back to article Samsung Note 7: Probably the best phone in the world. Yeah – you heard right

Samsung unveiled the world’s best Android phone yesterday and I doubt if it will be bettered by anyone this year. But Samsung didn't name a price, nor assure us that the Note 7 will actually be available in the UK. (Its predecessor the Note 5 wasn’t and isn’t a UK product, we got the Edge 6+ instead, which doesn’t have all the …

Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

So no, not the best Android phone imo.

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Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

Obviously the most important criterium for any phone…

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Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

he never claimed it to be the 'most important' feature so your arsey sarcasm is misplaced.

given the common use of these devices as video players (and anyone who's used the htc m7 knows how great front facing speakers can be), yes, having decent speakers on the front is actually a really important requirement on a device of this type.

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Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

Front facing speakers are only useful for watching video in a private place. So yeah, if you travel a lot a find yourself catching up on TV shows in hotel rooms, good front facing speakers are nice. However in your own home you'd probably being using a bigger-screened device.

-Audio-only podcasts: rear speaker is fine

-Public transport: headphones

-Best sound quality: headphones or bigger discrete speakers

-'House party': Big discrete speakers

All design and engineering is compromise, and Samsung have evidently decided that that the 'cost' (weight, space) of including front speakers wasn't worthwhile, given the limited circumstances in which a user might use them. The weight/space etc budget will have been spent on other features such as a bigger battery, or a front panel layout that makes the phone more comfortable to hold.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

Do you own a samsung by any chance, personally after years of having mono speakers on a phone and moving to a nexus 6p mainly for the forward facing speakers. Video is so much better and using it for a little background music in the shower, kitchen etc stereo despite not a lot of separation just sounds better. Rear speakers are so stupid, your heads on the front, i got so sick of cupping my old (reflecting the sound) phones to be able to have a low volume level and make out what was being said on something as the audio was firing away from me. I had samsung devices for a long time until the s3 and they screwed me on updates time and time again. Im so glad i moved this last time to a nexus device, even when google officially ends support i wont have to wait on someone to reverse engineer a closed source driver before i can get a working device on a later operating system. And if your going to use the argument samsung didnt do forward speakers because of cost... they included a curved screen, how much extra does that cost to produce... I dont really see any real world usefulness from having a curved edge screen, all your doing is introducing a weak spot for when you drop it.

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Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

Nor replaceable battery

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Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

given the common use of these devices as video players…

Almost never used my phone for watching videos as the ergonomics are dead against it: to get the most out of it you have to hold the phone close enough to strain your eyes.

That said: stereo front speakers are great if you've got them. But looking at HTC's sales, it doesn't look like they're the biggest argument for most people.

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Facepalm

Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

I dont really see any real world usefulness …

In learning how to spell and punctuate?

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Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

I'm not sure really important I hardly ever use the speakers. I think it's a case of preference like the OP says.

Does not even register as a buying choice for me though when looking at phones.

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best for me includes security

Wouldn't the best phone have prompt security updates and excellent software support for years to come (regardless of your carrier choices)? That El Reg article in the last few days did a good job of showing how there is the Nexus line and everyone else when it comes to security updates in Android land and lets be honest Android's security is well not one of its stronger points. Best hardware perhaps.

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Re: best for me includes security

This one. Nexus or pwned if your phone has a snapdragon (like the Note 7).

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/08/02/android_august_patch_bundle/

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Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

>Do you own a samsung by any chance

No, not since the 'feature phone' days.

>Video is so much better...

For sure. It's just that if I'm at home, I use a bigger screened device (TV, laptop, tablet), and if I'm in public I'd use headphones out of courtesy to the people around me.

>...using it for a little background music in the shower, kitchen etc stereo despite not a lot of separation just sounds better.

I don't listen to music on small speakers. I'm not an audiophile, but if there isn't a minimum level of fidelity I don't bother. If I'm in the shower I might use a rechargeable Bluetooth speaker for spoken-word content. Mine was a tenner from Aldi, friends swear by their Bose speakers.

>Rear speakers are so stupid, your heads on the front

Only if you're looking at the screen at the same time - hence my statement that the front speakers are for video. Podcasts etc work fine with the phone placed downwards.

>, i got so sick of cupping my old (reflecting the sound) phones to be able to have a low volume level and make out what was being said on something as the audio was firing away from me.

For sure, if watching video is your use-case, then prioritise front-facing speakers. Otherwise headphones are your friend. Or a discrete speaker.

>I had samsung devices for a long time until the s3 and they screwed me on updates time and time again.

