The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the large-screen phone for 2016 that Android power users have been anxiously waiting to upgrade to, and it takes several cues from the Galaxy S7 Edge.
Sure, the S7 Edge already stretched our fingertips into near-phablet territory with a 5.5-inch display in March. But it didn't have two Note-series staples: a 5.7-inch screen and the S Pen.
The Note 7 maximizes the screen space, while minimizing its body, and it includes a small stylus that slides right into the phone – no matter which way you put it in this time.
All of this makes it larger and heavier than most of today's phones. But it's a worthy trade-off if you can wrap your meaty paws around its elegantly curved glass and aluminum frame.
Returning features include a microSD card slot for extra storage, absent from last year's Galaxy Note 5, and an IP68 rating, normally limited to the S range, that makes this first Note phone both waterproof and dustproof to a point.
New in the Note 7 is an iris scanner, Samsung's latest novelty act and your next party trick. You never knew you needed to unlock your phone with your eyes – and, truthfully, you really don't. The fingerprint sensor is still here and works just fine.
This now-launching Android phablet is especially anticipated in the UK and Europe – the S Pen upgrade is long overdue there. Samsung made the bizarre decision not to launch the Note 5 outside of the US and a few other countries.
Skipping over the Samsung Galaxy Note 6 name, the Note 7 is meant to bring it into line with the Galaxy S7 series – and steal the thunder of Apple's iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
It's certainly among the best phones available right now, big or small. Let's take a look to see if the sizable Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the right fit for you.
Design and display
You best like futuristic-looking edge-to-edge displays, because this screen wraps around the left and right sides of the handset with space-age curved glass. No, there's no flat Note 7, grandpa.
It's a lot like the equally-stylish S7 Edge. Only this phone has a slightly bigger 5.7-inch display to go along with that same color-rich Super AMOLED panel and pixel-dense 2K resolution. It's perfect for the new Samsung Gear VR and also supports Mobile HDR.
Mobile HDR allows for darker blacks and brighter whites, and it's more meaningful than jumping to a 4K resolution. But it'll be up to Netflix, Amazon Prime and other popular services to deliver more content with the expanded contrast ratio. Right now, movies and TV shows with HDR are extremely limited and hard to find (without proper labels). In the case of Netflix, HDR costs $2 a month on top of your current subscription. So the screen isn't just futuristic-looking, it's future-proof.
What you can enjoy right now is the always-on display that shows the time, date, battery life and notification icons even when the rest of the screen is asleep. This is new to the Note series and was a big hit on the S7 and S7 Edge. A few improvements have been made in the past five months. There are more color options and background choices, and more notification icons are supported.
It all comes together in a rich-looking, glass-and-metal-fused design that's going to really wow people who are upgrading from those old, plastic-clad Note 4 and Note 3 handsets. Next to the similarly designed Note 5, it's less breakable, too, thanks to an upgrade to Gorilla Glass 5. It's still heavy compared to Samsung's flagship S series, but it's a tad lighter and noticeably slimmer than the Note 5.
Let's be honest, .2 inches of additional screen space doesn't make a tremendous difference in a world where the 5.5-inch S7 Edge exists. It's just a hair better for reading a few more words without scrolling, gaming with a smidge more room for on-screen controls without dying, and watching a 12-hour Netflix binge without feeling as badly for not stopping. It's not your fault, it's the immersive screen!
What really makes the Note 7 superior is its gentler dual curved sides. Both the front and the back of the phone slope inward toward its frame, meeting at its metal band apex. The curves aren't as pronounced as the S7 Edge's one big curve, which boldly slopes the front glass all the way to its nearly flat back. But with a more dramatic curve comes more drama in the way of more false touches.
Thankfully, falses touches haven't been as much of a problem on the Note 7, despite its larger size. It usually worked the opposite way in the past – bigger phones made our hands creep up on the non-existent bezels and we used to hit all sorts of crazy keyboard interference. If you're still having issues touching the side, we recommend searching for a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 case.