Korean tech giant Samsung has finally announced its highly anticipated Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.

Rumors about the device have been swirling for months, but now we have the official lowdown from Samsung. Many of the more recent leaks have turned out to be accurate, and the new smartphone has lived up to its billing as a hotly anticipated arrival.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
Image source: Samsung.com

From Galaxy Note 5 to Note 7

The stylus-equipped smartphone follows on from last year’s Galaxy Note 5, meaning that Samsung has skipped out the Note 6. It is thought that the company wanted to bring the Note range into line with the existing Galaxy S7.

The new handset will be made available on the 4 big U.S. carriers on 19 August, and pre-orders will open August 3. Samsung says prices will be slightly higher than the Galaxy S7 Edge, which currently retails for $770-800.

Samsung has traditionally attracted power users to the Note range by offering more powerful specs than those of the S range. However this year the specifications of the handsets are largely similar.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
Image source: Samsung.com

Technical specifications similar to Galaxy S7

In the same way as the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge handsets, Samsung has used high-quality metal and glass to make the Galaxy Note 7. The display is slightly curved on the left and right, but less so than the Galaxy S7.

The screen is a 5.7-inch QHD Dual Edge Super AMOLED, while the smartphone will boast 4GB RAM and 64GB internal memory. You can add more storage using the microSD slot, which can handle cards of up to 256GB.

Samsung will offer two different processors depending on your region. One will have an Exynos 8890 64-bit octa-core SoC, and the U.S. version will have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor.

For photographers it is interesting note that the 12-megapixel smart OIS “Dual Pixel” camera is fitted to the rear of the smartphone, while a 5 megapixel camera is found on the front. In terms of the operating system, the handset will ship with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and Samsung’s customer user interface.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
Image source: Samsung.com

Battery gets a boost

As always battery life is a concern, and Samsung has included a 3,500mAh battery. The phone supports both wired and wireless fast charging, with the former delivered via USB Type-C connection. The existing Galaxy S7 has a 3,000mAh unit.

Samsung has ensured that the Galaxy Note 7 has an IP68 certification for dust and water resistance. IP stands for ingress protection, and the two numbers refer to different things.

The number 6 is the dust resistance rating, and the number means that wet and dry particles will not affect the phone. While you may not think that dust is a particular problem, imagine going to the beach and getting fine sand particles inside your handset. It might not be too good for those delicate electronics.

Number 8 refers to how much water the Galaxy Note 7 can withstand. As it turns out the new handset can survive for 30 minutes in water up to 5 feet deep, although it’s unlikely that it would ever need to do so. In fact the protection is likely far greater than the normal owner will require to withstand splashes at the swimming pool or a few raindrops while you take photos outside.

That said it is best not to push the limits of the protection. If you constantly submerge your phone in five feet of water, you are just asking for trouble.

Features mark Galaxy Note 7 out from Galaxy S7

Given the similarity in specs, the Note 7 is differentiated by its features. Security features include a fingerprint scanner inside the home button and an iris retina scanner above the display.

Samsung says that the iris scanner is a more secure way of logging in than the fingerprint scanner. The iris scanner relies on an infrared camera which has been proven to perform well in low light, but has some difficulties in direct sunlight. Aside from unlocking the phone itself, the iris scanner can be used to secure certain files such as photos and notes in a separate folder.

Another differentiating feature is the S Pen active stylus. This year the pen is water resistant and has a finer point, while its silo has also been waterproofed. The stylus will also have some new software features, including magnification, translation and a GIF maker.

As expected the phone boasts 4G LTE connectivity, with Cat.9 LTE offering speeds of up to 50Mbps.

The Korean tech giant continues to work on improving its software interface, with the Note 7 given a cleaner color scheme with softer white menus. Samsung has done a good job improving the aesthetic, but of course that is quite subjective.