Samsung Galaxy Note 7 launched: How does it compare with the Note 5?

While Samsung Galaxy Note 7 comes with plenty of new bits, how does it stand against the good old Note 5?


It was not too long ago that I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (Dual SIM) and found it to be quite a capable smartphone even though it arrived long after competition moved forward. It was not ahead of its time, but it was no slouch and managed to perform at every task I threw at it. With that said, Samsung just launched its successor today and its not called the Note 6, but the Galaxy Note 7. While it comes with plenty of new bits (some new for the Android flagship smartphones as well), how does it stand against the good old Note 5? Let's find out!

Design

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 launched: How does it compare with the Note 5?

While I did appreciate the design of the Galaxy Note 5, it did look a bit outdated. I was not a fan of the glass back either that was a fingerprint magnet and looked like a mess. To add to it was the existence of the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge and edge+ models, that looked a lot better and had launched a few months earlier. So the design at best seemed like an after thought.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Black Onyx back

As with the Note 7, things look a lot better. You get a design that seems to be inspired by the pebble-like S7 and S7 edge models. There are no sharp edges but well-rounded corners that look modern and will also feel right.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Black Onyx side

The new design along with the curved edge display also makes the new Note 7 easier to hold even though its cut down by just a few millimeters. The metal frame no longer pokes into your thenar (bottom bit of your thumb) when you use the smartphone thanks to its gracefully rounded edges. Still then, you will have to deal with the smudges and fingerprints thanks to its reflective glass back. All-in-all, the design comes with big worthy improvements over its predecessor.

Display

The Note 7 still packs in 5.7-inch QHD AMOLED display. Compared to the Note 5's flat unit, Samsung has used a flexible one that curves at the edges and it looks good. While the display does pack in a few edge gestures and notification running lights like on the S7 edge, it's the stuff on top of it that matters. This is the world's first smartphone with a Gorilla Glass 5 screen. One that is supposed to withstand those 'selfie drops' from a height of 1.5 metres and rough surfaces. This is a good thing, as the Note 7 packs in two symmetrical curved ones on the back and the front.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Black Onyx front side

Indeed, the core feature is not the display, but that it supports mobile HDR video, which is HDR content scaled for smaller displays. In a nutshell, HDR video captures more details in the darker and brighter portions of a scene. The advantage is that you get a lot more detail in the video, with fewer blown out areas.

The bad news is that HDR content requires a separate set of data, it cannot be generated on the fly like upscaling (Full HD to 4K) meaning that apart from the videos you record, every other video is going to look pretty much the same. The good news is that Samsung just signed up Amazon (at least in the US) and it will be providing mobile HDR content for the Note 7 via its Prime service. So no, its not a gimmick anymore.

Hardware performance

Going by the specifications of the Note 7 on paper, it packs in a newer processor in the form  of the Exynos 8890 with an octa-core setup. For reference it is the same one that you get on the Galaxy S7 along with the same 4GB RAM. Thankfully there's 64GB of internal storage and even a microSD card slot which oddly accepts cards of up to 256GB in capacity (what happend to 1TB?). Still, then Note 5 upgraders will see a huge speed bump. Although those upgrading from a Galaxy S7 will not see much of difference.

You also get a slightly bigger battery at 3500mAh compared to the Note 5's 3000mAh unit. When combined with the newer processor users can expect better battery performance. You also get a fingerprint reader on the front, and a bonus iris scanner for those who want to fortify those top secret files from prying eyes. We aren't sure why there are two biometric scanners on one smartphone, but we are pretty sure the fingerprint reader is the more subtle one of the two.

OS

Among the many firsts, TouchWiz as leaked out earlier, has gotten plenty of improvements as well. It's smoother, faster and comes with new transitions as well. And all of these will be handled well by the Exynos 8890 chipset onboard which proved its worth in our Galaxy S7 edge review. Sadly though, there's no Android 7.0 Nougat as many expected, which is a bit of a disappointment considering that its release is just around the corner. Still then, Note 5 and Note 4 upgraders can expect the TouchWiz UI to be refreshing as it is a bit different from what's already out there on the Galaxy S7 series. I have to mention, the cool new GIF generation feature that you will let you create gifs from anything video playing on the display. You can choose the length and even edit them and share them on the fly.

Camera

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Black Onyx back top

Downgrading from a 16MP camera on the Note 5 to the 12MP unit on the Note 7 may not sound like a good idea. But the smaller unit features everything you can get from the S7 edge which is one of the best camera smartphones out there. So it is an improvement over the older unit on the Note 5.  You also get phase detection autofocus which will make the Note 7 as quick as the S7. You can check out our S7 camera samples to get an idea of the Note 7's camera performance.

All-in-all, the Samsung has definitely worked on its Note 7 offering compared to past models. Its efforts will not go to waste and it goes to show that it still rules the phablet segment despite the  competition.At the leaked price of Rs 63,000 it may be a bit too pricey, but this is for the Note user who is familiar with the price range. Should you upgrade to a Note 7? For now our answer is a big YES. But look out for our complete review to know all the details.