Galaxy Note 7: Should a power user upgrade from the Note 5?

By now you've seen all the coverage about the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. It looks pretty damn good and totally earns all the attention it's getting. So good in fact, that they had to skip the 6 and go right to 7. It's like going to 11 or something (Breaksclusive: Galaxy Note 11 confirmed!). Anyhoo, it does look really nice and I'll stop trying to crack jokes now.

A question a lot of regular readers are going to have is if they should ditch their Note 5 and order a shiny new Note 7 as soon as they are able. And you can bet that we're going to be taking a long look at the Note 7 so we can help you in that decision. Phones are expensive, and moving from one to another only to find you liked the old one better really sucks. But for a certain group of us — the folks who need the best computer in their pocket that they can buy — the decision is pretty easy. Provided the Note 7 doesn't turn out to be a dud (unlikely) or do something stupid in the software (it won't) the answer is easy and we already know it:

Yes. You should upgrade from the Note 5 to the Note 7. Here's why.

  • Better internals — The Note 7 has a Snapdragon 820 (in the US version) with 4GB of RAM. While it may or may not be as good as the current gen Exynos 8890, it's easy to compare it to the Exynos 7420 that was used in the Note 5 (and Galaxy S6 / S6 edge). It's better. I'm not knocking the Exynos 7420 at all — the newer generation should be better. Samsung has also done a really good job optimizing the interface with the Snapdragon 820, and just like the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the Note 7 should fly. You could even take things up a notch and import one from the EU and get that Exynos 8890 if you want to go to 11. In any case, it's going to be more optimized and generally run the tough stuff a little better than the Note 5.
  • Software support — Your Note 5 probably has Android Marshmallow by now. The Note 7 ships with Android Marshmallow. Both phones are on the fast-track for security and performance updates. It sounds like a wash, right? But that will change in the near future. Your Note 5 has a good shot at getting Android 7, but it will never be supported past that and it's going to be less of a priority to Samsung now that there is a new Note model. The Note 7 will get faster support for a longer time.

Everything you need to know about Android 7.0 Nougat

  • The Note 7 has an SD card slot — Here we go. I'm not a big fan of SD cards (they have failed on me a few times and I hold a grudge) and I absolutely hated the way Android used them in the past. It was a mess for the average user when it comes to security, and those are the users who these phones are built for. Google apparently agrees, and things have gotten better on the security side. But this isn't about me. This is about all the power users who needed more than 64GB. Now you can have your 64GB of internal storage and limitless removable storage for movies and music and videos and pictures and whatever else you have. And while Samsung still doesn't like Android's adoptable storage for the SD card, you can bet that the same people who figured out how to get it on the Galaxy S7 will get it on the Galaxy Note 7. Have your cake, eat it.

Adoptable storage explained

We fully expect the Note 7 to have a great display and a great camera, and everything else as far as connectivity and performance should be as good as the Galaxy S7. That means it will be as good or better than the Note 5 in every conceivable way. The improvements may be minuscule — the Note 5 was (and still is) a hell of a phone — but when you're chasing the dragon that is "the best" when it comes to specs, every little thing matters.

The biggest deal, and why I think that people who are a fan of the Note series and a tech junkie, is the SD card. You complained loudly when Samsung snatched it away. They heard you and put it back. Go forth and fill it up — someone on Swappa will give your Note 5 a loving home.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7