I'm sorry to hear that

> Im so glad i moved this last time to a nexus device,

I hear it's a good phone.

> I dont really see any real world usefulness from having a curved edge screen, all your doing is introducing a weak spot for when you drop it.

Nor me, which is another reason I haven't bought one. I'm not sure how it would work with a case, either. Still, it might actually be tougher than the ABS plastic that is used for the bezels of some phones.

Be well.

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Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

I have owned an HTC One M7, M8, and M9, and currently own a Nexus 6P and a Samsung S7 Edge.

Whilst the front facing speakers on the HTC's and the Nexus 6P are "better" than the single speaker on the S7E, in my opinion, they are really no substitute for a bluetooth speaker or some half decent earphones.

If they were loud enough and clear enough to be used in a car as a hands free set, or to listen to an audiobook/podcast in the same environment, or to use in the bathroom whilst showering, they would easily justify their existence for my usage, but none of the phones I've listed above can do that which means the front facing speakers are little more than a novelty to me.

Your mileage may vary of course, and that's fine, but to me all the front facing speakers I've used on phones "sound" great in theory, but in practice still not good enough.

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Headmaster

Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

Obviously the most important criterium for any phone…

Criterion. As in the theatre.

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erm... you've not had them have you?

I got them (without noticing or caring when purchasing) with my original HTC One - and assuming you watch video in landscape without headphones - were a revelation. Loud sound in stereo.

Now I'm quite prepared to admit that it doesn't seem to be a big deal for most people (HTC have dumped it in their latest version) - BUT definitely now is a purchasing decision for me

(e.g. my shield tablet has stereo speakers).

As I said, maybe not a deal breaker - but definitely a nice to have (along with OIS, SD Card, Fingerprint reader and all the rest).

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I've no f'in idea where these downvotes are coming from

I agree with you entirely - I most benefit when slumped on a hotel bed just wanting to relax, or in my own bed finishing off something on Netflix etc.

Stepping back from the stereo aspect, having loud speakers is handy for making an impromptu speakerphone you can chuck on a desk.

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plus you forgot the curved screen

means you can't nicely fit a decent glass screen protector.

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Yep - even HTC have canned them on the latest revision.

Something that's pissed me off.

I think the problem is that they're fantastic if you've got a need and experienced them.

My user-case is flat on my back in bed, with the phone sitting on my chest - work wonderfully.

Problem is that it's pretty hard to be sold on this, when standing in the middle of CPW.

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Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

Front-facing speakers also brilliant for conference calls.

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Re: best for me includes security

"That El Reg article in the last few days did a good job of showing how there is the Nexus line and everyone else when it comes to security updates in Android land and lets be honest Android's security is well not one of its stronger points. "

Actually, Sammy tend to be pretty good on that front compared to most of the other vendors. My S6 continues to receive OS updates very promptly - including the one listed in the Nexus or Bust article.

Sony are the ones who are really bad at it; I know of a few Sony models that never received any updates ever.

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Got a Note 3 at launch...

and it's still my main phone now. Works well and does everything I need (not actually saying 'why did they bring out another phone when I don't need it' - just don't see the need to upgrade personally whilst this one still works).

Intrigued by the battery on the new one though - mine is 3200mAh (12.16 Wh @ 3.8V) and that was 3-4 years ago so either their battery tech isn't advancing as quickly as might be hoped or they've opted for a smaller battery to cram more (stuff?) into pretty much the same form factor.

Also, is that silvery back case actually metal, or just chromed plastic? That's the one thing that started to mark quite quickly on my Note 3, and the thinner parts around the edge buttons are starting to split.

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Re: Got a Note 3 at launch...

so either their battery tech isn't advancing as quickly as might be hoped

It isn't advancing at all. Which is why Tesla is spending so much money on a factory for Li-Ion batteries in the expectation that nothing significantly better is going to come along any time soon.

I think Samsung also understands that more and more people are extending their replacement cycles. This favours its approach of continual improvement and integration over Apple's more tick-tock ones, which is why it's moving towards flagship releases every six months or so (first Galaxy then the Note). This is typical for consumer electronics where people can be expected to replace model X with model Y at some point, even if it isn't every two years.

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Re: Got a Note 3 at launch...

"I think Samsung also understands that more and more people are extending their replacement cycles."

If that were true, they'd make the battery replaceable since that's one of the first things to go. I've replaced the battery on my S4 twice now to keep it going strong.

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Charles 9

Your thinking like a customer, not a seller. If they make the battery replaceable, how will they sell you the Note 8?

