Samsung Galaxy Note 7 preliminary specs review


The ‘next big thing’ from Samsung is coming earlier this year.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7, the latest phone in the series that started the ‘phablet’ category, is expected to get officially unveiled on August 2nd, with availability following soon after the unveiling.

And what about the Galaxy Note 6? Well, forget about it: Samsung is skipping a generation, jumping from last year’s Galaxy Note 5 straight to the Galaxy Note 7. The likely reason that you’d hear is that Samsung wants to be on the same footing with its Galaxy S series model names, but we suspect that matching its pace with Apple’s iPhone numbers also has something to do with it.

Whatever the reason, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has leaked profoundly over the past few weeks, and we already know a lot about its preliminary specifications and features. Here’s what it should be all about.

Specs in a nutshell:

Galaxy Note 7
with TouchWiz Grace UX
Display5.7-inch Super AMOLED
1440 x 2560-pixel resolution
SoCSnapdragon 821 in the United States
Samsung Exynos 8893 in other markets
Storage64 GB
expandable via microSD cards
Camera12-megapixel f/1.7 with Dual Pixel AF
5-megapixel front cam
Battery3,600 mAh
Extra featuresIris scanner, IP68 water protection

Two different system chips

One thing all rumors agree on is that the Galaxy Note 7 is coming in two different flavors: in the United States, the phone will run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, while in the rest of the world it will be powered by Samsung's own Exynos system chip.

Qualcomm has just recently officially unveiled the Snapdragon 821, and put simply, the chip is a slightly overclocked iteration of the Snapdragon 820. Qualcomm itself admits that it is an in-between step before the next big Snapdragon that should come out next year. Still, given the excellent performance of the Snapdragon 820, the 821 should be more than enough to deliver sufficient oomph. It's a quad-core chip built on the 14nm process and featuring Qualcomm's custom Kryo processor core. It's divided in two clusters with two high-performance cores running at up to 2.4GHz, and two more battery-savvy cores at 2GHz that kick in with apps requiring less power. It also features a slightly beefed up GPU.

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The Exynos 8893, on the other hand, is a chip that is expected to be capable of outperforming the Snapdragon 821. In the current Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, tests have found that the Exynos version performs faster and is more economical, resulting in better battery life. This could also be the case for the Galaxy Note 7, but let's remind you that the difference between the two versions should not be all that significant.

Rumors also mention that the Galaxy Note 7 could come with either 6GB or 4GB of RAM. It seems that 4GB will be enough for the overwhelming majority of users, but the power cost of running more RAM is likely not all that huge and Samsung might go for the publicity as well.

Double that storage: 64GB on board

Samsung doubled the standard 16GB of internal storage for the base model of the Galaxy Note 4 in late 2014, and now, nearly two years after that, it might double internal storage for the base Galaxy Note 7 model again. The latest rumors say the Note 7 will feature 64 gigs of internal storage and support for microSD cards on top of that.

With 4K video and more of our digital lives stored on a phone, having 64GB of storage is a very welcome improvement. Samsung is using the fast UFS 2.0 storage in the Galaxy S7, so we expect the same fast type of storage to be used in the Note 7.

Curved, dual-edge screen

Samsung has slowly, but steadily improved its AMOLED displays and while early AMOLEDs suffered from burn-in and inaccurate, often greenish colors, those issues have been dealt with. The expected 5.7-inch dual-curved panel on the Note 7 is likely to be very similar to the one on the Galaxy S7 Edge, and interestingly, rumors say there will be no flat-screen model of the Note 7 this year.

Will we see the Edge UI, though? Samsung is building an improved version of TouchWiz that rumors have named Grace UX, but we don't know whether it comes with the Edge UI. What it does have is a new look for the icons and a new dropdown menu style that allows easy access to oft-used features.

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Iris scanner

Another interesting new spec on the Galaxy Note 7 is an iris scanner. We've seen those on Lumia Windows Phone devices earlier, but it will be the first time we see an iris scanner on a mainstream Android phone.

Leaks have shown that the iris scanner works as an additional unlocking mechanism: the Note 7 have to be within an arm's length (25-35 cm away) from the user's face with the screen facing towards the fact, so that this could work. The eyes of the user then have to look directly towards the upper part of the screen for a moment while the iris is being recognized.

We don't mind having this additional secure method to unlock the phone, but in our experience it does not work in all situations, and there's always the concern that some particular Government agencies might find a way to get a hold of private data like your iris print.

Improved S Pen functions

"We have improved ‘note’ functions this time, upgrading software for user convenience," Samsung electronics president and mobile chief Dongjin Koh has said. What does that mean? We've seen leaks of a new note-taking application, where you can draw and take notes, and it will replace the multiple apps that were used before.

We could also see a more sensitive S Pen, and we're hoping Samsung will now make it impossible to have your S Pen stuck if you try to plug it in the wrong way.

The rest: 3,600mAh battery and 12MP camera

Rumors also mention 3,600mAh to 4,000mAh battery on the Note 7, and the same 12-megapixel camera that we've previously seen on the Galaxy S7.

That's not a bad thing: battery life on the Galaxy S7 series has been very solid and the camera experience is fast, but we wish Samsung dealt with the annoying oversharpening that's happening on the S7.

Expectations: Price and Release date

Finally, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is expected to arrive earlier. The official announcement is set for August 2nd, and the phone could launch on the very same day.

Prices are also rumored to be the typical for the Galaxy Note series: the base model is expected to start at $800 (800 euro in Europe).

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