Preview: Samsung Galaxy Note 7

For a long, long time now Samsung has been producing some of the best large screen smartphones on the market in the form of the Galaxy Note. It all started back in 2010, when Samsung introduced the original Galaxy Note during IFA 2010 in Berlin. A 5.3-inch device with a stylus, launched during the days of the smartphone's rise to power, which had previously shunned the stylus, seemed like a bad idea. The original Galaxy Note, and even the Galaxy Note II that came a year later, were considered niche products for people that needed something more than the average smartphone. They were considered "too big", "too bulky" and "too expensive". Fast forward to today, and the Galaxy Note has become one of Samsung's big money spinners, working as part 2 of a 1, 2 Punch alongside the Galaxy S series of devices to bring in the big bucks every year. This year is no different, and judging from all the rumors and leaks, we're all in store for a pretty nice treat, too.

Easily the biggest and most talked about feature of the upcoming Galaxy Note 7 is the Iris Scanner. This is pretty much exactly what you think it is; an extra sensor that uses your eye to unlock your device or keep certain things locked away. This technology is not new, and has been used in smartphones launched in Japan before, but Samsung will no doubt be the first name to bring it to the wider market. In terms of design, this new feature adds what looks like another small camera to the front array of sensors and such near the earpiece, but it's the functionality of this feature that counts the most. We've seen screenshots of the software on the Galaxy Note 7, and while it appears to be only able to remember one Iris, it should prove a lot more secure than the fingerprint sensor many of us use now. Glasses and contact lenses might not play nice with the Iris Scanner either, which is a little bit disappointing, but is to be expected, given the need to get a good look at you.

This whole feature might seem a little strange to include on a smartphone, but with Samsung's KNOX security suite and the S-Pen, which makes getting work done much easier, it's clear Samsung is really going after the "Pro" market here. With a larger display, a very functional stylus, and a long-lasting battery life, it's not hard to see why Samsung is going after this market. Along with the Iris Scanner, they also have the security element to offer customers as well, and we're sure that Samsung has some more features available besides just being able to lock or unlock content.

Display wise, the status quo for Samsung devices seems set to remain the same with the Galaxy Note 7. Samsung is poised to release a device with a 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED, and there's no doubt that they will have made some subtle changes to its overall appearance from last year. One thing that will be different from last year's Galaxy Note 5, is that the display will be curved on the left and right sides of the panel, just like the Galaxy S7 Edge is. Samsung has probably gone down this path to make sure that their premium options sport similar features, and there will probably be some interesting new software for the edge display in the Galaxy Note 7, too. It was rumored that Samsung would be launching two different versions of the Galaxy Note 7, one with and one without this curved display, but it doesn't appear as though that's the case, as only the former has been spotted more often.

With a 5.7-inch Quad HD, that's 2560 x 1440 for those precise folk out there, display the Galaxy Note 7 is going to need some serious horsepower under-the-hood. Either a Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890 is rumored to be running the show here. That might not be all that exciting to many of you, as these are the same CPU configurations offered by the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, but the Snapdragon 821 only offers a small increase in performance over the Snapdragon 820, and has probably entered mass production a little too late for Samsung. Keeping the same CPU between the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy Note 7 will make software updates easier for Samsung to deal with for everyone involved though, and there's nothing wrong with the performance inside the Galaxy S7 Edge. The rumored 6GB of RAM however, will probably help persuade people that Samsung still cares about the Galaxy Note's performance. This is a figure that we've seen in the OnePlus 3 earlier this year, and if anyone knows how best to take advantage of more memory, it'd be Samsung. Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow is guaranteed to be launching with the Galaxy Note 7, but there are rumors of the device launching with Android 7.0 Nougat. While this would be a great way of getting a lot of publicity, and showing once and for all that Samsung cares about updates, it might be cutting it a little fine even for Samsung.

The defining feature of any Galaxy Note device is of course the S-Pen, a stylus that gives the Galaxy Note, well, its name. The S-Pen has always been great, it allows for true pen input on to the display, with no sticky rubber stylus tip, barely any lag and lots and lots of precision. Over the years, it's been improved with a number of different changes, such as better floating touch, to get info on emails and other items by just hovering the S-Pen on top of them. Air Command is included as one of the bigger features that was added some time ago, but this year it appears that Samsung is making the S-Pen even more powerful. We heard a rumor not too long ago that Samsung had figured out a way to make the S-Pen waterproof. Whether or not this is just a rumor remains to be seen, but it's not entirely crazy, and would go hand-in-hand with the phone's IP68 water and dust resistance, too. We've seen evidence of new features coming to the Galaxy Note 7 and the S-Pen, such as the ability to create GIFs on the move and record certain parts of your display, too. The S-Pen has always been one of the easiest ways to share what's on your screen, and this time around things seem no different.

Keeping everything ticking is of course the battery, and the Galaxy Note line of devices have always been known for their quality battery life. This year, it's been rumored that it could be packing a 3,500 mAh battery, or perhaps even as large as 4,000 mAh. The 3,500 mAh figure is perhaps more realistic for a device like this, after all Samsung does have to make room for the S-Pen, and there's a good chance that they have some extra circuitry for the Iris Scanner to account for as well. Needless to say though, Samsung will need to get the battery life in the Galaxy Note 7 right, otherwise users will be left with a device that quits on them before they want it to. Speaking of measurements, the rumors and leaks are pointing to a device that comes in at 153.5mm x 73.9mm x 7.9mm. Clearly, the Galaxy Note 7 is going to be a thicker device than most out there, but with a 5.7-inch display in there as well, there should be plenty of room for a large battery in there. Still, any device below 8 or 9mm thick is still nice and svelte, and what we need to remember here is that a thicker device is often easier to keep a hold on, and a thicker Galaxy Note 7 will probably be better for everyone to keep secure in their hands.

Elsewhere, we've seen a number of leaks about the different colors that the Galaxy Note 7 is to launch in, and it looks set to appear in a fetching blue hue, the familiar gold look as well as the classic black look, too. Of course, these are likely to have different names given to them from Samsung, such as "Platinum Gold" or "Onyx Black", but we'll have to wait and see just exactly what Samsung has in store for the names for these colors. So too, will we have to wait and see what Samsung is planning to do with pricing, but it's likely that the Galaxy Note 7 is not to be an affordable device, the Galaxy Note 5 wasn't exactly cheap, and a pro device like this, often comes with a price tag to match.

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About the Author
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Tom Dawson

Former Editor-in-Chief
For years now I've had a heavy interest in technology, growing up with 8-bit computers and gaming consoles has fed into an addiction to everything that beeps. Android saved me from the boredom of iOS years ago and I love watching the platform grow. As an avid reader and writer nothing pleases me more than to write about the exciting world of Android, Google and mobile technology as a whole.
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