It is the only thing keeping me on the fence in replacing my Note 3. New battery for that is what? £20-£40? A swap out at a repair centre for a Note 7 will be how much? :(

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Re: Charles 9

"Your thinking like a customer, not a seller. If they make the battery replaceable, how will they sell you the Note 8?"

They can't. I look for a phone that ticks all the boxes, and then find the cheapest one. And for me, a non-replaceable battery (and a lack of microSD) is a deal-breaker based on firsthand past experience.

So until they cater to the customer (which as the adages go is #1 if the law is not involved), I'm not buying.

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Still using my Note 2

Thanks to the excellent work by Ivan Meler it runs Marshmallow. The battery life was flagging a couple of months ago, so I bought a new one for £15.

Will only stop using it when it fails to function.

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Unhappy

Re: Still using my Note 2

Congratulations on getting Marshmallow working on it: I had failed to locate a suitable replacement for the latest Kitkat 4.4.3 update which was pushed to regular users 2 years ago. Even Cyanogenmod gave up on the Note 2 so I decided to buy a new phone instead. Can you still use the pen and note after the update ?

Sadly Samsung cannot be bothered with releasing security updates for their flagship models after a couple of years so that's why I couldn't be bothered with their hardware this time around, despite the features and the quality. Planned obsolescence and all that jazz... I expect the Note 7 to become unsupported quite quickly which is unacceptable at the Apple-like prices they will sell.

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Re: Still using my Note 2

Note 3 here with replaced battery and 128gb card. Runs marshmallow beautifully and no reason to upgrade.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Still using my Note 2

Same here. Have three spare batteries, and a 20000 powerbank which I find pretty useless as it's just not practical running that from a backpack when hiking etc. I'd love the updated screen etc, but lack of removable battery is just killing me :-(

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Re: Still using my Note 2

Hmm. My Note 2 seems to be running Cyanogenmod 13 (Android 6.0.1). Indeed, it seems that it is the only Note phone (as opposed to tablet) for which CM13 is available.

Best wishes,

Bob

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Re: Still using my Note 2

S Pen works and you can use S Pen commander to do the funky things.

Ivan Meler's ROM is here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/galaxy-note-2/orig-development/rom-cyanogenmod-13-0-n7100-t3267758

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Re: Still using my Note 2

@AC "which I find pretty useless as it's just not practical running that from a backpack when hiking etc"

Chasing Pokemon, you mean. :)

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Anonymous Coward

Smartphones are horrible phones

Just about every smartphone available is surpassed by any 10-15 year old mobile as a phone. Horrible antenna-designs makes coverage so bad you almost have to carry your own base-station, and call-audio is miserable. Recent smartphones are potent computers, but hardly any of them qualify as a mobile telephone.

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Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

" Recent smartphones are potent computers,"

I have a 95% internet/reading to 5% calls ratio.. I suspect its the same for most people, so I don't see that as an issue (aside from when you actually make a call!)

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Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

*Sniff*...*sniff*

I smell shiiiiiiiiiiite

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Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

Well mine runs as satnav in the car, email, internet,sits in a waterproof bag when walking with anquet map, shows films, netflix and books when commuting plus ive been known to take calls (and sms) on occasion.

The only thing my old 6310 did better was have longer battery life. Granted i use a power brick these days.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

I have a 95% internet/reading to 5% calls ratio.. I suspect its the same for most people

Not quite.

Email: 70%

Messaging (mostly secured): 20%

Phone: 15% (likely to go up soon)

Internet: 5% or less (only really to look something up - I normally use a laptop or a tablet for that)

This use profile has an extra advantage: I can set mobile networking to 3G, and avoiding 4G delivers rather impressively extended battery life :)

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Trollface

Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

"Not quite."

Your total usage of a smartphone is 110%, thats quite an impressive feat! I also didn't realise footballers visited El Reg?!

However, now correct me if I'm wrong, last time I checked isn't email and mostly secured messaging (which by default must mean mostly not SMS messaging?) all routed via, y'know, the internet? So using your percentages that is actually 95% internet use, 15% phone.

"Yyyyyeahno, I can't take all the credit, its a team game and it was a team effort, we gave it 110%. Towards the end there we were running out of energy, but we held on, y'know?"

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Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

Really?

I disagree, recent uses of my smartphone on my hols.

# Being able to book hotels rooms, while sitting round drinking coffee, sitting on trains etc.

# Emails while chilling in hammock.

# Messenger contacts etc with friends in country, including things like facebook messenger etc. Quite handy.

# A multiple whats app chat between friends over new year as we were in different places, UK, Germany, Hanoi, Thailand, (was quite cool being able to send a photo of Hanoi at new year to what was effectively a private message board of your mates).

