How much would you pay for the best phone?
This could be the best smartphone ever made, if Samsung can stop it exploding. At the time of writing, many of the 2.S million units initially sold were being recalled because of a battery fault that could make them catch fire. This kind of Issue crops up from time to time with lithium ion cells, but anyone thinking of buying a Note 7 will be looking for some serious reassurance from the company before going ahead.
When it’s not on fire, this is a beautiful phone. Samsung’s wraparound ‘Edge’ screen feels uniquely futuristic even while it’s inactive. And when you turn it
When it’s not on fire, it’s a decent smartphone and a wonderful toy
on the vibrant color (covering the full sRGB range) impresses as much as the incredibly sharp resolution. The auto-brightness mode that compensates for the AMOLED technology’s limited illumination is more powerful than on previous Galaxy devices, and the Always On facility keeps the time, date and notifications visible even while the phone Is ‘off’.
What makes this a ‘Note’ is Samsung’s S Pen stylus, which pops out of a slot at the bottom when needed. Partly because of this, the whole phone is relatively bulky, but the rounded shape makes it comfortable to hold, although both , the screen and the glass rear pick S up fingerprints easly. The S Pen works beautifully, complemented by apps and gestures that let you annotate pages, make handwritten notes, and even highlight text in a foreign language to get an Instant translation. Pressure sensitivity makes it feel more like a real pen, and palm rejection technology avoids unintended marks.
A fingerprint sensor below the screen can unlock the phone or activate Android Pay, Google’s contact less payment system. Unusually, the Note 7 also has an iris scanner, an alternative security option which we found reliable with uncovered eyes, mostly fine with contact lenses, but tricky with glasses. In other respects the Note 7 is similar to Samsung’s S7 or S7 Edge, with the same excellent 12-megapixel rear camera and very capable eight-core Exynos processor. It’s not as fast as Apple’s A9 chip, or the Snapdragon 820 in some rival Android phones, but everything ran very smoothly and the battery lasted a remarkable 22 hours of video playback. That’s the most we’ve ever got from a phone.
What’s not to like? The price. As we wrote this, the Note 7 was officially on pre-order at £739 with a free Samsung VR headset, but this deal had already sold out. A few retailers were still taking orders for the phone, at prices ranging from £700 to a frankly exploitative £920. We think this is ridiculous.
At £700, the Note 7 is priced comparably to the iPhone 6s Plus, which has a lower-resolution display, isn’t compatible with Apple’s Pencil stylus, lacks the iris scanner and lasts little more than half as long on a charge, but has a more powerful processor and optical image stabilization. We could live without the Note 7’s iris scanning, or the Edge Screen icon displays that try to make the curved sides useful.
But all of these devices are too expensive. We’d like to see more affordable good-quality phones, not more extras shoveled into the top models to sustain profit margins. The Note 7 is a decent smartphone and a wonderful toy.
5.7m 2560×1440-plxel screen • 12 -megapixel rear camera • 5-megapixel front camera • 64CB flash storage • MIcroSD card slot • 80211,k WI-FI. Bluetooth 42.3C/4C • Android 6.0.1. 154x74x7.9mm (HxWxO) «169g» One-year warranty
If you want to spend this much on a phone, this is a good one to spend it on – but do you?
IPhone 6s Plus
Lacks the Note 7’s extras and two-day battery but is faster. Look for reductions when the iPhone 7 appears