It was only a matter of a minutes ago that Samsung unveiled the latest iteration in its Galaxy Note lineup, the Note 7. If you’ve been following our Twitter page, I’m sure you already know that we’ve been reporting live from the event and have had an opportunity to get our hands on the device, so it’s only fitting that we bring you a brief report on our initial impressions after playing around with the handset for a little bit. It’s important to note, however, that this isn’t a review by any means, and it’s perfectly possible that our opinions could change between now and the time that our comprehensive feedback goes live later this month.
So, without further ado, I present to you our first impressions on the Galaxy Note 7.
Samsung has raised the bar once again with the design of the Galaxy Note 7. The device features a 5.7-inch curved screen that wraps around the aluminium side frame at almost 90-degrees, which creates the illusion that there's no bezel. This results in the handset being perfectly symmetrical, giving it a more professional look. The South Korean firm has also managed to cut the weight of the unit by 2g when compared to the Galaxy Note 5. Although this raw figure may not seem like a lot, you can actually feel the difference when holding both units in your hand. This is something that I found to be very surprising as it's rare to hold two generations of a device in the palms of your hands and be able to feel a contrast in weight.
As I mentioned earlier, the Galaxy Note 7 sports a 5.7-inch Always On curved display. The panel itself is, just like the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, Super AMOLED, and has a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels. However, it seems like Samsung has made some changes to the screen behind the scenes as it appears to be significantly brighter and more vivid than its former flagship smartphones. The viewing angles have also been significantly improved, which is likely a by-product of the display being almost 25% more rounded. If you have the device propped up at a 45-degree angle, you can clearly see everything that's on the screen — and that's pretty impressive, to say the least.
The Galaxy Note 7 packs a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera with a f/1.7 aperture. It's equipped with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and the Dual Pixel autofocus system, which uses all of the camera's pixels to focus on a subject. Unfortunately, we were unable to extract the images we captured on the handset during our time with it, but they all appeared to be crystal clear. Colors were bright, and we're pleased to report that it performed very well in the low-light environment that was the hands-on section at the gorgeous building where the conference was being held in Central London. We will, of course, be bringing you a more detailed overview of the shooter in our full review.
Similar to the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, the Galaxy Note 7's 5-megapixel front-facing camera comes equipped with a flurry of different software optimizations designed to improve not only the quality, but remove blemishes in pictures you take of yourself (commonly known as selfies). I had a little play around with this feature, and was blown away by how it managed to gloss over all of the imperfections in my skin. It even matched my pale complexion perfectly, which is a task that the aforementioned handsets failed to do.
Samsung has introduced an innovative iris scanner for its latest handset in the Note range. During the event, I was a little skeptical about how this hardware would function in day-to-day life seeing as it's a first for the mass market. However, my fears were quickly diminished once I'd configured a test unit to recognize my iris. Blazing fast is truly an understatement. It's really mind blowing. The second you swipe up on the lock screen, the device instantly unlocks. The more curious amongst us are probably wondering if you could unlock the device using a photograph of an iris. The simple answer is no. The firm has developed an innovative piece of technology that's designed to detect a natural glare of light that's only present in a living eye, making it impossible to unlock the handset with a 3D render of an eyeball, let alone a 2D image.
A new Note deserves a new S Pen, and that's exactly what Samsung has equipped the Galaxy Note 7 with. I'll openly admit that the Galaxy Note 5 was very restricted when it came to S Pen functionality. That's an issue of the past now, though, as Samsung has adapted the Google API to provide users with the facility to use their S Pen to translate words from any screen. New software also permits users to create GIFs from any clip that exceeds 15-seconds in length. This can be from a whole range of sources, including movie being streamed from Netflix or even a YouTube video.
The Note 7 runs Android 6.0.1 out of the box, and Samsung has built in a couple of new features that aren't present on existing Galaxy devices (but could make their way to these devices through software updates). Secure Folder is an upgrade to Private Mode – it hides your personal files and even things like banking apps somewhere that is “not part of the OS”. We're not sure what that means, but Samsung is promising a high level of security. The Note 7 also merges apps like Action memo, Scrapbook and S Note into a single app called Samsung Notes. Streaming videos in HDR is another new feature, and Samsung says it has also streamlined the camera interface (although we didn't get time to see a difference).