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Samsung Galaxy Note7: An excellent phone for the high-price market

Dan Rosenbaum | Aug. 17, 2016
Samsung's new addition to its Galaxy line of phones has a superb display, well-thought-out design and strong security features.

If you've been watching the Olympics in the U.S., you have certainly seen the inescapable ads for Samsung's Galaxy Note7 phone. But these crushingly ubiquitous ads emphasize the phone's stylus without mentioning two of its prime attractions: its terrific screen and its enhanced security features.

Fast and fashionable

The Note7 measures 6.0 x 2.9 x 0.3 in. and weighs just shy of 6 oz. The superb Super AMOLED screen, curved at the long edges, is 5.7 inches diagonal with QuadHD resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels.

(By the way, let's just call this a phone and retire the increasingly meaningless word "phablet." Smartphones, particularly at the high end, have been getting bigger over the last year. The Note7 is not noticeably bigger than Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge and is actually a bit smaller than the recent OnePlus 3 or the Moto Z Force. We're talking about 0.1-in. differences in length and width.)

Though the phone's edges are pleasingly rounded, its back is completely flat -- save for a modest camera bump -- a requirement for wireless charging. The Note7's corners are more squared off than the S7 Edge's, and the casing strip that divides the front and back of the phone is black on the Note7 and grey on the S7 Edge. Other than that, there is very little to physically distinguish the two phones.

The phone is driven by a Snapdragon 820 quad core processor, has 4GB of RAM and comes with 64GB of storage, which you can expand with a microSD card. There's a fingerprint sensor on the phone's chin that also acts as a Home button and an NFC chip. Radios include Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; Bluetooth 4.2; ANT+ (which is a little unusual; it's a protocol for wireless interoperability between devices); and GPS, Glonass and Beidou (the last two are, respectively, the Russian and Chinese versions of GPS).

I used the AnTuTu Benchmark 6.2 to test the phone's performance: The Note7 scored 141459, behind the 149220 for the Moto Z Force, roughly equivalent to the OnePlus 3 at 140208 and ahead of the S7 Edge's 134599 and the iPhone 6S's 133781. In actual use, the phone felt quick and the screen speed did not drag, nor did the biometric authentication.

The battery is 3,500mAh and supports both Qi and AirFuel wireless charging; the phone uses USB-C for wired charging. (Fully aware of the transition from microUSB to USB-C, Samsung thoughtfully includes a small adapter that you will probably lose.) Battery life, using the AnTuTu drain test, was about five hours. Recharging with Samsung's wireless fast charger (which uses the Wireless Power Consortium's Qi standard) took just under three hours.


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