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Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Review

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Review

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has been discontinued following numerous reports of units catching fire or exploding. In the interest of safety, users who still have a Note 7 in their possession must return the unit to Samsung.


I don't know how hard it is to build a great smartphone, but market intelligence shows that most companies are failing, so it's got to be pretty hard out there. Samsung, however, is among the very few that have found great success in this business. The company's approach is an elaborate mix of high-powered, in-house produced hardware, multi-layered software that is constantly being rethought and reworked, and resilient marketing efforts, all coming together in progressively likeable products.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Review
While the popular Galaxy S smartphone line is the face of Samsung's mobile business, the company's super-sized Note series has also managed to solidify its presence in the space. Starting out as a bold experiment in 2011, the Galaxy Note devices have improved over the years, proving that yes, there are quite a few people out there who'd love a gigantic screen on their phones. This eventually inspired most of Samsung's competitors, including rival Apple, to also explore the depths of this so-called “phablet” market.

After an unusually lousy 2015, Samsung has returned stronger than ever, it seems, with the successful launch of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge smartphones earlier this year. Now, still riding on that momentum, Samsung is eager to also unleash its new Note 7 – granting it an early start against Apple's upcoming Plus model...

Wait, what? Why Note 7 and not Note 6? Easy: This year, Samsung is willing to align its S and Note lines better, so it's missing the “Note 6” and jumping straight to calling it Note 7. But, if this is going to give you peace of mind, if we count the Note Edge, then the Note 7 is actually the seventh Note in the series, so the name is indeed fitting.


Samsung's design language translates very well to the phablet from-factor

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Review

Samsung is moving fast these days. After it showcased its new glass design language for the first time last year with the S6, it has continued to refine it. First, by introducing gentle curves to the rear glass with the Note 5, and now, by making it more symmetrical all-around with the Note 7.

Viewed from the side, the Note 7 has the same exact curves and shapes towards the front and the rear, which is very aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, Samsung's promise for a balanced, symmetrical design isn't completely fulfilled, as the handset's top bezel is ever so slightly taller than the bottom one. Maybe this will be perfected in the next generation, maybe not. And not to avoid the obvious comparisons with the Galaxy S7 edge, here are the differences: the Note 7 is slightly (but noticeably) wider and taller, with a less pronounced screen curve, which we actually prefer.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Review
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Review

That said, I find the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 to be a very attractive phone overall. Available in 4 shiny colors – light gray, black, gold, and the brand new blue/orange – there's hardly a variant of it that doesn't look fancy. That's especially true for the new two-tone one, called Blue Coral, which combines front and rear glass in light blue with a metal frame in soft orange. Samsung is willing to have a little fun and experiment with color schemes that happen to be out of the norm, and that's a great thing.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Review

Just as its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 7 has the same highly reflective, mirror glass finish that is all nice and shiny, but can quickly get messy due to fingerprints sticking like crazy. To me, that's not a big problem, because I like the unslippery nature of glossy surfaces – it makes the Note 7 easy to handle.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Review
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Review
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Review
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Review
And speaking of handling, the soft, rounded nature of the Galaxy Note 7 definitely helps in terms of perceived dimensions and convenience. However, this is not a phone to be used one-handed, that's for sure. It is definitely on the clunkier side. In fact, it almost slipped out of my pocket once while I was driving, so… yeah, be sure to have some really deep pockets on your clothes, or bring a bag to carry the Note 7 in.

In terms of overall quality of execution, the Note 7 inspires confidence. It's not obsessive, in a way that would see different buttons, speaker grilles, mics and other holes and elements around the metal frame aligned perfectly, but it does feel nice and solid. The volume and power keys are a tad soft when pressed, but not to an annoying extent. The "hidden" capacitive multitasking and back keys surrounding the home button can cause some annoyance at times upon being accidentally pressed, but I do prefer this solution to on-screen navigation keys, as it doesn’t needlessly take up screen space.

A nice thing to know here is that the Note 7’s massive display is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 – the latest and greatest product from Corning, which is designed to withstand drops from the impressive 5.2 feet (1.6 meters). According to specification, the glass should resist cracking even if you drop the phone onto hard, rough surfaces. However, do keep in mind Corning says Gorilla Glass 5 is estimated to survive such drops in up to 80% of the time, which doesn’t sound particularly encouraging. Hopefully, survival rates will be much better with lower drops (5.2 feet is quite high, after all). Samsung has confirmed that the Galaxy Note 7’s back panel is also made from Gorilla Glass 5 – no corner-cutting here. And, just to be sure: please do not mistake this glass for something like Moto's ShatterShield, which is indeed designed to NOT crack, almost no matter how you drop it.

