08-29-2016 09:19 PM
29 12
tools
  1. D13H4RD2L1V3's Avatar
    (This is gonna be a bit of a long one, so bear with me).

    After using my Black Onyx SM-N930F variant of the Galaxy Note7 for about a week, here are my initial thoughts and impressions on the device.
    EXTERIOR

    • The design is absolutely gorgeous. One of the best looking phones I've seen and held. The curved back and symmetrical design helps with handling, and the subtle curve makes it one of the easier phones to hold that are 5.7-inches or above. That said, it's also a fingerprint magnet, and if you have sweaty palms like me, it's going to be quite a fish, so a skin or a case is recommended.
    • I can't really say much about the display. It's typical Samsung AMOLED. Super bright, great contrast, solid viewing angles and is actually not too far off actual color accuracy when you set the display in "Basic" (sRGB) mode. I keep mine at "Adaptive Display" because my guilty eyes are spoiled by oversaturation, though.
    • Reviews don't usually mention this, but Samsung's buttons are actually one of the better ones I've used. They stick out far enough so you can easily feel them and they have excellent tactile-feedback, even when they're covered by rubberized buttons when in a case. However, I wish the power button was a touch lower, as you can accidentally hit either that or the volume-down button if you're trying to press either. The home button was also a nice improvement from the last Samsung I've owned (Galaxy S3), with much better tactile feedback, and the embedded fingerprint sensor is also one of the fastest I have used after a recent OTA, with it unlocking straight away when pressing the button to wake the screen, similar to the iPhone 6s, which was very unexpected.
    • Fit-and-finish was also very solid. There's hardly any QC or build quality issues with the device. It felt solid and doesn't have any weird sounds when it is shaken or moved. However, the clicky-part of the S Pen does wobble quite a bit on my unit. Not sure if this is a common thing, but it does get annoying for a bit after a while. Not that it's a serious deal-breaker, but for an $850+ device, very solid build quality on even something that some might call "an accessory" would be a nice thing to see.
    • Feel and hold is actually a strong point. While I didn't have much of an issue holding the S7 edge, I did need some practice in holding it right, which was a bit of a challenge, really. With the Note7, getting used to it was much easier. Of course, due to the curved display, there will be some instances of accidental touches, but they happen much less often compared to the S7e and overall, it's just easier and nicer to hold.



    SOFTWARE AND PERFORMANCE

    • The last time I gave TouchWiz a proper run-down was with the Galaxy S3, and TW at the time left me with a pretty sour taste in my mouth. The overall look and aesthetics didn't really age well over time, and the performance issues that left my unit almost unusable at times was an exercise in frustration. The Galaxy S6 and Note5 gave me a glimmer of hope that Samsung would redeem themselves in the software department and with the Note7, they have....mostly.
    • First off, TouchWiz is much cleaner in terms of looks this time around. Stuff just feels more organized, especially in the settings menu, and the overall aesthetics feel fresh and much more in keeping with current UX design trends. I'm still not a fan of the heavy usage of the color white throughout the UI, but Samsung's theme store returns and a true dark theme was just an install away, which really improved the look and feel to me, complemented by the much better system touch sounds.
    • But this isn't a light skin. Oh, no. TouchWiz is still very feature-packed, especially with the S Pen stuff. There's stuff like multi-window, pop-up play, an always-on display and much more. There's still quite a lot of features packed into the phone, which is a Samsung thing, which some will like and others may not.
    • The Note7 is a relatively fast phone, especially on this Exynos model. Apps load relatively quickly for real-world use, multitasking wasn't too much of an issue with only a few apps reloading from scratch (though it could be slightly less aggressive as the phone has about 750-1GB of free RAM on average) and I didn't feel like I was missing a beat when switching back and forth between it and the iPad Pro 12.9.
    • However, let's be honest here. This phone DOES lag. However, before you raise those torches and pitchforks, some clarification is needed. The phone only lags when you seriously push it, like installing 50+ apps in the background while watching a YouTube video when your video is being uploaded to Facebook, etc. Scrolling performance is largely fine on mine, but I did experience some dropped frames, especially when opening the Edge panels. When it comes to the aforementioned lag, though, there is one nagging issue. One serious enough that it needs its own bullet point.
    • The serious issue, though, is the serious keyboard lag on SwiftKey. It's terrible. If you type slowly, it has no issue keeping up, but if you type really fast, the keyboard really struggles to keep up. On the stock keyboard, this doesn't really happen. I'm not sure if this is the fault of the software or SwiftKey, but given that SK has also started to act up on my stock Android-powered devices, I'm not ready to blame TW....yet.
    • Oh, and if you're curious about benchmarks, it scores 135,000+ on Antutu and 2100+ on Geekbench 3's single-core and 6000+ on Geekbench 3's multi-core. Don't take those too seriously, though.
    • Overall, the software is much improved compared to a lot of previous Samsungs, and performance has also seen a healthy improvement over the truly-awful performance from past Samsungs. However, it's not perfect, and Samsung still has some work to do in order to further refine and polish the experience, especially on the Snapdragon variant.


