“The Galaxy Note7 brings a host of new features, but how does it stack up against the Galaxy Note5? Let’s find out.”
The phablet industry has welcomed one of the most anticipated smartphones of this year, the Samsung Galaxy Note7. As expected, the Korean giant has skipped the Galaxy Note6 moniker in lieu of a better alignment between the names of its flagship S series and the phablet Note series. After the storm of leaks and rumours that left nothing to the imagination, the Note7 is officially here. But what’s new? Did Samsung introduce some revolutionary changes to the Note line-up? Is it worth an upgrade over the Samsung Galaxy Note5 (review), or is it just a refinement of the features introduced in the S7 (review) and the S7 edge (review)? But most importantly, does the new handset from Samsung justify the jump in the name? All these questions will be answered in our one-on-one clash between the Galaxy Note5 and the Galaxy Note7. So what are you waiting for? Let’s find out.
Design and Display
Samsung has tried various design elements for its Note series. For instance, consider the back panels of the Note line-up right from the start. The Galaxy Note and Note 2 had a polycarbonate back, while the next two editions chose a faux leather rear panel. With the Galaxy Note5, Samsung took a different turn altogether. The smartphone carried forward the glass and metal design of the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, including a few refinements like a dual-curved back for a better handheld experience. And with that, Samsung has not looked back at all. The Galaxy Note7 features a similar glass and metal design as the Note5, with minor touches to make it even better. The tech-giant has released the Galaxy Note7 in four colours – Black Onyx, Silver Titanium, Gold Platinum and Blue Coral. Both devices use Samsung’s go-to design language, featuring a physical home button between the capacitive back and recent apps keys. The home button in both smartphones can double up as a fingerprint scanner as well. So overall, if design was your key interest here, the new Galaxy Note 7 doesn’t seem to offer much.
That is, until we bring in the display of the new smartphone. For the past two years, the brand has opted for a separate variant to make use of a curved display, be it the Note Edge or the Galaxy S6 edge. But, the Galaxy Note7 features a dual-curve display making the device look almost bezel-less on the sides. The UI flows in through the edges, making it seem more fluent than on the flat screen of the Galaxy Note5. And while both devices feature a 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display with a pixel density of 518ppi, the Note7 reduces the overall footprint, making it even more comfortable to hold in the hand. But what makes it stand out is the use of Gorilla Glass 5 for both the front and back panels of the device.
Samsung has been known to make quality processors themselves, with its Exynos range of SoCs often giving their Snapdragon counterparts a run for their money. The Galaxy Note5 utilised the company’s own Exynos 7420 octa-core processor, aided by a generous 4GB of RAM. Now if we compare the Galaxy Note7 with this, the new smartphone uses a more powerful Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890 processor depending on your region, while still retaining the 4GB of RAM from earlier. Many people have expressed their concerns that the Galaxy Note7 should have packed 6GB of RAM instead. But rest assured, 4GB of RAM is also enough for heavy multitasking. Overall, the Note7 brings in the customary boost in performance as expected from a next generation device. Good job, Samsung.
Some interesting new additions
Okay, we can’t hold back any longer. The Galaxy Note7 is the first device in Samsung’s smartphone arsenal to sport an iris scanner for improved security. And that’s just the beginning. There are hoards of new features like a new Notes app, an always-on display, instant translation using the S-Pen and what not. The company has even introduced its cloud service, with free 15GB of space for the users. Just like the S7 and the S7 edge, the Note7 is IP68-certified for protection against dust and water. Furthermore, the brand is touting that the display on the Note7 supports HDR videos, thanks to the mDNIe chip inside. Lastly, for all those gamers out there, the Note7 features support for the new Vulkan API. None of these features are present on the Galaxy Note5, at least for now.
Camera, Storage and Battery
The Galaxy Note7 features the exact same camera set up as seen on the Galaxy S7. That is, a 12MP dual-pixel rear camera with dual-LED flash, coupled with a 5MP selfie snapper. On the other hand, the Galaxy Note5 featured a 16MP rear shooter and a 5MP selfie camera. Don’t get fooled by the loss in megapixel count though. The camera on the S7 is one of the best we’ve seen in recent times, and we expect nothing different from the Note7.
On the storage front, the Galaxy Note5 came with 32GB, 64GB and 128GB storage variants with no room for memory expansion. However, much to the delight of many users, the Galaxy Note7 marks the return of the microSD card slot in the Note series. The device supports microSD cards up to 2TB to increase the super-fast 64GB of UFS 2.0 onboard storage.
Neither of the devices come with a removable battery. The Note5 draws power from a 3,000mAh battery, while the Note7 comes equipped with a 3,500mAh battery with wireless fast charging support. Another noticeable difference is that the Galaxy Note7 uses a USB Type-C port for charging, making it the first Samsung device to use the new port for charging and data transfer.
Software and Connectivity
Out of the box, the Note7 runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, while the Note5 has also received the Marshmallow treat in recent times. Samsung has refined their TouchWiz user interface to take a unified approach on Android. The new software experience will introduce softer colours and uniformly rounded icons to make it easy on the eyes. The Galaxy Note7 also gets all the edge panel features from the Galaxy S7 edge, making the curved screen very good asset for multitaskers.
On the connectivity front, both phones feature 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, mobile hotspot, Bluetooth, NFC and A-GPS. VoLTE is also supported by both the Galaxy Note5 and the Galaxy Note7.
Pricing and Availability
In India, the 32GB variant of the Galaxy Note5 is available online at a price of Rs 40,000 (~$600), but we do expect the company to make a price cut soon. Now the million dollar question… when can you have the Galaxy Note7 in your hands. Well, the answer is soon, pretty soon. The smartphone will be released starting August 19th in the US, while pre-orders for the same will go live in the following days across a number of countries. Users in India can expect the smartphone to be launched in the second week of August, as we exclusively reported earlier. Samsung is yet to reveal any official details about the pricing of the device. The company is also betting big on personal fitness, releasing the Gear Fit 2 and the IconX at the same event as the Galaxy Note7.
Although much about the Galaxy Note7 was already known, courtesy of the leaks and rumours, Samsung has done enough to have us interested. The new UI changes, HDR video, iris scanner and new additions like the Samsung Notes and Samsung Cloud are something that have has us even more excited. Is the Note7 worth an upgrade over the Note5? Probably not. But it sure offers a host of features that the Galaxy Note5 users will miss. Kudos to Samsung for giving priority to virtual reality and fitness as well. These are two sectors that might rule the tech world in the near future.