Now, before we continue, there's one other feature we need to talk about, and that's water resistance. This feature returned for the Galaxy S7 series (after being absent from the S6), and thankfully, the manufacturer has found a way to implement it with the Galaxy Note 7 as well. Both the phone itself and the S Pen stylus are IP68 certified, so even if you have the imprudence to drop the Note 7 in up to 5 feet (1.5 m) of water and leave it there for up to 30 minutes, it's likely to survive. Even if you don’t go swimming with your phone, the peace of mind is appreciated.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
6.04 x 2.91 x 0.31 inches
153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9 mm
5.96 oz (169 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Samsung Galaxy Note 5
6.03 x 3 x 0.3 inches
153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm
6.03 oz (171 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches
150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm
5.54 oz (157 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Apple iPhone 6s Plus
6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches
158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
6.77 oz (192 g)

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.


Big, bright, and colorful, the Note 7's AMOLED screen is great for media and reading

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Review

The situation is complex when it comes to color quality with the Note 7’s AMOLED display. Numbers-wise, all is top-notch: the screen is 5.7 inches big (albeit slightly curved towards both edges), the resolution is incredibly high at 1440 x 2560 pixels, so things are pretty much perfect in terms of clarity, but there are some important issues to consider.

We tested two units of the Galaxy Note 7: one was the international version with the Exynos 8890 chipset, and the other was the US version with the Snapdragon 820. The trouble is the two units show considerably different color characteristics. The US version exhibits almost spot-on color balance – it can deliver accurate and authentic colors. Our international unit, however, suffers from undersaturated red, ending up looking cold and greenish. This difference remains as we switch through the different display color modes. We can’t be sure if that is the case with all units out there, but judging from past experience, it probably is.

As always, there’s a number of color modes to choose from, here’s a breakdown:

1. Adaptive: Attempts to optimize screen characteristics depending on the content that you’re viewing. Typically, colors are way too saturated in this mode, so we wouldn’t recommend using it.

2. AMOLED Cinema: Sets the Note 7’s screen to the DCI-P3 color space, which is wider than traditional sRGB. It’s recommended for HDR10 video playback, but more on that in the Multimedia part.

3. AMOLED Photo: Sets the Note 7 to the Adobe RGB color space.

4. Basic: Sets the Note 7’s display to the standard sRGB color space, which should be used in, like, 99% of the time.

Aside from the color balance inconsistencies we mentioned above, it’s also worth noting that the gamma for both the US and the international phones is measured at close to 2.0, causing the screen to appear slightly washed out. To summarize, should you get the US model, color balance and overall authenticity (if you use Basic screen mode) will be top-notch. The international model, however, leaves something to be desired.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 570
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 470
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 493
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 593
View all

  • Options

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 08:04 15

1. TreyTreyTaylor (Posts: 709; Member since: 21 Dec 2010)

Don't know how I feel about 8.7. It's as if the reviews here have no consistency. Having said that 3 more days...

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 08:14 52

7. TreyTreyTaylor (Posts: 709; Member since: 21 Dec 2010)

Even worse. The 4 cons are completely subjective software issues. Iris scanner unreliable is bs. It works in dark and light conditions, and it compliments fingerprint security, not replaces it. Fingerprint sensor is the most nitpicking con of all cause we know that's not a issue and definitely not a con for the phone. Edge screen is personal preference. Some people love the functionality of the edge. Again not a con. Finally, the processing that Samsung uses on its cameras is a tad on the sharp side, but that's nitpicking at best when you have the best mobile cameras on the planet.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 08:23 14

14. Acdc1a (Posts: 363; Member since: 21 Jan 2016)

You can't use the iris scanner as a con as no one else is doing it. What in the hell are you going to compare it to?

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 08:40 2

22. Jimrod (Posts: 1447; Member since: 22 Sep 2014)

Well that doesn't mean it's a great plus either. Just because something has a feature, unless that feature works well it isn't really a particular benefit - the review seems to state it doesn't work well and the existing security methods are better.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 09:12 16

36. Macready (Posts: 1495; Member since: 08 Dec 2014)

"the review seems to state it doesn't work well and the existing security methods are better."

