The next best thing: what you can expect to keep (and give up) in the Galaxy Note 7 to Galaxy S7 transition
I wrote a column some time ago on the Galaxy S7 edge and Galaxy Note 7 being more alike than ever, a column that was designed to challenge Note faithful on how they perceive the Galaxy S series in general. Sure, the Galaxy Note 7 has an S Pen that you won’t find in the Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge, but there is a lot of carryover inspiration between the two devices that will help in this time of crisis and despair for Note 7 users who’d do anything to hang onto what some believe to be the best smartphone in world smartphone history.
But, it is in times like these that the carryover inspiration that many a Note fan has despised turns out to be a blessing in disguise. The reason comes down to the fact that the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge will provide a familiar experience that won’t require so much adjustment to something “new” (the S7 and S7 edge are 7 months old now as of Tuesday, October 11th) now that the Galaxy Note 7 has been officially recalled.
I’m getting ahead of myself though. There’s some significant ground to cover, so let’s get right to it.
The “Galaxy” continues: the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge and what they have in common with the Galaxy Note 7
The Galaxy Note 7, as Samsung said back at its unveiling on August 2nd, borrowed its design inspiration from the Galaxy S7 edge, so the S7 edge will prove to be “the next best thing” for consumers who either 1) love the dual-edge design and functionality or 2) rarely use the edge functionality but love the design. The Galaxy S7 uses a flat panel, so those who wanted a flat-paneled Galaxy Note 7 can now have a non-edge Galaxy S7. Of course, keep in mind that the Galaxy S7 has a smaller display than the S7 edge (5.1 inches vs. 5.5 inches), so the larger display and similar Note 7-like design may just make the S7 edge the next best thing for Galaxy Note 7 users.
Apart from the design, there’s the 5MP front camera with f/1.7 aperture, 12MP back camera with f/1.7 aperture, Dual Pixel phase detection autofocus (PDAF), Super AMOLED display, UFS 2.0 storage and microSD card slot for expandable storage, IP68 water and dust resistance, Exynos 8890/Snapdragon 820 SoC, and 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM that are all specs and features of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. If you pick up either of these, you’ll still get the same world-leading cameras, fast internal storage with expandable storage, water and dust resistance for braving the elements, as well as the same raw power under the hood.
The Always On Display for Samsung devices made its debut in the Galaxy series with the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, so turning to these devices from the Note 7 means that you’re going back to the phone that introduced some of the 2016 features in Samsung’s “Galaxy” that we’ve taken for granted with the Note 7. Sure, you can always disable it, but the new third-party notifications may just make you think twice before disabling it. Fortunately, the battery capacity will be on par, since Galaxy Note 7 users who exchange it for the Galaxy S7 edge will get a slightly larger battery (3,600mAh vs. 3,500mAh for the Note 7) — though I’ve found that the Galaxy Note 7 does get better battery life. As is always said with battery life, your mileage may vary.
All these specs add up to one Note 7-like device that won’t require much adjustment – at least in theory. Of course, Note 7 owners will have to make one painful adjustment.
The Galaxy S7 and S7 edge will make you part ways with the S Pen, though
I gave you the good news first, but the bad news is inevitable and must come. The good news is that the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge have features that Note 7 users have experienced with what many will call “the recall phone”, but there’s at least one feature you’ll be missing, though: the water-resistant, intelligent S Pen and its new capabilities.
The Galaxy Note 7’s intelligent S Pen was first, water-resistant, and secondly, the same S Pen diehard Note fans know and love but with some “intelligent” capabilities such as Glance, Magnify, and Translate. These features are exclusive S Pen features, so Note 7 fans will find themselves living without them (at least until the Galaxy S8, should Samsung surprise us in four months. The S Pen may make a debut on the Galaxy S series, if Samsung were to follow rumors and drop the Note brand – a suspect rumor at this point). Signing documents (Write on PDF), for example, will be impossible on the S7 and S7 edge unless you find a universal stylus to accommodate your writing desires. It won’t be the same as the S Pen, though, so I should warn you.