    CAMERA

    • The Note7's camera is pretty much the same story as the S7 edge. As in, it's one of the best phone cameras you can get right now. It may have dropped in megapixel-count from 16MP to 12MP, but you really only lose the 16:9 crop and overall image quality has seen an improvement, although it is not immediately apparent if you look at them as the camera on both the Note5 and Note7 are great.
    • The app has also cleaned up. Instead of a ton of buttons to change modes, a swipe gesture takes you to your different modes. I find this more intuitive than the S7's camera app as it doesn't mean you have to reach over to a button as you can just swipe to reveal all the different modes. However, I wish the camera settings menu didn't completely block the composition window, and I wish the Pro mode has extra ISO options because a max ISO of 800 is rather low.
    • I can't really comment on the selfie camera since I never take selfies unless I'm in a group, but it's pretty much the same story as the S7, in being a solid selfie shooter, especially for group shots.


    S PEN

    • The Note isn't a Note without its S Pen. And I've been really addicted to it. It's really become second nature now for me to just whip out that pen and start jotting away notes or anything.
    • Okay, I didn't really do much noting, but I did find it extremely useful as a precise input method, like moving a slider to the best position and also using the brush feature in photo-editing apps like Snapseed.
    • Smart Select is also my new way of capturing only a portion of the screen that I want to share, as I find it much easier and faster to just select a portion of the screen I want to capture and save it rather than saving the entire screenshot, and then cropping for the part I want to share. I wonder why others don't do it, even if we have to use a finger. Oh, and the GIF maker thing is boss. Pretty much the one thing I play around with all-day. No guilt here.
    • Samsung Notes is a disappointment, though. We thought it would be a revelation in the world of Samsung and their endless number of apps for one task, where everything related to noting would be in one app, but instead, Samsung Notes ended up being more like a generic notes app. Admittedly, it has some nice functionality, but some features that were very useful, like Action Memo, is gone, which is quite the disappointment. (It is coming back soon, however). I hope Samsung slowly adds in the same functionality that we loved to use on previous Notes as part of Samsung Notes and made it something that we thought it would be.
    • The pen itself is pretty nice to use, though. The smaller tip allows for much more precise writing and the higher pressure sensitivity meant that it didn't take too long for me to adjust to writing on something that isn't paper.


    BATTERY

    • So far, battery life has been good, but not great as of this time. The Note7's 3500mAh battery plus efficient internals got me through the day with about 20% left to spare by around 8PM, which is not bad at all, especially since I've been using it for quite a ton, especially for chatting with friends and others on Messenger and Hangouts, browsing Facebook and Google+ while watching some YouTube videos and browsing the web regularly on LTE + Wi-Fi at 40-75% brightness (with some instances of full 100% brightness). However, seeing that Android System does drain the battery quite a bit, it can definitely do better. Perhaps Android System's usage will calm down as time goes on.
    • But charging has been adequately fast. On Samsung's Adaptive Fast charger, going from 20% to 100% took around 1 hour and 10 minutes. That's not bad at all for a quick top-off, especially for a large 3500mAh battery. The interesting question, however, is how Samsung implemented AFC/QC 2.0 on a USB-C port. We'll have to wait until folks like Benson and Nathan test it, but so far, power isn't much of an issue.


    OTHER NOTES

    • The speaker is mediocre. It's muffled, has a very "mono" tone and is one of the softer ones I've heard. It gets the job done for speakerphone calls, but for media, you're better off with headphones.
    • The iris scanner works surprisingly well, being able to detect my iris very quickly, even to the point where the preview window doesn't show up. However, it's limited in its functionality right now, but it does pave the way for more potential.
    • Have not tested water-resistance because I'm not going to risk my $850+ device of potential water damage if things go south, especially since Samsung won't replace water-damaged phones under warranty.
    • Good Lock does work on the Note7, but I'd recommend waiting to see if an update comes out, because it's clearly not made for it yet, as the scaling is large, iris unlock is unsupported and performance actually seems to be slightly worse.
    • Yeah, not impressed by the "Device Maintenance" part of the settings. Samsung, do you really have to partner with Cheetah Mobile for stuff like this?


