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I Dropped Samsung's New Phone In A Lake And It's Totally Fine

Update: Production of the Galaxy Note 7 has been "permanently discontinued."

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UPDATE

Samsung has "permanently discontinued" production of the Galaxy Note 7 following reports that the handsets were catching fire.

UPDATE

Samsung has halted sales of the Galaxy Note 7, amid reports that the device caught fire during charging. So far, there have been 35 known cases of exploding batteries according to a statement from the company. Current Galaxy Note 7 customers will be able to replace their phones in the coming weeks.

There's a big new Android phone on campus: Samsung's Galaxy Note 7.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

This month, Samsung will unveil the sixth iteration of its Note series but is calling it, confusingly, the Galaxy Note 7 (because its current flagship phone is the Galaxy S7, but whatever).

The new 5.7-inch Note is one of the best Android phablets you can buy right now – and, if you don't mind Samsung's continually-improving-but-still-annoying TouchWiz interface, it is the best. I know, because Samsung lent me a Note 7 review unit ahead of its August 19 release date and I've been fumbling with its tiny little stylus ever since. And yes, phablet is the second worst name for a tech thing (next to ~dongle~).

I have always preferred "pure" Android devices like the Nexus 6P. In other words, phones developed in partnership with Google that run the latest version of the Android operating system. These phones, which you buy directly from Google's online store, typically get the latest and greatest software updates first.

Galaxy phones are anything BUT "pure" Android devices (Samsung usually pre-loads a bunch of their own extra, Samsung-y stuff on them). And yet, it was impossible to deny just how good the Note is. The phone has a gorgeous new display with curved edges and is jam-packed with new features. Most of all, the Note 7 exceeds expectations where it matters most – battery life, speed, photo quality, and general lifeproof-ness.

Intrigued? More words ahead.

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We'll start with my favorite part: the unboxing.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

The Note 7 comes with a pair of earbuds and a charging plug, per usual. There's a schmancy new quick-charging USB C cable and a USB C-to-micro USB adapter, which can be used to connect your phone to pre-existing accessories.

The *only* reason you'd get the Note 7 is for its stylus, so that's where I'll begin.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

The Note's stylus is packed with new capabilities: a smaller 0.7mm tip that feels more like a ballpoint pen and has twice the pressure sensitivity, plus the ability to make GIFs on command, hover to magnify whatever's on screen, quickly jot down notes without unlocking the device, and translate words into any language Google Translate can handle. So, like I said, packed.

The stylus feels surprisingly pen-like. There's virtually no lag between screen contact and stroke. When you press down on the screen, the stroke gets thicker and darker, just as it would in the real world. In pencil mode, you can tilt the stylus for a thicker shade or keep it upright to write with a fine point. There are 5 different writing utensils and 7 different brushes to choose from in the S Notes app – plenty of variety to keep you entertained.

Without the stylus, the Galaxy Note is just a flatter, more rectangular Galaxy S7 Edge. All other aspects of the phone remain constant – aside from its weight (the Note is ~10 grams heavier), screen size (the Note's screen is ~.2 inches larger diagonally), battery (the Note's capacity is smaller by 100 mAh), and iris scanning feature, which we'll get to later.

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I love new gadgets more than anyone, but pen and paper rule my life. So I expected to really love writing with the stylus.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

Bullet journaling is the key to my productivity. There’s something wonderfully tactile about writing down your to-do’s and designing your layout for the week. I feel like I have a better grasp of the big picture when I’m putting pen to paper, versus typing in a word document. My notebook's infinite battery life and flexibility aren't too shabby, either.

Writing things down helps me to actually remember WTH I'm supposed to be doing, so I expected to really love using this stylus.

The stylus itself is great, but the truth is, for writing, the Galaxy Note is only about as useful as a waiter's pad. The set up is optimized for quick notetaking – but anything beyond that starts to feel uncomfortable. Because of the phone's shape, the space feels cramped, and because of the stylus' size, writing feels like trying to write an SAT essay with an Ikea pencil.

