Samsung Galaxy Note 7: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

It has been a long time coming but the other Samsung flagship smartphone of 2016 is now finally here. Well, announced at least and as a result, everything about the Galaxy Note 7 has finally been confirmed. Which means we can finally now put to bed the many rumors, leaks and speculation that had mounted over the past few days, weeks and months. So which rumors were true and which were not? What is good about the Galaxy Note 7 and what is bad? Is this the best smartphone of 2016? Here we are taking a quick overview of the best aspects of the Galaxy Note 7, as well as the worst aspects and the ugliest ones too - if there are any, that is.

The Good

Well, there is quite a lot which is good about the Galaxy Note 7. After all, this is the latest flagship smartphone from the biggest Android smartphone maker. So you would expect it to come packing the specs and features and it does. Its first and most obvious good point is its general design and build. This is a smartphone which is designed to be premium and comes sporting glass on the front and back, as well as metal accents. In fact, the glass on both the front and back is Gorilla Glass 5. Making this the first smartphone to come protected by the latest edition of Gorilla Glass.

Then there is the display. Samsung is arguably one of the best display makers around and the Galaxy range (both the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note) do come packing some very decent displays of late. While this one does not see massive improvement over the Galaxy S7 (thanks to the inclusion of another QHD Super AMOLED display), the truth is that the Galaxy S7 has one of the best displays on the market. Which means it is difficult to improve on and which also means that the Galaxy Note 7 now comes with one of the best displays on the market. Not to mention, Samsung has continued with its emphasis on edges with this latest Note model also sporting a curved edge on either side. In addition to its great display, this is also a smartphone which comes with a first for the Galaxy Note range (and many other flagship ranges) as the Galaxy Note 7 also comes packing an iris scanner. That is, in addition to a fingerprint sensor. So this is likely to be one of the most secure devices on the market. Especially, when you also factor in the KNOX security features that are included with Samsung's latest and greatest smartphones.

Moving on and another clearly good point (and another first for Samsung's flagship offerings) is the inclusion of USB Type-C connectivity. Samsung did receive criticism when the Galaxy S7 was released for not including the newer USB technology. That is not a criticism it is likely to receive with the Galaxy Note 7 though. Not only is this USB Type-C compliant, but Samsung is also giving a free USB Type-C to microUSB adapter away with the Galaxy Note 7. So the device is backwards-compatible, as well as forwards-ready, out of the box.

There is also a number of other good things that are on offer with the Galaxy Note 7 like faster charging, wireless charging and faster wireless charging, although these are also aspects which you will find on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. So while they are good points, they are what is quickly becoming baseline specs for major Samsung smartphone releases. Although, on one final note - the S Pen included with this rendition has seen a number of design improvements, including the actual S Pen now being waterproof.

The Bad

With a device as good and as premium as the Galaxy Note 7, you would sort of expect that there would be very little bad about the device and generally speaking, that would be a correct assumption. However, when you read between the lines and compare the device to the rest of the market there are some obvious and notable issues. Mainly, a lack of clear spec evolution. Take the RAM for instance. The Galaxy Note 7 comes packing 4GB RAM and while this is probably enough, it is certainly not the best, or what is probably expected to be included on one of the best smartphones in the second half of 2016. Especially considering the 2016 first-half yearly release, the Galaxy S7 (and Edge) also come packing this much RAM. Rumors had initially pointed to a 6GB RAM Galaxy Note 7, although it is now clear that is not the case. So while other smartphones are planning to offer (or already do offer) 6GB RAM, in this particular spec department, some will feel the inclusion of 4GB RAM is a bit of a letdown.

Another aspect which could be considered bad is the general features on offer. While it is good that Samsung is packing a ton of features into the Galaxy Note 7, it does raise the question of whether they are actually packing too much into the device. As well as the main-selling feature, the stylus and Note-specific software, there is wireless charging, faster charging, a fingerprint sensor, an iris scanner, a GIF-making tool, IP68 certification and much more. One has to start to ask themselves if the Galaxy Note range is starting to become too gimmicky? Which neatly leads us into another bad, although this is a bad many would have been expecting and one which many will certainly not be surprised by, the price. In a world where smartphones seem to be in a race to the bottom (to be the cheapest and most-affordable smartphone), Samsung has looked to cram more into their major smartphones to maintain their premium price(s) and this is very much the case with the Galaxy Note 7. A device which although unofficially confirmed, seems to be adopting a universal US price-point of $849.99. A princely sum for any smartphone.

This might seem harsh to some and maybe it is, but choice has now become an issue for the Galaxy Note 7. Which seems surprising to say about Samsung (as they are one of the few companies who have no issue in releasing a number of variants of their smartphones). However, the fact remains that the Galaxy Note range is a specific type of device and for a specific type of consumer. As a result, Galaxy Note owners have become accustomed to a certain look and design. With Samsung now adopting the position that the Edge is the new norm, the Galaxy Note range now comes boasting edges. While the Edge is currently the in-thing, it is not to everyone’s taste and some would have preferred the flat look. More to the point, the lack of available options also now means there is no scale on price. There is only one Note 7, it comes with curved edges and will cost you upwards of $800. While you might be getting your money’s worth, a flatter version or a lesser storage version, or a non-iris scanning version, might have resulted in a more affordable option for those looking for the Note experience but without having to pay such a high price. This is one of those occasions where it might not have been a bad thing if Samsung had released more than one model/variant.

The Ugly

While Samsung is stabilizing their premium smartphones at premium prices, are they actually worth spending all that money on? While they come packed with software tweaks and features, the Galaxy note 7 is not exactly a spec-based masterpiece. In fact, when you draw on the specs for the Galaxy S7 Edge, (which is now likely to drop fairly substantially with the release of the Galaxy Note 7), is there enough innovation in the hardware and spec departments to warrant the purchase of a Galaxy Note 7. Is this not just a Galaxy S7 Edge with a stylus?

Yes, it has an iris scanner, but it seems likely that this will be a feature which is included on most Samsung devices going forward. One which is not particularly a 'Note' thing. Not to mention, it is not yet a wide-enough app-supported feature, with no third-party support as of yet. Likewise, while the Galaxy Note 7 does come with some improvements to the display, like the curved edges, there is not exactly much innovation going on with the Note 7 at the display hardware level. Just another QHD Super AMOLED display device from Samsung. In spite of this being a next-generation device, it is one which could be considered lacking considerably in the specs department, the design department, and the general pizzazz department. The ugly truth of the Galaxy Note 7, could be that it is a great device, but in a world of already great and more affordable devices - including ones from Samsung.

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About the Author
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John Anon

Editor-in-Chief
John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]
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