Galaxy Note 7 performance fails to match premium price and specs

Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 hit store shelves last week and we now see various reports of performance issues on this expensive, flagship Android smartphone.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
Image: CNET

It's not me, it's Samsung.

Last week I bought a T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy Note 7, paying more than $925, and for the most part I love it. However, it may be going back because no one should experience lag when high performing Android phones are available at less than half the price.

A full review will be coming next week, but given my experiences so far I want to make sure I fully test the Note 7 so I can present readers with a fair assessment. Right now, I wouldn't be giving it as high of a rating as I did with my S7 Edge and it really should be better. In the end, it may not be.

Personal experience

There is always a serious drain on performance while setting up a new phone with app installs, service and app logins, etc. so I wrote off last Friday as setup day. However, on Saturday and again the following Tuesday, I noticed slow response in some apps, the inability to even launch Chrome, and some screen lag when scrolling.

I don't see the point of the iris scanner when the fingerprint scanner works so well, so I disabled it. I also disabled other 'advanced features' like Smart Stay, Direct Call, Pop-up View Gesture, and others that I thought might be contributing to performance issues. It doesn't look like any of those had an impact either.

TouchWiz is definitely a lighter skin than it ever has been and I like what I see on the Note 7, especially the update to the settings area. I understand Verizon changed that back to the old format, but carrier involvement will be saved as a rant for another day.

It's tough to pin down what's going on and sometimes everything works wonderfully. I never noticed any real issues on Sunday or Monday and haven't been able to really repeat my performance issues to attribute things to an app, connection, or hardware.

Reports of substandard performance

Since I can't pin things down myself, I looked around and saw what others have been experiencing. The folks at XDA Developers put together a post detailing comparative testing and found the Galaxy Note 7 to be a substandard performer.

The guys at Anandtech present some of the most scientific and details reviews ever and if you look at the system performance section of the Note 7 review you will see iPhone, Huawei, and OnePlus 3 phones beat it in many benchmarks.

The video below shows how the Note 7 performs compared to an iPhone 6s when launching apps and again the Note 7 is not the high performer it should be.

Some have attributed the performance issues to the Snapdragon 820 processor because Samsung's own Exynos is being used outside the US. However, some of the other phones being compared to the Note 7, and beating it, are also using the Snapdragon 820 so I don't think we can blame the processor.

We've seen Samsung release performance improving software updates before and it may well do so soon to fix some of these issues. What's driving me mad is that the lack of performance is not consistent so I'm not sure what is going on.

One day I love my Note 7 and wouldn't consider returning it. The next day I would like to throw it through the wall. When you pay more than $900 for a phone and there are great alternatives at $400, it's hard to justify keeping the $900 phone to use the stylus once a week.

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