Last year, Samsung debuted the Galaxy Note 7 which literally exploded onto the market. It led to various recalls and actions taken by legal authorities which damaged the Note branding and Samsung’s reputation as a whole. They made a slight recovery with the Galaxy S8 which, thankfully, kept itself contained, but it’s the Galaxy Note 8 which the company just debuted in New York that matters here. This is Samsung’s redemption story from last year’s fiery disaster. And at least from what they’ve said, we’re probably good here.
The Galaxy Note 8 has a beautiful design. It’s reminiscent of what Samsung did with the S8 and S8 Plus this year with minimal bezels and a smaller footprint than most phones have with the same size display. Speaking of which, the Note 8 packs a 6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity Display which, if it’s anything like the S8, is also beautiful. This element curves along the left and right of the body of the phone to create Samsung’s signature Edge feature which adds additional software functionality to the device. The handset is covered in curved glass and a metal frame with a glossy finish for the border.
The Note 8 has a 6.3-inch Infinity Display, Snapdragon 835 processor, 6GB of RAM, and dual rear cameras.
In case you’re wondering, yes, the fingerprint sensor is still in that awkward place to the right of the camera setup. The sensor wasn’t favored with the S8, and it probably won’t be with the Note 8 either. The reason behind this design quirk is due to Samsung failing to implement a fingerprint scanner beneath the phone’s display, an effort they also tried to achieve with the S8. Apple isn’t expected to implement the technology into their next phone either, so at least Samsung won’t be falling behind in this regard. For reference, the Note 9 is currently rumored to have the sensor implementation.
You’ve probably come here for specs, and specs you’ll get. Here’s a bullet list.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
- 6GB of RAM
- 64GB storage (expandable via microSD card)
- Bluetooth 5
- IP68 water/dust certification
- USB-C connector
- Iris scanner
- Fingerprint scanner
- Headphone jack (yes!)
- Bixby (no!)
The Note 8 probably won’t explode, but you might think it will.
In terms of battery, the Note 8 is packing a 3300mAh cell. For reference, the Galaxy S8 Plus and Note 7 each have 3500mAh cells, so you can clearly see Samsung is playing it safe this year. It passed the company’s eight-point battery safety check they’ve implemented since the Note 7 disaster, so there’s probably a small chance of it exploding. I wouldn’t blame you if you believed it could because the history’s there, but at this point, I think we can trust Samsung enough that they didn’t make this mistake again.
As a side note, the Note 8 also has Qi wireless charging and fast charging.
An important aspect of this year’s Note 8 happens to be its camera array. You have your standard 8MP selfie shooter with autofocus, but around the back, things get interesting. For the first time on a flagship Samsung phone, the company is packing dual rear cameras. The sensors each sport 12MP and OIS (an industry first), while the main shooter has an f/1.7 aperture and the secondary cam has an f/2.4 aperture. Samsung is choosing to implement this hardware like Apple did with the iPhone 7 Plus in which they’re opting for a 2x optical zoom for more clarity and focus on your subjects even if they’re far away. The company also offers a natural bokeh feature with the handset which allows for the background of a subject to be blurred out, but it remains unclear how well photos come out since so many OEMs have tried the same feature this year and have ultimately failed at offering something reputable and/or useful. Of course, we’ll dive into the feature in our full review in the near future.
For software, Samsung is using Android 7.1.1 Nougat with their custom UI on top. It offers a suite of productivity features that can be used with the now-waterproof-and-more-sensitive S Pen that can be ejected from the bottom of the phone. You can use the pen to take notes on the screen, use each function of the device as if you were using your finger, and more. A new function on the Edge of the screen allows users to pair two apps together to automatically open them in a split-screen view when tapping on just one icon. Other features like GIF creation and unique screenshotting tools are here as well. Overall, the software on the Note 8 should please anyone who picks it up, at least in the software department.
As some final tidbits, the Note 8 is compatible with Samsung’s DeX productivity workstation, is covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 5, and comes in Midnight Black, Maple Gold, Orchid Grey, and a new Deep Sea Blue. The latter two colors won’t make it to the US, at least for now. The handset will be sold through AT&T, C Spire, Cricket Wireless, Sprint, Straight Talk Wireless, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, Xfinity Mobile, Samsung.com, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. Preorders begin tomorrow, August 24th. It’ll go on sale September 15th. Pricing information can be found here.