    FINAL THOUGHTS
    The Galaxy Note7 is a bit of a revelation for me. Having once been a vocal critic of Samsung, criticizing almost everything they did whether it's due to TouchWiz or their build-quality, it seems that Samsung has started to understand what it had to do, and they've started to get my attention seriously with the Galaxy S7, which refined the S6 while fixing many of its flaws, resulting in a Samsung device which, for the first time in a while, I actually really want. The Galaxy Note7 eventually became my first Samsung device in a long while because I wanted to see how they have changed since the last (sour) experience I had with them. So far, I'm pretty happy with what they've done and I'm hoping that they continue to actively listen to user feedback because the only thing holding back the Note7 from pure greatness is some missing S Pen features, alongside some performance issues, notably on the Snapdragon variant. Once those are sorted, we have a pretty solid contender for Phone of the Year in 2016.

    Good job, Samsung! (I never thought I'd say this 3 years after ditching the S3).
    08-26-2016 08:12 AM
  2. dpham00's Avatar
    Nice review!
    08-26-2016 08:14 AM
  3. furby23's Avatar
    You are reviewing the exynos version however you make reference to the SD version numerous times. Have you had a good hands on with both? What are the main differences you have noticed? (Im aware of the s7edges but obv note 7 is different so thats why im asking)
    08-26-2016 08:43 AM
  4. Bosbouer's Avatar
    Thanks! Splendid balanced review.
    D13H4RD2L1V3 likes this.
    08-26-2016 08:47 AM
  5. D13H4RD2L1V3's Avatar
    You are reviewing the exynos version however you make reference to the SD version numerous times. Have you had a good hands on with both? What are the main differences you have noticed? (Im aware of the s7edges but obv note 7 is different so thats why im asking)
    I haven't had a proper hand-on with the SD variant just yet, but I've been hearing some performance complaints from quite a number of reviews over the Note7, and it's predominantly the Snapdragon-powered variant.

    I need to get more info on this to really make a conclusion, especially since it's kinda mixed as on one hand, you have some users getting horrendous performance that's slower than a Note5, but on the other hand, you have users getting good performance out of their phones, but it would seem that Samsung hasn't really fully-optimized the software to work with the SD820. It works quite well with the 8890, so I'm crossing my fingers that Samsung is working on some OTAs to improve responsiveness and performance not only on the SD variant, but also on the Exynos variant.

    My suggestion? Try one out yourself and see how it's like. Every person has a different experience even with a similar device, and you really have to try it yourself to see if it fits your usage pattern and needs best.
    libra89 likes this.
    08-26-2016 08:57 AM
  6. dsignori's Avatar
    Very thorough review. My experience is about the same so far I would say. Very happy with mine so far. ( I just want that brightness slider back up at the top of the notification panel :-)
    D13H4RD2L1V3 likes this.
    08-26-2016 12:27 PM
  7. D13H4RD2L1V3's Avatar
    Very thorough review. My experience is about the same so far I would say. Very happy with mine so far. ( I just want that brightness slider back up at the top of the notification panel :-)
    Good Lock helped in that regard, but I'm probably going to switch back to the regular UI because I want my iris unlock back.

    And thanks. I'm pretty happy with it so far, and I'm hoping Samsung makes it better.
    08-26-2016 12:33 PM
  8. neil123456's Avatar
    Really good detailed review, thanks.

    I will hopefully be getting the Exynos Unlocked N7 so hoping that will help performance in general use (I'm not much of a gamer on my phone) and battery life.

    Keep us updated on how it performs over the next days/weeks as I am concerned of performance reducing over time.

    Thanks again, brilliant review.
    08-26-2016 06:07 PM
  9. ThrottleJohnny's Avatar
    Maybe the best overall review I've read for the Note. Thanks for giving such a well thought, detailed review of the version we unfortunately won't see here in the states!
    08-26-2016 06:15 PM
  10. Mdbills484's Avatar
    Can you please comment on the DAC/ headphone audio quality?
    08-26-2016 06:19 PM
  11. dakini03's Avatar
    Maybe the best overall review I've read for the Note. Thanks for giving such a well thought, detailed review of the version we unfortunately won't see here in the states!
    Actually it's on preorder now in the U.S. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...C&A=details&Q=
    08-26-2016 06:58 PM
  12. ThrottleJohnny's Avatar
    08-26-2016 07:25 PM
  13. bhatech's Avatar
    I'm so tempted to return my T-Mobile version and preorder the exynos one from B&H. The only thing stopping me is they don't have solid release date other than early September and I don't want to be without Note 7 for that long. At the same time don't like the carrier models... Decisions ..
    08-26-2016 07:58 PM
  14. dakini03's Avatar
    I'm so tempted to return my T-Mobile version and preorder the exynos one from B&H. The only thing stopping me is they don't have solid release date other than early September and I don't want to be without Note 7 for that long. At the same time don't like the carrier models... Decisions ..
    Me too. I haven't ordered my N7 yet. The only thing is that you have a one year warranty with B&H, not the manufacturer's warranty. They're a very reputable company, so i think it's probably fine, and possibly even easier to deal with.
    08-26-2016 08:34 PM
  15. D13H4RD2L1V3's Avatar
    Can you please comment on the DAC/ headphone audio quality?
    The Exynos version uses a different DAC compared to the Snapdragon version. According to SamMobile's app, it's a "Lucky CS47L91 Sound" chip, like the S7.

