After the impact caused by what happened with the previous Note 7 on the Galaxy Note series, Samsung didn’t take long to showcase the latest flagship in the Note series. Like Samsung said, Galaxy Note fans don’t care about any of those things. They don’t ask for just any big phone; they want a Note, complete with its over-the-top size, top-of-the-line specs, and let’s not forget its stylus. Keeping in mind with what happened with the Note 7, these fans have been waiting a long time for this.
The Galaxy Note 8 wasn’t built for everyone. It was built for them.
Build and design:
Samsung has stuck with the very familiar design that we’ve gotten used to over the last couple of years.The almost rectangular and less soft edged phone also has no physical home button and has been replaced with 3D touch. Glass is the primary material of choice covering up the entire front and back and a sturdy metal frame around the sides. The Note 8 has a much more distinct separation between the glass and the metal, sides are much flatter, giving a phone that’s usually slippery a lot more grip. Of course, the biggest drawback with any phone made predominantly of glass or any shiny materials is how prone it is to fingerprints.
The other change in its physical design is the camera bump, it is completely flush and seamless with the body now even though the camera is covered with the same Gorilla glass but it is still prone to scratches.
Samsung went with the same infinity display which was first introduced in the Galaxy S8, meaning an almost bezel-less design and a nearly 80% screen-to-body ratio.
Measuring in at 6.3 inches but with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio, the screen is much taller in comparison to last year’s Note 7, the size difference is most noticeable in height while no noticeable change in its width compared to the previous Note 7. The added height does make the phone quite tall, but it does not feel any less manageable or harder to operate than any other big-screen Android phone currently available.
The screen is the common Samsung Super AMOLED technology that brings all the typical characteristics that we’ve seen on previous Samsung phones such as vibrant colours, high contrast, and inky dark blacks. With a resolution of 2,960 x 1,440, or 3K QHD+, it’s incredibly sharp, but to enjoy the display to its fullest potential, you’ll have to change the screen resolution in the settings as the phone defaults to 1080p the same way the Galaxy S8 does.
Also, the latest addition is the mobile HDR certification which means the phone can play back true HDR content that allows for better colour accuracy and contrast.
Performance and Hardware:
Like every other flagship being released in 2017, the Note 8 is no different. There’s a Snapdragon 835 with the standard 6 GB of RAM, It’s not the first time we’ve seen Samsung put 6 GB of RAM on the phone but it’s the first time that it isn’t on a regional exclusive. The increase in RAM is a big step especially for a device that’s meant to be a productivity/multimedia powerhouse.
Over a day of use, the device feels super smooth swiping and scrolling through menus, web browsing and jumping in and out of apps is quite fluid, the Snapdragon 835 does an excellent job of handling more intense tasks such as playing high-end games with very smooth frame rates.
There are not many phones that come with any physical hardware or modules, but apparently, we can’t talk about the Note 8 without mentioning the S Pen, the signature feature that defines the Galaxy Note line. It features the same clickable top, a 0.7 mm ballpoint-sized tip, and over 4,000 levels of pressure sensitivity.
Other hardware on the Note 8 includes all the necessities; a microSD card slot (supports up to 256 GB) for additional storage, the phone offers internally (a 128 GB and 256 GB version were announced, but at launch, we’re only getting the 64 GB base model).
High speed charging via Quick Charge 2.0 and fast wireless charging, Bluetooth 5, gigabit LTE and an IP68 certification means it is dust and water resistant and can withstand submersion in up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes.
Thankfully it comes with a headphone jack and not just any headphone jack, but a high-end DAC capable of 32 bit audio at 384 kHz, the external speaker, on the other hand, is as much weak, the Note 8 comes with only single bottom-firing speaker that is quickly muffled by the palm of your hand when holding the phone in landscape and the audio quality can sound distorted at max volume.
The most unfortunate about the Note 8 in hardware’s perspective would be the placement of the fingerprint sensor, It still sits on the back to the side of the camera which isn’t the most ergonomic location, but the sensor is now slightly more recessed making it easier to find by feel and Samsung repositioned the camera flash and heart rate monitor to sit in between the cameras and fingerprint sensor giving you more room for error when reaching for the fingerprint sensor.
Battery: Upon Note 8’s announcement the biggest concern was how long this phone would last given the not so large 3.300 mAh battery, which by 2017 standards is by no means small but is less than what we would have expected for a phone with such powerful specs and massive 6.3-inch QHD+ display.
But in experience battery life on the Galaxy Note 8 has been far better than anticipated. Screen-on time is typically around the five-hour mark with anywhere between 15 to 18 hours off the charger allowing the user to get through a full day comfortably.
Samsung took their chance and jumped on the bandwagon with the dual camera setup on the Note 8, a feature that is becoming increasingly more popular on smartphones.
The Galaxy Note 8 camera utilizes a wide angle and telephoto lens structure similar to the iPhone 7 Plus or the OnePlus 5 and the secondary telephoto lens allows the Note 8 to achieve 2X optical zoom.
Both sensors are 12 MP with f/1.7 on the main and f/2.4 in the secondary. Both sensors feature optical image stabilisation, which is a first for any smartphone utilizing dual cameras and guarantees that all of your photos and videos are optically stabilized regardless of which lens you decide to use.
Sample image taken by the Note 8:
(Stand alone wide-angle capture)
(Dual lens capture)