# Sat Nav between Hue and Hoi Ann on a scooter, and finding the Hai Van pass.

# Useful apps such as grab taxi, which means you can work out if someone is trying to rip you off for on a taxi fare,

# Navigating the streets of Hanoi with google maps, it's a maze you can get lost remarkably easy.

# The odd photo when sitting round in a bar and not carrying the good camera.

# A small tablet to read stuff on and surf the web when sitting round in hotel.

# A portable drive to swap some things with mates on travels.

# MP3 player

# Calculator

# Translator

# Oh and phone calls.

I may actually have missed something. No signal problems either, call quality fine lots of different accents in coversations and no troubles, only place I lost signal was a few miles offshore surrounded by limestone karst type cliffs which I figure is acceptable, roughly two days battery use.

Quite frankly they have changed travel a lot.

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Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

"The only thing my old 6310 did better was have longer battery life."

It did. (I had a 6310i and it was good)

Replacing the battery was also very simple, and I obtained a personalized name plate for it from Nokia!

I however didn't use it for gps, email, internet, films, camera, books, games; it didn't have background tasks; it had a 0.006Mpixel mono display; those are probably the reason why the battery lasted easily for over a week. If you had used it for occasional 2.5G tethering (as I did) the battery was depleted much faster.

Disable data and force your current phone into 2G mode (and disable all other radios and data, minimize the background light and only use your phone for SMS and calls. Feel the difference.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

I hereby nominate @Triggerfish for the most tedious humblebrag of 2016. Well done, Sir.

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Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

Actually I was trying to point out why a smartphones useful, didn't realise it was a humblebrag not actually sure why it is, my apologies.

edit: ok did some reading on what a humblebrag is...yeah fair enough I guess.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

Your total usage of a smartphone is 110%, thats quite an impressive feat! I also didn't realise footballers visited El Reg?!

No need to get insulting - I merely gained 10% of use by not using the calc app, which turned out to be false economy :). So that's 65% email then.

What you call "Internet use" is what I call web surfing, which is IMHO not a very useful thing to do on a smartphone as it's small (my sight has something to do with this as well). That's really interactive and thus needs the 4G speed. Messaging and email are not that dependent on blazing amounts of bandwidth as they're asynchronous in nature, which means that 3G is usually more than enough to make it work.

In any case, not everyone uses a smartphone the same way. I prefer a decent size screen for surfing, also because I can install some filters so that I don't lose any screen estate and precious bandwidth to &^$ advertising.

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68K

Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

Definitely, although the missus and I are now using WhatsApp more and more to talk to each other. The call quality/voice messages are so much better than standard 2G phone quality.

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Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

Disable all the PHONE features, and even a phone with a dying battery will last for a week of music, games and video.

Did this with my old P780, put it in flight mode and removed the SIM after loading it with suitable games and music, and gave it to my 2 y/o daughter to play with.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

Definitely, although the missus and I are now using WhatsApp more and more to talk to each other.

You'd want to switch to Threema. Same functionality, but with privacy..

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Joke

@68K "missus and I are now using WhatsApp more and more to talk to each other."

Have you guys considered counselling? *

*That really was a joke, honest!

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Pint

Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

"No need to get insulting" - The chosen icon was not for no reason. If you think I was being insulting you may perhaps need to dial the sensitivity down a little Mary. See now that was insulting (if only to prove a point dear fellow. Please don't get all butthurt, we're generally all friends around here. Well, except with Matt. No-one really likes Matt.)

"What you call "Internet use" is what I call web surfing" - You can call it Wizzlewub Shimphonging for all I care, but its still all internet use. You can't alter the definition of things just because it suits your case. Well, not unless you want me to suggest you're a politician now instead of a footballer? ;)

Look, there is a Beer icon somewhere over there >>>>>>>>>

How much more of an obvious gesture do I need to to make for you to get that I was, and still are, partaking in a bit of friendly leg pulling?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Smartphones are horrible phones

Hey, have a beer back - I left out the smiley after the "no need to get insulting" so there was no need to apologise (nice of you, though, appreciated) :).

I'm all for leg pulling, both on the giving and receiving side - it's what makes social interaction interesting. An evil sense of humour is essential in our work...

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I might buy one ...

when the Note 8 comes out and these are then available at 1/3 of today's price (whatever that is) -- that is if my current 2-3 y/old 'phone needs replacing by then.

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