Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review: Cool new features make it an Android sensation

Samsung's new phablet let's you write on the screen while underwater, and unlock it using your eye. Necessary? Not really. Cool? Yes.
Jonathan Wong of Samsung's Knox Product Marketing, shows the iris scanner feature of the Galaxy Note 7. Richard Drew / AP Photo
Jonathan Wong of Samsung's Knox Product Marketing, shows the iris scanner feature of the Galaxy Note 7. Richard Drew / AP Photo

Samsung’s new Note 7 smartphone is packed full of cool features.

The headline act is its iris-scanning technology that supposedly makes the device more secure. It also supports high-dynamic range video, the industry’s latest attempt to make consumers excited about image quality. Then there’s a stylus that lets people write on their phone underwater, just because.

But how many people really want to write on their phone under water? How much more secure will an iris-scanner be for your phone? And what proportion of consumers actually know or care about some new-fandangled video technology after 3D and 4K both failed to elicit excitement?

The problem for Samsung is that it is facing off against a crowded line up of Android phone makers such as Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo in what amounts to a level operating-system playing field. And when you’re a giant like Samsung, there’s no reason to want a level playing field.

What Samsung can control, thanks to its massive chip and screen divisions, is the technology that goes into the hardware. It’s no coincidence that the only other company that even comes close in hardware development is Huawei, which also manages to command a higher-than-average price for its smartphones.

For Samsung, a lot of this technology is more gimmick than gimme. Iris-scanning sounds cool, but hardware-access security is less of a risk than online hacking or device-installed malware, and one wonders how well it will work with contact lenses or glasses anyway.

Yet it does allow the company to stand out from a crowd where most smartphones look the same, and more importantly lets the company charge huge premiums over the dozens of devices that use the same lineup of chips, displays and software. It is also an acknowledgement by Samsung that its chief competitor isn’t Apple but every Android maker on the planet.

The $13 billion that Samsung spends annually on R&D is a vehicle for its marketing programme, a fact highlighted by the Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy J2 and Galaxy S7 taking the top three spots in Strategy Analytics’ first-half global market-share survey.


Is the Note 7’s iris scanner a first?

Nope. Microsoft’s Lumia 950 phones had it.

When is the Note 7 available in the UAE?

Pre-orders began in the US on August 3, with the phone becoming available on August 19. The UK and Australia were next in line. The company has not said when it is coming to Arabian shores. Price is around US$850 in the US, around £600 in the UK, and around A$1,200 in Australia.

Can you throw a bunch of the Note 7’s technical specs at us?

Sure: USB-C charger port, Gorilla Glass 5 screen, MicroSD card slot, 3,500 mAh battery, 5.7-inch display size, 518ppi pixel density, Android 6.01 Marshmallow software, 64GB storage.

And less technical aspects?

It has curved edges and a stylus.

How high are Samsung’s hopes for the new phone?

This hardly falls under the category of “massive hype” but Samsung has said it expects the Note 7 to outsell the previous Note version, which was released last year.

What are other reviewers saying about the Note 7?

At, Jessica Dolcourt said: ”The Note 7 certainly seems like a worthy upgrade for the series, one that refines an already muscular phone and brings back some of our favourite things, like waterproofing and extra storage.”

Does the new phone come in colours including rose gold?

No, though in Australia it comes in gold as well as black and silver. The colours for America and Britain are coral blue, black and silver.

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Published: August 8, 2016 04:00 AM


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