What comes after the number five? Seven, apparently, if you’re Samsung. The South Korean tech giant’s Galaxy Note 5 successor is the Galaxy Note 7 — the highly-anticipated 5.7-inch smartphone has been released, but is currently the focus of a massive recall. Here’s everything you need to know, and for our full review, head over here.
Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review
Samsung issues a global recall of the Galaxy Note 7
The Galaxy Note 7 may have enjoyed some pretty nice success, but the company now has a global crisis on its hands: Due to a faulty battery cell, the company is recalling every single shipment of the Galaxy Note 7 after a total of 35 cases of batteries catching fire were reported worldwide. If you’re one of the lucky many who got the device early, don’t worry, Samsung will replace your phone free of charge with a new one in the next few weeks.
“We acknowledge the inconvenience this may cause in the market but this is to ensure that Samsung continues to deliver the highest-quality products to our customers,” said the company in a blog post. “We are working closely with our partners to ensure the replacement experience is as convenient and efficient as possible.”
Price and availability
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 is compatible with GSMA and CDMA bands, meaning you’ll be able to use it on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. You can buy the phablet from the four carriers, as well as U.S. Cellular, now. The Korean giant is also offering a few incentives that run for a limited time — if you buy the Note 7 or Galaxy S7 Edge, you’ll get a free Gear Fit 2, or a 256GB memory card from Samsung. You can enter the promotion here by Sept. 18, and you’ll have to list where you bought your device from and through which carrier.
Also, if you make your first “qualifying” purchase with Samsung Pay, you’ll get $20 in rewards.
The Note 7 is available in Blue Coral, Black Onyx, and Silver Titanium at Samsung’s website, as well as the four major carriers. U.S. Cellular is only offering the silver and black variant.
- AT&T is listing the Note 7 for $880 off contract, or on a monthly payment plan: 30 installments of $29.34 on AT&T Next, or 24 payments of $36.67 on AT&T Next Every Year. The carrier is sweetening the pot with $695 in monthly AT&T Next credits if you pick up a second Note 7, plus a Galaxy Tab E for an additional $1.
- T-Mobile is selling the Note 7 for $850 unlocked, or $70 down and $32.50 for 24 months on a payment plan. As an added benefit, T-Mobile’s throwing in a year of Netflix for customers who order before August 28, or you can also choose between the Gear Fit 2 and the 256GB memory card.
- Verizon has the Note 7 for $864 off contract, or, if you opt to go the monthly route, $36 per month for 24 months.
- Sprint is selling the Note 7 for $850 off contract, but you can also pay it in a monthly fee of $35.42 for 24 months.
- U.S. Cellular is offering the Note 7 in 20-, 24-, and 30-month installment plans with various prices starting as low as $27.80 per month. If you opt for the 20-month plan, you’ll be upgraded in 12 months.
Folks in the Netherlands and Malaysia will have to wait a bit longer for their Note 7 fix. In early August, Samsung made the disappointing announcement that the upcoming handset wouldn’t begin shipping to those countries until September 9. In the U.K., the Note 7 is available for pre-order from MobileFun for 749 pounds. The online retailer is offering a free choice of Olixar case for those who order before August 19.
Specs and OS
The Note 7 runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow — and Samsung has now said that it will attempt to push out the upcoming Android 7.0 Nougat update within two to three months of its release. It will first gather feedback from users, and of course when you receive the update primarily depends on whether you have a carrier-branded device — if you do, expect to add on a few more months after Samsung releases it to unlocked variants of the Galaxy Note 7.
“It is very important for us to offer up-to-date information with the new OS, but what’s more crucial is to build a stable and seamless platform for users,” Koh said at a press conference, according to Korea Times. “That’s why we are planning to do enough beta testing before any OS updates.”
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.
Related: Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Note 7
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.
Related: Hands on: Samsung Gear VR (2016)
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 you’re getting a fingerprint scanner and an iris scanner, and Samsung says both can be used interchangeably. You’ll soon 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.”
Related: Samsung Gear S3 News and Rumors
Samsung is offering an SView Standing Cover for the phablet, which is essentially is a kickstand. If you think you’ll need the extra juice, you’ll also be able to add an IP68 water-resistant battery to charge your device on the move.
This article was originally published in August 2016.
Updated on 09-02-2016 by Christian de Looper: Added information about recall and Japanese brandless design.
Updated on 08-19-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added information and availability that the Note 7 is now available for purchase.