Samsung Note7 hands-on review – smaller than it seems, but do we need the iris scanner? – EFTM
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Samsung Note7 hands-on review – smaller than it seems, but do we need the iris scanner?

easily a flagship contender - but for me the iris scanning is a gimmick

I said it when it was launched, the Samsung Note7 is a solid indicator to what’s happening in 2017 for Samsung, and having used it now for a little while, I think it’s a sensational device from a company that really seems to be finding their groove.

Samsung dropped the ball in 2015.  2016 started well with the S7 and it ends very well with the Note 7.

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It’s a clean design, great materials and an overall great look. And the Iris scanner is an impressive feature – more on that shortly.

Device is a big screen at 5.7 inches, but it doesn’t feel that big.  Though trust me – its a big phone. Big.

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Battery life disappointed me a touch, certainly not more than a full work day using it all the time, so nothing impressive despite it’s size.

But how does it benchmark against Samsung’s own thoughts?   Samsung has made a big deal of these ten features – so let me tell you what I think of each.

IP68 rating (capable of withstanding a depth of one metre for 30 minutes)

“You never know when you’ll need to use your phone, so the Galaxy Note7 offers IP68 protection for both the smartphone itself and its accompanying S Pen. With IP68 protection you can use your smartphone no matter the conditions.”

This surely has to be the new standard.  Samsung brought back waterproofing to the S7 after ditching it in the S6. Regardless, they are back on track.  Why should this business phone be any different.  Good call Samsung

Camera

“With a 12MP Dual Pixel Sensor that coordinates with a brighter F1.7 lens and larger 1.4µm pixels, the Galaxy Note7 offers incredible performance in low light, while its lightning fast auto focus ensures that you are able to capture even the most fleeting moment. Combined with its 4K video shooting capabilities and IP68 rating, the Galaxy Note7’s camera is ready whenever you are.”

It’s fast, app loads fast, shutter is fast and the photos are crisp.  But in reality, it’s a huge phone which makes using it as a camera less than optimal.  That said, you won’t be disappointed with the photos and videos you take

HDR screen

“High Dynamic Range represents the future of premium video content, and the Galaxy Note7 is capable of streaming and displaying this new frontier of video output. With its stunning 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display, the Galaxy Note7 is future-proofed for any content you care to throw at it, and offers a premium viewing experience whether at home, at work, or on the commute.”

Why?  Really, do we notice that much? I think this is just Samsung and others pushing the HDR bandwagon further than it needs to go.  Keep it simple, make it bright that’s all that matters.  Marketing gimmick in my view.

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Samsung Smart Switch

“Samsung Smart Switch offers the ability to seamlessly transfer music, clips, photos, contacts, and messages from old compatible smartphones to the Galaxy Note7.”

Good inclusion, and one that will get many people over the line at the last hurdle of decision-making

Expandable storage

“The more we use our smartphones, the more they need to be capable of storing a wide variety and large volume of content. The Galaxy Note7 ensures you’ll never be short of space for work or play, with 64GB of internal storage and up to 256GB of expandable memory offering a total of 320GB combined. Samsung is even providing a bonus 256GB microSD memory card for anyone who pre-orders the device, providing Australians with an added value of $299.”

Again, back in the S7, it had to be here too – on the Note more important than ever.  Big screen for viewing movies or TV content on the device from an SD card or keeping and transferring files.  For a business user, a big deal.

The Galaxy Ecosystem

“More than just a smartphone, the Note7 allows users to unlock a galaxy of incredible experiences. It enables you to connect with the new Gear VR, Gear 360, Gear Fit2, Gear IconX, and even the TabPro S. It also provides access to services like Samsung Pay, S Health Samsung Cloud and Samsung Knox.”

Yeah, but not really a huge selling point.  Many of the other devices will work on other Android phones.  But credit to Samsung, the Ecosystem is solid – I just don’t think its a massive part of the decision-making process.

Secure Folder

“While the boundaries between work and life can be blurred, the Galaxy Note7 enables you to keep your files and apps secure with the Secure Folder. This feature can be used to store private information that can only be accessed by you, thanks to Samsung’s defence-grade Knox system and iris scanner. If privacy is of utmost importance, the Galaxy Note7 has you covered.”

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An excellent idea, works well, so easy to use – a real sense of security comes immediately when using this.  Thoughts on Iris later.

Upgraded Always On Display

“With Samsung’s Always On Display, you can receive information at a glance without waking your phone. It’s also smart enough to be automatically disabled when your Galaxy Note7 is placed in your pocket or bag, face down or running a low battery. Taking this feature even further, the Galaxy Note7 now enables you to make and save important notes on its screen using the S Pen without waking the phone.”

A great enhancement, well executed.  Though the ‘lock screen notes’ aren’t really anything other than an invitation for your annoying mates to leave notes on your phone while you duck out to the bathroom?

USB Type-C

“With the Galaxy Note7 you’ll never plug your connector in the wrong way again, thanks to the introduction of the USB Type-C input. The Note7 offers faster data transfer and charging speeds, and Samsung is including a microUSB to USB Type-C adapter in the box with every phone to ease the transition.”

Easily the standard from this point on – we’ll see this in the S8 flagship in 2017, and it’s just an easier to use charging connection, let alone a more versatile port for expansion.

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Iris scanner

“The Galaxy Note7 is the first Samsung smartphone to introduce the iris scanner, a biometric verification method that maximises both security and convenience. By holding the Galaxy Note7 25-35 centimetres from your face, you will be able to unlock your phone, and access secure documents. The complex design of the human eye enables the iris scanner to offer another layer of security.”

Ok, I get it – you made something amazing.  It works very well in most circumstances.  It struggled when I was walking in bright light, and strangely almost always in the car too.

But here’s the thing, it is a slow process.  The Iris scanning if you get it right on the spot – but you have to press home, swipe up THEN Iris scan.  How is that anything exciting?  Implement a touch to open fingerprint just like the Huawei P9 or Oppo R9.  It’s a much smarter way to use biometrics and is snappy to get going and into your phone.

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So – overall?

This is Samsung’s best phone.  The S7 started the run forward for them, but the little things, like USB-C, the improved Always-on screen, and Secure Folder are excellent additions.  Yes, Iris scanning is cool – but only to show off about.

It’s a real indication of where 2017 is going for Samsung, and with Apple set to take a small incremental step forward with its next device, this could see big things for Samsung in 2017.  The Note range though isn’t a top seller for Samsung, so it’s a great way to test the waters and prove and improve some features.

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If you do business, make notes, keep files and this is all done mobile – this is the device for you.

At $1349 – it’s bloody expensive.  Strewth you can get high power laptops for that.  So very hard to justify outright, but lets be honest, people choosing this are on a corporate plan and using device credits from Telcos most likely.

 

Samsung Note7
Date Published: 08/16/2016
With Iris Scanning it's getting lots of attention - but is it really worth it? Great flagship phone
4.5 / 5 stars
Categories
Tech

Trevor produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He has a weekly radio show on 2UE, as well as appearances across the country and regularly provides Technology Commentary to Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave. Like this post? Buy Trev a drink!
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