And that's exactly where it falls flat. I used it on a demo model and it worked great, with glasses. Reviews show that it works great even in complete darkness or when using a torch light to shine into the scanner, basically everyone who's used it says it works pretty well. It's more secure than the fingerprint scanner and the comparison list (yes vs no) against the fingerprint scanner in the article is laughable at best.
Where's the factor wet/dirty hands? Fingerprint scanner: no, iris scanner: yes.
Gloves? Fingerprint scanner: no, iris scanner: yes.
Holding the stylus? Fingerprint scanner: no/hard, depending on finger(s) scanned, Iris scanner: yes.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 09:44 1

56. dimas (Posts: 2527; Member since: 22 Jul 2014)

I also tried the iris scanner in the showroom this morning and it was fast. These reviews are just guides and personal opinions so it's better for people to test it before making their own conclusions.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 10:20 6

70. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 14611; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)

But reviews are suppose to be based on personal opinions, it is suppose to be based on facts.

You give an "opinion" when you have only heard of said tech, may have seen sad tech, but haven't actually used said tech.

But when you have the phone in your hand and you are able to use said tech, then your thoughts should be based on facts of using, not opinions.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 11:24

89. KParks23 (Posts: 679; Member since: 13 Oct 2010)

Someone needs to get y'all a wahburger and some French cries geeze... he almost gave it a 9 and this is rayS were talking about just be glad it wasn't a 8 flat!

posted on 17 Aug 2016, 17:23 2

148. cheetah2k (Posts: 1746; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)

Yeah this whole review is bs.

iPA isnt a blogger site. its supposed to be a tech site with constructive reivews not based on personal opinion

It should be like "iris scanner - does it work - yes, does anyone else have it in the current phone line-up - no - "Pro"

Instead its "well i couldnt get it to work because of my lazy eye, and my iphone doesnt have it, so i'd never use it. so its a "Con"

This is why iPA will never make it into the big leagues...

posted on 02 Sep 2016, 10:14

173. Diego! (Posts: 679; Member since: 15 Jun 2009)

I agree. Everything fruit-less is crap and that's the reality here at iPA.

You should check the 'no evil twin' review at GSMArena.com it's way better than this review and it's a profesional one. No biased at all.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 11:21 12

87. Pattyface (Posts: 1646; Member since: 20 Aug 2014)

If it's based on personal opinions then it would be a blogger, this is supposed to be professional with no bias

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 12:16 1

101. dimas (Posts: 2527; Member since: 22 Jul 2014)

But I thought the writer was just a blogger expressing his opinion? And I think this comment will get deleted again.

We can go as scientific as we want reviewing these products but at the end of the day, writers are humans so personal preferences will be affecting them. For me Note 7 is awesome and I'll be purchasing it after reading gsmarena and pocketnow analysis.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 10:18 10

69. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 14611; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)

You claim is false. We've seen videos of the Iris Scanner. We know it works well. Whether its useful to your or not, has nothing to do with how it should be scored.

Example, I personally may not use it. I plan to try it out and just see how it works. But just because I may "personally" find it to be gimmicky and useless, certainly doesn't mean everyone will. I would score it based on the fact it does offer a benefit.

Just because something isn't beneficial to me, doesn't mean it isn't beneficial.

This it has to work well is nothing more than BS. Force Touch by definition sounds like a nice concept, yet no one had implemented in in a useful way. 2 OEM's we have seen witj it so far, have implemented it in a boring useless way because the alternative methods for achieving the same results can be done faster in other ways. Notice I specifically said "Force Touch". Don't get it confused with anything else.

When you are rating a product, it is not suppose to be based on personal preference or bias. It is suppose to be based on the actual spec, what the product was design for, and how well it measure up to that.

Example, the camera has a certain specification. We know that a camera with a certain size aperyure, is suppose to take pictures in low light better. So we test for accuracy of that. We know a camera with a certain sensor size, is expect to take a certain level of quality video/photos, so we test for that.

We know when the battery is a certain size, we expect that it should last a certain amount of time, based on the cell size and features and how well they are optimized.

All of those things fall into a specific spec where bias has no room.

The Iris Scanner doesn't mean bias or preference. The score of it should be based on, its implementation, its usefulness and ease of use and accuracy. That's it. All of those have no room for bias or preference. It's simple, either it works or it doesn't. We've seen videos, we know it works. PA scoring it as a con is bias and based on preference and their insulant hate of Samsung.

