[THE INVESTOR] NEW YORK -- When it was first launched n 2011, not many expected Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note smartphone to survive the tough competition with small-size peers, including the then hot-selling iPhone.
Journalists and industry people try out Samsung Electronics’ new gadgets at the Galaxy Note 7 Unpacked event held in New York on Aug. 2. Samsung Electronics
The Note lineup -- with its latest model Note 7 unveiled on Aug. 2 in New York -- has evolved and gained a great deal of popularity along the way, so much so that almost all global smartphone makers that used to look down on the Note phablet now roll out phones with a larger screen.
Taking another big leap forward, Samsung has added an iris scanner to the latest Note phone on top of other security measures including a fingerprint sensor, Samsung’s Knox mobile security solution, and Samsung Pass, an application for login identification.
Not only can users unlock the Note by scanning their eyeballs, but they can also utilize the biometric sensor, which according to Samsung boasts 100 times better security than the fingerprint reader 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.
It has signed partnerships with US and Korean banks for the use of the iris scanning technology in financial transactions.
A journalist poses with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 at the launch event held in New York on Aug. 2. Samsung Electronics
On the design front, the newly unveiled smartphone comfortably fit in my relatively small hand despite the whopping 5.7-inch display. It was largely due to the fact that both sides, on the front and back symmetrically, of the screen are curved.
When holding the iPhone 6 Plus and the 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 a color.
The stylus, the signature feature of the Note lineup, seems to be more versatile as it allows users to translate texts in pictures and on webpages by pointing at the text with the digital pen. Users can 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, is slimmer and more comfortable to hold compared to its preceding models.
Even though the pen with its tip measuring 0.7 millimeters in diameter -- down from 1.6 mm of the Note 5 -- gave a vivid handwriting feel, it still need improvement as it was still below par in drawing finer details.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)