The S Pen, though, is the hardest trade for Galaxy Note 7 users fleeing the phone that has come to such an abrupt and tragic end in the “Galaxy,” but there are others. Take the new Power Saving “Medium” and “Maximum” modes on the Galaxy Note 7 that replaced the Power Saving and Ultra Power Saving Modes of the S7 and S7 edge: you won’t find this on the Galaxy S7 or S7 edge, unless Samsung should grace the S7 and S7 edge with an upgrade. Oh, yeah, speaking of “Grace”: the Grace UX will be absent as well, so the TouchWiz-critic crowd will need to make use of Samsung’s Theme Store to find a look that suits their tastes in design.
USB-C is also a casualty in this painful transition. Say goodbye to that even faster wire charging you’ve grown accustomed to over the last 7 weeks and embrace micro-USB once more until the Galaxy S8. Some Note 7 users won’t find this troubling at all because the majority of their cables are micro-USB anyway, but USB-C advocates may not enjoy this transition back to “old” technology. You can cure your woes if you’re an advocate of USB-C by charging your Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge via fast wireless charging, but you’ll need micro-USB cables for the fast wireless charging stands. The Galaxy S7 edge can charge from 0 to 100 wirelessly in just 2.5 hours, which is still as fast, if not faster, than charging some comparable phones via USB cables.
Storage is yet another area of compromise in this painful Galaxy Note 7-to-Galaxy S7 transition. Since the S7 and s7 edge have 32GB of base internal storage, as opposed to the 64GB internal base storage of the Note 7, prepare to live with half the storage. You can always pop in a 200GB Samsung microSD card, but the Galaxy S7 series doesn’t yet have Adoptable Storage — and the Note 7’s 256GB microSD storage will have you missing on external storage, too when you get “the next best thing”. The iris scanner that has become a beloved security feature on the Note 7 is absent on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, so prepare to rely on fingerprint security fully once more.
Last but not least, in a move that may make some even more upset, you’re gonna have to bid goodbye to that sexy Blue Coral color – though not for long, perhaps. Verizon is destined to get a Blue Coral Galaxy S7 edge sometime soon, so Big Red customers (and perhaps worldwide carriers, too) will have another reason to buy the Galaxy S7 edge even more than before. Galaxy Note 7 users, keep an eye out for the Blue Coral. It won’t replace your Note 7, but the Blue Coral color will make you feel a bit more at home with the S series than before.
The Galaxy Note 7’s quick end has many struggling to understand how the one phone sitting atop the smartphone market could tank so quickly, but fortunately, Samsung is versatile enough to still supply other comparable phones in its smartphone arsenal to take its place.
As a diehard Note fan myself, and a current Note 7 owner, I understand the transition won’t be easy. I own an S7 edge as well and, for all its bells and whistles, can’t say that it’s a 100% “shoe-fitting” substitute for the Galaxy Note 7. If you’re an S Pen lover, you will still have something of a bad taste in your mouth (though not as bad a taste, compared to leaving Samsung’s 2016 lineup to pick up rival phones) after picking up the Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge. Samsung designed the Note series to stand out from the S series, and you’ll feel the difference once the S7 series goes home with you.
And yet, such is the price that we Note users pay at times for picking up the most exclusive handset on the market. When things go well for such an exclusive handset, we have bragging rights in the smartphone world. When things go wrong, as they have here, we’re forced to live like everyone else with every other handset in the Galaxy. And yet, we must never forget that living in Samsung’s Galaxy still entails living in the best of the best circumstances in the Android world (and smartphone space as a whole). Even with the worst high-end Samsung smartphone (if such a phone exists), it can be said that Samsung users still have the best. Check out our Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge review if you’re still unsure about the jump.
Galaxy Note 7 users, what concessions do you find difficult about the transition from your recalled Note 7 to another high-end “Galaxy”? Are there any other transitions that you’ve noticed that haven’t been mentioned here?