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Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review: Biggest and best

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Product advisory: After a recall due to exploding batteries, and a subsequent batch of replacement Galaxy Note 7s catching fire, Samsung has permanently discontinued the Galaxy Note 7. You won't be able to buy one from your carrier or other major retailers, and you should not buy a Note 7 second-hand. Catch up on how we got to this point with everything you need to know about the Galaxy Note 7 recall.

The quick take

Even though the Note 7 doesn't immediately strike you as an altogether stand-out device like its predecessors, it's still an amazing phone that stands atop others available today. The Note 7 takes the Galaxy S7's formula of minimizing gimmicks in order to offer a fantastic core smartphone experience, and does so with very few, if any, missteps. It checks all of the boxes, and goes above and beyond expectations in just about every way. It's the best Galaxy Note to date.

The Good

  • Beautiful hardware
  • Industry-leading display
  • Great camera
  • Unique S Pen features

The Bad

  • Still too big for some hands
  • Very expensive
  • Carrier bloatware still horrible
  • No U.S. unlocked model

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

The best Samsung phone of its time?

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Full review

When Samsung came out ahead of the Galaxy Note 7's unveiling and announced that its latest Galaxy Note would skip a numerical generation to fall in line with the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge launched earlier this year, it was a great bit of foreshadowing. The combination of weeks of leaks and that subtle announcement of the bump past Note 6 and straight to Note 7 should've given us a good idea that we were going to see a Galaxy Note 7 not unlike the Galaxy S7 edge that came just six months earlier.

And then, that's pretty much what we got.

The Galaxy Note 7, part of the Note line that historically has been in its own class, generation after generation incapable of really being compared directly to any other phone, now shared a large portion of its specs, design and DNA with a non-Note phone. The Note fans immediately reacted negatively, worried that if they were to buy a Galaxy Note 7 they wouldn't necessarily be on the bleeding edge of technology, differentiated with a mound of new specs and features beyond that of what Samsung or any other company could pack into a phone. Reaction from the general populous, though, was set to be a bit more realistic — simply seeing a beautiful phone with all of the features they wanted, badged with a name they associated with really nice smartphones.

Yes the Galaxy Note 7 is very much a part of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge family, no longer on a disparate path. The number 7 appended to its name sets that expectation, the outside reaffirms your suspicions and the experience solidifies them. But that isn't a bad thing, and it doesn't mean there isn't a ton to get to know about the Galaxy Note 7, including how it indeed still differentiates itself from the world of high-end Android phones, Samsung or otherwise. I'm here to tell you just where the Note 7 fits in this world — read on.

About this review

I (Andrew Martonik) am writing this review after a week using a T-Mobile (G930T) version of the Galaxy Note 7, which was provided to Android Central by Samsung for review. The review was conducted using the T-Mobile network in the greater Seattle, WA area. The phone arrived on software version UVU1APGC, and was not updated during the course of the review.

Pretty pictures

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Video review

Before I get deep into the details writing about the Galaxy Note 7, I encourage you to check out a full video review recap of the phone. Check it out above, get a feel for the phone, and then follow along as I break down all of the details of the latest Galaxy Note!

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

More change than you think

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Hardware

To dismiss the Galaxy Note 7 out of hand (or ... in your hand?) simply because it bares an initial resemblance to the Galaxy S7 edge is taking the easy route. Samsung has simply improved this metal-and-glass design with each iteration — this is the largest generation-to-generation design change yet, and easily the best executed as well.

The Note 7 lost a considerable amount of metal in its frame compared to the Note 5, and it's immediately noticeable when you pick it up. Whereas the Note 5 very much felt like a primarily metal phone that simply had its back replaced with a piece of glass, the Note 7 feels like a glass phone with only a necessary amount of metal sandwiched in between the panes.

The new curved display and mirrored curved back encroach on the now much-thinner metal strip along the sides of the Note 7, and the theme continues onto the top and bottom where the metal no longer extends up and over the glass but instead recedes to let the glass take over the edge. You won't find bevels on the top and bottom of the metal anymore, either: just a smooth, gently rounded edge that meets up with the metal seamlessly.

And though there's less material here, what's left there is stronger than any previous Samsung phone — the Note 7 uses a 7000 series aluminum for its frame, some of the hardest you can get and the same used in the iPhone 6s. Not only is it tougher to scratch and ding in daily use, it'll also cut down on flex in the body of the phone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Now, I have to talk about the color options available for the Note 7. The model I'm reviewing here, black onyx, is far and away my favorite of the bunch. The black-on-black design is so sleek, so monolithic and so stealth that I honestly can't imagine buying the silver, gold or blue coral versions, as nice as they may be in their own right. This color combination is a perfect match for the smoother, simpler hardware the Note 7 offers. It also shows Samsung's willingness to mix things up with the color of both the glass and metal, as each of the four (three in the U.S.) available colors has a different anodization process applied to the aluminum — a nice treat.

Samsung's design team talked at length about the symmetry of the Note 7 at the phone's launch event in New York City, and it's something that actually makes a notable difference in how compact the phone feels. The smaller amount of metal on the sides of the phone paired with the dueling glass curves let the phone nestle deep into your palm, making it a bit less awkward to reach across what is still a very large phone.

  • 5.7-inch SuperAMOLED
  • 2560x1440 (QHD) resolution
  • Gorilla Glass 5
  • Dual curve screen
  • 12MP, f/1.7, OIS rear camera
  • 5MP, f/1.7 front camera
  • 3500 mAh battery
  • Non-removable
  • Fast Charging
  • Wireless charging
  • Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB storage
  • microSD card slot

It's absolutely gorgeous, and easier to handle than previous Notes

Because of these subtle design changes, I find the Galaxy Note 7 easier to use and manipulate in one hand than the Galaxy S7 edge, which I consider a huge win. This is still a big phone, no doubt, but I think at this point people generally know that they're getting into some sort of trade-off situation where they're getting a larger screen — and its associated benefits — in turn for slightly decreased usability.

Over time more and more people seem to be fine with moving to a larger screen, and Samsung has at the same time met them from the other side with a more compact device. Very much in the same vein, consumers are willing to take trade-offs in order to have a more beautiful phone in their hands and on the table in front of them.

The hardware changes integrated into the Note 7's design have accomplished mightily on both fronts. It's a great-looking smartphone, at any size, and while it clearly isn't designed 100% from a functional standpoint, it strikes a wonderful balance.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Same wonderful display

Oh Samsung, you spoil us so much with these SuperAMOLED displays. You just can't do better when it comes to a smartphone screen, and no other company comes close. The 5.7-inch 2560x1440 screen (with due credit to Samsung's software tuning) is so amazingly bright and colorful, with great viewing angles, that I can't really ask for much more at this point. Daylight visibility is best in class, and Samsung's software does a good job with automatic brightness control in other situations to boot.

Samsung's SuperAMOLED continues to destroy the competition

But the magic of the panel itself isn't the only reason why the Note 7 offers such a great viewing experience. You also have the curving of the screen on both sides, something of course introduced back on the Galaxy S6 edge but has been done much more subtly on the Note 7. With a tighter radius and overall smaller curve when compared to the Galaxy S7 edge, the screen curves simply provide a functional narrowing of the device, without the downside of accidental palm touches and missed swipes. The visual effect the small curve provides is fantastic as well, in that it really gives the feeling that the Note 7 barely even has bezels on its sides.

And of course the Note 7 is also the first phone to incorporate Corning's Gorilla Glass 5, which as is the case every year steps things up with even more robust scratch and shatter resistance. This is hardly a "shatterproof" phone, and believe me it will pick up scratches over time, but it never hurts to have increased damage resistance on a phone that has two huge panes of glass with curved edges.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 USB-C port

The move to USB-C

On the face of it it seems like such a small thing for the Note 7 to ship with a USB-C connector instead of the tried-and-true Micro-USB. Nobody could've blamed Samsung much for sticking with Micro-USB considering its long legacy of accessories that use the port, but seeing such a big company finally shift to the new USB standard is great — particularly as it likely means that all of its phones going forward will use USB-C.

It's handling the transition in the right way, it seems, as well. You'll find a USB-C to Micro-USB adapter in the box with your Note 7, and Samsung has released a new version of its Gear VR headset that adds (among other features) a swappable plug that lets it work with both old and new Galaxy phones. For now its other accessories like batteries still charge up over Micro-USB, but these will start to come with adapters in the box as they eventually transition to USB-C also.

The benefits of USB-C like the fact that it's reversible and can carry more data are easy to understand, but that still won't overcome the feeling amongst some owners that moving to USB-C from their legacy of Micro-USB accessories will be a pain. Years of buying phones with Micro-USB ports has left many of us with a pile of cables, batteries, docks and plugs that are now useless, and that's going to be a realization that may hurt Samsung a bit — but it had to rip the band-aid off at some point, and it might as well be with a phone that people are already spending $850 on. You can afford a couple new cables.

