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Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review: Samsung’s exploding phablet

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £739
inc VAT (SIM-free)

Samsung's infamous Galaxy Note 7 was a monstrous smartphone, if only it didn't explode


Processor: Octa-core 2.3GHz Samsung Exynos 8890, Screen Size: 5.7in, Screen resolution: 2,560×1,440, Rear camera: 12 megapixels, Storage (free): 64GB (52.8GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Dimensions: 154x74x7.9mm, Weight: 169g, Operating system: Android 6.0.1

See all of the best Samsung Galaxy Note 7 deals on uSwitch


Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review: Battery Life

Samsung’s Note phones have always had excellent battery life, but the Note 7 takes it to a different level entirely. With the screen brightness set to our usual measurement of 170cd/m2, the Note 7’s 3,500mAh battery lasted an astonishing 21hrs 57mins in our continuous video-playback test, which is the longest I’ve ever recorded by quite some margin. The only other phone to even come close is the Galaxy S7 Edge, which lasted 18hrs 42mins under the same conditions.

With this kind of stamina, you could easily stretch to two days of use before you need to recharge the Note 7. Just bear in mind that the Note 7 has a USB Type-C port rather than a standard micro-USB connection, so you may need to take your charger and plug with you when you’re away from home.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 camera

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review: Performance

If you’re not particularly fussed about the stylus or iris scanner, then you might be better served by the Galaxy S7 Edge, as both phones (along with the regular S7) share exactly the same internal hardware. Armed with an octa-core 2.3GHz Exynos 8890 processor and 4GB of RAM, the Note 7 is every bit as fast as its S7 cousins, posting scores of 2,114 and 6,175 in Geekbench 3’s single- and multi-core tests.

It’s extremely zippy in everyday use, and web browsing didn’t pose any problem whatsoever. It breezed through our gaming tests as well, rendering 2,545 frames in the GFXBench GL offscreen Manhattan 3 test for an average of 41fps. Again, this puts it on par with the rest of the S7 family, and it handled everything from Hearthstone to Threes without any problem. It’s worth bearing in mind that you’ll get better performance from smartphones with Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chips inside them, such as the OnePlus 3, but the Note 7 shouldn’t disappoint.

The Note 7 also comes with Samsung’s Game Launcher tools, which first made an appearance on the S7 and S7 Edge earlier in the year. This allows you to disable notifications while you’re gaming, lock the Recents and Back keys, record gameplay footage and take in-game screenshots at the touch of a button. Personally, I’d prefer to know when a notification comes in, but the record and screenshot feature will no doubt be useful for streamers and YouTubers.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review: Camera

Another common feature between the Note 7 and S7 family is its rear 12-megapixel camera. This isn’t a bad thing, though, as the S7 and S7 Edge already have one of the best snappers on the market. As you’d expect, image quality was nigh-on identical. My outdoor shots were rich, punchy and full of detail, and indoor shots had plenty of crisp definition, even in low light. Up close, you can see Samsung’s noise-reduction processing in action – plain backgrounds tended to look a little bobbly in places – but on the whole, I had few complaints.Samsung Galaxy Note 7 camera test

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 camera test indoors

To see how this compares with this year’s other top flagships, make sure you read our smartphone camera shootout article which puts the Galaxy S7 (and by definition the Note 7), HTC 10 and LG G5 head to head.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review: Verdict

There’s no denying the Note 7 is a brilliant phone. It’s fast, has an incredible battery life, the camera is excellent, and the new S Pen gives it that special extra something to set it apart from everything else. However, with Samsung having now pulled the phone from its production line, it’s no longer available to buy anywhere in the UK, making it one of the greatest smartphone disappointments of 2016. 

Instead, I’d recommend the S7 Edge instead, as that still looks fantastic and shares many of the same great traits as the Note 7. Its battery life might not be quite as good, but it’s still one of the best I’ve ever seen. The S7 Edge is also cheaper, with contracts starting at around £36 per month without any upfront cost. 

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ProcessorOcta-core 2.3GHz Samsung Exynos 8890
Screen size5.7in
Screen resolution2,560×1,440
Screen typeSuper AMOLED
Front camera5 megapixels
Rear camera12 megapixels
Storage (free)64GB (52.8GB)
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
BluetoothBluetooth 4.2
Wireless data3G, 4G
Operating systemAndroid 6.0.1
Battery size3,500mAh

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