Samsung Galaxy Note 8 First Impression: Do Bigger Things

Last year’s Galaxy Note 7 was perhaps “the most famous Samsung smartphone in history”, for all the wrong reasons. The company kicked off its recovery with the excellent Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus earlier this year, and now it hopes to complete the comeback with the mobile world’s biggest do over.

If you expected a big shift in strategy this year, you won’t find it on the Samsung Note 8. It’s ever so slightly bigger than its sibling, The Galaxy S8 Plus, with the tighter radius corners on its 6.3 inch display giving it a more boxy silhouette.



That display is the biggest in the current Galaxy smartphone family by just a hair, and thanks to the stretched aspect ratio it’s still manageable with one hand, kinda.

The Best Display Hardware

Samsung talked a lot about user habits during the Note 8 brief. The company’s data tell it that Galaxy S8 Plus owners spend 40 more minutes per day on their phones than owners of the smaller Galaxy S8. And it also says that Galaxy Note owners are 40% more likely to multitask on their phones.

So, the display hardware is, very likely, the best Samsung has ever put in a phone. Quad HD Plus Super AMOLED Infinity Edges all accounted for.

And the software now let’s you jump right into split-screen multitasking with a two-for-one app shortcut, which you needed third-party app to accomplish until now. Naturally, none of this matters if your phone falls asleep before you do.

Battery is Smaller and at least won’t blow up on your face

And here’s my first concern: the battery in the Galaxy Note 8 clocks in at 3300 mAh. Now, that’s 5% smaller than the power pack on the Note 7, which I found to be barely enough to get me through a day during the brief time I had it.

Now, the Note 8 should should see some added power efficiency thanks to its newer Snapdragon 835 processor, at least here in the Stats, and the Note 8 also carries the added bonus of probably not blowing up on your face.

Samsung went to the trouble of securing UL safety certification this time around, and every battery it ships is also subjected to the company’s new eight point safety check.

So, I’m not concerned about this phone becoming a danger to consumers, but I am dismayed at the capacity reduction. I’m old enough to remember a time when the Galaxy Note was the king of every major specification. And in my view, there’s no more important spec than battery capacity.

Three reasons to Buy Note 8 Over S8

So, why not just buy a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus and be done with it? Three Reasons.

First Reason: S Pen

S Pen, stowed away in its special silo in the lower right. While there are other phones with styluses, none of them even come close to the capabilities of this one.

 

There’s always some new ridiculousness on the software side, this year it’s animated handwriting that you can send as a GIF, but for me the S Pen is most useful as a surrogate mouse for tapping tiny touch targets.

And in a noteworthy feat of engineering, the pen and the phone are IP 68, dust and water resistant, whether the pen is stowed or deployed.

Other Two Reasons: Dual Primary Cameras

The other two reasons the Galaxy Note 8 stands apart from the S8 Plus are located side-by-side on the back plate. This is the first Samsung phone to ship with dual primary cameras, and it’s the first phone anywhere, that I know of, to include honest to goodness optical stabilization on both of them.

That means those long-distance shots you take with a telephoto lens are less likely to look like they came from Blurrycam. And the added depth information that comes from using two cameras, makes it possible to do that portrait shooting that everyone’s crazy for these days.

Personally, I wish Samsung had gone the LG route and included the super-wide angle for the secondary camera instead of the telephoto, but the company is very clearly targeting Apple consumers with the Galaxy Note 8, and there’s no denying that the iPhone 7 Plus Portrait Mode has scored Apple a lot of buzz.

I’ll be interested to see how this dual camera system fairs in the real world. The review period will give me the chance to answer some questions my brief hands-on could not. In particular, I’m eager to see whether the software suffers from the periodic sluggishness most Samsung phones exhibit relative to competitors like the  Google Pixel.

Other Features

I’m excited to see if the 6 GB of RAM help out when the phone is plugged into its DeX Dock and acting as a desktop computer standup. And I’m interested to see if I can ever train myself to avoid hitting the Bixby button when I’m just trying to turn down the volume.



Yep, Samsung is still trying to make its own digital assistant happen, but given everything I’ve seen so far, I don’t exactly have high hopes.

Full Specifications:

Hardware Details
Network Support GSM / HSPA / LTE
SIM Type Dual Nano SIM Cards (Dual Stand-by)
Display Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
6.3 inches  ( 83.2% Screen to body Ratio)
1440 x 2960 pixels (~521 ppi pixel density)
Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Protection
– HDR10 compliant
– 3D Touch (home button only)
– Always-on display
– Grace UX UI
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835 – USA & China
Exynos 8895 Octa – EMEA
Processor Octa-core (4×2.35 GHz Kryo & 4×1.9 GHz Kryo) – USA & China
Octa-core (4×2.3 GHz & 4×1.7 GHz) – EMEA
RAM 6 GB RAM
Memory 64/128/256 GB Internal
microSD, up to 256 GB (Use SIM 2 Slot)
Camera Primary: Dual 12 MP (26mm, f/1.7, PDAF & 52mm, f/2.4, AF), OIS, autofocus, 2x optical zoom, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
Features: (1/2.55″ sensor size, 1.4 µm pixel size @ 26 mm), (1/3.6″ sensor size, 1.0 µm pixel size @ 52 mm), Geo-tagging, simultaneous 4K video and 9MP image recording, touch focus, face/smile detection, Auto HDR, panorama
Secondary: 8 MP, f/1.7, autofocus, 1/3.6″ sensor size, 1.22 µm pixel size, 1440p@30fps, dual video call, Auto HDR
Video: 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@240fps, HDR, dual-video rec
Battery Non-removable Li-Ion 3300 mAh battery
Sensors Iris scanner, fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate, SpO2
GPU Adreno 540 – USA & China
Mali-G71 MP20 – EMEA
Operating System Android 7.1.1 (Nougat)
Connectivity Bluetooth v5.0, A2DP, EDR, LE
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
USB v3.1, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
NFC Supports
No FM Radio
Special Features – Samsung Desktop Experience support
– Fast battery charging (Quick Charge 2.0)
– Qi/PMA wireless charging (market dependent)
– ANT+ support
– S-Voice natural language commands and dictation
– MP4/DivX/XviD/WMV/H.265 player
– MP3/WAV/WMA/eAAC+/FLAC player
– Photo/video editor
– Document editor

Positive Points

  • Dual Camera with Portrait Mode
  • Great Depth Info and Stabilization for Cameras
  • Battery won’t blow up
  • S pen with Animated Writing Feature

Negative Points

  • Battery is not up to the mark
  • Fingerprint reader is placed very poorly again

Pre-Booking and Price

To Pre-Book you can visit Samsung’s official website or click this link for India => Pre-Book Note 8

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will be priced between 50,000 INR to 60,000 INR.

Final Wording

The Galaxy Note 8 is available for pre-order from August 24, with shipments beginning September 15th. You won’t be getting the fancy maple gold or deep sea blue colour options in USA, not yet.

That means fingerprints galore on the midnight black, and to a lesser extent the orchid gray models. And speaking of, that fingerprint sensor is still terribly placed, off center on the back. If you don’t want to keep smudging up your camera by accident you’ll want to stick to retina scanning, or give your finger some extra guidance.

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