Samsung’s Galaxy Note series has been around for six years, and many of us thought it might not continue after the Note 7 debacle. With the release of the Note 8, Samsung plans to revive the Note series and make it even bigger—literally. The Note 8 is Samsung’s biggest device so far, with a massive 6.3-inch screen. Large screens have been one of the series' trademarks, along with the S Pen. As DJ Koh, the company’s mobile division president, pointed out at the beginning of the keynote event, the introduction of the Galaxy Note was a statement, enforcing the company’s belief that “large screens are the future”.
Samsung’s first Galaxy Note was released in September 2011 and quickly gained popularity. At that time, the Note was one of the largest phones available, with a large 5.3-inch screen, and the stylus was an interesting new accessory. Samsung sold one million Galaxy Note units in the first two months. Fast forward to 2016, and the Note series seemed to be doomed after defective batteries caused many Note 7 units to explode, as the batteries tended to overheat. The production was discontinued only two months after the flagship’s launch, in October 2016. The recall of the Note 7 caused losses of approximately $4 billion in the third quarter of 2016 and, overall, it’s estimated that the company lost $17 billion in revenue (source: Credit Suisse). Will the Galaxy Note 8 make profits great again for the Korean giant? Priced at approximately $1,000, Galaxy Note 8 is more expensive than its major competitors – Essential PH-1, LG G6, OnePlus 5 and iPhone 7 Plus. Samsung’s new flagship has many distinctive features but also follows the standards imposed by this year’s high-end smartphones: dual-lens rear camera, edge-to-edge display with very thin bezels and a wide aspect ratio.
Display and S Pen
Note 8 has the same type of display as the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, a super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1440 x 2960px. Called the Infinity Display, it has an 18.5:9 aspect ratio that makes it perfect for watching video content, playing games or drawing with the S Pen. The promoter of the wide aspect ratio was LG’s G6 smartphone, which has an aspect ratio of 18:9, but a smaller screen of 5.7 inches. However, the Note 8 has a curved display, just like Samsung's S8 flagships, presumably assuring a better grip. Therefore, despite its gargantuan size, the device should fit comfortably in your hand. Moreover, the Note is meant to be used with its famous S Pen, an indispensable accessory if you want to take advantage of all its features.
The new S Pen is quite impressive: it has a 0.7mm tip and 4,096 pressure levels for accurate writing and drawing. Samsung calls it “a tool for self-expression” and introduced some interesting features to prove this point. First, live messages, so you can add personal messages to pictures or animate your own creations, and send them in a standard animated message format. Second, the screen-off memo functionality allows you to write down notes even if the screen is locked. With a double-tap, you can start writing just like you would do on a post-it note. Last but not least, the S Pen can be used as a translator: you can highlight texts by hovering over sentences with your S Pen and get instant translations in your primary language. The same procedure can be used to convert currency, a very useful feature for travelers.
One of the highlights of the new Galaxy Note is the 12MP dual main camera. While most recent flagships have a dual-lens camera, the Note 8 is the first one to feature dual optical image stabilization (OIS). This means that both cameras use sensors to detect movement and correct the optical path so that the blur caused by shakes is eliminated. One of the cameras has a telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom, great for macro-photography. The camera’s dual-pixel sensors, also used on the Galaxy S8 Plus, guarantee very good performance in low light conditions for both photo and video capture. The camera has 4K video recording capabilities and a slow-motion mode. The front camera is standard: it has 8MP and a bright lens with an aperture of f/1.7. For quick access, Bixby can be used to launch the camera app through voice commands. Using voice commands, you can also specify the photo mode you’d like to use and sort the photos in collections.
Just like the Galaxy flagships, the Note 8 comes in two variants: one powered by Samsung’s own chipset, the Exynos 8895 Octa, and one powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset. Both variants have 6GB of RAM and there are three models available, with different internal storage (64, 128 or 256GB). Note 8 brings back the microSD card, highly appreciated by Samsung users, as Note 7 was often criticized for lacking support for expandable memory. The internal memory can be expanded with maximum 256GB, more than enough for storing tons of content, especially if you go for the 256GB version.
Both chipsets powering the Note 8 use a 10-nanometer design, a power-efficient micro-architecture. Coupled with a 3300mAh battery that passed the 8-Point Safety Check imposed by Samsung after the Note 7 disaster, the Note 8 is less likely to overheat. The device supports wireless charging and promises up to 22 hours of battery life (talk time) and up to 16 hours for video playback.
Pricing and availability
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will be available starting September 15. Pricing for the unlocked version starts at $929 and can go up to $1,200, depending on the configuration. There are four color options, gorgeously named: Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Maple Gold and Deep Sea Blue. The design is sleek and stylish, with the Home Button placed under the Infinity Display and the fingerprint scanner is on the back of the device. Just like previous devices in the series, the Note 8 is waterproof, rated with IP68, and comes with an AKG headset. However, the price definitely beats Samsung’s record, and we’re very excited to see how it will compete with its longtime rival, Apple’s iPhone.