Galaxy Note 7 SDcard slot

Return of the microSD card slot

After Samsung took a 180-degree turn with no expandable storage and instead offered internal storage options up to 128GB in its 2015 flagship phones ... customers spoke in words and with their wallets: "We want an SD card slot back." Whether it was technically or philosophically the "correct" move for Samsung is irrelevant — removal of the SD card slot from its 2015 flagship Galaxy phones was a failure. That much is clear now, and the SD card slot is back.

With 64GB internal, even fewer people will need the SD card slot

Functionally, things pick up right where they left off on the Note 4 when it comes to adding an SD card to the phone. Despite running Marshmallow there's no Adoptable Storage option here — the SD card simply acts as a standalone volume to store media and some apps if you choose.

It's a good way to fill up a card on your computer and transfer files over to your phone for viewing or listening, but is altogether a second-class experience in terms of actively using it for media you create on the Note 7 itself. There are confusing (and entirely necessary) restrictions on which apps and parts of apps can be moved to the SD card, as well as usability hurdles when it comes to capturing photos and videos directly to the card.

With the Note 7's bump up to 64GB of internal storage there are even fewer people who will need an SD card, so I would caution you to just give the phone a try and see how much you fill it up before buying an SD card just because it has the capability. After installing all of my usual apps, I still had 45GB free.

Waterproofing

This is the very first waterproof Galaxy Note. And it shouldn't come as a surprise, as this has really been one of the pinnacle features that Samsung has hung its hat on since launching to a widespread customer base earlier this year with the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.

Just like those phones (and the "Active" ones before them), the Galaxy Note 7 has what's called an IP68 rating, meaning it can handle both dust and water under some pretty standard situations. The big one is water resistance, where the phone can handle 30 minutes submerged in up to five feet of water. While that doesn't mean it can replace your GoPro camera, or serve as a "rugged" phone, it will absolutely handle a drink being spilt on it at dinner or taking a quick dunk in the shallow end of a swimming pool.

Over the course of this review I exposed the phone to plenty of water and it just kept on going, including giving it a shot at recording video under water, which it actually accomplished nicely unlike my previous tests with the Galaxy S7 edge. I think every single high-end phone should be resistant to water in some capacity, and it's great to see Samsung continue to carry the feature on its best phones.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

A stealthy update

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Software

It's easy — and understandable — to focus on the hardware story in the Galaxy Note 7, but Samsung also took this launch as an opportunity to roll out a pretty considerable software redesign as well. Having Android 7.0 Nougat and all of its associated software update headaches on the horizon it would have been completely understandable to save these changes to coincide with that large platform release, but we get them early here built into Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

A fresh look to TouchWiz

The biggest visual changes come down to the launcher, notification shade and settings area. The launcher is quite similar, but has once again changed the look of the default icons and folders — I have to say they're at least improved, if still a bit forced, though I still prefer Google Now Launcher's overall look.

The notification shade is both simpler and more compact, with a flat white background acting as a canvas for thin lines and iconography in grey and light blue. It now takes an extra swipe to access screen brightness, but the buttons are still configurable and provide extra information when tapping them before going into the full settings screen, not unlike the way we see things done in Nougat.

The cleanest and simplest version of TouchWiz yet

The simple white background and limited combination of grey and muted colors continues into the settings area, which has taken a miraculous turn toward simplicity. Rather than dealing with a seemingly endless scrolling list or group of tabs, the Note 7's settings almost fit on a single page without scrolling. They're all rolled up into broad categories like "Connections," "Display" and "Device maintenance," with the most commonly used features in each section listed under the header. The settings within each category are more logically listed, and most categories have a "Looking for something else?" list at the bottom with suggestions for similar settings that are now found in other areas.

Better colors, more compact displays and simpler overall layouts receive two big thumbs up from me, even though they're still joined by lots of duplicative Samsung apps and carrier bloatware to wade through. If Samsung could also scale back on that front, I would be even happier with the software. But even as it stands now, Samsung has quietly made a set of really great changes to the interface we interact with dozens of times a day, and it's worthy of applause from me.

Galaxy Note 7 Power saving mode

New features

I greatly appreciate the visual cleanup of many parts of the interface, but going beyond that Samsung has also added or revamped several system-level features as well.

First is a proper "blue light filter," which of course plays to the popular notion of reducing the amount of blue light you're viewing from screens and how it affects your sleeping habits. The blue light filter can be toggled on at any time, with an adjustable intensity, to make your screen a bit warmer when you want to reduce eye strain. But more importantly, you can set it to change temperature on a custom schedule or even let it automatically come on at the local sunset time and turn off again at sunrise. Together with automatic brightness, I found it a nice automatic way to help my eyes transition to nighttime viewing.

A few new features that you don't notice on Day 1, but are great to have

Samsung has also doubled down on its Power saving mode, which now has customizable levels to extend your battery while keeping the features you want most turned on. Before turning on Power saving mode, you can select to limit max screen brightness between 80 and 100%, set the screen resolution to HD, FHD or QHD, limit device performance overall, and prevent background network usage from apps. With each parameter you'll get an estimate of how much battery you'll save by enabling it, and once you set your custom profile you can turn it on and off as you see fit. This is much better than the all-or-nothing Power saving mode before, and will give enthusiasts plenty of ways to tweak things.

Samsung's new Always On Display mode has also arrived on the Note 7, though it's also picked up a couple of key advantages that make it more functional than what's available on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. You get many of the same clock layouts, but now those layouts are accompanied by icons for all notifications that you receive — and you can double tap an icon directly on the "off" display to open the associated app. It's nowhere near as useful as Moto Display, but it makes you a bit less guilty about burning some battery running Always On Display.

Even without a dramatically curved display, and with all of the extra software already on tap for the S Pen, Samsung still decided to graft the "Edge UX" software from the Galaxy S7 edge to the Note 7. After six months using the GS7 edge I still haven't found a use for the edge screen, aside from occasionally finding it useful to quickly pull up a favorite contact to dial. Everything else it can offer me is less useful than just launching an app, and more hassle at the same time. Things haven't changed on the Note 7, and I wouldn't be surprised if people went a step further and turned off the edge screen software entirely — there are already great ways to interact with your apps without trying to reinvent the wheel and give you yet another launcher paradigm.

Galaxy Note 7 S Pen

Better S Pen hardware, simplified software

The Galaxy Note 7 still offers easily the best stylus experience of any smartphone, though initially you won't find too much different from the Note 5. But under the skin, you'll find the S Pen has doubled its pressure sensitivity to 4096 levels, narrowed the point for more precise selection, and also notably improved the tracking speed on the screen. On the software side, you still have screen-off writing (even when using Always On Display) for taking quick notes, as well as Air Command for the most-used S Pen features, but where things change is the move from disparate S Pen apps to a single Samsung Notes app on the phone.

I'm not convinced S Pen usage is high, but this is the best possible experience

In Samsung Notes, you can take written notes, do quick drawings, work with images and pair those notes with voice messages — all functions that used to take up their own separate apps. Even if you don't hop into Samsung Notes for explicit note taking, you can still launch Air Command to quickly write on the screen, or use one of the new S Pen features like the live translation tool, magnifier or GIF maker.

I still haven't been able to work the S Pen into my daily life, but you're getting it with the phone either way so you might as well give it a try. It's great for signing documents and quickly annotating a screenshot when you need extra tools to get your point across, and for those kinds of every-once-in-a-while features, it's nice to have around. There's basically no downside to having it there, ready to go.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Still great

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Cameras

While I warned against judging a book by its cover when it came to initial impressions of the Galaxy Note 7's hardware, I don't have such caution when it comes to its cameras. What we have on both the back and front of the Note 7 is identical to that found inside the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge — which, of course, is the combination we judged to be the best overall smartphone camera back when the phones were released.

Since the launch of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the competition hasn't produced anything better. And clearly Samsung was happy enough with its own progress to keep the exact same hardware in the Note 7, breaking the trend of the Note series offering some kind of imaging upgrade over the year's Galaxy S. To bring you up to speed, that means a 12MP rear camera sensor with 1.4-micron pixels, an f/1.7 lens and OIS. On the front, a 5MP sensor also with an f/1.7 lens.

Image quality

Though this is a known camera setup, that doesn't mean there aren't things to point out when coming from even the Note 5, which was a great camera in its own right; the gulf is even larger when compared to the Note 4. When compared to the last Note, we're looking at even better low-light performance this time around, with what could be described as a side-grade in daylight performance.

