Since summer hit, the “hottest” new gadget outside of the world of Apple has most certainly been the Galaxy Note 7.Flaming batteries aside, Samsung’s latest device is pretty awesome. It’s also fairly expensive, so it pays to know all the ways to get the most out of your purchase.
Feature wise, many of the Note 7’s gadgets are improvements or continuations of older devices in the Note series, but there are some genuinely new things as well. Unfortunately, the same problems come with the Note 7 that follow every device, namely hacks and malware.
Before delving too far into your Note’s features, you might consider installing a Virtual Private Network and an anti-virus app if your provider doesn’t pre-install one. Services such as ExpressVPN and Avast can help keep your device alive for years to come.
The S Pen
Of all the features the Note 7 comes packaged with, the S Pen is by far my favorite. Not only is it highly responsive (it’s designed by Wacom, a giant in the world of digital artwork), but it comes with some novel uses on Samsung’s latest. The best use is with the “always on” screen display.
When you remove the S Pen, the AMOLED backlit display comes on exclusively for you to write notes. That means no turning the screen on, no entering passwords or having to deal with the iris scanner. Countless times I’ve been asked to remember something, and the S pen is like having an endless booklet to write your notes in for later.
Once the screen is on, it’s an entirely different situation. Samsung’s translate allows you to select printed or written text (so long as it’s legible) and translate it into some 38 different languages. Ironically, itdoesn’t work on Eastern languages (including Korean, which is strange for a Korean company), but it’s amazingly useful when you see foreign words.
Smart Select and Screen Write
Smart Select lets you grab things from your phone’s screen to use for later, while Screen Write allows you to take a quick snapshot of whatever is on your phone so that you can add notes and drawings. Note this feature can also be used to take screenshots of pages that scroll. The menu automatically pops up for these features as soon as you pull out the S pen, so navigation is a breeze.
Note that you can also click the button on the pen to display the full menu at any time. The default menu includes Create Note, Smart Select, Translate and Screen Write, but there are other options including Magnify and Glance. Glance helps you toggle through different apps for multitasking, while Magnify does exactly what you’d expect. There’s even an option to replace the keyboard with writing using the S pen.
Users of the S7 Edge won’t find the Note 7’s edge features to be entirely new, but for users new to the Note or users coming from the Note 5, Samsung’s edge technology adds some very useful tools to your everyday kit.
Besides actually adding more screen space, the Note 7’s edge also comes with some different things you can view when you swipe the side of the screen. That includes storing apps you use most often, a handy weather widget, and numerous news “edges” including CNN and Yahoo.
One of the more interesting choices is the “people” edge. When you put different contacts on the people edge, not only is it easier to contact them right away but when they call, you can assign a specific color to them. If your phone isn’t facing up when they call, the edge will be colored to correspond with what you picked earlier.
Returning from previous Note apps is the Briefing on the left edge of the screen. If you’re really into news, this is your one-stop spot to get the highlights of everything from technology to sports. If it isn’t your cup of tea, it’s also easy to disable by holding down a tap on your home screen and sliding to the Briefing window to disable.
One last Edge feature only happens when the screen is off. If you slide your finger along the edge, it will enable “feeds,” which can be customized to show news info, weather, sports scores, etc.
Here’s a feature I was expecting never to use that has become a day to day commodity. Samsung Pay is absurdly convenient because it allows you to store all of your cards on it securely and it works on nearly all credit machines. That’s because Samsung included a feature that simulates the magnetic strip on the back of physical cards.
After nearly a month of using Samsung Pay, I can say it almost always works, but it does require some practice to position the phone just right, so it scans in correctly. A few machines have had card read errors, so it still isn’t perfect, but I’ve seen a few surprised cashiers after they were steadfastly convinced that “sorry our machine doesn’t support that,” only to see it clear.
One feature Pay has that most users won’t immediately realize is that it works with the screen off. If you swipe from where the home key is and up, it will bring your cards up. You’ll still need to enter a PIN like normal, but you won’t need to turn the screen on.
New Camera Tricks
Catching something important on film can be a real pain when you’re fumbling to activate the camera app—but with the Note 7, double tapping the Home button solves that. Once you’ve got the camera open, there are several cool new features. Selfies have never been easier to take, as all you do to switch views now is swipe up or down.
Speaking of selfies, the camera settings include an all new “voice control” option that allows you to yell out one of several preset phrases to activate the camera’s shutter. It beats fiddling around with the screen or side buttons and losing the position you picked out.
The rest of the camera has a host of the usual options, not altogether that different from other apps you’ve seen. One key difference, however, is the ability to take good low light pictures. Despite a drop in megapixels in the last few generations, picture quality has increased.
There are many other great features that the Note 7 has to offer you; part of the fun is getting to explore the device yourself. If you’ve been trying to decide whether or not buying the Note 7 is a good idea, I can only speak from experience that I haven’t been disappointed. Sure, Samsung’s flagship device is a little pricy, but all the features more than make up for it.
If you’re interested in some of the other Note 7 features, Samsung’s page has a pretty good list of the highlights to check out. Just be sure to pack a fire extinguisher; this one’s hot!*
*Literally; the first release of the phone was recalled due to fire safety concerns. Samsung has promised of free replacement that’s hopefully less flammable as well as a $25 gift card; if you already have a Note 7 and haven’t exchanged it, you may want to.
Have other questions about the Note 7? Leave them in the comments.
Caroline is all about technology; her specialty is internet security, but she also enjoys blogging about pop culture and trends. Currently, she’s enjoying her Note 7 without any problems.