There are, of course, people who prefer the waiter's pad form factor for jotting down ideas. If you are one of those people, you will love the Note. If not, you will never use it to write down anything.

But I did find the drawing tools surprisingly fun.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

New in this Note is being able to blend colors using the oil brush tool. I love using the digital paint tools in the Paper app on my iPad, so I took the S Notes oil brush for a whirl.

I was blown away by the quality of the texture at first. It's fun to play with, and the fidelity of the stroke is super impressive. But it's also limiting in other ways. It's extremely hard to be precise with the color wheel picker and you can't lift colors from photographs or other images. And unlike actual oil paints, which dry and can be painted over, the S Notes paint always blends, no matter how much time has lapsed. But if you want muddy mini Monets, it's the perfect platform.

The new animated GIF-maker is pretty sweet, too.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

With the stylus, you can "smart select" an area over a video and instantly create an animated GIF. This feature only works with videos that aren't copyright-protected, so your own videos and YouTube videos are fine, but movies you buy from Google Play wouldn't work.

I have no idea when or why I'd actually use this, but it's easy to do, so why not.

The stylus adds a lot of interesting features to the phone, and its value depends on how much you take advantage of those features.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

The stylus is an accessory that enhances your input precision. It's great for highlighting text or magnifying tiny notations at the bottom of a PDF document. But it isn't exactly conducive to a truly on-the-go lifestyle.

You wouldn't ever use a stylus while walking on the street or in a standing room-only bus. You might, however, use it in meetings or in the back of an Uber. If you're a busy businesswoman (or man) who does a lot of work on their phone, the Galaxy Note is a mobile device that will absolutely up your productivity.

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Samsung is introducing an iris scanning feature that lets you unlock your phone with your eyes.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

You can unlock the device with your fingerprint, an unlock pattern, passcode – or, now, your irises. It's not more secure, per se, but it is another option for unlocking the device or fortifying the new password-protected "Secure" folder which is definitely where you should keep all of your nudes.

You can only store one set of irises which, I suppose, adds another layer of privacy. But I wish there was a setting that needed both your fingerprint AND eyes, or eyes AND passcode. That would feel pretty damn secure.

It's very fast, but it's not perfect.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

The iris scanning feature needs a steady hand. You can't (and probably shouldn't) use it while walking. Glasses and contacts may also require some adjusting, especially if there's glare.

On several particularly puffy-eyed mornings, the Note got V JUDGEY and kept telling me to "Open eyes fully." 😒

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Yep, it still works underwater.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

The Galaxy Note is water resistant in up to 5 feet of water for 30 minutes. I tried it and, yup, it is indeed waterproof. Well, technically, water resistant. The stylus works well while submerged (touch input does not) and the charging/audio ports don't need to be covered up. It can survive rain, accidental submerges, and splashes. I capsized in a Sunfish boat with the Note in my pocket and it was totally fine. An hour later, I uploaded an Instagram pic from the device with 100% success.

Waterproofness should be the standard (ahem, APPLE) and Samsung's proved that it can be done elegantly.

The camera is so freaking good.

Just look at this photo taken from both a Nexus phone and a Galaxy Note 7. (Sorry it's a bit, er, crooked. I was a beer or two deep.) The Nexus 6P has a 12.3 MP rear camera with 1.55 μm (if you don't understand what that means, just know that has big ass sensors that can capture more in low light than most).

The Note 7, on the other hand, has just a 12 MP rear camera, but with f/1.7 aperture (compared to the Nexus' inferior f/2.0 aperture). The Note photo is bright and vivid, while the Nexus's is a bit underexposed. It has impressive optical image stabilization and finds focus very quickly.

The camera is also where the most obvious UI improvements were made. Samsung continues to simplify and modernize its software design, and it makes using the phone a much more pleasant experience. In the camera app, for instance, there are time-saving new gestures. You can simply swipe up or down to switch between the rear and selfie cameras. You can also swipe left or right to access more advanced camera settings or different filters.

