The big day is here at last. Well a big day, not the big day, since this is Samsung's second major smartphone announcement of the year. In any case, today is the day the company reveals the Galaxy Note 7 to the world, while we all pretend we haven't noticed all of the leaks over the past few weeks.
So what's the story behind the latest phablet to fly Samsung's factory nest? Here's everything you need to know about the Samsung Note 7.
Were you expecting a new Samsung phablet with a flat screen? This is 2016, you fool -- there won't be one. That's right, the Galaxy Note 7 will be curved screen-only. This time out, Samsung's doing away with any sort of 'limited edition' pretence and going all in.
Straight off the bat, you'll notice that this phone bears a striking resemblance, both in hardware and software, to the excellent S7 Edge. Funnily enough, the most noticeable difference between the two handsets isn’t the stylus. It’s that the Note 7 is better to hold than Samsung’s previous attempts at Edge designs. That’s thanks to its symmetrical design. The back of the phone mimics the front of the phone so it's all curves instead of blunt edges.
As expected, the screen itself has a 5.7-inch Quad HD/2K resolution (2560 x 1440), and uses Samsung's Super AMOLED display technology. Usual caveats apply here, with bright colours, true blacks, and so on. No real change here, not that it needs it. The screen is also special in that you can use the Note 7's stylus to type on the phone, even when it's locked. That's... good? Maybe? I imagine some people will find use for it.
Samsung hasn't just stolen and improved on the S7 Edge’s curves, it's tacked on Edge UX, a set of software shortcuts that were previously exclusive to Edge smartphones.
Finally, as is the way with non-Apple phones these days, Samsung's made the jump from microUSB connectivity to USB-C. So you get all the advantages of the new USB standard, like the faff-free, reversible cable, along with the big disadvantage -- the fact you can't buy any old cable on eBay for 5p and expect it to not fry your phone.
On paper the Note 7 looks a little bit basic. The main camera shoots photos in 12MP resolution, with an f/1.7 aperture. The front camera is has 5MP resolution and the same f/1.7 aperture. The eagle-eyed amongst you will remember that these are the same specs as the Galaxy S7. That should produce some excellent shots, especially in low light.
While we won't know how photos look until we can get our hands on the different devices, we at least have a basic idea of what to expect.
This is where people are going to get a little bit angsty. Remember last year when the Galaxy S6 didn't have a microSD card slot, and then a few months ago when it returned for the Galaxy S7? Fortunately, Samsung has come through again with expandable storage. It definitely hasn't forgotten about that backlash.
Though the phone's only available with 64GB of internal storage, you can pump that up by up to 256GB.
The big news is that the Note 7 is taking biometrics beyond the fingerprint scanner we've all come to expect from premium phones. As the rumours suggested, the Note 7 has a built in iris scanner for extra security.
It's definitely the most “whoa future” on the Note 7. The infrared scanner can log into your smartphone by scanning your eyeballs. Samsung sees this as an added security layer on the Note 7. To take advantage of the retina scanning, it’s even added a new application, Secure Folder, that requires a retina scan if you want to access it. The Secure Folder is where you’d store important information like passwords, documents, or nudes (I don’t know you. I don’t know your life).
Although retina scans with your phone are super cool and surprisingly fast, it doesn’t appear to do much beyond the lock screen and Secure Folder. Though Samsung says it’ll soon be adding the feature to other apps, like Samsung Pay.
Again, as previously revealed by leaks, one of the main bits of accessory news coming out of the Samsung event is that the Note 7's stylus is also water resistant. So that means if you really feel the need to draw on your phone at the bottom of the local reservoir/swimming pool, you can.
As expected, there's a new update to the Gear VR which we'll discuss in greater detail in a separate post. The basic gist of the update is that it now has USB-C connectivity to support the Note 7, without losing backwards compatibility with older Galaxy phones that still have microUSB. It also has a wider field of view compared to last year's model.
Pre-orders for the Galaxy Note 7 begin on on August 16th, and it will be released across Europe on September 2nd. If you make your pre-order with participating retailers, you'll get a free Gear VR lumped in too.
You can register your interest in the handset with Carphone Warehouse here.