In daylight, there are really only two subtle weaknesses (if you can even call them that) to the Note 7's camera. It sometimes over-processes dark portions of otherwise light photos, giving them some extra chroma noise and artificial smoothing that's noticeable against the otherwise-sharp portions of the photo. The sensor also doesn't inherently have an amazing dynamic range, leaving some colors looking a little dull when not shooting in HDR — this is really more of a personal preference, and is only noticeable with side-by-side comparisons to other phones.

Almost as important as the image quality is the speed at which the Note 7 captures photos, which is lightning fast and upholds the high standard put out by its predecessors. A double-press of the home button launches the camera in well under a second, and you can capture right away. Burst shots are quick, and what continues to amaze me is that there's no difference in capture time between regular and HDR shots. Samsung's cameras continue to do really well at choosing between standard and HDR when set in auto mode, and that's where I left the camera a majority of the time.

Camera software

Just like many other aspects of the software, Samsung has taken a fresh, clean look at the camera interface. The experience is now a step simpler from what was already quite simple before, with even fewer buttons around the whole viewfinder — just the major toggles like flash and HDR are there, along with a dedicated video and gallery button on the opposite side.

Samsung is now emphasizing swiping in the camera interface, with a swipe to the left revealing a set of live filters to choose from, a swipe from the right bringing in the mode selector and a swipe down switching between the rear and front cameras. The app is extremely easy to use and is just as quick and responsive as ever. It just adds to the experience.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Actually using it

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Daily use

Beyond the speeds and feeds, and talk about the different qualities of the hardware design, the Galaxy Note 7 is actually really great to use every day. Here are a few of my thoughts on the daily interaction with the phone.

Galaxy Note 7 multitasking

Performance

The performance story with the Galaxy Note 7 is identical to my time using the Galaxy S7, which until receiving this phone was my most-used device on a daily basis. With so much shared between the two this comes as no surprise, and just like the GS7 I'm extremely happy with how quick the Note 7 is in daily use. Aside from a couple of initial wonky hang-ups in the settings that I experienced in the first couple hours of use, I haven't had any sort of instability, jerkiness or unexpected slowdowns on the phone.

Multitasking, shooting pictures, listening to music while browsing, managing lots of emails and Slack messages, and all of my other daily functions went off without a hitch, as you would absolutely expect to be the case for a phone with a Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM. And because of that, I never once wanted to wander into the "Device maintenance" part of the settings, which houses a bunch of "powered by Clean Master" tools to free up RAM, "sleep" apps and "optimize" your phone. Much of it is unnecessary, and even the parts that are genuinely useful for troubleshooting are globbed together with other useless snake oil. In general, you're not going to run into issues using the Note 7; and if you do, that Clean Master stuff isn't going to help much.

Galaxy Note 7 battery life

Battery life

With an additional 500 mAh to work with compared to the Galaxy Note 5, the Note 7's 3500 mAh cell keeps battery life solid but not exactly spectacular. Just as I found with the Galaxy S7 edge, which itself has a 100 mAh larger battery, the Note 7 can easily handle a full day of use — but it won't necessarily always do it with battery to spare. On a particularly tough day that required a lot of screen on time (outdoors at 100% brightness), lots of podcast listening, photos and network usage all on LTE, my battery could last a solid 15 hours — but it'd be completely dead at the end. On a lighter day, with what I would consider my "normal" use, the Note 7 was good for a full 17 hour day without hitting the 15% battery mark, which is more like what I'd expect out of a big phone.

One big factor in battery life, over my course of a week using the Note 7, was whether or not I chose to have Always On Display turned on. The heads-up screen looks great and is even better than what's available on the Galaxy S7, but adds a pretty considerable battery drain as well. In some informal testing I found it could easily drain between 5 and 10% of the Note 7's battery over the course of the day, which is starting to get to the point where you should really make a conscious decision about whether it's worth it. For what it's worth, Always On Display is not turned on by default on my T-Mobile model; an unlocked model offered for review to our own Daniel Bader has it enabled by default.

Good for a full day — the question is how much you'll have left in the tank

As I noted above when talking about the software, the new configurable Power saving mode can help eke out an extra hour or two if you find you're draining down your battery quickly, which is extremely helpful. Even though I don't necessarily think you'll need it but once or twice a week when you start to get into the danger zone on battery by dinnertime.

Even though we've changed connectors to USB-C, there's the exact same Adaptive Fast Charging tech inside the Note 7 as you'd find in the last-generation Samsung phones. That means it's pretty darn fast, and compatible with Quick Charge 2.0 chargers. Samsung includes its standard Fast Charging power brick in the box, which has a USB-A connector on it so you can use any USB-A to USB-C cable you like.

Of course you'll also find the same wireless charging setup as the last generation, including both Qi (which will you'll find in most chargers) and Powermat (which you'll find at the likes of Starbucks), as well as Samsung's own "Fast Charge" wireless charging — the latter requires a specific charger from Samsung (opens in new tab) or one of just a handful of other companies, but they've been around long enough that they're easy to find at a good price. And believe me, getting a Fast Charge wireless charger is worth it, especially if you're placing your phone down expecting to get any sort of a quick top-up to the battery.

An iris scanner

As one of the new features that separated it from the pack, and reiterated the company's focus on security, Samsung spent a notable amount of time at its launch event detailing the iris scanner technology in the Note 7. This is hardly a new feature in the world of phones, but it's a first for a Galaxy device and it's quite easily going to be the best-selling phone to ever have an iris scanner ... albeit those sales will in no way be due to the iris scanner's existence.

The scanner's hardware is actually a two-part affair — the combination of a special camera and an infrared light on the front of the phone can read your irises to determine if you're actually who you say you are. The setup process is simple enough, and lives right alongside the settings for your lock screen and fingerprints.

Right now, you can think of the iris scanner as being in the same position as Samsung's early fingerprint scanners before Marshmallow brought universal fingerprint APIs: right now, the iris scanner can only unlock Samsung's own apps, in addition to the lock screen (behind an extra swipe), Secure Folder and Samsung's KNOX security system. On the face of it that seems rather annoying and limited, which it is, and Samsung is working to expand the use of its Samsung Pass API to get banks and other app makers on-board with the tech.

The iris scanner is a complete miss this year — but it has potential for future iterations

But here's the important part of this whole situation: it doesn't really matter how many apps support the iris scanner, because the scanner system itself just isn't very good. From the get-go, the system is hyper-specific about how you hold the phone for it to recognize your irises properly — about 8 inches away from your face (but no closer, it warns), up at eye height and with your eyes open wider than usual for up to nine seconds. In other words: more than you want to deal with.

Beyond the oddity of how much extra work it takes to perform this every time you want your irises scanned, it just wouldn't ever reliably recognize my irises — despite multiple re-trainings of the system. I don't wear glasses or contacts, and tried in a variety of lighting conditions to no avail. At best I'd say the scanner recognized my irises about half the time within the nine-second limit before the scanner times out and asked me to enter a lock pattern or press my finger on the home button to authenticate. That's ... not very good. I'll stick to the fingerprint sensor, thank you very much.

To me, the iris scanner has already failed as a feature in this current hardware and software iteration. But it's the smallest of blemishes on an otherwise great phone, and the best part about it is that you'll never have to worry about it getting in the way once you turn it off.

Galaxy Note 7

Worthy flagship

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Bottom line

The similarities between the Galaxy Note 7 and the six-month-old Galaxy S7 edge have really clouded the vision of the Android enthusiasts who are thinking about what the latest Note brings to the table. Yes, there's effectively zero reason to buy a Galaxy Note 7 if you already have a Galaxy S7 edge — but Samsung never expected you to make that purchase in the first place. The Note 7 is designed to be a fantastic upgrade for those who have at least a year-old phone, and who want to experience all of the new features that they've seen advertised on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge but weren't quite ready to buy at the time, or wanted a bigger phone that held the Galaxy Note brand.

And when you remember that the phone upgrade cycle amongst the broadest range of smartphone buyers is quite a bit slower than the enthusiasts, you can start to understand just how great of an upgrade the Note 7 will be for tons of people out there.

The Galaxy Note 7 has immaculately designed and crafted hardware, an industry-topping display, top-end internal specs to satiate all but the most avid enthusiasts, and it's all wrapped up in a water-tight enclosure. Even with all of that, Samsung still absolutely nails the biggest parts of the daily use experience — the software is quick, smooth and powerful, the camera is lightning fast and produces great photos, the battery offers ample longevity, and the S Pen is still the best smartphone stylus experience available today.

