Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Apparently, six is overrated. Rumors swirling around the next Samsung Galaxy Note — Samsung’s annual large-screen device with a stylus for navigation and drawing — say its name is jumping from 2015’s Note 5 straight to the Note 7, skipping the Note 6 model entirely.

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Another Note will join this rogue’s gallery.Josh Miller/CNET

But even more important than fretting over the Note’s new name is piecing together its identity: What kind of phone will the next Note be? Will it simply iterate off of the Note 5 and S7 that came before, or will it wow us with unforetold (or hinted at and unconfirmed) hardware goodies that shake us from the eyelid-drooping expectations of smartphones today? The most reliable rumors suggest that the Note keeps its 5.7-inch screen, but adds aUSB-C port (they’re all the rage) and an iris scanner for unlocking the phone with your eyes. Let’s take stock of the most telling rumors. (P.S. remember, they’re unsubstantiated, so anything could happen!)

Note 7’s the name

Chronology be damned! The internet agrees, the next Note will be the Galaxy Note 7 and not the Galaxy Note 6, even though 2015’s model was called the Note 5. But who cares about logic when there’s branding at stake? However, this would make for a mini-trend in phones named “7.” Samsung already has the Galaxy S7, and ZTE’s Axon lunged from the Axon to the Axon 7, and now this Note 7 rumor. Why? It could be a desire for Samsung to keep the Galaxy S and Note series in line, or perhaps phone makers have no wish to be left behind the gold standard Apple’s already established and will likely continue when and if it releases its iPhone 7 this fall. And yet, when you count up Notes 1-5 and add in the little-remembered Galaxy Note Edge, this next Note would make the line’s legitimate seventh addition. So there’s that math for ya. We won’t know for sure until Samsung spills the beans, but the company remains tight-lipped for now.

Launch date: Early August instead of late August

Samsung’s Note line has been a mainstay at the IFA conference held in Berlin, Germany in late August, but whispers suggest an early August arrival. Either way, the phone would come ahead of Apple’s yearly iPhone launch in early September, which usually falls in the first two weeks of the month. Twitter tipster Evan Blass, who has built a reputation of accurate leaks, suggests that the phone will start selling around August 15.

Curved display up front

The Note 7’s display will look more like the S7 Edge than the straight-faced Note 5,according to a recent rumour. Anything’s possible, sure, but assuming it’s true, I do wonder two things. Would the screen be just as navigable with the Note’s signature pen? And with so many similarities between the Note 7 and the S7 Edge, the stylus could be the only important feature dividing the two.

Totally new software interface

New software, new name. The TouchWiz interface that Samsung has used for years to differentiate its phones from other Android-makers could see a major overhaul, including a potential name change. We might kiss TouchWiz goodbye and open our arms to Grace, a more paired-down yet interactive take on phone software, shown in an allegedly leaked video (below) from Italian site HD.Blog.IT. It’s suggestive even if you don’t understand a lick of Italiano.

The video goes pretty deep on widgets, and transparent folder effects, but one cool reveal is that you can swipe up on an icon to see a window that opens more cool stuff. Likewise, pressing and holding on a quick-access toggle in the notifications shade may snap open extra options for you to act on, like on the flashlight and Wi-Fi settings. For instance, the video shows that you can lower the flashlight brightness and change your Wi-Fi network without having to exit the notifications pull-down. In essence, this could make the home screen and notifications shade even more of an activities hub than they are now. The photo gallery could expand and condense with a pinch and zoom of your fingertips.

Updated Note software, too

Samsung usually previews its freshest take on its TouchWiz (or maybe Grace) software on the year’s Note release, but the changes go down to the pen level, too. This time, according to the HDBlog.It video above, we could see a lightly refreshed style with different icons, but much the same functionality to handwrite, scribble and navigate with a touch of the S Pen to the screen.

Pressure-sensitive screen? Not too likely

From what I can see in the Italian video above (which cites the build-of-unknown-origin as “Note5”), the Note 7 doesn’t look like it borrows Apple’s pressure-sensitive display, which lets you press and hold until the screen gently jostles to pull up more granular data. Still, this is a persistent rumor, and one we also heard about the Galaxy S7 (it didn’t happen).

Iris scanner for real this time

We’ve also heard tell of an iris scanner that can unlock your phone by staring you in the eye. The iris scanner loomed large in Galaxy S4 rumors, too, but turned out to be a different feature that kept the screen from locking when you looked at it often enough. Now that Microsoft’s iris-scanning “Windows Hello” feature in the Lumia 950 has made the security option a reality, it’s much more likely that Samsung will include a real iris scanner this time around.

Other suspected specs

  • 5.7-inch screen
  • 12-megapixel camera
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • IP68 certified against water and dust
  • 64GB of space expandable through a microSD card
  • USB Type-C port; Quick Charge 3.0
  • 4,200mAh battery
  • Black, silver, blue colors

What about Android Nougat?

Notably missing from the seething rumor mill is an indication of the Note 7’s operating system. Google’s Android N, revealed this week to be named Android Nougat, isn’t out yet and won’t be until fall, so don’t expect the new Note to debut with the OS. Instead, expect Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, with an upgrade later on, at least a few months after Google’s Nexus phones get a chance to show off all that Nougat can do.

Price and availability

As a rule of thumb, Samsung’s prices hover on the higher end of the scale, and a stylus-packing handset like the Note goes for more than a smaller, more mainstream model like the S7. If prices hold from 2015, expect the 64GB version of the Note 7 to sashay out for roughly $800, which converts to roughly £600 and AU$1,080. Prices will vary further by region, carrier, storage capacity and promotional deals. Samsung responded to a request for comment by saying “we don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”

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