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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.

There is a headphone jack on the bottom left edge. The power switch is on the right edge, volume buttons on the left, and the SIM/microSD drawer is at the top.

Samsung claims the same high level of water resistance for the Note7 as it does for the S7 phones, which is to say IP68: water resistance to five feet for 30 minutes. The screen is covered by Gorilla Glass 5, the newest and latest edition of Corning's tough shatter-resistant glass.

The Note7 runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, but what the company has done with the Settings menu is kind of interesting. Native Android organizes a phone's endless settings into categories like "Wireless and Networks," "Phone," "Personal" and "System." The Note7 does away with those categories but organizes the settings into 13 well-selected groups plus a user manual. Furthermore, each of the settings submenus includes at the bottom a couple of suggestions for what you may also have been looking for. It is well-thought-out, and is surprisingly effective in taming Android's menus.

The S Pen

The signature feature of the Note7 is the S Pen stylus. The S Pen is on the small side -- 4.25 x 0.2 in. with a button about halfway down on one side and another at the top. When not in use, the S Pen docks inside the phone; there's a spring-loaded port on the bottom right edge of the phone, and unlike with the Note5, it's impossible to insert the pen backwards.

The phone recognizes when you remove the S Pen and offers you several options. You can create notes using the stylus -- which is pressure sensitive -- as a brush or a pen, or as input for limited handwriting recognition. (This last is hard for me to test; my handwriting frequently defies even the most sophisticated human interpretation.) Hovering over a word will translate it into English or several other languages. And -- perhaps neatest of all -- you can extract editable text from any screen by selecting it with the pen in Smart Select.

Your enthusiasm for the stylus will depend on how you plan to use the phone. I never did master it entirely, although there were certainly times when it I found it useful -- for example, there's a new feature that lets you jot brief notes that would appear on the sleep screen, where they're hard to ignore. Others could use it to annotate photos: take a picture of something, draw angry red circles to isolate a problem, or write "Fix this now!" and send it off in an email.

Samsung reps have said that it will be possible to buy S Pens to replace ones that are lost. No price was available at press time.


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