Friday, August 19, 2016

Samsung Galaxy Note7 - First look

Switching galaxies

Samsung's new Galaxy Note7 is now available in 10 countries and the availability for several other regions have been pushed back due an apparent "high demand" for the Note7. Thankfully, I pre-ordered one several weeks back and I received my unit in the mail yesterday and since then I have been playing around with it quite extensively.

This article will serve as my experience of using the Note7 from 100% down to just 15%. And as you can see in the picture above, at about 3pm this afternoon, my battery has already gone down to 15%. Essentially, I managed to get about 4 hours of screen on time which is pretty decent. The standby time last night in the other was pretty good as the Note7 only lost 4% of battery. Charging in the other hand was quick and I like that Samsung provided a USB-C to microUSB adapter in the box

Moving on to my actual experience of using the phone, for the most part I got used to the Note7 pretty quickly. Mind you that for the last two years, I have been using small phones and going back to to a phone with a 5.7-inch display did feel a little daunting at first. The biggest (personal) problem that I am facing is to type with one hand and getting used to Samsung's back key that is located on the right side of the device.

Samsung Galaxy Note7 Key Specifications:

— 5.7-inch 2560 x 1440 sAMOLED display
— 64-bit octa core Exynos 8893 or Snapdragon 820 SoC
— 4GB RAM
— 64GB expandable memory
— 12MP f1.7 Dual pixel rear camera with OIS
— 5MP f1.7 front camera
— IP68 certification
— 3,500mAh battery with wireless charging
— 153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9gmm (168g)
— LTE
— Black Onyx, Silver Titanium, Blue Coral, Gold

In addition to that, another thing that I am still getting used to is the curved screen which comes standard on the Note7. I would've preferred a flat screen because each curve is another point of failure. But for the most part, the curved display does give that illusion of a bezel-less display and it is a cool feature to show to my iPhone friends.
What's next for Samsung?"Arguably Samsung has chosen the right path to innovate from the ground up with higher quality materials and innovating closely to Apple's terms meaning that not every year will we be able to see flashy new flagship devices with a radically improved feature set across the board. But the important thing is the they have taken the first step out of." Continue reading.
One of the problems that I encountered with the edge screen is the skill to swipe the app sidebars out and activating the edge UX. This problem is more of a problem for lefties like me because app sidebars are located on the left side and I am used to just swiping the sidebar from a specific position and I also ended up putting the edge panel handle for the edge UX on that particular point. I was mostly accidentally swiping out the edge screen when I am trying to get to the app sidebar.

Another problem I have with the edge screen is when I am using Outlook or Gmail. 9 out of 10 time that I intend to swipe the app sidebar to browse different email folders, I end up just archiving a message with the swipe. Not a major problem by any means but I'll probably need some time to get used to it. 

Moving on to the next micro-problem that I have with the Note7 and this is the Samsung software. At some point, I was close to switching back to Nova Launcher but then I persisted on. By no means do I like Samsung's TouchWiz launcher but I am determined to give it a try before switching back to Nova Launcher. Who knows, I might end up liking it?

Anyways, one of the oddities with the Samsung launcher on the Note7 is Samsung Themes. I have always thought that Samsung Themes was like an app store but as I soon found out, it is actually a system level menu for configuring wallpapers and icons.

The stock icons that came with the Note7 looked horrible because it had like this bubble around app icons which is designed to make app icons blend in with each other in the home screen and app drawer. Initially I thought the icons were meant to look like that, so I installed another icon pack. But after fumbling about in the settings menu, I found out there is actually a way to disable the borders around the app icons.

Another thing that I am a little bugged about the stock Samsung theme is that they really need to have like a dark theme. But that is easily fixed with third party themes on the Samsung Theme store but I would definitely like to see Samsung add a stock dark or black theme option.

Bad stuff aside, there is actually something about Samsung's TouchWiz software that I really liked. And that is the lockscreen, specifically, the lockscreen wallpaper which changes in color depending on the angle the phone is tilted. This only works for the stock Note7 wallpaper but it is a cool thing nevertheless.
Next up is the hardware of the device. As you might have noticed, I got the Blue Coral Note7 which is the latest color option from Samsung. Think of it as the Rose Gold iPhone 6S of the Samsung world. In person, the Blue Coral Note7 looks as stunning as it is in pictures. I didn't actually have the opportunity to see the Blue Coral Note7 in person because the stores I visited only had the black and silver models. So, when I opened the box yesterday, it was my first actual look at the color option.

This color option definitely looks much better than Samsung's first attempt to put blue glass on a phone with the Blue Topaz Galaxy S6. The interesting thing about the Blue Coral Note7 is that the aluminum frame looks like a shade of rose gold. And just like the back of the device, the frame has a different color tone depending on which angle you look at it. 

As you can see in the pictures above and below, different lighting conditions will make the phone look slightly different. And yeah, the Galaxy Note7 is IP68 dust and water resistant so I had a little fun at the faucet. 
The last thing I'm going to talk about is the fingerprint scanning home button of the Note7. This is actually the first time that I am using a fingerprint scanner on a phone and the experience so far has been pretty good. The fingerprint scanner is quite accurate for the most part but it doesn't seem to work with the presence of liquid.

That is where the Iris Scanner comes in. The Iris Scanner is one of the key features of the Note7 and based on my experience with Windows Hello (AKA facial recognition) on the Surface Pro 4, I was a little skeptical about how effective the Iris Scanner on the Note7 will be. As for the actual performance, the Iris Scanner on the Note7 has yet to fail me. yet.

Additionally, I like the fact that Samsung allows both the Iris Scanner and Fingerprint sensor to be used as an authentication option at the same time. Another nice thing that Samsung has put on the software is that after two failed tries of the fingerprint sensor, the Iris Scanner will automatically be put into action. It's these kind of small things that make the experience better.
And that is about if for me right now. I will have more to add on about the Note7 once I get more time with it and basically right now, everything about the Note7 is good for me. Even the bottom firing speakers that reviewers say to be not good is excellent for me. That's because I have been using cheap phones for too damn long.

I didn't actually use the S Pen today so I will probably do a follow up article about using the new Note7's S Pen which doesn't go in the slot backwards. #pengate

And the last thing I have to say is a little rant about two things regarding the Note7. The first is like a PSA to all publishers and people online, the official nomenclature for the Galaxy Note7 is like that. Notice the lack of a space between the words Note and 7. Samsung started rolling out this new nomenclature with the Note5 last year but interestingly, many sites are sticking with Galaxy Note 7. I am just a little bugged out about this matter but it's not like a big thing. 

Another thing is the pricing for the Note7. A lot of people are calling the Galaxy Note7 as Samsung's most expensive smartphone and that's fine by me but some are also calling it overpriced. Sure, the phone is the priciest device Samsung had ever made but at $850, it is actually the same price as the same tiered iPhone 6S Plus.

Insider talk

The title of this article is a little misleading in a sense because this is not my first look at the device, rather it is like my third look. I played around with the Note7 at the Verizon Store and BestBuy a couple weeks back pretty extensively but that was only the black and silver models. The store didn't display the blue coral model which was the one I decided to get.

Right now, I am not planning to do a full review of the Note7 because I have a couple of articles to finish up like one about dbrand and another about Amazon. I have to admit that the last article was pretty rushed actually. But, the weekly article rollout will be back beginning next week, hopefully.