Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review: Samsung reveals cause of explosions
Elsewhere, security gets a boost. The fingerprint scanner made its debut in the Note 4, but this time, it’s accompanied by an iris scanner. Stare at your phone for a few seconds to set it up, and then it unlocks almost instantaneously when you flash your baby blues at it.
Samsung says contact lenses and glasses could get in the way of this, and I’m not convinced it’s much more convenient than just using your fingerprint, but it’s nice to have, and an impressive party trick if nothing else.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review: What’s changed on the inside?
Samsung’s Note phones have, historically, been absolute beasts when it comes to specifications and the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 keeps this trend going. Like the S7, the Note 7 uses the octa-core Exynos 8890 SoC in the UK, which comprises two CPUs, one running at 2.3GHz, the other at 1.6GHz for use when all-out power isn’t required. This is backed up with 4GB of RAM, and it comes with 64GB of storage built in, and yes, you can expand it with a microSD card.
So, to performance. At the launch event, Samsung claimed the Note 7 was around 30% faster than the Note 5, and with 58% better graphical performance. Our testing revealed that to be largely accurate.
In both Geekbench and GFXBench, there’s clear daylight between the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and the Note 5, which shouldn’t surprise you, but hardly any difference between the S7 and Note 7, which also isn’t surprising, given they both have the same processor, RAM allocation and screen resolution.
The Note 7 also tops the charts in the storage performance charts – at least in terms of sequential read performance, which is important as this dictates how quickly apps and games launch, and how fast the phone boots up from cold. The Apple iPhone 6s beats it for write performance, notching up 258MB/sec compared with the Note 7’s 123MB/sec, though.
In short, it’s ultra quick, and will almost certainly remain so for the foreseeable future – at least as long as your two-year contract lasts, at which point you’ll probably want a new phone anyway. I experienced no slowdown or delays indicative of poor software implementation, and everything I did with the phone took place smoothly and instantaneously.
You may have seen reports elsewhere that, despite efforts to slim it down, Touchwiz is still laggy and that in real-world use rival phones – notably the OnePlus 3 – are more responsive in day-to-day use. That’s not something I’ve seen with our review sample, but it’s worth noting that the complaints seem to focus currently on the US model, which has a different processor – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 – on board. I’ve set the two phones down side-by-side, launched a number of different apps and timed the operations, and both came out roughly the same; if anything, it’s the Note 7 (with the Exynos 8890) that has the edge.
And, don’t forget, responsiveness is only part of the overall story with a smartphone. Sure you want it to launch and switch between apps quickly and without pausing, but just as important is that it has the raw horsepower that will allow it to power through all the apps and games today, and those more demanding that will appear later on. The UK Samsung Galaxy Note 7 certainly has that.
The other important internal specification to take note of, of course, is the battery, and it’s here that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 pulls ahead. It has a 3,500mAh power cell, which is, surprisingly, slightly smaller than the S7 Edge’s 3,600mAh battery, but a significant bump on the S7’s 3,000mAh.
This leads to (but is not entirely responsible for) a record score in our video rundown battery test: it lasted 21hrs 57mins. That’s an astonishing result and puts the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 way out in front of the competition. In fact, the only rival that gets close is the Galaxy S7 Edge, and even then we’re talking about a result around three hours shorter at 18hrs 42mins.
Where does this extra performance come from? I’d surmise it’s from the Note 7’s new and improved OLED display, which I’ll discuss further in the next section, since to all intents and purposes, the phone’s core hardware is identical.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 specifications
|Processor||Octa-core 2.3GHz Samsung Exynos 8890|
|Screen type||Super AMOLED|
|Front camera||5 megapixels|
|Rear camera||12 megapixels|
|Storage (free)||64GB (52.8GB)|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||microSD|
|Wireless data||3G, 4G|
|Dimensions||154 x 7.9 x 74mm|
|Operating system||Android 6.0.1|