Mobility

Samsung Galaxy Note7: The smart person's guide

This impressive smartphone has everything from a biometric iris scan to an S Pen that can translate text, take scrolling screen shots, and create GIFs.

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The new Samsung Galaxy Note7 has a wireless charging option.

Image: Teena Maddox/TechRepublic

ALERT: The Samsung Galaxy Note7 has been recalled and discontinued. If you own a Note7, you should return it to Samsung immediately for a refund.

The newest smartphone from Samsung is the Galaxy Note7, and it's everything that Android fans had hoped to see in the new device. The biggest news is that it includes an iris scan as a biometric security feature to unlock the phone, but there are plenty of other cool features that make it worth taking a look at, including a giant curved 5.7-inch display and it's sure to be an even stronger competitor to Apple devices.

Speculation surrounding the iris recognition technology has been one of the year's most poorly kept secrets, with leaked images and rumors swirling around the Galaxy Note7 and the 2018 iPhone.

The Galaxy Note7 does indeed have this feature, and it works very simply. When you set up the phone, you can opt to scan your irises as a security feature. You place the front-facing camera 10 inches in front of your face, and stare into two circles that are, conveniently, eye distance apart. The scan to set up the security feature takes only a few seconds, and it's highly effective.

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Peer into the cartoon eyes on the Note7 iris scan to unlock your phone.

Image: Teena Maddox/TechRepublic

Fingerprint scans are not as effective for me as they seem to be for other people. My iPhone cannot recognize my fingerprint; the same goes for the Galaxy Note7 fingerprint scanner. But the iris scan on my review model of the Galaxy Note7 has operated flawlessly. Every time I've used it, it's unlocked the phone. Out of curiosity, I asked family members in my household to try it out, to see if it was truly identifying my irises, or if anyone else could use their irises to unlock the phone. It denied anyone else access to my phone.

Overall, I found the Galaxy Note7 to be an impressive phone. Read on to find out the pertinent details.

SEE: Check out all of TechRepublic's smart person's guides

Executive summary

  • What it is: Samsung's newest smartphone is the Galaxy Note7. It is the latest of the Note lineup, with the Note5 as the precursor. Samsung did not manufacture a Note6.
  • Why it matters: This smartphone gives Samsung the ability to more effectively compete with Apple in the enterprise market.
  • Who it is for: It's ideal for users in the enterprise, or consumers. It's supposed to be more secure than phones with only fingerprint scanners, and features an S Pen, which allows for handwritten notes and drawings and can be stored on a new app called Samsung Notes.
  • Why you should get it: You need a new phone, or you just want one, and this is the coolest one on the market at the moment, with the bonus of extra security features.
  • Why you shouldn't get it: It's expensive. It's $864.99 for the basic phone, although until August 28, 2016, Samsung is offering a package deal where if you purchase the Galaxy Note7 you can choose either a free Gear Fit2 or a 256 GB memory card. Terms apply for this deal, however.
  • How to get it: It's available for pre-order at Samsung's online store, or through Verizon, Best Buy, Sprint, or T-Mobile, and it will deliver on August 19, 2016.
  • What it looks like: See TechRepublic's photo gallery of the Samsung Galaxy Note7.
  • The style quotient: The Galaxy Note7 gets a solid 9 out of 10 on the style scale. Who wouldn't want to be seen with this phone? It's sleek and beautiful, with the curved edge screen design. The accessories put it over the top with the newest Gear VR and Gear Fit2 in the lineup.

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What it is

The Samsung Galaxy Note7 Android smartphone has been the subject of mass speculation, with rumors flying about the iris scanning security option and whether the phone would include it. The good news is that it does have iris scanning, and the even better news is that it works very effectively, unlocking the phone with just a quick glance at the screen.

The S Pen is also worthy of mention. It's more sensitive than on the Note5 to allow for detailed drawings and notetaking.

The OLED 5.7-inch display is bright with stunning colors, and makes the phone stand out from its competitors.

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Why it matters

Samsung has beaten its major competitors to the market with the iris-scanning capabilities on the Galaxy Note7. In this market, being first is everything, since true techies like to have the latest technology.

With this new smartphone, the technological gap has drastically widened between Samsung and Apple. Samsung not only offers the iris-scanning security feature, but it has also updated the Gear VR headset and improved its OLED display.

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Who it is for

It's for everyone who likes high-end phones with multiple features. It's ideal for the business user, with the S Pen featuring Air Command functions where it can allow users to convert languages just by holding the S Pen over the display. The functionality of the S Pen allows for handwritten notetaking and drawings, all of which can be stored with the new Samsung Notes app.

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Why you should get it

Samsung said the iris-scanning feature is more secure than a fingerprint reader. The smartphone also includes useful and fascinating accessories such as the new Gear VR headset, which can be purchased separately. The new Gear VR is being released on the same day, August 19, 2016, to complement the smartphone. There's also a new S-View portable cover and an IP68 water-resistant battery backpack accessory.

The Galaxy Note7 includes both wired and wireless charging, and the 5.7-inch OLED curved display is nothing short of stunning. The smartphone is easy to use, and even if you're a longtime iPhone user, such as I am, you won't have trouble navigating the Galaxy Note7.

In addition, there are the health benefits of the Gear Fit2, which works with the Galaxy Note7. It's a useful device for anyone who uses a fitness wearable, and it only works with an Android smartphone.

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Why you shouldn't get it

The price of $864.99 for the basic phone will be a major factor for some who want to purchase the device. The basic phone comes with 64 GB of storage, and the optional 256 GB memory card is an additional $249.99. Other than the high price tag, there's no good reason not to get a Galaxy Note7.

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How to get it

Head over to Samsung's online store to pre-order the phone now, with delivery set for August 19, 2016. Anyone purchasing the phone through August 28 will have the option to receive a Gear Fit2 fitness band or a 256 GB memory card as a free gift to ship in September. Only 250,000 Gear Fit2 bands and 250,000 256 GB memory cards will be given away, even if someone purchases the phone before the deadline.

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon will carry the Galaxy Note7.

Tech specs

  • Display: 5.7-inch Quad HD Dual-edge Super AMOLED 2560 x 1440 (518ppi)
  • Processor: Quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (2.15GHz Dual + 1.6GHz Dual), 64-bit, 14nm process
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 64 GB
  • Rear camera: Dual Pixel 12 MP
  • Front camera: 5 MP
  • Battery: 3,500mAh
  • Charging: Fast Charging (wired and wireless)
  • Operating system: Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow)

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What it looks like

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Image: Teena Maddox/TechRepublic


SEE: TechRepublic's Samsung Galaxy Note7 gallery

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The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. The Galaxy Note7 makes Samsung a serious contender to overtake Apple in the enterprise market.
  2. The Galaxy Note7 is available for pre-order, and delivers on August 19, the same day as the new Gear VR headset.
  3. The Galaxy Note7's notable features include a curved 5.7-inch display, an improved S Pen, wireless charging, and iris scanning for security.

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About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

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