What comes after the number five? Seven, apparently, if you’re Samsung. The South Korean tech giant’s Galaxy Note 7 was a highly anticipated Galaxy Note 5 successor, but fast became the focus of a massive recall after it experienced issues with exploding batteries. Samsung officially declared an end to the Note 7 in early October — although new rumors suggest the phone could be making a reappearance.
“For the benefit of consumers’ safety, we stopped sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note 7 and have consequently decided to stop production,” Samsung told Digital Trends in a statement.
If you have a Galaxy Note 7, please return it immediately to the place where you purchased it. You are entitled to a full refund or an exchange for a replacement device of equal value, as per the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall. Please see our full guide on how to return your Note 7 here. The guide also includes recommendations of which device to buy instead.
Samsung could introduce a refurbished Galaxy Note 7 in South Korea
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 may not be totally dead just yet. According to recent reports from SamMobile, Samsung may introduce a refurbished Galaxy Note 7 in South Korea — a device that could carry the model number SM-N935.
The news is interesting, and the move will certainly put Samsung under a lot of scrutiny. At Samsung’s Mobile World Congress event, the keynote was interrupted by Greenpeace protesters who said Samsung should recycle components used in the Galaxy Note 7 — a wish that could now be met.
Samsung recalls the Galaxy Note 7 and stops production
The Galaxy Note 7 may have enjoyed some initial success thanks to rave reviews, but it’s as good as dead. One recall is bad enough, but after several reports of replacement units catching fire, Samsung had no choice but to temporarily halt production of the Note 7. Before the company halted production, all major U.S. carriers stopped selling the device. Samsung has officially ended sales of the Note 7.
“We are temporarily adjusting the Galaxy Note 7 production schedule in order to take further steps to ensure quality and safety matters,” a Samsung representative tells Digital Trends. “We recognize that carrier partners have stopped sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note 7 in response to reports of heat damage issues, and we respect their decision.”
Because production was “temporarily” stopped, it’s possible we may see it manufacturing the Note 7 at a later date once all issues have been resolved. Whether anyone will buy one at that point is another question.
“We are working diligently with authorities and third party experts and will share findings when we have completed the investigation,” the representative said. “Even though there are a limited number of reports, we want to reassure customers that we are taking every report seriously. If we determine a product safety issue exists, Samsung will take immediate steps approved by the CPSC to resolve the situation.”
Specs and OS
It’s unlikely the Note 7 will bounce back, but here’s everything you need to know about the device itself.
The Note 7 runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow — and Samsung initially said that it will attempt to push out the upcoming Android 7.0 Nougat update within two to three months of its release. That’s not happening, thanks to the recall.
TouchWiz, Samsung’s Android-skin, is also present as an overlay on Android Marshmallow on the Note 7. This time, there are some changes that make the User Interface look more modern.
While the 5.7-inch Note 7 isn’t much larger than the 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 Edge, it still manages to add an additional 12 grams of weight bringing it up to 169g — that’s 3 grams lighter than the iPhone 6S Plus. The slightly larger Super AMOLED screen, however, maintains the same Quad HD resolution at 2,560 by 1,440 pixels as the S7 Edge. The Note 7’s screen has the same Edge panels as the S7 Edge, so you can add app shortcuts, contacts, and more.
The device is also powered by the same quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB RAM as the S7 Edge. It’s packed with 64GB of internal storage, but if you need more space the MicroSD card lets you add up to 256GB of additional storage.
That hardware isn’t consistent across regions, though. In August, a Samsung executive confirmed that a variant of the Galaxy Note 7 with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage would launch in China later this year. “It is true that we are reviewing the rollout of a new tablet with 128 gigabyte built-in memory in China because Chinese companies are aggressively doing marketing with high-capacity memory,” Koh Dong-jin, head of Samsung’s mobile division, told the Korea Herald. “We will accept diverse opinions from various regions and also consider whether that move will disappoint Korean consumers.” Samsung was mum on pricing, but rumor has it the device will could be priced significantly higher than the 64GB Note 7 — potentially $916.
