Hands-On The Samsung Galaxy Note7 With Revamped Gear VR Headset

Earlier this morning, Samsung held its latest Unpacked event in New York City where it unveiled the highly anticipated Galaxy Note7 smartphone. At the event, Samsung also announced U.S. availability for the Gear 360 camera (it arrives August 19th with a price tag of $349) and a revised Gear VR headset that features USB-C connectivity to support the new Galaxy Note7.

You can read our coverage of the initial Galaxy Note7 announcement here.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 2

For a quick refresher, the Galaxy Note7 skips Qualcomm’s brand spankin’ new Snapdragon 821 SoC and instead uses the tried and true Snapdragon 820 with Adreno 530 graphics, though there will also be an Exynos powered version, depending on the region. The smartphone also comes with 4GB RAM, 64GB of internal storage (twice that of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge), a 5.7-inch QHD curved Super AMOLED display, microSD expansion, and a 3,500 mAh battery. The Galaxy Note7 also gains IP68 water and dust resistance, which was something that was missing with its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 5. 

And of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the phone's most talked about feature — a built-in iris scanner. The iris scanner adds another biometric security option for users (in addition to the fingerprint scanner built into the home button), and allows user to unlock their smartphone using their eyes. The iris scanner can also be used to lock photos, apps and other content separately from the rest of the smartphone’s data, using Samsung's Knox technology. This is definitely a case of “For Your Eyes Only” played out in the smartphone realm.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 3

During the Unpacked event, we had the chance to get our hands on both the Galaxy Note7 and the new Gear VR, and both are clear evolutions of their respective predecessors. The Galaxy Note7 continues the same classy metal and glass construction as seen on the Galaxy Note 5, but now includes the chic curved display cribbed from the Galaxy S7 Edge.  Build quality remains impeccable and that gorgeous display continues to be the star of the show.

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As for the Gear VR, it features native support for the Galaxy Note 7 (and future Galaxy smartphones) thanks to the inclusion of a USB-C connector. A microUSB connector is also included (it is swappable with the USB-C connector) in the box so that the new Gear VR is backwards compatible with previous Galaxy smartphones like the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6.

The exterior has ditched the primarily white finish for a darker look (the darker materials extend to the interior of the Gear VR, which helps further the illusion that you’re fully immersed into your virtual environment). The field of view of the Gear VR has also been bumped from 96 degrees to 101 degrees, which should give a slightly better view of your digital surroundings.

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All in all, the new Gear VR seems like a fine upgrade from the previous version and retains the $99 price tag. As for the Galaxy Note7, it will be available for pre-order starting tomorrow and will be be available at all major U.S. wireless carriers on August 19th.