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Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review: A pricey phablet made for power users

Florence Ion | Aug. 17, 2016
The Note line continues to shine with its sixth-generation installment, and it's the best it's ever been.

The Galaxy Note 7 is Samsung’s phablet darling and the sixth version of the smartphone that started the Big Phone craze. But since the first Galaxy Note launch in 2011, phones with screens larger than 5.5-inches have become more common. Android and Windows phone makers have jumped on the bandwagon with their own Big Phone variants, and even Apple started to offer plus-sized iPhones.

Despite all the competition, Samsung’s Galaxy Note is still the best. This year’s Note 7 is the thinnest, smallest phablet from the company notorious for producing phones almost as big as your head. Its stunning design, fantastic camera, and added functionality of the pressure-sensitive S-Pen make it an even more attractive choice for those looking to become more productive with their daily driver.

Symmetry is a beautiful thing

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Florence Ion: The most comfortable Note to date. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s hard not to sound hyperbolic when talking about the Galaxy Note 7 design. Its symmetrically curved metal-and-glass chassis makes it so fawn-worthy that I don’t even mind that it’s a fingerprint magnet. It’s one of the most comfortable phones I’ve held all year, as well as the first Note device that I’ve been able to use effortlessly with just one hand.

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Florence Ion: Oh how thin it is. 

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Florence Ion: It’s curved edges are spectacularly symmetrical. 

The Galaxy Note 7 is surprisingly smaller than the Nexus 6P, which is taller and thicker despite its same-size 5.7-inch display. I'm reluctant to classify it as a phablet. Bigger smartphones may have become more common across the board, but Samsung managed to keep the same 5.7-inch display size as the last three Galaxy Note phones while shrinking the body. The result is a smartphone that seems to directly compete with Samsung’s own Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. I like the design of the Note 7 more, however, because it’s not as oblong as its flagship siblings. The available color combinations are attractive, too; I’m crazy about the black-on-black Note 7 we’re reviewing here, though my favorite is still the coral blue variant that will launch later on.

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Florence Ion: The volume buttons continue to exist on the left side, and the power button is on the right.

Because of its smaller size and curved, bezel-less edges, the Note 7’s 5.7-inch display doesn’t appear as big as it is on other phones with the same size screen. Regardless, Samsung’s Super AMOLED Quad HD display continues to be one of the best looking on the market. I enjoyed binge-watching YouTube on the Note 7, though I have to note that I had to carefully cradle the phone so as to not muffle the bottom speaker. The shrinking size of Samsung’s phablet device also means that the buttons are too close together, and I had to use the phone upside down so as to not accidentally activate one of its capacitive navigation buttons.

 

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