Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Review: Feature-Packed And Refined [Updated]

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Galaxy Note7 Battery Life And Our Final Analysis

To get a feel for how Samsung's latest Galaxy Note7 compares to other phones in terms of battery life, we ran it through AnTuTu's Battery Test which is a high-load benchmark that aims to drain the battery of a device as quickly as possible. The test sets the display brightness to high and cranks up workloads for the processor, graphics core, and memory and runs through a number of real-world scripted workloads, including web browsing, gaming and video playback.
Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge Battery Life Testing
Heavy Load And Light Workload Testing
Galaxy Note 7 AnTuTu Battery Tester

Though it's a high load test that stresses a phone with various workloads, the nice thing about this benchmark is that it's fairly balanced, consistent and repeatable. Here we see the Galaxy Note7 offer a very respectable performance. It did trail the Galaxy Note 5 of last year by a hair, but then again, the Note7 is a significantly more powerful device, as you can see on the previous page's benchmark numbers

You might notice we aren't offering our usual light duty web browsing battery rundown tests here, though we'll share some anecdotal detail on more standard usage scenarios. Unfortunately, we determined that the variability of dynamic web pages has become too significant to continue using the test, so we'll be looking for another more standardize light-duty battery test in the future. Regardless, in terms of general purpose battery life, again, the Galaxy Note7 holds-up very well, easily offering a full day's uptime on a single charge. It has a slightly smaller battery (3500 vs 3600 mAh) than the Galaxy S7 Edge, a slightly larger display and the S-Pen to keep powered, so we can see the variance in our AnTuTu test scales accordingly. Regardless, the Note7's battery performance translates confidently to real world, mixed usages. It's not a battery life beast per say, but it's more than competent and wireless quick charging is just a short drop away. 

Galaxy Note7 Wireless Charging

Galaxy Note7 Final Thoughts And Our Rating

Samsung's Galaxy Note7 continues the company's tradition of bringing expanded features and capabilities to a large format smartphone. The Note7's new S-Pen offers better performance and functionality than the previous generation, with new features like translation, quick notes on the Note7's always on display, and water resistance. The Note7 has also been redesigned with a sleeker double-curved design that feels even better in the hand and, depending on your personal preference, may look a bit nicer too. It's more "pocketable" as well, as the sharp edges of the previous gen device's flat front design have been rounded and smoothed away in "perfect symmetry," as Samsung likes to call it. The addition of Samsung's new iris scanner is innovative as well, though if security features like this are less of a priority for you, you may feel it's more of a gimmick. We're of the opinion that it does provide a slightly more nimble method of unlocking the device, though it's not quite as fast as a quality fingerprint scan, which of course the Galaxy Note7 offers as well.

Finally, the Note7's 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display is more of the same for Samsung; it's simply the best in the business with great brightness, punchy saturation and high contrast to go with its wide viewing angles. In fact, in addition to its slew of new features, everything physically about the Galaxy Note7 is better than the previous gen Note5, in our opinion, and that's a rather tall yardstick to measure up to.

Galaxy Note7 in Hand

That's not to say the Galaxy Note7 is pure smartphone-tablet perfection. Somewhat alarmingly, Samsung recently stopped shipments of the Note7 for further QA testing, due to reports of a potential issue that could cause the battery in the phone to explode. We've got that story covered here. We didn't have any issues, and neither have a number of colleagues currently using the device, so we're going to have to wait to see how that situation fully plays out. Performance-wise, the Note7 also didn't quite keep pace with its Galaxy S7 counterparts in a few of our tests. These weren't major departures in performance, but minor variances, and for all intents and purposes, the Galaxy Note7 performs in the benchmarks roughly on par with other Snapdragon 820-powered devices. Further on performance, to us, the Note7 felt plenty fast. Some members of the press have made observations about the Note7's responsiveness being not quite up to snuff with other current gen phones. Our experience, however, felt contrary to this. From opening up web browsers, to firing up the camera or Google maps while simultaneously flipping on location services, the Galaxy Note7 feels pretty darn snappy to us. We're just hopeful it will remain that way over time, as we break the phone in a bit more.

There's a lot to like about the Galaxy Note7 and Samsung has evolved their Note line into highly functional, cutting-edge devices with features you won't find in any other smartphone on the market currently. Performance-wise, the Note7 may still be a work in progress, but if top-shelf build quality, a large killer display, great camera performance and adept stylus functionality are important to you, the Galaxy Note7 delivers on all the high points. It's definitely pricey at $850 unlocked, but it's a truly great device. 

Update - 9/1 - 2:20PM EST: We've just become aware that Samsung actually may be considering a recall of some sort for the Galaxy Note7, due to the risk of some models experiencing battery explosions. You can read the full details of the story here. Confirmation and the scope of the potential for recall has not been determined as of yet. However, it has been reported that there are multiple battery suppliers, so this may or may not affect all devices. We have not experienced any anomalies whatsoever with our test unit but will continue to monitor its performance. In the meantime, we've been told Samsung will be reaching out to us directly with more insight. 

Update - 9/1 - 11:40PM EST: A Samsung spokesperson offered the following official statement to us on the matter: "In response to questions on Galaxy Note7, we are conducting a thorough inspection. We will share the findings as soon as possible. Samsung is fully committed to providing the highest quality products to our consumers."

Update - 9/2 - 8:40AM EST: Samsung has indeed issued a global recall of all current Galaxy Note7 devices and will replace all phones. You can read more about it here. We applaud Samsung for stepping up quickly and addressing the issue for early customers of the Note7. 

 hot  not
  • Beautiful, premium design
  • Solid performance
  • Great S-Pen F features
  • Killer camera performance
  • Iris scanner is flawless
  • Best true "Phablet" device. Period.
  • Pricey
  • Occasional performance variances

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