Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 8
This was a big deal for Samsung, having to make up for the Note 7 debacle and recall.
The new Android system update – Oreo - won’t be available until 2018, but the Note 8 doesn’t really make you feel the need for an update, running impeccably as it is.
The display is, as always, a very positive note on a Samsung Galaxy: the Infinity Display is 6.3 inches on a nearly bezel-less phone. It’s bright, colorful and equipped with 3K.
The Note 8 is big and slippery, so you might want to get a case – especially if you want to operate it with one hand, which is not always easy. The Deep Sea Blue color is fantastic and maybe a nod to the model being IP68 water-resistant: meaning it can survive up to 5ft (1.5m) underwater for 30 minutes.
The fingerprint sensor has marginally improved but it’s in the back of the phone, which is just silly. You’re going to press your dual camera a lot and then you’ll have to clean it. Face recognition is not a viable alternative since it works poorly, so you’ll just have to be patient.
Not a positive note. It’s the most expensive Android in the market going for 929$ (or £869). You can find some bundles with gadgets or offers from carriers, otherwise it’s going to be a big investment for you.
If you’re a fan of the S Pen, you’ll be happy to hear it works splendidly on the new Note 8. If you move a lot of work related emails, you can sign documents without ever leaving the email app. You can also use it for more fun related activities such as marking screenshots, or if you’d rather handwrite your notes than type them.
The S Pen is great for sketching, as it’s got over four thousand levels of pressure sensitivity, making your phone feel like a tablet at times. You can also take advantage of messages feature, using the S Pen to make your words stand out and feel more personal to your contacts.
This is the fastest Samsung on the market: the Snapdragon 835 chip is as fast as they come, especially when combined to 6GB of RAM. I tried running as many apps as I could and the Note 8 still wouldn’t slow down. If you’re a multi-tasker, or just someone who keeps a ton of apps open in the background, this phone is an excellent solution to your problems.
The Android Oreo 8.0 update is still not available, but we’re not even sure it’s coming to the Note 8, as Samsung’s software is just as good as it is, if not better. App Pairing is a really neat app we’ve been playing with, allowing you to launch two apps simultaneously, that shows just how smooth the Samsung software is.
The same can’t be said about Bixby, which still proves to be a complete failure and is incapable of understanding the clearest commands we were able to enunciate. It has the potential to really do anything you could do on your phone, but that is if, and only if, it could understand what you’re clearly stating, while pressing the dedicated button on the left side of your device.
Samsung announced Bixby 2.0, which we hope has better hearing.
Samsung’s answer to iPhone’s Portrait Mode is called “Live Focus” and might even be better than its Apple contender thanks to the dual rear cameras. It will blur the background while making your subjects really stand out and, at the same time, save the wider original photo, just in case you want it. Samsung even lets you adjust the depth of the blur with a slider bar.
Both cameras are 12MP and the telephoto lens grants you a 2x optical zoom with optical image stabilization to compensate for any shakiness. Videos are 4K, if you want them to be, and the Slow Motion and Hyperlapse features are still available.
You can switch to the front camera simply by flicking the screen up or down, without having to look for the flip button on your screen.
Don’t get me wrong, the battery will take you home, surviving the entire day and possibly extending further, if you’re responsible, also thanks to Samsung’s power-saving software tricks.
That’s pretty much it, though. Mostly because of the Note 8 bright and wide 18:5:9 screen, we can’t assure you, you won’t need a power bank if you’re planning on streaming or gaming a bit while on the bus.
Charging takes about 115 minutes, which is fine, but not fast. I’m guessing Samsung decided to be very conservative with its battery after what happened last time.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a great device. If you’re willing to pay a lot of money and have a gigantic phone in your pocket – that is, if you’re able to fit it into such – it might just be the best thing out there: it’s got the best cameras, an impossible to slow system and processor, tablet-like characteristics enabling you to sketch, draw or sign documents without ever having to use anything else. If you’re just looking for a phone, though, I’d recommend you look elsewhere.