Galaxy Note 7: Samsung phone replaces passwords with iris scanner
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, the latest in the company’s series of high-powered “phablet” phones, will be released in the UK and Europe after the company declined to release last year’s model in European markets.
The Note 7, which uses an innovative iris scanner to unlock the phone, is an upgrade to last year’s Note 5, with Samsung skipping the “6” to bring the Note range in sync with its Galaxy S series.
The phone features an improved 5.7-inch screen with “mobile HDR” technology that makes colours appear more vivid, additional security features, and updates to Samsung’s S-Pen - the stylus used for drawing, note-taking and handwriting recognition, which is a key selling point of the Note range.
The Note 7 has a curved screen like Samsung’s popular “Edge” phones, making it marginally narrower than last year’s Note. The edges of the device are symmetrical from front to back, which the company said made it easier to grasp.
Samsung chose not to release the Note 5 in Europe last year, instead selling the Galaxy S6 Edge+ after it apparently decided that Europeans didn't want to use their phone for productivity, but says it will come to Europe this year. The phone will be released on September 2 in the UK, with pre-orders opening on August 16.
One of the key selling points of the Note 7, especially for the security-conscious, is the introduction of an iris scanner that can be used to unlock the phone.
Samsung said this was not only more accurate than a fingerprint reader (although the Note 7 has one of those as well), but that it was easier to set up, and of course isn’t affected by grubby or wet fingers.
Setting up iris scanning is easy: you simply have to hold it in front of your face for a couple of seconds until it detects you. Then to unlock the phone, simply raise it and position your eyes in the on-screen circles. Unlocking is almost immediate, and because nobody has the same irises, even identical twins, it is difficult to fake.
The iris scanner can also be used by developers that warm to the standard in apps or websites to replace passwords, as well as to unlock secure folders on the phone.
“Yuck, nobody wants a stylus,” Steve Jobs famously said when he unveiled the iPhone. But Samsung’s S-Pen is a key selling point of the Note series.
The company says it has seen a close correlation between satisfaction with its Note handsets and use of the S-Pen, and that it is consistently named as one of the phone’s three key features.
The stylus, therefore, has received an upgrade for the current model. It is slimmer and more pressure sensitive, making it theoretically more accurate. And like the phone itself, it is waterproof to IP68 standard, meaning it can be submerged up to one metre.
Samsung has also added some new functions for note taking. Simply take out the stylus and write on the screen, even if it’s locked, to take a quick note. Meanwhile its apps for handwriting, drawing and its Pen Up social network have been condensed into a Notes app. You can also use the S-Pen to hover over words on a screen to translate them, a neat feature when travelling.
Screen and design
The 5.7-inch screen is the same size as the previous Note, but the phone itself feels smaller, mainly because the curved screen wraps around its edge. The Note 7’s edges are also symmetrical, meaning it has the same curves on the back as the front, giving it a nice balance.
This does make it slightly easier to hold than many other “phablets”, although the smaller-handed may still struggle.
As for the screen quality, Samsung is emphasising its “Mobile HDR” technology, meaning images are sharper with bolder colours, especially in low-light.
The handset comes in three colours: “Black Onyx”, “Silver Titanium” and “Blue Coral” - a metallic blue.
Price and release date
Samsung has not yet announced a price for the phone, but the Note sits pretty much at the top of Samsung’s price range. Customers can expect to easily pay north of £600.
A release in the UK and Europe is due on Friday September 2, with pre-orders open from Tuesday August 16, although this doesn't include the silver model, which is apparently coming soon. Samsung is also giving those who order before August 30 a free Galaxy Gear VR.