Overall, the non-Chinese version’s specs match the S7 Edge, and that continues with the camera — the Note 7 has the same 12-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization, and the selfie camera is packed with 5-megapixels. You’ll also get the normal suit of additional sensors like NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy, and it naturally supports Samsung Pay.
The Note 7 only has a 3,500mAh battery — 100mAh smaller than the S7 Edge, but it is 500mAh more than the previous Note device. Still, the reason why could lie in the charging port as the Note 7 is Samsung’s first, flagship smartphone that features a USB Type-C port. Type-C ports are reversible, and offer faster charging and data transfer. The slightly reduced battery-size is likely offset with faster charging, but we’ll have to wait until we can further test the device to see if the difference is minimal. You’ll also be able to wirelessly charge the Note 7.
Samsung’s phablet may be one of the first smartphones to utilize Gorilla Glass 5 — it’s the latest generation of glass from Corning that’s meant to survive drops from 1.6 meters, or 5.25 feet, about 80 percent of the time. That’s good news, especially on an all-glass phone.
A refined design
Samsung’s Galaxy Note devices have always shared a design theme with its flagship brothers — and this year is no different. The Note 7 plays off the design elements of the Galaxy S7 Edge, notably the popular curved edges of the screen. You’ll find the power, volume, and home buttons in the same place as the S7 Edge. However, the Note 7 is much more comfortable to hold, thanks to its two pieces of identical curved glass and a slimmer metal frame along the edges.
The phablet’s 5.7-inch size mimics its predecessor, and you’ll also find the familiar S Pen which now comes in matching colors. The new blue color is unorthodox and cool in a world filled with gold, silver, and black phones.
If you live in Japan, however, the design will be a little different — it will be brandless. Unlike the rest of the world, where the phone has a very prominently displayed logo, the Japanese edition of the device is brand-free. And it looks stunning.
Samsung hasn’t said exactly why it has removed branding from the Japanese edition of the devices, however a report from CNET speculates that it could have something to do with the tense relations between Japan and South Korea, where Samsung is based.
S Pen, iris scanner, and accessories
The most unique feature that comes equipped with the Galaxy Note 7 is the S Pen. But the stylus only adds a few new features with Samsung’s latest offering– new Air Command functions, for example, lets users hover over text to magnify or translate it. The Korean company is also adding a “unified” app called Samsung Notes where you’ll be able to create handwritten notes, draw, and edit memos all in one place. When you select the brush tool in Notes, the colors will blend as if they were oil paint, making the digital painting experience more realistic on the Note 7.
The pen itself has a slightly smaller 0.7mm tip, which makes writing feel more natural, and Samsung says it also has improved pressure sensitivity. The stylus is also IP68-rated, so you can take it under up to a meter of water for 30 minutes alongside the Galaxy Note 7 in case you wanted to do some sketching at the pool.
Now here’s where the Note 7 gets a little more interesting. If you thought fingerprint scanners just started to catch on, you may be seeing a flourish in iris scanners soon. That’s right, the Note 7 is one of the first flagship smartphones to come packed with an iris scanner. It’s certainly not a first, but it’s not even the first from Samsung itself — no, that title is held by the Samsung Tab Iris.
So the Note 7 packs a fingerprint scanner and an iris scanner, and Samsung says both can be used interchangeably. You’ll be able to authenticate Samsung Pay purchases with the iris scanner, the company says, and developers will be able to optimize their apps to use the iris scanner, though that may take a while.
If you’re still concerned about your security, Samsung’s Knox security platform keeps all the data safe, but the Note 7 also comes with Secure Folder. It’s a folder on the device that “has an extra layer of authentication to keep private and personal information safe.”
We don’t recommend purchasing a Galaxy Note 7. One recall is bad enough, but with reports of replacement units catching fire, the smartphone is not safe to own. We’ll keep you updated if Samsung is looking to halt production indefinitely, and if a second recall is enacted.
This article was originally published in August 2016. Updated on 03-06-2017 by Christian de Looper: Added news that Samsung could reintroduce refurbished phone in South Korea.