If you look at everything that the Galaxy Note 7 offers, I'm not sure what else you can honestly (and realistically, considering constraints and trade-offs of modern phones) ask for. It isn't a perfect smartphone, but that has and never will be the case with any phone — what matters here is that the Note 7 provides a fantastic experience through and through. And despite its congruence with the Galaxy S series that classic Note fans may bemoan, it's easily the best Galaxy Note that Samsung has ever made.

Should you buy it? Yes

The Galaxy Note 7 is the real deal, that much is clear. The only real question for you is whether it's worth the big price and whether it's a big enough upgrade over the phone you currently have. But no matter your situation, the Note 7 should at least be on your radar. And if you have the money to spend (or finance through a carrier), you should give it serious consideration as your next phone.

Where to buy the Galaxy Note 7

As you'd expect, the major U.S. carriers are all offering the Galaxy Note 7. It's pricey, for sure, but each one offers some sort of financing option to help lessen the up-front cost. There isn't a U.S. unlocked model at launch, unfortunately.

See at AT&T (opens in new tab) See at T-Mobile {.cta .shop.nofollow} See at Verizon (opens in new tab) See at Sprint

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

386 Comments
  • If the Nexus phones are underwhelming this year...I could go Note 7. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Same Posted via the Android Central App
  • What happened to "Nexus 6 for life?"
  • Well the smaller nexus seems to be a htc a9 (closest iphone lookalike) with stock android
  • Wouldn't want the small ass battery in that phone. Posted via the Android Central App
  • i'll get both if tmobile offers something i can take advantage of.
  • Oh yeah. I'm seriously looking at the Note 7. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I just ordered Note 7 and cant wait. It arrives 8/19/16
  • I can't afford to buy this device, it is too much to handle is there any person in the world will be kind to help me buy one for me I only can afford phones like 50$ just no more I am Egyptian and the $ dollar keep rising and the price of it will be = 850 * 14 ( price of the dollar in the black market in my country)= 11900 EGP that is me working around 7 months without eating or doing anything will someone please help me buy one thanks.
  • I just wish they would stop w carrier branding and sell it only unlocked like iPhone and Nexus and still compatible w all US Networks. They have enough power at this point. vzw Moto XPE/N7
  • They definitely have the power. Thing is the carrier deals are very sweet for Samsung, and there probably aren't enough people who really make their buying decision based on unlocked vs. carrier models.
  • The only problem I have with carrier branding is the additional software. If the carrier isn't subsidizing the cost of the device anymore - if I'm now paying the full price for the technology - then it's fully mine, and I shouldn't have to deal with software I don't want.
  • I read an article on another site today, and they mentioned that the unlocked Galaxy S7/S7 Edge aren't great for updates/patches, which I'd consider one of the selling points of a universally unlocked device (eliminating carrier delays). IIRC, it said that both of them were still on the May or June security patch. That seems ridiculous since there is no excuse for them not to be on the current patch. So if that's true, the only benefit is the ability to switch carriers and not buy a new device.
  • Wow, that just doesn't make any sense. Gotta hear Jerry's opinion on this one :)
    Pay more to get less,huh? Bravo !
    I was contemplating to buy s7 unlocked (too much hassle w unlocked m10 on VZW) if Nexus fails to deliver smaller- compact flagship in a few months,but now I see no reason to spend so much money on it.
    At this point if Google fails,I'm willing 2 switch 2 Att (&give up Unlt. data) so I can finally get a device of my choice. vzw Moto XPE/N7
  • I wish... carrier branding is a pain. Posted via the Android Central App
  • If that's the I'll still consider the 6P.
  • Plus you get the added benefit of not having to worry about any bugs in Nougat for awhile because it will be 6-8 months before it shows up on the Note. ;)
  • I returned my s7 edge because the curved edge ended up severely interfering with my typing and screen touching, basically whenever trying to reach across the screen the thumb palm area would graze the screen and either press keys on the keyboard or trigger something else just as annoying. Is that a problem with this too or is the edge much less pronounced?
  • I have an article coming explaining this separately in more detail, but the gist is that the Note 7's screen basically has no effect on your ability to use the phone as you normally would. The curves are smaller and tighter than the Galaxy S7 edge, meaning you can actually reach across it, it doesn't interfere with input and you don't get accidental palm touches. So yeah, Samsung has "fixed" that design flaw of the GS7 edge.
  • Hey you said the note 7 is waterproof. Why don't we change that to water resistant? Unless they are claiming it's water proof. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Those terms have been used interchangeably despite not actually having the same meaning. If there's ever any doubt, I qualify things by saying its exact resistance ratings: IP68.
  • Fair enough. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That is no excuse for using the incorrect term and perpetuating the confusion. Water-resistant is NOT waterproof. Bullet-resistant windows and body armor is NOT bulletproof. http://www.hzo.com/waterresistant-waterrepellent-waterproof-whats-differ...
  • Michael Fisher used the s-pen while the phone was submerged in a container of water. I'd say that is more than "resistant" to water but yah the IP rating is probably the best guideline.
  • If the phone drops in a pool deeper than its IP68 rating the water pressure is such that it can completely compromise the water proofing in the device. This is why IP ratings are important. They tell you that the phone isn't water proof, and only water resistant under specific, tested, circumstances. A container of water is a trivial use case. If it drops to the bottom of a pool at the 6" Deep End, it might not fare as well even if its only down at the bottom for less than a minute. The phone is not water proof. It's only water resistant. There's a clear difference between the two, and using terms based on misuse by other people isn't a guide to using them in writing (if you want it to come across as professional). It also misses an opportunity to acclimate people to (or educate them on) proper usage of the terms.
  • Try reading the last sentence of my comment again. Posted with my LG G4 6.0 via the Android Central App
  • Biggest flaw that made people hate curved screens. So glad they made it "right" this time
  • He talks about this specifically in the article.
  • I feel like I'm the only one who never had this happen to them. Do you all have thick hands or what lol? Posted via the Android Central App
  • What does thick hands have to do with it? Some people have SMALL hands, because they're smaller people. If you're hands are small, then you have to grip the phone tighter because you cannot maintain stable loose grips on the phone the way someone like Shaq can. The tight grip can cause skin on your hand to hit the edged part of the display, and activate things. The same thing can happen to non-edged, bezel-less devices, BTW.
  • I always use a cover on my phone so i never had edge problems. On the contrary i ******* love it!
  • How do those covers work on edge devices. Do they leave the edge exposed or basically add a bezel to it? If the edge is exposed, then it's not much help. Also, some people don't always use covers on their phones. The like good looking phones so they don't have to cover them up. It's why people comment on aesthetics. The fact that you do, is immaterial and not really useful information in this discussion. Personally I hate the edged displays as it makes it very hard to apply screen protectors to them well, or leaves the device with an uneven surface (i.e. thicker tempered glass protectors) in areas where it shouldn't be. There are several issues beyond "grip" that make those displays unattractive to many people.
  • You just have small hands
  • GOLD STANDARD NOTHING COMES CLOSE Posted via the Android Central App
  • Richard?
  • Lol yep not me tho Posted via the Android Central App
  • Where is richard haha miss his crazy comments that get people heated
  • He would make a slow news day on AC not so slow in those days. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That's for sure
  • The note is the gold standard of mobile tech, nobody comes even close to it. Truly yours, Richard Yarell Posted via the Android Central App
  • Haaaa I was waiting for someone to mention him!! Lmao!
  • "Oh Samsung, you spoil us so much with these SuperAMOLED displays. You just can't do better when it comes to a smartphone screen, and no other company comes close." That last part seems like a subtle nod to our old friend.
  • Get a room!
  • Nothing come close. "The undisputed heavyweight champ". Posted via the Android Central App
  • Lol
    you forgot the "PERIOD" :) vzw Moto XPE/N7
  • I'd agree if it had a removable battery.
  • If an unlocked Note 7 is coming out for the U.S., hopefully it doesn't take months to come out like it did for both the S7 and S7 Edge.
  • True that Posted via the Android Central App
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nothing more then a s7 edge with gorilla glass 5.. USB - C is a a useless feature on this phone as it doesn't take advantage of quick charge 3.0. Iris scanner is another useless feature that doesn't make sense even to a average user.
  • S7e is a Damn good phone and this translates well into the note 7. Yeah the transition to USB c is a pain in the ass but has to get done. Also what charging standard does this use? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Adaptive Fast Charging based on Quick Charge 2.0. Weirdly, Qualcomm's press release stated this at the bottom in fine print.
    "Galaxy Note7 features Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 and 3.0. The version varies by markets." https://www.qualcomm.com/news/releases/2016/08/03/qualcomm-powers-next-g...
  • That's weird, thanks for the info :) Posted via the Android Central App
  • Just a guess but i think qc 3.0 is disabled to keep charging close to fast charging on the exynos model
  • Not as far as I know. Will look into it further. Just as an update for you: The Note 7 pulls the same amount of power off of a Quick Charge 3.0 charger as it does off of its included Adaptive Fast Charger, which is only rated at 9V/1.67A — or Quick Charge 2.0 speeds. We'll continue to test :)
