The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 ranks near the top or at the top of most lists of best Android smartphones available today. So you can get the most out of this great phablet, we’ll show you some of the most important steps to take in setting up your new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and changing key settings.
UPDATE 2: Samsung now suggests that all owners of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 shut down their phones, even if they’re using a replacement Note 7. That’s because even the replacements seem to have the problem with burning up randomly.
If you own a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, return it and consider one of the great alternatives in the slideshow at the bottom of this post.
UPDATE: Due to the recent Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall by Samsung due to problems with the phone catching fire and even causing injury or property damage, we recommend that you don’t follow this guide. Shut down the phone and do not plug it in. Contact your carrier or Samsung to return it immediately. For more information on the recall see Galaxy Note 7 Recall & Replacements: What You Need to Know.
If you haven’t purchased the phone yet, wait. Samsung’s planning to recall the phone due to a flaw with the Galaxy Note 7 that might cause some problems. See Galaxy Note 7 Recall & Replacements: What You Need to Know to learn more.
First Time Start-Up of Galaxy Note 7
Before going any further, take a look at our first time start-up guide. It covers all the steps that the phone takes users through the first time they start-up the phone or the first time they start it up after resetting it to a factory state.
When you start the phone up, they should quickly plug in the new USB Type-C charging cable to top off the battery early on. This is important because part of the start-up guide will force you to unplug from power for a little while to use the Samsung Smart Switch feature, which lets users transfer content from an old phone, including another Android phone, iPhone or even Blackberry. Follow the setup wizard making the selections based on your needs and our recommendations in the above guide.
Update Apps from Google Play and Galaxy Apps
Make sure you’re connected to Wi-fi, which you likely did during the above step. If not, swipe down from the top of the screen and then tap on the down arrow under the Wi-Fi button in the row Quick Settings buttons.
Open the Google Play Store from the home screen on your Galaxy Note 7.
In the upper left corner, you’ll see a menu button with three horizontal lines. The menu slides in from the left hand side of the screen. Tap on My apps & games and you’ll see a list of all the apps installed. In the upper right corner tap on Update all. The phone will download updates. You might see a box pop up asking you to accept some permissions. This can take a long time.
Secure the Galaxy Note 7 with Iris or Fingerprint
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 comes with a new security feature. The phone’s camera will read your Iris and unlock the phone based on identifying your Irises.
The Iris scanner doesn’t work as quickly or as reliably as the Fingerprint scanner. However, you should try it out and see if you like it.
Open Settings by swiping down from the top of the screen and choose the Settings icon, which looks like a gear icon in the upper right corner of the Notification Area.
Tap on Lock screen and security. About two-thirds of the way down, you’ll see Fingerprints and Irises. Let’s start with Irises, so tap on Irises. If you added a password during the first time start-up, then the phone asks for it now. Enter it and tap NEXT.
The next screen shows you how to correctly add an Iris (see above). You can only add one. It tells you to …
- Recognize your Iris indoors
- Take off or remove glasses/contacts
- Hold the phone 10-14 inches from your face
Tap on CONTINUE. The camera turns on and shows you in the upper third of the screen what the camera sees in black and white. Move the phone so that your eyes sit inside the two circles. Wait till the phone shows the success message. It then shows a series of screens with tips on how to get the best use of the Iris scanner. Read through these swiping through each screen till you get to the last one. Tap on OK to finish. Then tap on TURN ON to turn on the scanner from now on.
The settings screen asks how you want to use the Iris scanner. Set it for Web sign-in so you can log into websites. Turn on Verify Samsung account if you want to use the Iris scanner to log into your Samsung Account for things like buying Galaxy Apps. The last one reads Iris unlock and controls whether to unlock the phone with your Irises.
If you do not want to use your Irises any more, come back to this screen and tap on REMOVE at the top of the screen.
If you experience any problems, then please see How to Fix Galaxy Note 7 Iris Problems.
