The wait is finally over for Samsung Galaxy Note owners that have lovingly held on to their devices for the past couple of years. The Galaxy Note 8 is here and has everything that made the Galaxy S8 a phenomenal product. I got a chance to play with it and here are my initial impressions.
Let’s start with the design. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is just a tad bit larger than the Samsung Galaxy S8+ however, noticeably weightier at 195 grams. Its corners are less rounded which makes the device look more squarish and professional. The Note 8 feels great in your hands and Samsung is making it available in three colors at launch which are Midnight Black, Maple Gold and Orchid Grey. My favorite, however, is the Deepsea Blue which will be made available at a later stage.
Like the Samsung Galaxy S8, the new Note 8 has the stunning Super AMOLED Infinity Display with barely there bezels. The screen size measures 6.3-inches and I believe Samsung has retracted the curved edge slightly from the S8 which makes sense as it’s easier to use the S-Pen on a flatter surface. The Galaxy Note 8 will be powered by the same Snapdragon or Exynos processor as the Galaxy S8, however, Samsung has increased the RAM size from 4GB to 6GB. Depending on your market, you will be able to purchase the Galaxy Note 8 with either 64GB, 128GB or 256GB storage.
Arguably, the S-Pen is the biggest reason most people chose a Note device and the one included with the Galaxy Note 8 measures 108mm x 5.8mm making it easier to handle. Samsung has reduced the tip size to 0.7mm and the screen supports 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. This makes the writing experience on the Galaxy Note 8 smooth and fast. New to the phone are live messages that can record your writing/drawing process and save them as animated GIFs which can then be shared over any messaging app or social network that supports animated GIFs such as WhatsApp or Snapchat.
Also new to the Galaxy Note 8 is the ability to edit your screen-off memos. According to Samsung, this note taking method is most popular with Note users. Previously you could create notes this way but now you can go back and edit them- great for adding or crossing things off your lists. This feature also supports multiple page notes now. Another cool ability is the instant translation which previously only translated single words. With the Note 8, you can now translate entire sentences as well as convert currencies or units on the fly.
While all of the above are nice features that add to your Note taking experience, the highlighting feature of the Galaxy Note 8 is the new dual camera setup. When it comes to dual cameras, different manufacturers have adopted different techniques. Apple chose to use the dual camera to offer 2X optical zoom and a bokeh effect while Huawei and Nokia have one monochrome and one color sensor for better pictures in low-light conditions. LG on the other hand went with a wide-angle lens for the second camera. Samsung’s implementation is more on the lines of what Apple has done with the second camera- allow a 2x optical zoom level and create background blur.
Both the cameras have a 12MP sensor with AutoFocus feature and Optical Image Stabilization. The primary camera is identical to the Galaxy S8 with an f/1.7 aperture and dual pixel technology that takes phenomenal shots, even in low light conditions. The second lens has an f/2.4 aperture and does not support dual pixel technology which probably means that your zoomed in photos will not be as good under lower-lit conditions. I’ll reserve my final judgement on the camera until after I get a review sample from Samsung and take some shots under different lighting conditions.
Those are some of the new features of the Samsung Galaxy Note. It’s the best phone Samsung has ever created and a fantastic upgrade for current Note owners. However, my biggest issue with the Galaxy Note 8 is that it could very easily be described as a Samsung Galaxy S8+ with and S-Pen and a dual camera. There are many users that simply want the best big screen device and with previous versions, the Note offered a considerably larger display than the S series. That changed when Samsung introduced the Galaxy S8+ and for anyone who purchased that, the Galaxy Note 8 won't be as exciting. Not only that, but now that the Note 8 exists, I don’t really know why anyone would buy the Galaxy S8+ anymore- unless there is a significant price difference. We'll learn more on that once the regional price is revealed.