With a big high-quality display, high-performing cameras, great software and responsive stylus, Samsung’s latest flagship just hits all the right notes.
After the fiasco of last’s year Galaxy Note 7, Samsung is looking to redeem itself and the decision to continue with the Note brand is a rather bold one. The Note 8, marks the company’s humble return to the phablet market and, in many ways, it has been a huge success.
First things first, the Note8 is huge. The device has a 6.3-inch Super AMOLED screen, which is the biggest Samsung has ever squeezed into a Note. It has an 18.5:9 aspect ratio meaning screen is much taller than it is wide. The Note8 features the same ‘bezel-less’ Infinity Edge display as the latest Galaxy S series, where the left and right sides of the screen slope off to the side. Furthermore, the display is certified by the UHD Alliance for Mobile HDR Premium, meaning it can play 4K HDR content from video streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube.
The Galaxy Note 8 has a premium look and feel. It sports a metal frame and all-glass design, with Corning’s Gorilla Glas 5 filling up the entire front and back. Of course, the biggest drawback with any phone made predominantly of glass or any shiny materials is how prone it is to fingerprints. However, it’s nothing that a phone case won’t be able to cover.
On the right edge is the power button, and the left side houses the volume rocker and Bixby button. On the bottom, you’ll find the USB Type-C charging port next to a speaker grill, headphone jack, and S Pen. There’s no home button on the Note 8. As such, the fingerprint sensor is on the back next to the dual-camera setup.
Under the hood, the phablet is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 6GB of RAM. Despite Android 8.0 Oreo’s release in August this year, it comes with Android 7.1.1 Nougat as its OS. In the UAE, it is available at 64GB memory configuration, which can be expanded via a micro SD.
Our favourite Note8 feature is the multi-tasking app. The device comes with an application called App Pair. This is accessed through the Edge Panel, which is a slide-out tray on the edge of the home screen that lets you add apps, contacts, or other items for quick access. App Pair lets you set two apps you can launch at the same time in split-screen mode. For example, you can set the calendar to launch above the email app with just one tap.
The S Pen is, of course, one of the main highlights of the Note series. The latest iteration of stylus measures at 0.7mm and supports 4,096 points of pressure. Both the Note8 and the S Pen are IP68 water- and dust-resistant, so you can write notes underwater up to 1.5 metres for 30 minutes.
With the S Pen and Samsung’s Always-On Display feature, you can easily make quick notes while on-the-go. One of the newer features on the S Pen is Live Messages. This feature essentially lets you write message or draw on a background or a photo and turn it into a GIF, which you can post on social media or send to your friends. It’s quirky and quite gimmicky but it’s fun and interesting to use.
As for the cameras, the Note8 sports a dual-camera setup on the rear. There are two 12MP cameras — both with optical image stabilisation (OIS). The primary lens is a wide-angle, with an f/1.7 aperture, and the telephoto lens has an f/2.4 aperture. The cameras make use of Samsung’s Live Focus feature, which blurs the background of a subject for a ‘bokeh’ effect.
What’s interesting though, is you can also adjust the amount of blur, before and after you take the photo. Meanwhile, the front-facing selfie camera is packed with 8MP, and comes with Snapchat-like face masks you can add to your face via the camera app. Both cameras come up with crisp and vivid images even at medium to low lighting.
With a capacity of 3,300mAh, Note8’s battery is actually a little smaller than the one in the S8 Plus. However, the device’s battery life is quite good. We found that it can last up to at least eight hours of medium to heavy usage and can last up to a full day of normal usage. Samsung has also noted that the battery has undergone rigorous safety testing to ensure that the Note7 issue doesn’t happen again.
Overall the Galaxy Note8 is a great premium phone. It has a speedy performance, responsive apps, useful features and S Pen, and it’s probably the smartphone with safest battery in the market to date. At AED 3,399, it might just be worth every dirham.