After all, that is what you all would say if it was YOUR brand or phone of choice.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 10:36 1

75. Jimrod (Posts: 1447; Member since: 22 Sep 2014)

I didn't claim anything. I haven't seen or used a Note 7 - I was referencing this review and I clearly stated that. Phonearena said it didn't work that well, bring it up with them.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 12:18 1

102. dimas (Posts: 2527; Member since: 22 Jul 2014)

Try going to a samsung showroom, play with the demos then you can decide if it's good for you.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 11:47 1

96. technitude (Posts: 185; Member since: 19 Dec 2013)

I don't think people are saying is a plus (but that's not even my point) . The criticism is of unique features being posted as Cons.

If a phone added a feature where it could translate what pets are saying. Would it be a Con if it doesn't work with fish (the most populous house pet)? Should NASA be considered a failure because their fatality rate is much higher than planes?

The purpose of a Con is to state why you might look at another product. If only one product that offers something, then "Con-ing" it is wrong.

If we want innovation, we need to jump down the throats of people that criticize it.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 09:14 1

37. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)

Of course they can. If it's unreliable or doesn't work, why couldn't they? Your reasoning is ridiculous.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 09:23 4

42. TerryTerius (unregistered)

The Lumia 950 has an Iris scanner. There is something to compare it to.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 14:52

121. Subie (Posts: 1339; Member since: 01 Aug 2015)

Thanks Terry, I was just going to post the same thing. Both 950 models to be exact.

posted on 02 Sep 2016, 10:28

174. Diego! (Posts: 679; Member since: 15 Jun 2009)

So does the Microsoft Lumia 950XL, I own one and it works flawlessly!

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 10:05

65. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 14611; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)

They could compare it to the one on the Surface pro 4. And videos show they work equally as fast.

The SP4 works in total darkness. I am betting the N7 will too, because the sensor uses Infrared.

PA will find any reason to bring a Galaxy S/Note down. They don't want it to score higher than their favorite.

They know that they are biased. Then when you call them out on it, they send you hate mail trying to warn you. I just ignore threats.

You can have a strong preference, you can even be biased, but you can still be 100% honest with all reviews, no matter what your favorite is. The Note 7 is the best Note ever. It should have gotten a 9.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 10:10 2

67. JC557 (Posts: 1794; Member since: 07 Dec 2011)

Anandtech has their review for the Note 7 up on their site and the camera complaints seem to be similar, battery life is close to that of the S7 Edge etc.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 11:19

85. trojan_horse (Posts: 5018; Member since: 06 May 2016)

But the allegedly inconsistent Iris scanner isn't a big enough con to warrant a meh 8.7 score for an other stellar Galaxy Note7!

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 18:47

131. JC557 (Posts: 1794; Member since: 07 Dec 2011)

For f**k sake it has some misses other than the iris scanner:http://www.anandtech.com/show/10559/the-samsung-galaxy-note7-s820-review/9

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 11:10 2

82. uzimafioso (Posts: 463; Member since: 15 Jul 2014)

Yes cause no other manufacturer is stupid enough to do it. How the hell are you supposed to unlock your phone while driving? Turn on the screen, swipe left, hold the phone a foot from your face and bam you're into an effing tree.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 12:21 1

106. perry1234 (Posts: 168; Member since: 14 Aug 2012)

Haha ! You got my upvote.

But please don't bang into a tree. Use the FP scanner instead.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 16:14

126. uzimafioso (Posts: 463; Member since: 15 Jul 2014)

Hahaha I dont intend to buy a Note anytime soon.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 12:18

103. QWIKSTRIKE (Posts: 1297; Member since: 09 Mar 2010)

Read the Review on the Verge to get a good idea on how things are with this scanner. I expected an 8.7 on this site.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 09:38

52. ph00ny (Posts: 1518; Member since: 26 May 2011)

I don't know how much better or worse the finger print sensors are on the note 7 compared to note 5 but note 5 works every time and when it doesn't work, it's due to a dust/grease/moisture as expected. MM update made them extremely fast on the note 5.

posted on 16 Aug 2016, 10:26

71. QWIKSTRIKE (Posts: 1297; Member since: 09 Mar 2010)

It seems to me that if this were apple iPhone it's features would make it a 9+. The curved screen and iris scanner would be a plus just like forced touch, and huge top and bottom bezels. I wait the Verge review more than here.

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PhoneArena rating:
Display5.7 inches, 1440 x 2560 pixels (518 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera12 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2150 MHz, Kryo processor
Size6.04 x 2.91 x 0.31 inches
(153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9 mm)
5.96 oz  (169 g)

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