The Galaxy Note 7 & How Samsung Popularized The Phablet


Just like with mostly everything else in this world, trends change in the phone industry. Long before smartphones were a thing the hottest ticket item on offer that everyone had to have was a smaller cell phone. Then, of course, things changed when smartphones broke onto the scene. As the interaction was primarily touchscreen-based, it made sense to have a larger screen to interact with. Years had gone by since the first smartphone was introduced before Samsung unveiled their very first Galaxy Note, ushering in an era of large screen smartphones that were certainly bigger than any other out there. Fast forward to today and Samsung is rumored to be preparing for the launch the Galaxy Note 7, it's sixth generation device in the lineup, and another smartphone that will join the ranks of the ever popular "phablet" category.

While the Galaxy Note 7 is shaping up to be Samsung's most advanced and stylish Note of the whole series, the Galaxy Note 7 would be nowhere, of course, without its predecessors. This is true for the Galaxy Note, which started it all, but especially so for the Galaxy Note II which really popularized the idea of the Galaxy Note device and the Phablet in general. While the Galaxy Note was the humble beginning, a device which came with a large display and built-in stylus with advanced functionality to introduce people to the idea of a more portable tablet-esque phone, the second iteration of the Note, the Galaxy Note II, is where things really started to take off. According to a post from Focus Taiwan back in September of 2013, Samsung's Galaxy Note II sales hit over 30 million devices since it launched in 2012. That's three times as much as the 10 million sold for the original Galaxy Note from 2011, and 40 million total devices between the two models over the course of those two years. Those are pretty decent numbers and they showcase that while people may have still been warming up to the idea of a larger than normal smartphone category with the original Note, consumers the world over were more than ok with a larger display with which to play games, watch video, read emails, and browse the web when it came to the Galaxy Note II.

AH Galaxy Note II-1


Of course, while the Galaxy Note II sales were impressive compared to the original, each subsequent Galaxy Note device has more or less dwarfed the model before it, as the Note series and the phablet category has gotten more and more popular each year. When the Galaxy Note 3 launched in 2013, for example, it ended up reaching 10 million sales in just two months time after it launched in the Fall of that year according to Samsung, which, is much more than mildly impressive to say the very least considering that it took Samsung a whole year to sell 10 million Galaxy Note's. At this point it was safe to say that the phablet had effectively taken root in the industry, and for the consumer things were only getting better as the options for phablet sized devices were growing. 2013 saw more than just the Galaxy Note 3 launch, as that particular device from Samsung was joined by the likes of the LG G2, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, the ASUS FonePad 7, the LG Optimus G Pro, and Samsung's Galaxy Mega, just to name a few. Some of these were of course, larger than your typical phablet, with devices like the Galaxy Mega, the Xperia Z Ultra, and the FonePad 7 breaching the walls of a whole new category of devices that were larger than 6-inches while the Galaxy Note series and the likes of LG's G series have stayed around the 5.7-inch mark and below. They were still phablets, though. Not all of these phablets shared the same success, but it does illustrate that consumers who were already smartphone owners looking to upgrade or looking to pick up their first smartphone, were interested in devices with a large screen. Naturally, this should make sense, as the larger display is much better for media-related activities, and when it came to productivity on the go, a bigger screen certainly does help. The Galaxy Note added to these elements with layers of productivity tools and software, much it coming from the S Pen features that would allow you to easily drag and drop things as well as handwrite notes. On a broad scale, it just made doing anything a bit more precise.

