We now know when we're going to get our first official look at the next Galaxy Note. Samsung has set an Aug. 2 date for its next Unpacked event, with the Note 7 likely headlining the festivities. And we're getting a better idea of how a new iris scanner adorning the front of the Note will allow you to log into the device.
The iris scanner is just one feature we're expecting to see on the next Galaxy Note, with Samsung's phablet getting everything from curved screens to a revamped name. Here's what's likely to be announced on Aug. 2.
A New Name
Samsung's current phablet is the Galaxy Note 5. You'd expect the phone coming this August would simply be the Note 6, but Samsung is apparently skipping that version and going straight to the Note 7. Samsung's invitation to its Aug. 2 event reveals as much, with the number 7 feature prominently next to the Unpacked event title.
Why the jump in number? Credit the success of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Calling its latest phablet the Galaxy Note 7 would allow Samsung to line up the numbers of its flagship phones while snuffing out the impression that the Note is a step behind Samsung's other devices.
If you need more evidence of the name change, look no further than images leaked by the usually reliable Evan Blass, who earlier this month posted what he says are the final marketing renders for the Note. Those images confirm the Note 7 name, while also revealing other features like a curved screen and iris scanner next to the front camera.
Likelihood: Samsung's invite make this all but a certainty.
Back in April, Dutch website GalaxyClub spotted an order for parts that would make up an "iris cam." Such a sensor could be used as an added security feature, letting you unlock your phone or authenticate transactions by scanning your eye. Because details were scarce, we weren't sold on that feature making its way into the next Note.
Seeing is believing, though, and the image posted by Blass seems to have an extra lens up front. And now a leaked video posted by Playfuldroid has filled in the details on how an iris scanner might work.
The brief clip shows a split-screen, with an eye-scan area on one part of the display and a password pattern box below that. Such a set-up would give you multiple ways to unlock the Note 7. The iris scanner could also play a role in authenticating mobile payments.
There will be some limitations if a leaked screenshot posted by Android Authority is anything to go by. That screenshot warns the iris scanner may not work if you're wearing glasses or contact lenses. The screenshot also suggests you'll have to hold your Note 7 a very specific way to successfully use the iris scanner.
Likelihood: We're confident this will be announced Aug. 2.
Based on the leaked images of the Note 7, it looks like Samsung's upcoming phone will match the dual edge display of the Galaxy S7 Edge. That Edge screen won praise for its improved functionality tanks to another row of app shortcuts.
In a June report on Note 7 production, ETNews says a dual-edge OLED display will be used on the Note. And the fact that all three models in the leaked photo have curved screens seemingly confirms an earlier report in the Korea Herald that says Samsung wasn't planning to release an alternate model of the Note 7 with a flat screen.
Whatever shape the display takes, it's expected to be a biggie: earlier this year, SamMobile said the next Note would feature a 5.8-inch display. That would make it slightly larger than the 5.7-inch Note 5 as well as the 5.5-inch S7 Edge.
Likelihood: The leaked photo seemingly confirms that Samsung's committed to curved screens.
Samsung's Galaxy S7 phones use microUSB, but that could be changing with the Note 7 if a report in Forbes proves accurate. Forbes contributor Gordon Kelly cites images from case maker Olixar that feature a USB-C port. (Olixar's cases also confirm an Edge display and extra lens up front.)
If true, it's a rather significant change for Samsung, particularly since the company's Gear VR headset uses microUSB to connect to Galaxy phones. Still, USB-C is becoming more widely adopted among smartphone makers — the LG G5, HTC 10, and OnePlus 3 are among the phones to feature it — and Samsung will have to take the plunge sometime.
Likelihood: We're not sold yet, but it could happen.
Butterfingers, rejoice! Just like the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, the next Galaxy Note is likely to come in a water-resistant body so you never need worry about using your phone near the pool or in the rain again. SamMobile reported that the next Note will be rated IP68 for dust and water resistance, meaning it will survive dips in 1 meter (3.3 feet) or more of water for up to 30 minutes.