Tap the back button and select Fingerprints to add your first fingerprint or to add more if you already did. I trained it to recognize both thumbs, my right pointer and my wife’s finger so she can unlock my phone when she needs to and I’m not around or driving. Watch the video below, which shows the Galaxy S6, but works almost the same as the Galaxy Note 7.
Again, if you already added a password or PIN, the phone asks for it and then shows the settings screen for the fingerprint scanner. Tap on Add fingerprint. The phone shows you how to use the scanner. Place your finger over the home button to start recognizing it. The phone shows a percentage to let you know how close you are to finishing. Repeatedly lift and place your finger on the button moving it around between touches. When it hits 100% you’ll see a notification that the phone properly recognized the fingerprint. Repeat this process to add up to four fingerprints.
The settings screen shows you how you can use your fingerprint. Tap to turn on things like Verify Samsung account to use your fingerprint to log into your Samsung account for things like buying Galaxy Apps. Use it for Web sign-in to log into websites. Tap on Use with Samsung Pay to use your fingerprint to verify your identity while using Samsung Pay. Follow the wizard to setup Samsung Pay.
Setup Backup and Restore
Follow our guide to automatically backing up photos on an Android phone. The first part of the guide covers Google Photos. It’s an older version of the app, but works the same way on later versions.
LINK TO BACKUP AND RESET FROM CORY
Android includes an automatic backup tool and Samsung adds their own. We’ll set both of them up. To do this open Settings on the phone by swiping down from the top of the screen and tap the Settings icon (a gear icon in the upper right corner of the notifications area).
Find the Cloud and accounts setting and tap it. First tap on Samsung Cloud. Tap on Add account and enter your Samsung account ID and password, if you didn’t already do this before.
If you didn’t already setup an account, then tap on CREATE ACCOUNT. Follow the onscreen instructions for setting up a new account.
Those who already have an account, enter the details and tap on SIGN IN. The next screen asks you to back up certain parts of your phone. Turn the things you use on if you want Samsung Cloud to back them up. I turned on all of them.
At the bottom of the screen you’ll see two items. Back up my data will do a sync right away. Restore will download things from the cloud to the phone.
Back out of that screen using the back button to the right of the Home button. Now tap on Backup and reset. Turn on Back up my data under the Google account section. Make sure your proper Backup account shows up in the next item. If you want to turn on Automatic restore, then tap on the switch icon. This automatically restores app data when you reinstall an app you deleted from the phone.
The phone is now set to back up your data to both your Samsung and Google accounts.
Find a Lost Samsung Galaxy Note 7
Follow our guide for using up the Android Device Manager to help you find your phone if you lose it or it gets stolen.
Once you set up the Android Device Manager, you can find your phone using the Google site.
Samsung customers can also use Samsung’s device finder at findmymobile.samsung.com. It offers a few more features than Google’s solution. Users can do the following:
- RING MY DEVICE – will ring the phone so you can hear it and find it in the couch or under your car seat
- LOCK MY DEVICE – this protects it but doesn’t wipe it for when you think you’ll find it, but don’t want anyone to get in until you do.
- WIPE MY DEVICE – this erases the phone so you don’t have to worry about a thief getting your private data.
- RETRIEVE LOGS – this downloads call logs from the phone.
- SET GUARDIANS – lets you add people who can use Find My Mobile to find and control your phone.
- UNLOCK DEVICE – this unlocks the device for when you trust the person who found the phone and you want them to get something off the phone.
To set this up on the phone, open Settings and select Lock screen and security. Then choose Find My Mobile. Enter your Samsung password. Then turn on Remote controls and Google location services to use Samsung’s location service. You can also set it to lock the phone if the SIM card gets changed or replaced.
