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Galaxy Note 7 hands-on: Samsung's productivity phone takes baby steps forward

Florence Ion | Aug. 3, 2016
The Note 7 is a polished productivity machine, but sticks to a familiar formula that's always served Samsung's Note line well.

The S-Pen’s Air Command feature is back, too. You hover your pen over the screen and click its side button to bring up this quick menu to various often-used app. In the new Air Command, Samsung consolidated the S-Note and Action Memo app into one item, and added an instant-translate feature to the menu. This new feature lets you translate individual words by simply hovering over them. Note that it doesn’t work with full sentences, so you’ll want to use Google Translate for demanding translations.

My favorite feature of the Note 7 was introduced in the Note 5: the ability to write on the screen without unlocking the phone. If you need to take a note, just pop out the S-pen and start writing. The S-Pen is water-resistant, too, so you can take notes even when it’s raining.

A Galaxy Note with Edge features

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The TouchWiz UI still features a blue wallpaper by default, but everything else has been painting a grayish white.

Samsung has had an uneven track record in making intuitive interfaces, but the Note 7 mostly gets it right. Samsung’s bright, blue-hued TouchWiz interface has been dialed down to a soft white-gray. It’s easier on the eyes and looks more modern. I also appreciate the Blue light filter option in Quick Settings that makes the display easier to read in dark environments. Most free third-party apps that provide this feature are riddled with ads, so it’s nice to have the native offering.

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TouchWiz’s new notifications shade is easier to look at. 

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There’s now a Blue Light filter available in the Quick Settings menu. This makes it easier to see the screen in darker environments.

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The Note 7’s Edge screen lets you pin your favorite apps for one-handed access. 

The Note 7 comes standard with the Edge panel introduced in the Galaxy S7 Edge. It’s accessible via a peek-a-boo tab that hangs around on either side of the screen, depending on where you like it. You can have a total of nine different Edge panels, including a Tasks Edge (which adds shortcuts to oft-used tasks) and Apps Edge (which offers quick access to favorite apps). The Edge panels are supposed to make it easier for you to use the Note 7 one-handed, but they really only work if you train yourself to take advantage of the specific shortcuts.

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The Galaxy Note 7 features a Secure folder that hides away super secret files and apps. 


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