That's good news for fans of the Galaxy phablet, considering its larger size makes it harder to hold on to with one hand. Although water resistance has yet to be officially confirmed, we're pretty sure this feature will be coming to the Note 7.
Likelihood: Basically real.
Return of SD Card Slot
For some reason, Samsung had a brain fart last year and decided to remove microSD card support on its 2015 flagship models, upsetting plenty of power users. This year, the company brought back the microSD card slot in the Galaxy S7 devices, and it's expected to do the same thing on the Note 6.
Tech Times reported that Samsung is supposedly considering the return of upgradeable memory in the new Note, although the publication doesn't cite sources for that tidbit. However, Samsung has already demonstrated its ability to include a microSD card slot in a beautiful, water-resistant body with the Galaxy S7, so this is a fairly likely feature.
Likelihood: Almost certain.
In addition to enhancements that we can generally take for granted, such as an improved processor and new operating system, some rumored specs sound particularly exciting. In its report on the expected 5.8-inch display SamMobile says the next Note will have a whopping 6GB of RAM. That would put it on par with the just-announced OnePlus 3.
Considering Samsung has reportedly been mass producing larger-capacity RAM components in 2015, the 6GB RAM rumor seems pretty plausible.
Likelihood: Pretty certain.
There's more to the Note 7 than just extra RAM. A report by GSM Helpdesk, helpfully translated by Android Authority, breaks down the other specs that are reportedly targeted for the new Note: an Exynos 8 CPU, a 4,000 mAh battery and a 12-megapixel rear camera that has a dual-pixel sensor. Those camera specs would match the ones that vaulted the Galaxy S7 Edge to the top of our best camera phones list.
But don't count your extended battery life before it arrives: SamMobile found a page of specs prematurely posted by South Korea Telecom that reportedly listed the features on the baseline model Note 7. That spec sheet suggests the phone will have a 3,500 mAh battery — an improvement over the 3,000 mAh power pack in the Note 5, but not quite what the S7 Edge offers. (On the bright side, that same spec sheet suggests the Note 7 will offer 4GB of RAM and 64GB of on-board storage with the ability to add another 256GB through a microSD slot.) Regardless of the battery size, we're eager to see if the new Note can top the Note 5's 9 hour, 35 minute battery life, which leaves it just outside our rankings of the longest-lasting smartphones.
In posting the photo of the three Note 7 models, Evan Blass also listed their colors. The Note 7 will reportedly be available in black onyx, silver titanium and blue coral. Leaked images at Sammobile also show a gold version of the Note 7.
We've heard very little about the Note 7's S Pen leading up to the Aug. 2 unveiling, but that could be changing. The same leak from Android Authority that included the list of limitations for the iris scanner also suggests a new Glance option for the S Pen. TechnoBuffalo suggests the Glance feature lets you specify parts of the Note 7's screen for capturing video.
Likelihood: The camera improvements seem particularly certain; we're not sure what to think about the conflicting battery reports.
Features We Want
We haven't heard about these potential goodies yet, but we'd sure like to see the Note 7 come with the same super cameras on the Galaxy S7, which are our current favorite smartphone cameras. The rumored USB Type-C port would go a long way in future-proofing the phone.
You'd hope that a new Note will run the latest version of Android. An Aug. 2 debut for the Note 7 could complicate that, but Google is promising a summer release for Android Nougat. If the timing works out, the Note 7 might be the first phone to ship with Nougat.
The Galaxy S7 handsets both came with larger batteries, and we're hoping for the same on the Galaxy Note 7. As we noted above, the Note 5's 9:35 battery life is ahead of most smartphones, but rivals such as the iPhone 6s Plus and the Nexus 6P clocked 10 hours and an epic 12 hours, respectively. Samsung has some catching up to do on the Note's endurance.