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Samsung Galaxy Note FE (Fan Edition) Review

Samsung Galaxy Note Fan Edition

Posted: , by Maxwell Ramsey



Interface and Functionality

Samsung Experience delivers

Samsung Galaxy Note FE (Fan Edition) Review

One of the actual changes from the OG Note 7 to the Note FE is the UI. Samsung wisely kept TouchWiz in its archive and updated the phablet to the new Samsung Experience, which made its debut on the Galaxy S8 and S8+.

Underneath the new UI aesthetic is Android 7.0 and all the associated goodies that arrived with the latest iteration of Google’s operating system. The fresh appearance looks right at home on the Note FE.

The Edge Screen is on-hand, with a wide array of functions and menus that you can use with it. We billed it as a “nice thing to have” for those that can make use of it, and then we turned it off.

The S-Pen on the other hand is a spectacular tool. The Air Command floating icons can be arranged and assigned to other applications (up to 8) with virtually no limit to what app you want to have available to quick launch after removing the S-Pen from its compartment. The same spring-loaded mechanism is on hand, and the head of the stylus pleases the OCD in you with a satisfying click-click with the thumb.

Pressure sensitivity and palm-rejection are spot-on, and latency is only really visible if you start swiping the tip super-fast across the screen. Two of our favorite features are screen-off memo, and GIF capture. One is perfect for jotting down a quick note, and the other is great for capturing that perfect loop of video content.

Iris Scanner and Bixby

Still not quite up to par

Samsung’s new AI assistant, Bixby, is along for the ride, but it is not the complete experience as can now be found on the Galaxy S series. Rather, it is Bixby Home and Reminders only, with no voice assistant. The presentation is clean and is not unlike Google Now, with color schemes to the information cards. How it performs long-term will depend on how much you use it, as well as how Samsung feeds its AI engines over time. For early days, without the voice interaction, Bixby Home and Reminders seems to have more in common with BlinkFeed as found on HTC devices.

Iris scanning is available, with all the benefits and limitations of that feature. We will not call it half-baked, but it is not convenient since the Note FE has to be held a certain way, at a certain distance, at the correct angle. The front-mounted fingerprint scanner in the home button is far more reliable.

Processor & Memory

Contrary to previous reports, the Galaxy Note Fan Edition is shipping with Samsung’s own Exynos 8890 CPU. This is the same processor found on non-US Note 7 variants last year. Performance is competent, if not blazing fast. The better-optimized UI provides an overall nicer experience, so you do not get the sense the hardware is struggling to keep up.

The Note Fan Edition ships with 64GB of microSD card expandable storage and 4GB of memory. The device maintenance settings provide for basic analytics to free up memory and storage, as well as automatically shut down apps in the background if they go unused for too long.


The Note FE is unlocked out of the box, and it supports most of the LTE frequency bands for AT&T and T-Mobile. The trade-off is seeing an occasional switch in the cell signal from “LTE” to “3G” in certain areas, whereas a device designed for the American market, or a carrier certified unit, would have no such issues. Another byproduct is the Note FE’s inability to fully leverage aggregated spectrum where AT&T or T-Mobile have enabled it, meaning peak data throughput speeds may be a bit slower than you are accustomed to seeing.

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PhoneArena rating:
8.8Very good
Display5.7 inches, 1440 x 2560 pixels (518 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera12 megapixels
Samsung Exynos 8 Octa, Octa-core, 2300 MHz, Exynos M1and ARM Cortex-A53 processor
Size6.04 x 2.91 x 0.31 inches
(153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9 mm)
5.89 oz  (167 g)

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