Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Arrives with Better S Pen, USB Type-C, an Iris Scanner and its Own VR Headset

Samsung's new smartphone is the first in the world to pack the new Gorilla Glass 5



As expected, the latest addition to Samsung’s Galaxy Note series arrived last evening.

In a break with tradition and in a bid to align its Note series’ naming scheme with that of its flagship Galaxy S lineup, Samsung opted to call the new device the Galaxy Note 7 instead of the Galaxy Note 6 as many would’ve expected since the device is a successor to last year’s Galaxy Note 5.

Naturally, every new Galaxy Note brings with it a few updates to the Note series that have either already been incorporated in that year’s Galaxy S model or are totally new. The Galaxy Note 7 has a mix of both.

Samsung Electronics East Africa Mobile Business Lead Simon Kariithi shows off the Galaxy Note 5 in Nairobi.
Samsung Electronics East Africa Mobile Business Lead Simon Kariithi (left) shows off the Galaxy Note 5 in Nairobi.

The Old

For instance, it has that same power efficient Quad HD Super AMOLED display found on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge as well as the same processors (Exynos 8890 or Snapdragon 820 depending on where you are – the new Snapdragon 821 never made the cut), water resistance, always-on display, the same cameras and the like.

The New

On the side of what’s new, the Galaxy Note 7 is the first device in the world to pack Corning’s new Gorilla Glass 5 and as such its users will at least be guaranteed some better protection for their delicate displays.

It doesn’t end there, with the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung has finally given in and moved to the USB Type-C standard. While this is a welcome change, it means that buyers of the device have to brace themselves for incompatible cables and whatnot. Samsung is including a free USB Type-C to microUSB adapter in the Note 7’s packaging. But there’s still the elephant in the room: compatibility with the Gear VR.


Many speculated that the Gear VR was the sole reason that Samsung opted to forgo USB Type-C in the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge since it can only accommodate devices with microUSB ports. To make sure that is not an issue, the Galaxy Note 7 has its own virtual reality headset, the “Gear VR for Galaxy Note 7”. Using the USB Type-C to microUSB adapter, the new Gear VR can also be used with Samsung’s other compatible devices like the Galaxy S7.

The new Gear VR is basically the standard model we had a look at not long ago but made to play nicely with the Galaxy Note 7. Nothing new. The price stays the same – $99 or roughly Kshs 10,000.

The dual-edge display found on the Galaxy S7 Edge has also made it to the Galaxy Note.


In 2016, even budget smartphones have fingerprint scanners so they are no longer the wow feature they once were 2-3 years ago. So, what’s next? An iris scanner. The Galaxy Note 7 has one.

With the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung has effectively removed the 32GB onboard storage option from the device’s lineup. As we saw with the Galaxy Note 3 back in 2013 when the transition to 32GB memory became permanent, expect no future Galaxy Note to have anything below 64GB internal storage.

What makes a Galaxy Note a Galaxy Note is the pen, the stylus meant, primarily, for note-taking on a device that has more often been pitched as one for the business person. The Galaxy Note 7’s S Pen, according to Samsung, has been improved by getting several new features like support for more pen styles, more pressure sensitivity and, the big one, water resistance.

The most interesting feature is an add-on from what Samsung introduced last year. As we noted (see what I did there?) last year, the Galaxy Note 5 finally let users take down notes even when the screen was turned off thanks to the Screen off Memo feature. Since the Galaxy Note 7 has brought the Always-On feature found on Samsung’s Galaxy S7 to the Note series, users will be able to pin notes taken when the device’s screen is off to the Always-On display.

Here is everything about the new S Pen in one handy infographic.

As had been previously rumoured, the Galaxy Note 7 arrives with a new offering from Samsung, something we first started speculating about 4 years ago: Samsung Cloud. Galaxy Note 7 users will be getting 15GB free storage on Samsung Cloud.


Entertainment-wise, the Galaxy Note 7 supports HDR video streaming as well as pairing with Samsung’s 360 video camera, the Gear 360 “to capture, edit and share 360-degree images videos on the go.”

The Missing

Some had speculated that the Galaxy Note 7 would join the 6GB RAM mad race. Looks like that will have to wait for next time since Samsung seems satisfied with the performance of 4 gigs of RAM on its current premium devices and things will stay that way at least for another year.

Here is a quick gallery of the Galaxy Note 7 from our first interaction with the device:


Size and weight: 153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9mm, 169g
Display: 5.7” Quad HD Dual edge Super AMOLED 2560 x 1440 (518ppi)
Processor: Exynos 8890 or Snapdragon 820
Memory: 4GB RAM (LPDDR4), 64GB internal storage (UFS 2.0) expandable via microSD upto 256GB
Camera: Dual Pixel 12MP with OIS (f/1.7) at the back; 5MP (f/1.7) at the front
Operating System: Android 6.0.1
Battery: 3,500mAh (non-removable)
Connectivity: USB Type-C, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), Bluetooth 4.2 LE, NFC
Network: 3G, 4G LTE (Cat 9, 10 and 12)
Other: Fingerprint sensor, iris sensor, heart rate sensor
Colour options: Blue Coral, Gold Platinum, Silver Titanium and Black Onyx.


The Galaxy Note 7 has a bunch of accessories which we got to interact with in Nairobi at an event organized by Samsung to coincide with the global announcement.

See for yourself:

Pricing and Availability

Globally, the Galaxy Note 7 will go on sale on August 19th. In Kenya, while we don’t have a date yet, we can confirm that the device will be available for pre-order from Samsung starting August 8th. In Kenya, the Galaxy Note 7 will go for Kshs 90,000. Samsung Kenya will be giving away a free Gear VR (the new one) for every pre-order made to accompany the Galaxy Note 7.

Add-ons on the software side, as is customary for the Galaxy Note series, will include a free Game Pack where users get free in-game upgrades on select games including one of our favourites, Need for Speed No Limits.


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