Customize the Home Screen on Galaxy Note 7
Most people will want to change the way their phone looks. It’s the most personal decision a user makes about their device. With the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, a user can change the theme to customize the way the phone looks including the background or wallpaper, the icons, the color scheme, the software that controls how the home screen looks and behaves and which icons to place on the home screens. We’ll look at a few of these. You can find out more about this in our list of 35 Galaxy Note 7 Tips & Tricks.
Switch to Easy Mode
First, decide if you want to use the default look or the Easy mode. Easy mode won’t let the user change much and puts only a few icons on the home screen. It also offers a screen of often used contacts to the left of the main home screen. Use this if you plan to give the Galaxy Note 7 to someone who’s not very tech savvy.
- Go into Settings (swipe down from top and choose the gear icon in the upper left).
- Tap on Display.
- Tap on Easy mode.
- Choose Easy mode.
- Turn on or off the apps you want to use in Easy mode from the list at the bottom.
- Tap on Done at the top.
To switch back, follow the above again and this time choose Standard mode in step 4.
Remove App Icons or Widgets
The first thing you’ll want to do, if you stick with the standard home screen instead of turning on Easy Mode, is remove any apps or widgets you know you won’t use, like Samsung’s Internet app which isn’t as useful as Chrome.
- Tap and hold on an icon until the Remove icon (it looks like a trashcan) shows up at the top.
- Drag the icon to Remove and let go.
- Repeat for all other icons you want to remove.
Remember that there’s more than one Home screen so swipe left and right to see the apps on other screens.
Change Wallpapers, Themes or Icons
You can change the overall look of the phone or just the background (Wallpaper). You can also change the Icons. Press and hold on a blank part of the Home screen and then tap on Wallpapers and Themes. Now choose one of the three tabs across the top of the screen – WALLPAPERS, THEMES, or ICONS. Look through those offered and choose one to download and install following the on-screen instructions.
A wallpaper is the background of the screen. A theme controls the background wallpapers, the icons, fonts and the overall look of built-in apps like the Phone, Contacts and Messages app to name a few. The custom icons will change the icon of some of the built-in apps, like Phone, Contacts and Messages.
Add Apps or Widgets to Home Screen
To add Widgets to the Home screen, press and hold on the Home screen again and now pick Widgets from the bottom of the screen. Widgets are apps that run on the Home screen and display content or control functions of the phone’s operating system or installed apps. For example, one of my favorite Widgets puts a Mobile HotSpot switch on the Home screen so I can tap it to turn on the phone’s T-Mobile Mobile HotSpot feature. Some carriers or carrier plans don’t support this feature.
If there’s more than one widget associated with an app or feature, then it will have a small number under the name of the widget (see the left image above). Tap this kind of widget to open the folder and see all the widgets available. If there’s no number, it’s a single widget.
Tap and hold on the widget either from the main grid of widgets or from inside a folder of widgets associated with an app. After a second, the phone will show the Home screen. Drag the widget to the spot you want to place it and let go. Repeat until you get all the widgets you want added to the Home screen.
To add apps, open the App Drawer (white icon with label reading Apps in the dock). Press and hold on an app and the App Drawer closes and you’ll see the Home Screen. Let go of the app icon where you want it.
Customize the Home Screen Grid
You can also customize how many icons show up on the Home screen. Tap and hold like you would to change the wallpaper or add widgets. Select Screen grid from the bottom of the screen. You’ll see three options …
This stands for the number of icons across and the number icons in each column going down. I prefer the 5×5 so I can put more app icons on the home screen. It’s also the default. Press the Home button to exit the customization screen.
Customize Number of Home Screens
You can also control how many screens show up on the Home screen. Do you want just one Home screen of icons or 3 or 8. Press and hold on the Home screen. By default there are four screens. The first holds the Briefing (left above), which runs a widget from Flipboard, a news app. You can turn that on or off by swiping to show the left most screen. Tap on the blue on/off switch at the top next to the word Briefing. If you turn it off, it grays out. Or you can leave it on if it’s already off.