  • Apparently, there's a 25W charger that Samsung has. 12V/2.1A
  • That's weird. Even Quick Charge 3.0 is a max of 18W, so IDK what they're doing there. But like I said, plugging a Note 7 into a Quick Charge 3.0 charger yields the same charge rate as its in-box QC 2.0-compatible charger. So this one's not pulling QC 3.0 rates.
  • Hmm, guess it's QC 2.0, then.
  • USB-C is not worthless. By having the largest Android OEM finally begin to adopt this standard, it should finally start bringing cables and other USB-C accessories down in price due to increased supply and demand. It's also more resilient than the micro USB connector. There is also the pen, which quite a few Note users love! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Especially if you have meaty fingers. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nah it's a expensive upgrade with no benefits. No reason to have it if it doesn't support Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and I doubt data transfers will be better than usb 2.0. Why waste money upgrading chargers etc. when you get no benefits? Usb C won't be mainstream for at least 3-6 years from now
  • The plug itself is a benefit since it's reversible and sturdier
  • 3-6 years? are you crazy?
  • So you wouldn't get it because it uses USB-C?
  • It's been on new computers for over a year now, and is how most new tablets and ultra books charge, as well as the port on most high end phones. I'd say it is already the standard. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Intel has already decided to make thunderbolt 3 and USB-C compatible with each other. So USB-C is pretty much the standard now. Expect to see more of it on products in the next couple of years.
  • ha ha ha ha 3-6 years. In 3-6 years as fast as tech moves, we'll probably be onto USB type E
  • How'd that work for USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt/DisplayPort? I think people are overvaluing this. Using USB-C is not much different, practically, than Apple using a Lightning port at this point. My experience, as an iPhone use, is that it's extremely inconvenient. We had to pull over on the interstate last weekends that I could get my charging cable out of my bag in the trunk because all the car chargers were mUSB. To Samsung's credit, they did put the necessary dongles in the packaging. I do wonder how long it will take the average person to lose those, though.
  • USB-C devices can use the free USB Fast Delivery (not sure about the name) to provide Quick charge fast speeds without having to pay a licence fee to Qualcomm. Like the current Nexii.
    It's a fantastic port and thank you Samsung for finally using it. Now everyone's gonna use it and people will finally stop whining about it. I'd be glad if the USB-A side of the cable used USB-C as well. Baby steps, I guess.
  • So?
  • You seemed to forget the one feature that's exclusive to the Note series of phones. The thing that makes people mostly want this phone.
  • You should actually look at one.
  • You forgot to mention the S Pen, the defining feature of the Note line and reason many purchase them. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The reason most people purchased the Note was because it was the start of the new generation of devices, in the current generation. Typically, they'd come with better SoC, improved camera, improved screen Also, 3rd party app support for the S Pen continues to be somewhat disappointing. It's not something I bought Notes for. I used the S Pen basically as a finger (very useful if you had thick gloves on and still needed to operate the phone!). I bought it for the higher end specs. It was a clearly better phone than the Galaxy S, not just a bigger version with a digitizer and pen... There are material benefits to it, like the increases storage and Iris Scanner (that I'd never use, personally), but that simply isn't enough to get me to plop down this kind of cash on the phone. Now, if Samsung had high quality software that allowed my Note to interact with my PC the way an iPhone does with a Mac, it would have been a no brainer (no, I don't want to operate a virtual phone screen on my desktop... but thanks!).
  • In the display section it says "You also have the curving of the screen on both sides, something of course introduced back on the Galaxy S6 edge but has been done much more subtly on the Note 5." I think you meant Note 7 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Correct! Got it. (6000 words, I was bound to have a misstep.)
  • Great review btw :)
  • The way I see it, the Note7's main chops are in software this time around. Feels like this is exactly what DJ Koh stated earlier about Samsung wanting to focus more on software, as from my perspective, it blends capable hardware with more software chops, all wrapped up in a beautiful design. I think it's safe to say that the Galaxy Note7 has toppled the Galaxy S7 edge as my current favorite device of 2016, so much so that I've decided to get one as my new daily driver to replace a dying LG G4. As for the iris scanner, the way I see it, it's more of a supplement to a refined fingerprint sensor. There's limited use-cases for the iris scanner right now and in the lock screen, if you have both an iris and fingerprint set up, the phone actually mentions "fingerprint" first before "iris". I still think it's a party trick, but maybe that might change once I play around with mine. Good job Samsung on the 2016 flagships. Please keep it up.
  • Ya know the story of the G4 in general is a damn shame. It was so close to perfection but the software just wasn't really there. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It wasn't really the software that killed it for me as time went on. LG UX may not be universally regarded as "pretty", but it's not abhorrently obnoxious. It's the general reliability. From bootloop issues with 2015-manufactured batches to touchscreen issues to heating stuff, I just think that the G4 is a bit of a black-eye for LG. The intial QC issues on the G5 also came at a bad time, when the scar from the G4's issues still hasn't been recovered from. I'm seriously hoping that the V20 can help bring LG back on track. Samsung may be the undisputed king of Android in terms of sales and market share, but we need competition.
  • I agree, I hope for the best for the V20 Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm going to postpone my decision to see what LG does with the V20...if it still has a removable battery I'll get it, but if it is sealed also I might go back to Samsung. I want to know if Skype makes the Note 7 hot or does it work well?
  • Let's hope for the best with the V20.
  • Yeah, overheating while videoing my daughters wedding then shutting off did me in.
  • Why does the scanner have to be a party trick? I think the real usage comes into play in cold weather or when your hands are wet and the fingerprint sensor won't read it initially. You're certainly entitled to your opinion and I hope this doesn't come across as hostile. I like having it than not having it just for those reasons.
  • Yeah, those are useful case scenarios. And I am definitely open to changing my mind once I play around with mine. From the looks of most reviews I've read, the iris scanner doesn't seem to be a complete disaster unlike many of Samsung's earlier attempts. It actually seems to work well enough.
  • Samsungs software has been vastly improving. So much so it has replaced nova launcher prime as my go to.
  • I agree. TouchWiz has come a long way. Once ridiculed for its design and gimmicks plus some messy performance, it has really cleaned up nicely now.
  • Not really Posted via the Android Central App
  • Cmon now I'm a nexus fanboy as much as the next guy but go out and use a gs7. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah, really. People who say it hasn't are the same people who could never articulate why they didn't like it in years past. They just hated touchwiz because everyone else did and they don't want to let go of their first opportunity to feel cool.
  • No, not really. For starters they still have their performance issues with snapdragon chipsets. The G5 with the same hardware smokes the S7 edge in side by side comparisons. A bunch of people on AC have also said the G5 is significantly faster in their experience. Then there's Samsungs crappy default UI aesthetics. Not as relevant because of the theme engine, but those icons, oh my god. Horrific. Too many white light blue backgrounds too. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah, the default look isn't up to my personal taste, but Samsung has done good in putting a nice theme engine that now supports third-party icon packs, so I don't really mind. Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for LG to do the same, while also reducing the DPI on their UI.
  • 9ers is a samsung troll. they could put stock android on it and he'd still find a reason to hate on it.
    he must hate on every single samsung article on this site. something is always better than samsung to him.
    Funny that he clicks on and comments on every Samsung article but yet he "hates" everything samsung does.
    Doesn't matter that the samsung still have 900 features the nexus doesn't, but he thinks its supposed to run like a nexus AND have those features..... duh.
  • How about you're quit ur sniveling...you little biznatch Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yup. I was expecting the worst when I switched back to TouchWiz coming from a Nexus when I got my S7. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that TouchWiz has zero lagg now and works buttery smooth. I still prefer Nova Launcher though. Just can't let go lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Maybe I missed it, but why wasn't the audio performance covered this review (or is that not really that important anymore)? But nice job on the device overall. I would have liked to see a larger capacity battery and the battery life that corresponds to the increased capacity. Just my opinion here, but with the job that Samsung has done with the S series and Note series, I doubt they will ever be outdone. They have the combination of devices and release timing that will overshadow other manufacturers offerings year-round (Galaxy S first, followed by Galaxy note). They dominate in carrier stores and retail stores, online reviews, comparison test, overall sales, opinions of the general consumers, opinions of tech reviewers, etc. I think it's game over for the Android market for the most part. Samsung cannot be outdone by anyone when looking at the big picture. It's not a matter of other manufacturers stepping their game up, because no matter what it won't be enough. When other manufacturers improve or innovate, it's always things people don't care about or downplay. So their (other manufacturer) making of a "better" device by interpretation or facts, can never sway the mindset of the average consumer away from Samsung. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I agree, 2016 belongs to Samsung and nothing is going to change that this year. Hope competition comes back in 2017. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You got that right Posted via the Android Central App
