An IR blaster for controlling TVs, stereos and the like has been a somewhat treasured feature of some Samsung flagships up until recently. Starting with the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3, fans could use their phones to change the channel and perform other such tasks. An IR blaster was missing, however, from the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. The Galaxy Note 5 followed suit, marking the first time since the series took off with the Galaxy Note 2 that a Galaxy Note model wasn't packed to the gills with the latest bells and whistles. It would seem that Samsung is ready to leave the IR blaster in the past; the Galaxy Note 7 does not have one.
There are numerous reasons for Samsung to have foregone the IR blaster for the Note 7, but they didn't exactly say outright exactly what their reasoning was. Since the IR blaster wasn't a terribly popular feature, according to Samsung's data, they likely axed it to give the Galaxy Note 7 a little more breathing room, design-wise, and to save just a bit on battery life and weight. The phone lacking an IR blaster also makes repairs a bit less complicated, and makes the handsets just a little bit cheaper to produce. While an IR blaster isn't a terribly expensive part, maybe costing a couple of dollars at most depending on the model and manufacturer, leaving it out on a scale of the anticipated millions of sales that the Galaxy Note 7 should make will, logically, save Samsung millions of dollars.
While an IR blaster was never a terribly popular feature, it is included on some modern phones, like the LG G5, making them look a bit better than the competition to those who value that feature. The crowd that isn't in on the smart home trend yet and still uses IR-based remotes for appliances, for instance, or people who tend to lose their TV's remote control and want a phone that can stand in if needed, may have a reason to take the Galaxy Note 7 off of their shortlist when shopping for a new flagship device, despite its many other compelling features.