I have been a fanboy of Samsung’s Galaxy Note series since the Galaxy Note 2 was released back in 2012. I love the stylus and as someone who uses my phone 6-8 hours each day, I appreciated the features aimed at more power users.
I switched to the Galaxy Note 2, then 3, and then 4 in quick succession until the disaster that was the Galaxy Note 5. In releasing that phone, Samsung completely ignored why people chose the Note series in the first place.
So now along comes the Galaxy Note 7, which I pre-ordered and have been using for the past couple weeks. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best Android phone available at the moment for people who use their phone intensively, but it is still a long way from being the best Galaxy Note that Samsung could have produced.
This phone is the fastest Android phone I’ve used and more than fast enough to accommodate all of the applications and background processes that I throw at my phones. There has been some push back claiming that the Note 7 is significantly slower compared to other devices (especially iOS phones).
Most of the videos I’ve seen demonstrating this all use Samsung’s native interface and apps. I will concede that if you use Samsung’s crappy apps, pretty much every Samsung phone is close to unusably slow. The first thing I always do whenever I get a new Samsung or other phone is install Nova launcher and disable or replace all of the manufacturer’s native apps. Friends don’t let friends use Samsung’s native messaging app. Just don’t.
Once I installed all of my apps and configured the phone to use those, it was more than fast enough.
It is about time Samsung released an Android phone with both 64gb of native storage and a micro-SD expansion slot. It is a bit ridiculous that there aren’t more Android phones that feature more storage — 32gb is just not enough onboard storage in 2016.
The main reason I pre-ordered the phone was because of Samsung’s promotion that also let me score a 256gb micro-SD card at no additional cost. Once that was installed and encrypted, I ended up with a total of 320gb available on the device. Currently I have about 32gb of the onboard storage filled and another 100gb of files on the micro-SD card.
I need a phone that lets me carry around everything I might actually need access to in a day, and Samsung finally delivers.
I have a love/hate relationship with the Galaxy Note 7’s screen. The AMOLED display itself is amazing. Easily the best I’ve seen on any phone I’ve used. With a maximum brightness of 1,000 nits, the screen is viewable in almost direct sunlight. It’s gorgeous.
But then Samsung went ahead and layered Gorilla Glass 5 on top of that. Apparently, this new version of Gorilla Glass was used because it is more resistant to shattering when dropped, but reports emerged shortly after the phone’s launch that the tradeoff was that the phone was more prone to scratching. Gorilla Glass manufacturer Corning went so far as to respond that tests that appeared to show the glass scratching fairly easily weren’t properly conducted.
I call bullshit. I always put my phones in cases because I tend to be a klutz and drop them a lot. But a few years ago I stopped using screen protectors to see whether or not the phones I was carrying would scratch–they didn’t. I keep one pocket free of coins, keys, etc. and carry my cell phone in their when needed.
So, I used an LG G4 for the past year with no screen protector and there isn’t a single scratch on it. After two weeks of using the Note 7 under the same conditions, there are numerous visible scratches on the glass. According to Corning,
Based on our testing, for scratch performance as well as the hardness testing we do that’s widely used in the industry, we believe that GG5 should be performing similarly to GG4.
Apparently, their definition of “similarly” means “not at all like.” If you have this phone, you’re going to need a screen protector. I found a tempered glass screen protector that works fairly nice, but I shouldn’t have needed to if Corning wasn’t blowing smoke up its customer’s asses.
Battery life is decent until it explodes, apparently. As I mentioned, I use my cellphone intensively with multiple background processes a transferring ~100gb/month over 4G. With my LG G4, I had two spare batteries and an Anker external charger. Most days I was using both of the external batteries and occasionally the charger.
Not being able to swap batteries on the Galaxy Note 7 is an annoying drawback. If Samsung did this in order to make it easier to make the phone water resistant (it is IP68 rated), I would have preferred a removable battery to being able to take the phone underwater.
That said, I had fewer battery issues with the Note 7 than the LG G4 largely because of my particular work habits and the Note 7’s support for wireless fast charging. I bought a wireless fast charger for my home office and my actual office, where I spend 80% of my day. I was impressed at how much more convenient the wireless charging was over the wired charging.
There would definitely be times at work with my LG G4 where I might have 20 minutes between a meeting and I’m not going to bother hooking and unhooking the phone up to a cord for charging. But the convenience of being able to set the phone down and just pick it up and go meant that the battery was generally sufficiently charged throughout the day.
There were, however, two times when the Note 7 completely died on me during weekends when I was out doing things. What made these especially irksome was that when I checked the battery life during these two times, it was around 10%. Both times, however, within less than a minute of seeing that the battery was at 10%, the phone actually went to 0% and powered off.
I’m not sure if that was an Android issue or a battery issue, but either way the phone made me think I had 15 to 20 minutes to get to a charger when I really only had a minute or two left. Not cool.
Best. Android. Phone. Yet.