  • Unfortunately the review can never cover everything, and some things have to be left behind that aren't notable to the experience one way or the other. I'm far from an audio geek (we have a couple of those around here, though), but I found nothing about the Note 7's audio experience, either wired or from the speaker, that had an effect on my view of the phone. Headphone audio was just fine, and the speaker is still small and not that great. That's all there is to say here from my POV. Now, perhaps Jerry would take a swing at what he thinks of the audio — that's something that actually would hold weight :)
  • Thanks for the cliff notes :-) I was wondering if they had made any significant progress in the audio department (not that it was ever bad). I'm also curious about how well the Note 7's microphones perform, particular during video/voice recording etc. But excellent job on the review. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I read somewhere on AC that the IP68 water resistance affects the sound negatively just somewhat
  • It's very possible that the extra layer of waterproofing doesn't help the speaker quality ... but the speaker is pretty basic to start with, so I doubt it makes a big difference.
  • Most people use headphones anyway.
  • That would be unnecessary waste of time for him :)
    I guess, we can't have it all in a phone.
    Since Note 3 , Samsung can't figure out louder speaker,but it's a worth considering how much it's packed in that device. vzw Moto XPE/N7
  • Well, I don't think it's game over....yet. Remember that phones like the OnePlus 3 are a thing. They may not pack in the same amount of features as a Note7, nor are they even as good as one. But for a lot of people, having a phone that has 85+% of a high-end phone experience for like 60% of the price is hugely appealing. In the high-end market, though, seems like Samsung (and Huawei) is still the remaining Android contender.
  • Yes, that's what I forgot to emphasise. The high-end market is what I was mainly referring to. Thanks for mentioning that. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sadly, I must agree that Samsung is the king until someone proves us wrong!
  • Nice job Andrew. Mine is pre-ordered already. Great to see that it appears the Note 7 is a winner.
  • Wifey's mind was made up weeks ago that this was the phone she wanted(S-Pen). The more I see and hear about it, the bigger the threat I see coming to my bank account. I consider myself manufacturer agnostic when it comes to smartphones, but **** Samsung, good work. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Alot of women love the large screen note and s pen. I think women use the spen more than men. hehe
  • Well she uses a cheap stylus for her S5 and was always intrigued by my Note 3 when I had that until a few months ago. As much as she plays pool and Bubble Witch, I'm sure that S-Pen will rack up some milage quickly. Posted via the Android Central App
  • S-pen for gaming brings a huge advantage. I tried to play skyforce reloaded on a regular phone and i could barely pass a level. I played it with my s-pen and i was a certified ace pilot.
  • Yeah, it made it a lot easier for me when I played Plague Inc...also whenever I read books and needed to look up a word that I wasn't familiar with. Way easier to select text with the S-Pen. Posted via the Android Central App
  • S-Pen and Skyforce is the absolute S*&t. I killed it at that game. All my fat fingered friends were so P.O.'d when I raced past them points and level wise! What sucks is there a a bunch of games it won't work for :(
  • I have to give this a try!
  • I was thinking about that recently. I'm one of those nosey dorks who pays attention to which devices strangers are using (I have a lot of time to kill in airports), and I noticed a long time ago that a significant majority of the people I see using Notes are women. I see women using the S-Pen occasionally, but I'm hard pressed to think of a time when I've seen a man using it. That's interesting, because I don't recall any of the advertising that I've seen for the Note series being gender-targeted at all, and I don't think the S-Pen lends itself to activities that you'd consider "traditionally feminine" in any significant way.
  • That's an interesting observation...I never paid attention to it myself, but I'm curious to know. Posted via the Android Central App
  • While working for Verizon I actually noticed that too, 60 to 70% of Note sales went to women, partially because they had a purse to carry it in and partially because the pen made it easy to use with long finger nails. This was of course before most phones blew up in size. Posted via the Android Central App
  • This is the biggest "Android release" of the year? Really?
  • Uhhhhh yeah what don't you get? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Android is an operating system, not a phone. I swear Android users are the stupidest ******* people on the internet. This is a Samsung release, not an operating system release. Please learn to separate the two and stop lumping phones and operating systems together as the one in the same.
  • Um, the Note7 runs Android. So it counts as an Android-powered device. Which makes it relevant in the Android world.
  • No ****? The Note 7 runs Android? GTFO!!! I had no idea. Now if you pay attention to the first part of the video where he says it's the biggest Android release of the year and just try to understand what I initially said, it might sink in where I make the distinction about devices versus operating systems... Try hard.
  • Well, if you stop and think about it, he's not wrong. It's an Android device, one that's going to be insanely popular anyway, and likely more-so than a new version of the Android OS. As a whole, the Note7 (and pretty much any Samsung flagship) is a huge deal in the Android world. Android isn't just an OS. It's a platform, and also its own ecosystem.
  • This is where you plant your flag? Posted via my G5
  • Yeah that escalated quickly
  • Android release as in android phone release. Calm down take a deep breath
  • No, an Android release would be the release of Android 7.0. Not a phone. Does anyone say that the new Dell desktop is the biggest Windows release of the year? Please try a little bit of reading comprehension. It goes a long way.
  • To be fair, no one would quantify Dell as having the biggest "anything" ever... Windows desktops aren't a good comparison to smart phones, in that I can buy a Dell (to your point) and load a variety of operating systems agnostic of the hardware. Mobile devices aren't setup that way...an Android device is always going to be an Android device, and so is an Apple device (and let's not discuss Blackberry or Windows Phone because they just don't matter). To this point, I believe the largest selling Android device has a right to claim "the biggest Android release" - even if there is a new OS debuting this year. It's really only the Nexus guys that'll get that...and there's not enough of them to really matter....
  • I used Dell as an example.
  • Well...good. But you do get the point right? A PC can be loaded with multiple OS's - Mobile devices...cannot.
  • You're losing points because you come off as a total jack a**
  • This is a very weird thing to get this upset about, man. Are you okay? Do you need a hug?
  • I've been saying for years that people need to separate the device from the OS to no avail. People eventually make stupid comments like Android is better when talking about a specific device. Do you understand? Or like the reviewer in this video who can't make the distinction between a phone and an operating system. He should have said it's the biggest Samsung release in a year. I've been looking at stuff like this for a long time. I've never seen a desktop review of a certain manufacturer running Windows and the reviewer said this new desktop or laptop is the biggest Windows release of the year. Have you ever seen stuff like that? I'm just harping on bad journalism here. I was an analyst in the Navy for 20 years so spotting this stuff and being precise is important to me.
  • But only to you. No one else cares and you don't need to be a tool. Move on!
  • Relax. People refer to their phones as Androids. Dam Posted via the Android Central App
  • You're not interpreting that statement correctly, you should really think hard before you call a whole group of people stupid, especially when it is you who is having reading comprehension problems.
  • People who say Android is an operating system are just as bad. Being condescending and unnecessarily pedantic work better when the things you say are correct. Android is source code for an application framework and a complete middleware package. The code includes a basic user interface and software support for numerous communication standards. If you build this source code, it will not run on actual hardware without additional software. There is no Android operating system — there are hundreds of different operating systems that are built using the Android source.
  • What else would be bigger (except maybe the GS7)?
  • Yes, just like the new iPhone will represent the biggest IOS of the year. An OS is nothing without the devices that support it. Since Samsung is the largest distributor of Android devices, I think the correlation is fair. Pursuing a semantic win here isn't doing you any favors...
  • So according to you, semantics doesn't matter? Things like punctuation don't matter? What a sad sad state of affairs in the education system.
  • Okay, I give up...Angry old guy, be angry...hope that works out well for you. I'd rather work toward understanding someones viewpoints rather than arbitrarily criticize, but here's hoping that works out for you. I hope your world is full of joy, up there on that pedestal...
  • Or correct usage of words like "don't" vs "doesn't"..
  • You get that we refer to Android phones as "Androids" right? As in, the biggest Android release is the biggest Android phone release.
  • Well you shouldn't. It's wrong. It's a smartphone running the Android operating system. Please learn to understand this. When the LG V20 gets released, will you also call that the biggest Android release of the year? It's bad journalism. Please learn to distinguish a device from the operating system. They are not the same thing.
  • You think they don't know this? Do you think you know everything and they don't? They have been doing this longer than you have been pitching a ***** on mobile nations. Posted via the Android Central App
