As you would ex­pect, you get all the fea­tures found on the Galaxy S7, in­clud­ing Multi-Win­dow, the abil­ity to run two apps side-by-side, Pop-up view, which lets you run some apps in a smaller win­dow, plus other op­tions such as smart cap­ture, di­rect call and smart stay.

The larger screen works par­tic­u­larly well for fea­tures such as Multi-Win­dow and some users may find them­selves reach­ing for a tablet a lot less be­cause of the Note7. As we’ve touched upon be­fore, we’re also im­pressed with the dual edge dis­play, which can be used, for ex­am­ple, to quickly ac­cess favourite con­tacts, apps and tools with dif­fer­ent pan­els. You can also use feeds to get in­for­ma­tion such as your step count and no­ti­fi­ca­tions – these scroll along the side – and light­ing means you know who’s call­ing when the phone is face down.

The Air Com­mand menu gives you plenty of op­tions, but bear in mind that you can use the S Pen to nav­i­gate if you pre­fer. It’s great when you need to be pre­cise (spreadsheets and the like) or you don’t want to get the screen grubby with your fin­ger­prints. New fea­tures in­clude the abil­ity to cre­ate gifs and trans­late lan­guage.

The phone comes with the Game Launcher that was in­tro­duced on the S7. Pre­in­stalled apps in­clude Sam­sung’s own as well as Microsoft of­fer­ings of Word and Skype.


The Galaxy Note7 is an im­pres­sive smart­phone from Sam­sung, bring­ing the de­sign and curved screen from the S7 edge and adding fea­tures such as wa­ter­proof­ing and im­prove­ments to the S Pen sty­lus. It’s not all rosy though, as the price is sky high, the iris scan­ner isn’t very us­able and the per­for­mance isn’t as smooth as we’d hoped. Look to the S7 edge if you’re not fussed about the S Pen.

Geek­bench 3

GFXBench Man­hat­tan

GFXBench T-Rex


Chris Martin

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