A New Phablet – the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review
It might be expensive and the fingerprint scanner is in a tricky place, but the screen, camera, battery and stylus are the best!
Then and Now
Following the disaster of the Note 7, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review is great news. The screen is enormous, the bezels are tiny, the stylus is good and the battery life has been extended. Is this what Samsung phablet fans have been waiting for?
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review – Specifications
Screen 6.3” quad (HD and AMOLED) 521ppi
Processor octa-core Samsung Exynos 8895/octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Storage 64GB + card
Operating System Android 7.0, TouchWiz
Camera dual 12MP rear cameras, 8MP front
Connectivity LTE, Wi-Fi, NFC, wireless, Bluetooth 5, GPS, Iris sensor
The phablet category, from the Samsung Note series, was first created in 2011. It was a ‘smartphone’, but with a screen of at least 5”. Since 2011, smartphone screens have increased in size, so the large screen wasn’t sufficient to differentiate the Note series.
Large screens are common these days, but a stylus isn’t. The Samsung Note series has blended the large screen, the stylus, the tiny form factor and a great selection of productivity tools, and it is these factors that have made them so popular. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is no exception.
The Samsung Note 8 review shows the screen to be enormous. Diagonally, it measures 6.3” and is tall and thin, very similar to the Infinity Display on the Samsung Galaxy S8 devices. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 makes all other screens look small. This 6.3” screen has been moulded into a body that is about the same size as an iPhone 7 Plus, and only marginally bigger than the Note 7 and Galaxy S8+. The front is only screen, and has thin bezels on the top and bottom, with elegant curved edges.
The screen curvature is reduced which means the corners are harder and there is less screen in the rounded edges. This makes the stylus much easier to use. The Samsung Note 8 review shows the width (74.8mm) of the Note 8 to be easier to hold, because of a metal ridge along the side – it’s not so easy to handle with one hand, but it is less slippery, and is narrower than other similar devices.
The new Samsung Galaxy Note 8 screen is fantastic. It is big. It is bright. It is bold. The colors are rich, and there are lots of options so you can customise it to meet your own needs.
The virtual home button and the pressure-sensitive screen are the same as the Galaxy S8, and it also has a choice of orientation with the navigation buttons.
The back of the device is monolithic. There is a simple Samsung logo along with the cameras, flash, heart rate and fingerprint sensor near the top.
It is water resistant to a depth of 1.5m for 30 minutes. Both the back and the front are more scratch and shatter resistant with an IP68 rating and Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5. Still, a case will provide more protection.
Battery – Samsung Note 8 Review
The processor, graphics and storage are the same as the devices in the Galaxy S8 line, but there is more memory. The performance is similar to the S8, but the Note 8 performs better at multitasking. Although the Note 8 doesn’t feel as fast as the OnePlus 5, its speedy performance is effective with two complex apps working at the same time. Its performance when gaming is excellent. The Note 8 runs cool when playing games or watching movies and the battery lasts well.
The battery could last up to a day and a half, even with heavy use. Even using mobile data it will last up to 31 hours before you need to recharge. For most people it would last two days before needing a charge. This Samsung Note supports Bluetooth 5, 4G, NFC, wireless charging, USB-C and headphones. It will support both the old and new standards so you are ready for whatever the future holds.
Android 7.0 with TouchWiz
TouchWiz is a modified version of Android used on Samsung devices. Android 7.0 Nougat is used on Note 8, not the latest version, 8 Oreo.
The features on the Note 8 are similar to those of the Galaxy S8, with some useful additions. One of these allows you to change the order of the navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen. Another, Samsung’s Snap window, creates an overlay so you are able to message people at the same time as you are watching something on the screen. The Galaxy Note 8 review also shows how you are able to use two apps simultaneously on the screen, and even save this configuration if you wish. Not all users will want to multitask in this fashion, but some handy combinations include the calendar and messaging apps, file manager and email, as well as IMDB ad Google Play to check the value of the movie you are watching.
S-Pen has a much thinner tip and now supports up to 4,098 levels of pressure. When the screen is off, you can still write on it, which can be very useful at times. Other features on the Note 8 include gif-making from a video, sketching, screenwriting, selection and other tools using the S-Pen.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review shows there is one new feature which is particularly good fun. You can now draw or write something to make an animated gif that can be sent via messaging apps or email. The actual S-Pen is good. There is no lag time, and it is comfortable to use.
The Note 8’s S-Pen has a good mix of performance, size, convenience and it is safely out of sight when you don’t need it. Like the Note 8 itself, it is also water resistant.
This Galaxy Note has a variety of unlocking options. There is an iris scanner, which works quite well. Face recognition is also available but doesn’t always work so well. The usual pin, pattern and other lock features for keeping it unlocked when you want, are also there.
The fingerprint scanner is near the camera on the back, like the Galaxy S8. This position is not perfect, and it is not so easy to reach. The extra movement required to activate it makes it easier to actually drop the device.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the first with a dual camera set up on the back of the device. They both have 12-megapixel sensors and image stabilization but have different apertures and focal length – one is traditional and the other a ‘telephoto’ lens.
The traditional camera is a good all-rounder – works well in low light, has fast focus, color reproduction and detail are both good. It is very close to being the best camera available.
The telephoto camera has some good capabilities, but not for all situations. If the light is right you can get some good shots but it doesn’t perform well in low light situations. Depth perception is possible when using dual cameras, but it is not perfect as yet.
Samsung Note 8 review – Observations
It is easier to find the fingerprint scanner on the back of the Note 8, than on the Galaxy S8.
The virtual assistant, Bixby, is preloaded and has a dedicated button.
The voice command, through Bixby, works in the UK, but the Note 8 review found that in many cases Google Assistance is more useful, and is also on the phone.
The stylus fits into place well, and won’t get stuck.
Note 8 is big – you will need big pockets.
In the UK the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will cost you 869 pounds. In the UK it is available in black or gold, but different colors are available in different areas. As a comparison, the Galaxy S8+ will cost you 779 pounds and has 64GB of storage.
The Final Verdict on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8
Although it doesn’t feel all that innovative or new, it has all the features that were in the previous notes, but in Samsung’s new smartphone design. The screen is huge and very attractive. The bezels are tiny. The stylus is particularly good, and the battery will last at least a day and a half. The camera has a dual system and is fairly good. The Samsung Note 8 is powerful enough to do almost anything you may want to do on a pocket computer.
The biggest imperfection is the fingerprint scanner position. It is also very big and really expensive, but so long as it doesn’t explode, this is the best note available so far.