  • If they know it, then say it.
  • Why do you care?
  • You seriously can't be this spun up over this. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Again, Android isn't just an OS. It's a platform and ecosystem. There's a reason we generalize every device running Android as "Androids" or "Android devices".
  • Then go to a different forum. You're wasting our time
  • Not sure if I'm more thrown off by just how extremely upset you are over this distinction, or your assertion that I don't know the difference between a phone and an operating system.
  • That guy was a post away from a complete Walter White meth lab meltdown. Posted via the Android Central App
  • As sadly....we don't have a good tablet release to stand on :*(
  • Yeah, android is dead on the tablet front. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Well, tablets as a whole are basically on a decline. Especially since large phones and tablets running desktop operating systems are a thing.
  • Very true, iPad sales are down a good bit. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah, and Android tablets aren't really healthier either. I guess with phones like the Note7 and Nexus 6/6P, along with the iPhone 6s Plus, not many people need a tablet anymore, especially since laptops are getting more compact.
  • I need mine! It has a better screen than any laptop except the 4ks, 12" screen, half the size of my laptop, double the battery life and no Windows.
  • Both of you are right...it's still just disappointing. As much as I want a Note 7...I want a Note Tab 10.1 2016 edition based on the same design language just as much or more :*(
  • I feel your pain man. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I have an iPad Pro 12.9. Honestly, it's a nice tablet, but it's not a laptop replacement. It has strong hardware but overall, it doesn't really elevate the tablet experience high enough to spin the decline around. That said, it's a good companion to my Note7.
  • That paragraph also sounds a lot like the Pixel C when you get down to it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The Pixel C has the same issue. Android Nougat would make it more useful, but still doesn't do much to justify getting a tablet over a laptop as a primary machine.
  • My tab s2 is pretty awesome, the screen is magnificent!
  • Hey Andrew. Let's just sick Richard Yarrell on this weirdo and watch them melt down on each other!
  • Cool your jets. At what point (semantically speaking since that's what you seem to be harping on) did anyone ever mention "biggest Android release"? In the article, I've seen biggest used in reference to the size of the smartphone, but that's about it. I don't see anywhere it say" biggest Android release".
  • And this is why I keep coming back here after switching to iPhone more than a year ago. The entertainment here is golden. iMore is boring.
  • Yep
  • I have a passport that says I'm Irish, so I didn't need to be scanned anyway.
  • Crickets
  • No. It's true ! :)
  • Fantastic Posted via the Android Central App
  • Just too big a phone to hold on a daily basis and not compelling enough to leave my S7. But I think I can safely say I'll never purchase a 5.7 inch screen device. I can work my phone one handed quite easily Posted via the Android Central App running on my Galaxy S7
  • Grow bigger hands! Worked for me.
  • Have you held it? It seems small to me.
  • Wow this was a long one. With such an in depth review. You left out audio which is an important part of what makes a complete phone. I still believe samsung with the 820 dac falls far behind in that area.
    I remember long back on the AC podcast. I asked the cast if they could see that samsung was going to kill next year. I think you guys all thought i was crazy back then, I tried to explain with samsung becoming leaders in screens , ram, socs, cameras and more. Looks like my predictions came true.
  • Note 7!!!! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Note 7 on the way couldn't pass up on it . The blue just kills it was a fan of the black but went blue in the end Posted via my gs7 edge are my note 5 the beast
  • It is really interesting to see Android enthusiasts complain about the price of this phone. As stated in many articles, there is such a selection of Android phones to purchase at various prices. This is considered high end AND they continue to compare to Apple. Apple's devices are expensive (IMO) and don't have the storage capacity in its base model to ever compete, yet their customers continue to buy regardless of price.
  • I don't know WHAT it is,this phone looks the exact same as the others besides a few minor details. Yet it is just the sexiest phone I've ever seen. I'm not overly crazy about the s7 edge,but for some reason this one just looks fantastic. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's the refinement in design. I have the s7 edge and it looks nice but the similar looking note 7 looks fantastic
  • Andrew has a way of making any one want a flagship Samsung. Graat review last year of the Note 5 and it's screen, and now I badly want one of these. Only time and money will tell if I can recreate my past Note 3 j'oy of ownership' again. :)
  • I know what you mean. I held on to my Note 3 for dear life until this past June. The 6P is nice and all, but it was always meant to hold me over until something else caught my attention. I think the Note 7 will make me smile enough. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I always try to do the phone justice. Thanks!
  • How many units did you review? I'm afraid this review means nothing if you didn't review an adequate sample size.
  • Usually, each reviewer gets one review unit. However, it's not uncommon to have multiple reviewers working in the same company to have their own review unit. Android Central is no exception, especially since the other editors post their own thoughts on a device some time after a device is out.
  • Whaa? Since when does a review need to be based on a "sample size?"
  • He's joking about Phil's "article" a while back Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah not sure how often we (or any other site) will have multiple phones to be able to review ... simultaneously.
  • He's busting your balls Andrew lol. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Oh, the Consumer Reports thing?
  • Yep
  • lol.
  • New owners will gush over this. A month later, the "when are we getting Nougat" refrain will begin. That'll go on for another few months, followed by the bugs/issues threads. Groan. Wish this released next month with 7.0. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Problem is Apple will be releasing 7 next month.
  • Exactly. The phone was launched in August (even in the US for once), so it gets some buzz before iPhone dominates things for the rest of the year. 
  • Been playing around with the note 7. Very nice feel to it compared to my note 5. Was considering getting it in place of my note 5 but after rooting and custom kernel blah blah it's brought new life to my note 5 so I'll stick with it a bit longer. Note 7 is super super nice though. Note 5 - deodexed rom with twisted kernel v2
  • Note 5 is a beast rooted. You should go one step further and install the note 7 port rom. You will basically have a note 7 software wise.
  • Yeah it's just finding support for mine. I have the sprint n920p so. There's not alot of support for my model haha. Like 4 kernels and 4 mm roms? Not much support... But with all my tweaks dialed in this thing runs like a freaking dream. Battery life is insane and so is performance. Note 5 - deodexed rom with twisted kernel v2
  • Nice... Time to add xposed for no in app ads or any ads and full screen immersion mode :)
  • The way those edges bend into the device, giving the appearance of sides without bezel, is gorgeous. So much better than my S7 Edge, and gives the Note a look no other smartphone can match Imo. I can see now why it may become standard on their phones. Posted via the Android Central App
  • "To dismiss the Galaxy Note 7 out of hand (or ... in your hand?) simply because it bares an initial resemblance to the Galaxy S7 edge is taking the easy route. Samsung has simply improved this metal-and-glass design with each iteration — this is the largest generation-to-generation design change yet, and easily the best executed as well." No, it is taking the ACCURATE route. Which you dealt with by taking the tactic commonly used by political campaigns, PR people, advertisers etc. of ignoring a negative valid comparison in favor of a positive but irrelevant one. "Ignore the fact that my chocolate ice cream is no different from my competitor's chocolate ice cream and focus instead on how much better my chocolate ice cream tastes than my competitor's broccoli!" You are paying $850 for a bigger version of a 6 month old phone that probably won't receive Android 7.0 until January. Which will be a mere few weeks before the S8 launches with 6 GB of RAM, a 4K screen and a bunch of other new specs that most of you are claiming that no one wants or needs anyway. But hey ... it has USB Type C, right? AND if you act now you can get last year's Tizen smartwatch for free! (Not the LTE version mind you.) Seriously, Samsung fans are beginning to become more and more like iPhone fans in being apologists and loyalists for products that cost an arm and a leg instead of demanding either innovation for the high prices or a price drop for the stagnation.
  • Um, I don't think the release of a device's successor automatically makes said device perform like a pig. Innovation is more than just increasing resolution and upping the memory count. Frankly, that's already expected every year. And frankly, with mobile hardware pretty much reaching a plateau, there's little to innovate in the mobile hardware front that results in a significant improvement in general day-to-day usability. Sure, a 3840x2160 display and 6GB of RAM would be nice, but if you didn't know that a phone had those, would you notice a difference between another device? Likely very little unless you're part of a small group of users who constantly push their devices to its very limits. Frankly, these days, where phone manufacturers will have to innovate in is in the software department, because that's pretty much one of the few ways where they can still stand out, given how similar general phone hardware has become.
