GIF everything. One of the best features of the new S Pen is the ability to snag part of a video, record it, and turn it into a GIF in seconds. Samsung told me that the phone will recognize if the video you’re trying to record is copyright-protected, but if not, you make GIFs out of whatever videos you find or record. Here’s my view the other evening:

Quick notes. When you’re at a bar or in a meeting and someone wants to give you their contact information, you might not have a pen and paper to hand, or the patience to open your phone, add the person as a contact and save it. With the Note 7, you can just pull the S Pen out of the phone while it’s locked, and write on the screen, and save the note to the phone when you’re done.


When you write on the screen the colors are inverse to save pixels, but it saves in your notes like this.
When you write on the screen the colors are inverse to save pixels, but it saves in your notes like this.
Image: Screenshot

New security features. Aside from the iris scanner, the Note 7 has an added layer of security for files and apps. The Secure Folder is a password-protected repository for things you’d rather kept private from anyone that might be using your phone. That can be photos, sensitive documents, or even apps: The folder can create an entire second version of an app that will store information just in the folder itself, so you could have two instances of Gmail running—one with your personal email accessible, and one with your work account secured.

What’s not so good

Iris scanner is a little slow. While I found the iris scanner to be pretty reliable, it did seem to be quicker just to use the fingerprint scanner open the phone, instead of holding the phone up and positioning it a certain way so that the iris scanner could properly see my eyes.

It’s not cheap. The Note 7 costs about $850, which is roughly $50 more than the also excellent Galaxy S7 Edge and about $100 more than the starting price for an iPhone 6S Plus.

Battery life is just OK. The phone tended to last me an entire day, flitting between wifi and cellular connections, but for such a powerful device that may lead some to consider leaving tablets (or even laptops) at home in certain situations, it would have been great if the battery could have lasted a little longer. But it does charge very quickly when it does run out of juice.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
In the US, the Note 7 comes in silver, black, and a blue-gold combo.
Image: Samsung

Still a Samsung. Although the company has started to dial back the sheer number of random gimmicky apps that it preloads onto every one of its phones, there is still a palpable veneer that it puts over the standard Android operating system that can be annoying.

Lots of other junk. This phone, in the US at least, also comes preloaded with tons of (relatively unhelpful) carrier-specific apps that you can’t get rid of. (The phone Samsung provided was from T-Mobile, and came preinstalled with eight T-Mobile apps, and for some reason, the Amazon app.)

Should you get one?

The gripes I had with this phone were minor. If it sits well enough in your hand, or you’re a fan of a stylus, then you should absolutely consider the Note 7. It’s probably the best phone on the market right now, and certainly the best Android phone. If you’re an iPhone user you may want to wait to see what Apple announces next month—there’s talk of a “phablet” size phone and waterproof devices—but otherwise, if you’re in the market for a phone right now, this is a great choice.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.