It has been a pilgrimage of sorts to attend the Samsung Galaxy Note Unpacked Livestream event which typically occurs late in the evening due to time zone difference. Last year, Samsung disrupted the Singapore smartphone market a little when it officially unveiled the Note 5 and announced its retail availability in Singapore within the same week. Then, at the Livestream event itself, Samsung passed around working units of the just-announced smartphones, with the same hands-on privileges as attendees at the New York global launch.
Last night, I was once again chauffeured to the Note 7 Unpacked event, this time at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza, a familiar venue where Samsung frequently use to showcase their products and technology through experiential zones, like the 4D Theatre Zone using Gear VR and hydraulic seats, hands-on product test areas.
If you are wondering what happened to “Note 6”, Samsung decided to skip the number to align with the Galaxy S series numbering and prevent public misunderstanding that the new Note is not the latest compared to the S7.
After so many years of Galaxy Note releases, Samsung faces the challenging of delighting consumers with more exciting features compelling enough to upgrade their existing devices. Last year, Samsung radically changed the design DNA of their Galaxy devices with front-and-rear glass panels and non-removable battery.
Note 7 is a natural progression over the S7 series that are launched in March this year. Note 7 is now symmetrical front to back, which means a better contouring feel compared to S7 Edge.
Like the S7 Edge, the Note 7 screen is curved at both edges, and Samsung claims it took them much effort to determine the best amount of curvature to achieve the best balance of using the S Pen.
The most attention grabbing feature must be the iris scanner, which works really fast, but a little challenging when my spectacles are on. It is a feature introduced to appease the group of users who highly value security.
The S Pen is also improved further to have greater pressure levels to achieve much more natural drawing outcomes. New Ar Command features like Translation allows users to hover the S Pen over the screen to convert languages.
Most other features are generally inherited from the S7 and S7 Edge, like IP68 water and dust rating, dual sim (4G/3G software upgrade in Q4) and hybrid SD card slot (up to 256GB), fingerprint sensor, NFC, MST, wireless charging, Octa-core (2.3GHz quad-core + 1.6GHz quad-core) processor, dual edge Apps Panel, which I personally find useful to quickly access my favourite apps.
The camera spec is also identical, sporting 12MP dual-pixel f/1.7 with OIS.
Differences include a smaller battery at 3500 mAh (vs. S7 Edge 3600mAh), larger screen at 5.7 inch, built in 64GB storage. The Note 7 weights 169 grams and is 7.9mm thin.
Galaxy Note 7 will be the first Samsung smartphone with USB 3.1 Type-C connector for data and charging. But not to worry, Samsung will include an adapter to allow existing micro USB cables to be usable.
Price, Availability and Pre-Order Gift
The Galaxy Note 7 retails for S$1198 and comes with only 1 model, which is in 64GB. There are 3 colours – Black Onyx, Silver Titanium, Gold Platinum. Pre-order commences from 3 Aug Wednesday at all local telco operators, Samsung Experience Stores, Lazada, Newstead, major consumer electronic stores. All pre-orders will receive a free Lens Kit worth S$198.
The Note 7 will be available in Singapore from 20 Aug 2016.
Should You Buy the new Note 7?
The latest Note 7 is certainly Samsung’s best smartphone. While there are a lot of similarities with the S7 Edge, the Note 7 design and software have been refined in many levels. When I reviewed the S7 Edge early this year, I was wowed by the feel. The Note 7 wowed me even more because the rear glass is now even more curved, yet it is not much bigger compared to earlier Galaxy Note generations. You can think of the Note 7 as a premium version of S7 Edge. If you are a frequent S-Pen user, then the Note 7 is definitely your choice. It remains unbeaten as the most advanced digital-pen smartphone, and now the only smartphone that can write underwater.