Korean smartphone manufacturer bets on high-end features, curved glass and premium materials to shift latest in phablet category creator
Samsung’s latest Galaxy Note 7 phablet is one of the first smartphones to ship with an iris scanner that can read your eyes and let you into your phone in seconds.
Having invented the phablet in 2011 with the original Galaxy Note, Samsung has skipped the Note 6 to bring the Note line up to numerical par with its popular Galaxy S7 line.
The new phone features the same high-end, premium design and build that made the Galaxy S7 Edge popular, with a fit and finish better than any of the Korean firm’s other smartphones.
But its biggest selling feature is a new biometric option in the form of an infrared iris scanner that takes just seconds to set up and unlock the phone with a glance of either eye. It still has a fingerprint scanner under the home button, which glasses-wearers will appreciate as they may have to remove their glasses or contact lenses to make the iris scanner work.
The Note 7 also features similar specifications to the Galaxy S7 Edge, including its IP68 rating making it waterproof to depths of 1.5m for 30 minutes, a 12-megapixel camera on the back, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, with a microSD card slot for adding more.
The phablet has a 5.7in quad HD screen, USB-C, and the integrated S-pen stylus, which is now waterproof and will work when the screen is wet. Samsung has also made the screen ready for the new high dynamic range video standard which is rolling out across high-end televisions, supported by content from Amazon’s Prime video service, among others.
Samsung has also made changes to the Note 7’s Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow software, including the ability to turn video into gifs directly from the screen, and various other stylus-related tools, including the ability to write on the smartphone’s screen when it’s asleep without having to wake it up.
The Note 7’s USB-C port requires a new version of the company’s Gear VR headset, which Samsung says it has reworked to be more comfortable to wear and use. The new Gear VR also has an accessory port on the side and revamped controls.
Samsung said that it has more than 1 million users of various incarnations of its Gear VR headset, with 500,000 sold in the EU, which makes it one of the best-selling VR headsets.
Samsung is locked in a battle for the top-end smartphone space with arch rival Apple, which only recently began to sell phablets. As larger-screen smartphones have become more and more popular - the fastest growing segment in Europe - companies have struggled to differentiate their high-priced phablets with multiple functions from the cheaper large-screened smartphones primarily designed for media consumption.
The Korean firm will hope that its focus on stylus functions, premium materials and it’s Knox security platform, which using both fingerprint and iris scanners claims to be one of the most secure and easy to use smartphones available, will lure customers from cheaper alternatives.
The Galaxy Note 7 will be available in the UK on 2 September.