This popularity leads us to today, perhaps a month or two out from when Samsung will potentially announce and launch the Galaxy Note 7, which, is quite possibly going to be the most popular version of the Galaxy Note. This shouldn't be much of a shock if that rings true, as it will end up coming with the most advanced features, hardware, and specs of any Galaxy Note thus far, and the design (if the leaks prove to be accurate) makes it arguably the best looking Galaxy Note device to date. "Best looking" may also be a little bit subjective, but it's quite likely that a lot of consumers would agree, all the while not forgetting that the Galaxy Note 7 takes plenty of design elements from the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, and this year's Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, all of which look similar due to the use of the glass and metal build. Design aside, the Galaxy Note 7 is rumored to be coming with some new features that weren't available on previous models, but one thing has always stayed constant, only ever receiving new and improved functionality with a slight tweak to the design on last year's Galaxy Note 5. The S Pen. Throughout each Galaxy Note, the S Pen has always been present, getting touch ups with each release to make it more functional and useful to the user, but never getting major overhauls. As the old saying goes, if it aint broke don't fix it, and Samsung it seems has kept this in mind when designing and refining the S Pen each year. The biggest change, features aside, has been the way the S Pen is removed in the Galaxy Note 5 as it carries a button on the end you can click to remove it, while past S Pen models have simply been something that you pull out when needed. No button to press. The Galaxy Note 7 is likely to continue this design functionality for the S Pen.



Of course, the S Pen is not the only change that the Galaxy Note series has seen over the years. As mentioned above the design has changed quite a bit over the years too, going from plastic on the Galaxy Note and Galaxy Note II, to a mix of polycarbonate and faux leather on the Galaxy Note 3, to a metal frame and soft touch plastic on the back with a textured feel for grip on the Galaxy Note 4, and finally to the metal and glass that we now see on the most recent Galaxy Note 5, and by the looks of it, the Galaxy Note 7. This change in design showcases the evolutionary path that Samsung has taken with the Galaxy Note series, moving from what was common and popular at the time back during the first few Note devices, to a much more premium look and feel with the most recent model. Make no mistake, the Galaxy Note 5 was Samsung's best yet, and the Galaxy Note 7 looks to surpass it. Other features and hardware have changed as well. Cameras and processors have been updated to newer, faster and more powerful chipsets, while things like the battery and the cameras have seen really noticeable and functional improvements and upgrades compared to older generations of the Galaxy Note. Of course, the fingerprint sensor should not be forgotten as mobile payments are now a big thing, and Samsung will surely want their Galaxy Note 7 to carry the torch from the Galaxy Note 5 to make the most of their homegrown Samsung Pay mobile payment solution.

Although it may seem obvious as to what Samsung will include when it comes to the hardware and build, it's entirely unclear what the Galaxy Note 7 will be packing. There have been more than enough rumors to make a good guess, though. The device is thought to be carrying a 5.7-inch or 5.8-inch screen with Samsung's Super AMOLED panel, along with the same QHD resolution that was seen on the Galaxy Note 5. The fingerprint sensor should by all accounts make a return, and it looks like Samsung will be opting for a Qualcomm processor this time around instead of using their in-house Exynos model, at least here in the U.S. The screen is also very much thought to be coming with dual edges like the Galaxy S7 Edge to make use of those edge features. Although it was previously thought that the phone may end up carrying 6GB of RAM, the most recent benchmark leaks suggest otherwise, and paint a picture of a device with a slightly more modest (yet more than enough) 4GB of RAM inside. When it comes to the cameras, rumors peg the Galaxy Note 7 as having a 12MP Dual Pixel setup on the back like the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, and a 5MP camera up front. Another possible piece of hardware could be the inclusion of an iris scanner judging by patents and rumors, of course, this still remains to be seen. On top of all of this, the Galaxy Note 7 should be running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, perhaps with a quick upgrade to Android 7.0 Nougat, and it'll have Samsung's most up to date version of the TouchWiz UI on top. With all of these advancements, improved functions, and the design evolution, the Galaxy Note 7 is likely to be a hit device in the Galaxy Note lineup and it's very possible that it could be the most popular to date. That shouldn't surprise anyone though, and if the Galaxy Note 7 ends up as popular of a device as expected, the phablet will continue to live on with other OEMs looking to make continued attempts at dethroning Samsung in the device category. While none of the specs are official for the Galaxy Note 7 just yet, now that Samsung has sent out invites for the Unpacked event on August 2nd, it won't be long before the details of the device are known.

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Justin has written for Android Headlines since 2012 and currently adopts a Editor role with a specific focus on mobile gaming and game-streaming services. Prior to the move to Android Headlines Justin spent almost eight years working directly within the wireless industry. Contact him at [email protected]

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