Swipe to the right most screen which shows a plus icon (right above). Tap this plus icon to add a new screen. Above each screen there is a button that looks like a house (center above). The one that will show up when you press the physical Home button will be white. The others look grayed out.
If you want to change the main Home screen, tap the house icon on one of the other screens. To delete one of the other Home screens, press and hold the screen and drag it to the trash icon at the top of the screen. It goes away and any icons on that screen will no longer stay on the other Home screens. When finished, press the physical Home button.
Customize Notification Shortcuts and Quick Settings
The Notification area shows up when the user swipes down from the top of the Galaxy Note 7 screen. The Quick Settings show up in the top row (above right). You can change what icons show up here by swiping down to show the Notification area. Then swipe down again to show all the available Quick Settings buttons (above center). Drag and drop your five favorite buttons to the top row.
To change the Notification area settings go into Settings, tap on Notifications (right above).
All the apps with Notification area features will show up on the list. Turn them on or off as you wish. You can also turn off All apps. I suggest that users turn off All apps and then only turn on those you want to show up in the Notifications area.
Tap on Advanced at the top of the list and then select each app to customize how that app handles Notifications. You can change things like whether the app shows up, whether it can show pop-ups, show notifications on the lock screen or show other kinds of content on the lock screen.
Configure Edge Panels
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 comes with the interesting Edge feature that lets users swipe from the edge of their phone’s screen to show shortcuts to features, websites, contacts and more. You can set this up by swiping in from the left edge using the visible handle. The first time it asks you to add new Edge Panels.
Tap on the plus icon on the right to add a new panel. You can also tap on the settings icon in the lower left corner. If you add a new panel, the center screen above shows up. Put a check mark in the panels you want to show in your Edge Panel. You can also change some advanced features by tapping on the menu button (three vertical buttons in the upper right corner) and then tapping on Handle settings. These settings control the look and position of the handle that the user uses to swipe in from the edge of the screen to show the Edge Panels. Drag it up or down, change the position from right to left, customize the size of the handle, and control how transparent the handle looks. You can also download new Edge Panels from the Galaxy Apps Store. Tap on DOWNLOAD in the upper right corner.
Remove or Disable Junk Apps
Some carrier versions of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 will let you uninstall some of the junk apps that you don’t need or want. Go into Settings and tap on Applications. Tap on the name of an app you want to remove or disable. For example, lets say you don’t use Amazon and don’t want the app to show up. Tap on DISABLE or UNINSTALL, depending on which option shows up in the upper left under the app name. If you can Uninstall it, you should. Otherwise disable the app and it won’t clutter up the home screen or the app drawer.
This guide gives you a good introduction to your Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and you should now be ready to go!
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
As we said above, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is the best possible replacement, minus the S-Pen. Simply because it's a similar software experience, nearly identical in design, and shares most of the features that makes the Note 7 great. You can even buy the S7 Edge in the same Blue Coral color from Verizon or AT&T.
The Galaxy S7 Edge has the same glass and metal design, it's also water resistant. The screen is only 0.02-inches smaller, being 5.5-inches instead of 5.7-inches, and the difference is barely noticeable. It's actually easier to use.
One other thing to consider is the Galaxy S7 Edge uses a regular microUSB charging port, not the new Type-C plug on the bottom of the Note 7. So most old cables, chargers and accessories will actually work perfect with the S7 Edge.
It's also a lot cheaper, nearly $200 less if not more. Those who opt to return the Note 7 for the S7 Edge will get a refund for the difference, and likely a $250-100 gift card from carriers too. It's a pretty good route to take.
Oh, and the Galaxy S7 Edge has a bigger 3,600 mAh battery, compared to just 3,500 mAh in the Note 7. So it could technically get better battery life while offering a near-identical experience across the board.
Read: Galaxy S7 Edge Review
And for those asking, yes you have to return the Note 7. T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T are pushing updates that render it useless. Sprint will do the same on January 8th.