10 tips to get the most from your Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Samsung's big new phone has lots of big new features.

note 7 tips primary
Ryan Whitwam

It's got everything but the kitchen sink

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is jam packed with just about every feature it's possible to fit in a smartphone, but it comes with a high price. The last thing you want to do is drop all that cash on a Note 7 and not take full advantage of all the cool stuff it can do. Here are 10 tips to get you on your way to mastering all the this phone has to offer.

note 7 tips home

Improve your home screen

Samsung’s stock home screen has improved over the years, and it can be quite nice on the Note 7 after you’ve made a few adjustments. First and foremost, the Flipboard-powered Briefing screen on the far left needs to go. It’s slow and not even very good for reading news. To get rid of it, long-press or pinch the home screen, swipe over to the Briefing panel, then toggle the slider above it.

Next, let’s get rid of those unnecessary “squircle” frames around all your app icons. What is this, 2012? Head into the system settings and open the Display submenu. Scroll down and you’ll see “Icon frames.” Change it to icons only, and the squircles are dead.

Lastly, you should take a long hard look at the app drawer. It defaults to custom organization with folders. It’s probably smarter to get rid of the folders and organize by name, which you can do from the overflow menu button in the upper right. Unfortunately, you have to re-order the icons regularly as you install and uninstall things.

note 7 tips quick settings

Reorganize quick settings

Samsung’s quick settings on the Note 7 are completely redesigned. To edit them, you simply open the full quick settings pane (swipe down twice, or swipe down with two fingers at once) and long-press on one of them. You can drag unwanted icons to the bottom section to remove them, rearrange, and add previously unused icons back into the mix. To save the layout, hit “Done” in the upper right corner.

note 7 tips edge

Customize the Edge panel

Since it has one of Samsung’s curved AMOLED display, the Note 7 also has the Edge panel interface. This gives you quick access to apps, contacts, and other features with a quick swipe on the “handle” at the edge of the display. The quickest way to make tweaks is to open the Edge panel, then tap the settings icon in the lower left corner.

You can change the position, size, and opacity of the handle from the overflow menu button up top. More importantly, you have the option to add, move, and hide tools from the Edge panel. If you want to get new Edge panel tools, the download button takes you to Samsung’s app store. Also make sure to configure the settings for individual items in the Edge panel list using the “Edit” button below them.

Want to know which Edge panels we suggest? Take a look at our handy list.

note 7 tips iris

Set up iris and fingerprint scanner

The Galaxy Note 7 has not one but two biometric security mechanisms you can set up. There’s the fingerprint scanner in the home button everyone is familiar with. Then there’s the new iris scanner.

The fingerprint scanner is accessible in the “Lock screen and security” submenu. When adding a fingerprint, make sure to hold the phone in a natural way. Samsung’s sensor is more sensitive to changes in angle than most. The option to add your irises to the device is right below fingerprints in that same menu. If you wear glasses, take them off for the purposes of adding your iris print. It only takes a few seconds, then you can use the iris scanner to unlock the device and verify your identity with Samsung services. The phone uses an IR pulse to illuminate your face, so iris scanning still works with most glasses or in the dark.

note 7 tips secure folder

Use Secure Folder

Samsung chose to make one of its Knox-based security features called Secure Folder a prominent part of the Note 7. Secure Folder lets you create a private partition on the device for apps that will only be accessible when you authenticate with a password or biometric security (like the iris scanner). You can use the same apps from Secure Folder in the regular OS, but the data from secure folder is only accessible when you’re in secure mode.

Secure Folder comes pre-populated with various Samsung apps, but you can add others to it. For example, if you have a business email that contains sensitive information, you can put a copy of Gmail in Secure Folder and only access the business email from that. There are some settings in the main “Lock screen and security” submenu for Secure Folder. You can change the notification preferences, input method, unlock method, and more. It’s like a little mini-OS inside Android.

note 7 tips air command

Air Command tweaks

The S Pen stylus is what makes the Note a “Note” and not just a slightly larger Galaxy S7 Edge. The quickest way to make use of the stylus is to call up Air Command. This floating UI opens automatically when you remove the S Pen from the holder, but you can change that and other settings with a few taps.

First, add any apps you might want to use the stylus in frequently to your Air Command list. Tap the “Add shortcut” icon to include more apps. You can also get rid of tools you don’t need from this screen. The settings icon in Air Command includes an option to turn the floating icon version of Air Command off (it will hide completely when you’re not using it). If you do that, you’ll still be able to access it by clicking the stylus button. If you decide you don’t want Air Command popping up every time you remove the stylus, you can disable that in Settings > Advanced features > S Pen. Simply set the detachment option to “none.”

note 7 tips multi window

Use Multi-window mode

Samsung launched the Note 7 with Android 6.0, so it doesn’t have the Nougat split-screen mode. Samsung has its own version, though. Just like on past Samsung devices, you can open split screen mode by long-pressing the overview button. This puts your current app on one half of the display, allowing you to open a second app on the other half. The divider between the two can be dragged back and forth to change how much space each one gets.

Tapping the divider opens a control panel with buttons to enable drag and drop between windows. You can also close apps, minimise them, and maximize. Minimizing actually sends compatible apps into “pop-up view.” These are true floating windows that you can move around the screen and minimize to floating icons. Not all apps work in pop-up view, though. Apps that do have support can be put in windowed mode by dragging in from the top left corner of the screen.

note 7 tips screen off memo

Screen-off memo

The Galaxy Note 7 can be used to create a quick note without waking up completely. Just take the S Pen out while the phone is asleep and you get a blank canvas to jot down a note. It can be saved to the Samsung Notes app or pinned to the always-on display. The memo will be shown for an hour in always-on mode, but you can have it displayed again by double-tapping the memo icon. Simply double-tap the delete button when you no longer want it available.

note 7 tips one handed

One-handed mode

The Note 7 has a big screen; too big to be easily used one-handed. If you absolutely don’t have a spare hand and need to use the phone, you can shrink the active display area down. Press the home button three times in quick succession and the display will contract to the lower right corner. Lefty? No problem, tap the arrow next to the display to move it to the other side. When you’re done, triple-press again or tap the “Return to full screen” button at the top.

note 7 tips gifs

Make some GIFs

To really show off the S Pen on the Note 7, Samsung beefed up its screen capture tool with GIF support. I don’t know how often this will be useful, but it sure is fun. Open Air Command and tap Smart Select. This will give you a selection box and a toolbar at the top. Tap Animation on the far right and the selection box gains controls for recording and quality level. While you’re recording the phone estimates the GIFs final size, then gives you a preview so you can annotate, share, and save.