Just look at this photo taken from both a Nexus phone and a Galaxy Note 7. (Sorry it's a bit, er, crooked. I was a beer or two deep.) The Nexus 6P has a 12.3 MP rear camera with 1.55 μm (if you don't understand what that means, just know that has big ass sensors that can capture more in low light than most).

The Note 7, on the other hand, has just a 12 MP rear camera, but with f/1.7 aperture (compared to the Nexus' inferior f/2.0 aperture). The Note photo is bright and vivid, while the Nexus's is a bit underexposed. It has impressive optical image stabilization and finds focus very quickly.

The camera is also where the most obvious UI improvements were made. Samsung continues to simplify and modernize its software design, and it makes using the phone a much more pleasant experience. In the camera app, for instance, there are time-saving new gestures. You can simply swipe up or down to switch between the rear and selfie cameras. You can also swipe left or right to access more advanced camera settings or different filters.

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Just look at this photo taken from both a Nexus phone and a Galaxy Note 7. (Sorry it's a bit, er, crooked. I was a beer or two deep.) The Nexus 6P has a 12.3 MP rear camera with 1.55 μm (if you don't understand what that means, just know that has big ass sensors that can capture more in low light than most).

The Note 7, on the other hand, has just a 12 MP rear camera, but with f/1.7 aperture (compared to the Nexus' inferior f/2.0 aperture). The Note photo is bright and vivid, while the Nexus's is a bit underexposed. It has impressive optical image stabilization and finds focus very quickly.

The camera is also where the most obvious UI improvements were made. Samsung continues to simplify and modernize its software design, and it makes using the phone a much more pleasant experience. In the camera app, for instance, there are time-saving new gestures. You can simply swipe up or down to switch between the rear and selfie cameras. You can also swipe left or right to access more advanced camera settings or different filters.

And so is the battery.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

The battery life on this thing *really* impressed me, especially because the vibrance of the screen wasn't compromised. On the third day of use, I unplugged the phone with a full charge at 8:17 a.m. and at 11:05 a.m. the next day with 5% of battery left to go, I went into "Power Saving Mode." I was able to squeeze another hour and 40 minutes out of the battery.

This feature extends your battery by an hour or much more, depending on whether or not you elect Mid or Max power saving. Within the two settings, you can dial into each conscious feature even further. Adjust the maximum brightness, change the screen resolution, and limit the CPU performance by tapping the Power Saving Mode battery icon in the Settings shortcut menu.

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What struck me most is that the Galaxy Note feels more like a phone, and less like a PDA than ever.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

The last time I really reviewed a Galaxy Note was in 2013 and ooooh boy do things change. The Note I used then would constantly send me down Palm Pilot nostalgia spirals. The Note 7, however, is unbelievably slim.

If you're for an extremely feature-rich phone experience, go for the Galaxy Note 7.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

The Note 7 is an absolute workhorse. Need to highlight and annotate PDFs? The phone would be great for that. Want to work with multiple windows open? This Note is amazing for that, too. Constantly struggling to tap on the right thing with your finger? This stylus is going to be a game changer. Plus, the Note 7 is reintroducing expandable microSD storage up to 256GB, so you can take as many photos and work on as many files without worrying about how much space you have left.

But if none of those things apply to you, the Note 7 is not what you need. The Note 7 is for people who need their phones to do everything. The Galaxy S7 is for everyone else – people who just need a decent screen to access Facebook, email, and Snapchat, with the same vibrant screen, waterproofness, and battery reliability as the Note 7.

The most prohibitive aspect of the Note 7 is its cost. Samsung packed all of the new features it could into this device, and it shows in how much it costs. The Note 7 is priced at $865 for Verizon, $850 for Sprint, and $850 for T-Mobile. The Galaxy S7 is $670 and S7 Edge is $795.

You can pre-order the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 from Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint here.