  • And quite frankly we are seeing diminishing returns on cpus in the mobile space and even the desktop space. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Desktop and laptop CPUs have already reached an area of incremental gains, where performance increases and efficiency gains are fairly minimal. Like users who have a Core i7 3770K might not need a 6700K unless they want better overclocking. Mobile hardware is reaching or has already reached a plateau. Try using a Nexus 6 on 2014 hardware. Chances are, it'll still perform very well in daily use, even though it "only" has an 805 and "only" has 3GB of RAM. More is definitely nice to have. But at this point in time, it is really not needed for general use. I mean, have you ever stopped to consider why an iPhone 6s performs well even with "only" 2-cores and "only" 2GB of RAM? It's because even though it only has 2-cores, each core has lots of muscle, and iOS doesn't see 2GB as "little" in how it handles background tasks. Oh, it also has PCI-E-based flash storage. Not fanboying the iPhone here, but it's something to think about, even though it's not an Android phone. Let's not forget the OG Moto X. Still the one phone that brings home the message of "specs don't matter".
  • Hell ya I have a nexus 6 still rocking like a champ Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's still plenty capable in 2016. Shows just how far even 2014 hardware can go.
  • Ummm...don't buy it?
  • Is it possible to put the S pen backin backwards like last year or have they fixed that? Posted via Android Central App
  • It's fixed. Trying to put it in backwards will cause it to stop going in any further from the clicking part.
  • Nope it's all good now. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Fixed!
  • I still don't know how people could put it in backwards without getting poked...
  • I agree it was completely unnatural feeling to put it in backwards, and I don't blame Samsung for not thinking of it ahead of time. But after it was revealed to be an "issue," yeah they had to fix it.
  • I've seen the Note 2, 3, and 4 pens shoved in backward and with enough force to break the phone. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I pre-ordered 2 blue note 7s yesterday for my wife and I. Hoping to get them buy Friday. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Basically all reviewers seem to be gushing over the Note 7. I haven't seen a response to a phone be this positive for... Ever? Posted via the Android Central App
  • It does what it does well, and does so without mods and headphone jack omissions. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The only other one I can think of is the Nexus 6P. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yep and the 5X WAS the complete opposite Posted via the Android Central App
  • S7/S7E, 6P, Note 5....
  • They were all very positive for sure, but not as positive as this in my recollection. The 6P was received very positively, but people said the camera was slower and not quite as good as the G4 or the S6. With the Note 5 there were complaints about the lack of SD card. Also the whole not being available in Europe thing (ask Alex) The S7 was very very positive with very few complaints, but I recall some said the glass scratched quite easily, and people complained of accidental touches on the Edge version. The theme of most reviews for the Note 7 seems to be "This phone isn't perfect, but it's closer than ever". I mean, even The Verge seem to love it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'll agree with that Posted via the Android Central App
  • I felt the same, more or less, about the Galaxy S7. Still think it's a better choice for those who don't want a big phone.
  • I agree
  • You're very agreeable today! Lol
  • Moto Z this year. Definitely overrated phone, among the most overrated phones ever. For no specific reason. So much to the extent that it makes all those positive reviews seem like they were paid. Posted via the Android Central App on my Zuk Z1. Loving it.
  • Iris Scanning is a big deal being as I constantly see issues with our card scanners to get into our secure buildings and no issues with those buildings using the Iris Scanner - Right now I have zero stuff to hide but I do like the option of using it to unlock and lock my phone. Not having to take off gloves or have dry hands just to use my phone is going to be great
  • I'm not one that dotes on a phone's appearance but that black on black is gorgeous.
  • I was just wondering how lowering the phone's resolution works. Since they claim lowering the resolution will improve battery life, do you think it will also improve performance?
    I've personally never felt the need of 2k resolution on a phone, so yeah. If anyone has any info on this, could you please share?
  • Huawei phones have done this traditionally, and while I kinda think it's an odd feature, it definitely does work as intended. Basically the phone outputs imagery at a lower digital resolution, even though the screen physically has more pixels than what it's receiving from the system. That means the CPU and GPU don't have to work nearly as hard to drive the whole thing. It saves battery, and sure it also increases performance. The savings aren't gigantic, which is why I wouldn't just leave it enabled all the time, but if you're flipping on Power saving mode anyway I think it's a fine compromise.
  • I like that the "negative" colum has zero negatives for me. Nice review!
  • Too expensive!
    I will stick with the ZTE Axon 7...great phone and a great price!
  • Enjoy!
  • The real question is "do all the holes line up?". Isn't that what we need answered first and foremost? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Good you pointed that out.gotta zoom in and check for the perfect alignment b4 shopping. Hope all cuts and holes are at the center of all axis- otherwise no buy! If they don't pay close attention to that , how can I trust them with my eyes while being scanned by Iris? They could easily turn those sensors into infra red lamps and burn my Retina ! :)) vzw Moto XPE/N7
  • Some of actually use these devices for communicating via calls.....like dozens of times a day for work! Any input on the call quality of the earpiece or bottom speaker for actually communicating?
  • Pull yourself out of 2009/2010. It's all good now. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The phone makes calls. They sound like every other phone from the past two years. /thread
  • That's something I have been saying forever. No matter how feature rich a phone is, one should always ask and mention it's very basic feature i.e, call quality. Both ear piece and signal reception Posted via the Android Central App on my Zuk Z1. Loving it.
  • Not sure I get the significant advantage of high grade 7000 series aluminium for extra strength and making it less prone to warping. It's the broken glass that would make the device economically un-repairable. Just sayin'
  • Basically the issue is that the aluminum is more flexible than the glass, meaning in a stressed situation, the metal will bend while the glass will not. SO if you can make the metal harder to bend, there's a chance that the phone will stay intact because both the metal and glass are rigid.
  • Ah! If the structure underneath bends, the glass is more likely to break! Makes sense I guess. Who knew ? :) Good explanation. You're excused, carry on. And thanks :D
  • Glad I have your approval, sfoLAX
  • LOL - Just the way we josh over here, obviously.
    Thanks for explaining. Still would get a case though, GG5 or not. Also thanks for going through all these (sometimes painful) comments and giving extra input.
    Much appreciated!
  • It seems odd to review a PHONE.....but not mention any of the PHONE portions of the device. Obviously it's a multimedia / computer but some of us really do use it to communicate in a meaningful way with others with our voices!
  • Call quality is going to vary so much between carriers and locations, there's no way that Andrew using a T-Mobile phone in Seattle would be able to rate how well your calling experience on (for instance) Verizon in New York is going to be. Even on the same carrier in the same city, the quality can vary based on which tower you're connected to and how congested the network is. TL/DR: it makes calls. How good those calls are will vary.
  • I think he was thinking more in terms of call quality at the handset level (earpiece/mic quality, noise cancellation performance, etc.). I think we've just reached a point where no news is good news in that regard. If a phone has crappy voice output or something, it'll obviously be in the review, but we can just assume it works well as a phone if it's not mentioned. That said, a note about speakerphone quality would be nice, since that does still vary pretty significantly from phone to phone.
  • This
  • No US carrier unlocked- it's apparent sammy is still kowtowing to their carrier overlords. Samsung, Korean for "missing balls"
  • All Verizon smartphones come factory unlocked.
  • That's true, however keep in mind that the phone will possibly/probably not have all the bands that the other carriers use- thereby rendering it somewhat useless. My prior Note 5 N920V fit this scenario- it was missing bands for AT&T and TMob and of course wouldn't work at all on Sprint. Whereas my HTC 10 and my sons Nexus 6P will work across all these carriers with complete band coverage.
  • I'll also add why in the world would a consumer hamstring themselves on a buying a premium phone for nearly $1k that they know damn well won't allow them to take their phone with them when they see a better carrier plan! Just because Sammy doesn't want to disturb it's carrier overlords!? Ridiculous!
  • i'm really curious how much of a difference when it comes to the 2 different chip snap dragon and exynos chip especially on the battery. I really wish Samsung shipped Exynos for Canada.
  • The biggest Android release of the year!! Yeah, I said it! Might cry two tears in a bucket, Fu#k it! Take it to the stage!! Posted via the Android Central App
  • My interest has been peaked Posted via the Android Central App
  • Really? My interest has been piqued, actually.
  • Lol
  • Andrew, did you try spoofing the Iris scanner with a photo of yourself? I remember you and Jerry talking about that on the podcast. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Jaime did over at Pocketnow
  • Samsung does it again. Seriously, the only two things stopping me from getting one of these right now is the high price and the time it will get updates. Their phones since the past few years have been lookin pretty awesome. I would probably stick with Nexus if I had to choose between most Android devices and having the latest OS is pretty great, but I think I might make an exception for Samsung. I'd upgrade every two years so missing out on one new OS for a phone this amazing could very well be worth it!
  • "You'll find a USB-C to Micro-USB adapter in the box with your Note 7, and Samsung has released a new version of its Gear VR headset that adds (among other features) a swappable plug that lets it work with both old and new Galaxy phones." A very commendable move by Samsung. One of the (many) reason I abandoned the fruity firm was how when they introduced the lightning cable they didn't do the same for those of us with a myriad of 30-pin leads, docks and such. Posted via the Android Central App