    From experience, the best I can say is that it delivers good sound, but don't expect HTC 10-level audio quality, let alone that of an LG V10 and Axon 7. However, it's definitely better than that of the Snapdragon version, which uses the built-in DAC on the 820, which is known for being functional, but nothing special.

    I'm not entirely sure who makes the DAC, as some say it's Wolfson while others say it's Cirrus Logic. Cirrus Logic acquired Wolfson in 2014, so either would be likely.
    08-27-2016 12:07 AM
  16. russel5150's Avatar
    Very good review!!

    This is why some people have more credibility than others, they can point out faults and real world usage.

    Thank you for taking the time to post this (although i am sure you enjoyed doing it!) Lol
    Serkle K likes this.
    08-27-2016 04:43 AM
  17. TLD1's Avatar
    Nice review. Thanks.
    D13H4RD2L1V3 likes this.
    08-27-2016 06:59 AM
  18. Serkle K's Avatar
    This was a very thorough and well thought out written review! It make me wonder if I should hold out a while longer to see if the exynos version ever becomes available here in the states. I'm really on the verge on picking one up to upgrade, but I've been reading what seems like more issues with what would fall into my everyday usage.

    Great review, great job!
    D13H4RD2L1V3 likes this.
    08-27-2016 07:08 AM
  19. D13H4RD2L1V3's Avatar
    A few notes if you're considering one in the US.

    The Exynos Note7 only works on GSM carriers. Also, you won't get goodies like carrier aggregation and VoLTE.
    08-27-2016 07:56 AM
  20. Serkle K's Avatar
    A few notes if you're considering one in the US.

    The Exynos Note7 only works on GSM carriers. Also, you won't get goodies like carrier aggregation and VoLTE.
    what is carrier aggregation?

    I'm on AT&T so I'm not worried about the carrier. More worried about when it would be available and how much.
    08-27-2016 11:52 AM
  21. D13H4RD2L1V3's Avatar
    what is carrier aggregation?

    I'm on AT&T so I'm not worried about the carrier. More worried about when it would be available and how much.
    Basically the ability to utilize more than one carrier/channel for increased bandwidth and faster plus more consistent data speeds.
    Serkle K likes this.
    08-27-2016 11:55 AM
  22. Serkle K's Avatar
    Basically the ability to utilize more than one carrier/channel for increased bandwidth and faster plus more consistent data speeds.
    I see... thank you!!
    D13H4RD2L1V3 likes this.
    08-27-2016 12:01 PM
  23. D13H4RD2L1V3's Avatar
    Oh yeah, I have to add that I also have Samsung's Fast Wireless Charger.

    It charged mine from around 40% to 94% in a mere hour. Pretty happy with the speed, especially for a wireless charger.
    08-28-2016 05:52 AM
  24. jamesrick80's Avatar
    The Exynos version uses a different DAC compared to the Snapdragon version. According to SamMobile's app, it's a "Lucky CS47L91 Sound" chip, like the S7.

    From experience, the best I can say is that it delivers good sound, but don't expect HTC 10-level audio quality, let alone that of an LG V10 and Axon 7. However, it's definitely better than that of the Snapdragon version, which uses the built-in DAC on the 820, which is known for being functional, but nothing special.

    I'm not entirely sure who makes the DAC, as some say it's Wolfson while others say it's Cirrus Logic. Cirrus Logic acquired Wolfson in 2014, so either would be likely.
    Actually the snapdragon note 7 has the same Qualcomm Aqstic™ audio codec DAC chip like the HTC 10, the audio is much better than the S7.
    08-28-2016 12:02 PM
  25. qnet's Avatar
    I agree, great review. I'm so tempted to try the unlocked version. It doesn't go on sale on Amazon until the 31st.
    Serkle K likes this.
    08-28-2016 12:16 PM
29 12

Similar Threads

  1. How do I delete VR Gear app from my Galaxy S6
    By AC Question in forum Ask a Question
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 09-14-2016, 03:18 PM
  2. Shortcuts On Home Screen Not Visible
    By Terri Farrell in forum Samsung Galaxy Note 7
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 08-26-2016, 10:32 PM
  3. Replies: 10
    Last Post: 08-26-2016, 05:46 PM
  4. Galaxy 7 Loading blank page
    By Marymack7 in forum Samsung Galaxy S7
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-26-2016, 12:02 PM
  5. How I would redesign the N7 for 217
    By mistic99 in forum Samsung Galaxy Note 7
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 08-26-2016, 08:16 AM
LINK TO POST COPIED TO CLIPBOARD