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7 surprises in Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 smartphone

Al Sacco | Aug. 3, 2016
The new Galaxy Note 7 smartphone is available via presale this week. Here's a detailed breakdown of the most notable new features in Samsung's latest phablet phone.

The iris scanner works similarly to the fingerprint reader. You walk through a quick tutorial to scan and store your iris information, which is kept in the same secure element as fingerprint scans. To unlock your phone with an iris, you simply swipe a finger to trigger the IR camera, then quickly stare at a blinking red light. I wasn't able to test the feature myself, but the Samsung representative who demoed it had no problems repeatedly unlocking his Note 7 with an iris scan.

Samsung says the iris scan is an even more secure biometric than a fingerprint, because it's a more complex reading and harder to fake. From an IT perspective, Samsung says organizations shouldn't hesitate to use the iris scanner, because it adds an extra layer of security. However, the feature can be disabled via MDM policies if a company wants to block the iris scanner.

The new Note also has a new "secure folder" feature that lets you create a locked "container" on your phones that can't be accessed without authentication. It's essentially a more consumer-friendly version of Samsung's My Knox personal container feature. You can also choose to hide the secure folder, so the only way it can be accessed is by drilling down into the secure folder settings. IT departments cannot disable this secure folder, but security-conscious organizations could choose to run the Note 7 in "container only" mode, according to Samsung. That would block the use of the secure folder, because the device can't run a secure container within another container.

3. Galaxy Note 7 gets curved display

The new Note 7 phone's display is curved, just like the GS7 edge, and it has the  same set of edge features.

The curved displays on Samsung's phones are designed to provide quick access to information, apps and contacts. You can slide a thumb from the outside of the screen in to pull up an edge panel, which lets you view two side-by-side columns of apps or contacts. You can also place app widgets from third-parties on the apps edge to trigger certain functions. For example, you could place a 1x1 widget from a Twitter app on the edge screen and use it to go directly to the new tweet function, instead of using the app's icon to open it and then navigate to the appropriate page.

The edge screen features are a useful edition to the Note family. However, the smooth, curved display can make the device feel somewhat slippery in hand, especially if you're not used to such a curvy phone. And it would have been nice to see some Note- or S-Pen-specific edge features instead of the same exact functionality as the GS7 edge.


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