] NEW YORK -- Since its 2011 launch, not many expected that Samsung Electronics
’ Galaxy Note smartphone would survive the tough competition with smaller-size peers including Apple’s iPhone, the most popular option at the time.
The Note lineup, which had its latest and sixth model Note 7 unveiled Tuesday in New York, has evolved and gained a great deal of popularity for itself along the way, so much so that almost all global smartphone makers that used to look down on the Note phablet now also roll out phones with a larger-size screen.
As Samsung tries to take another big leap forward, they have added an iris scanner to the latest version of the Note on top of other security measures including a fingerprint sensor, Samsung’s Knox mobile security solution and Samsung Pass, an application for log-in identification.
Not only can users unlock the Note by scanning their eyeballs, but they also can utilize the biometric sensor, which according to Samsung boasts 100 times better security than a fingerprint sensor, for user verification in financial transactions.
In a short test with the Note 7 at the launch event in New York on Aug. 2, I had no difficulty in using the iris scanning tech -- except that it was a little hard to position my eyes into the two circles appearing on the screen.
Samsung said it would team up with financial institutions and banks to enable users to use mobile financial and banking services in a more secure manner than before.
Samsung has signed partnerships with U.S. and Korean banks for the use of user identification through the iris scanning technology of the Note 7 in financial transactions.
On the design front, the newly unveiled smartphone comfortably fit in my relatively small hand despite the whopping 5.7-inch (14.5 centimeters) display. It was largely thanks to both sides -- on the front and back symmetrically -- of the screen being curved.
When holding the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy Note 7 in each of my hands, the Note 7 offered a much better hand grip and I could more readily manage to use the Note 7 than the iPhone with one hand.
The four colors of the latest Note model -- Black Onyx, Blue Coral, Silver Titanium and Gold Platinum -- seem attractive enough to give prospective buyers a hard time in choosing.
The stylus, the signature feature of the Note lineup, seems to be more versatile and allows users to translate text in pictures and on webpages by pointing to the text with the digital pen. Users can also create a GIF animation file from a video clip with the pen.
Koh Dong-jin, chief of Samsung’s mobile communications business and a big supporter of the digital pen, has also been pushing to improve the stylus.
The pen, dubbed the S-pen, has become slimmer and more comfortable to hold compared to preceding models.
Even though the pen with its tip measuring 0.7 millimeters in diameter, down from 1.6 mm from that for the Note 5, gave a vivid handwriting feel, it still seems to need improvement as it was still below par in drawing fine details.
By Kim Young-won (email@example.com