It’s hard to believe that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a reality. Not because the phone does anything particularly unbelievable, but because many thought the Note brand to be dead after Samsung issued a massive recall of all Galaxy Note 7s, preceded by months of reports of exploding batteries and phones bursting into flames, a failed battery recall, and an outright ban of Note 7 phones on major airlines.
Yet, here we are, just months after the Note 7’s lifespan abruptly ended and the Note 8 has hit store shelves. Samsung is touting the Note 8 as their most feature-packed phone ever released, while consumers were quick to notice that it’s also the most expensive Galaxy phone to date.
Is the Note 8 just a safer Note 7 with a new coat of paint, or does it successfully resurrect the brand many thought was dead? More importantly, is it worth your hard earned money, or should you opt for a Galaxy S8 or S8+? BFAds answers all this and more in our look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
Under the Hood: Hardware Specs and Performance
Here’s a quick rundown of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8’s hardware specifications:
- Android 7.1
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
- 6GB LPDDR RAM
- 6.3” 2960 x 1440 522ppi Super AMOLED Screen
- 64GB storage (53GB usable), microSD expandable to 256GB
- Dual 12MP cameras (wide angle + telephoto)
- S Pen stylus
- 3300mah battery, Qi wireless charging
Might as well get this out of the way first: the battery has been downgraded from the Galaxy Note 7. After the dust settled, Samsung found that the culprit of the exploding Note 7 was that the battery capacity was too large to have been crammed into such a small phone chassis, causing overheating which led to phones catching fire and sometimes exploding. For that reason, the Note 8 features a 3300mAh Li-On battery, 200mAh less than the 3500mAh battery featured in the Note 7. Does this mean the Note 8 will be free from the dangerous issues that plagued the Note 7? According to Samsung, the decreased battery capacity and extensive safety testing have made fiery Note phones a thing of the past.
Moving on to more fun hardware comparisons, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 features the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 64GB of built in storage (expandable to 256GB) found in the S8 and S8+, but your apps have a bit more room to breathe with the 6GB RAM that comes built into the Note 8.
Compared to the Note 7, the Note 8 has a significant increase in screen size going from 5.7” to 6.3” thanks to the near bezel-less design and removal of the hardware navigation buttons. The S8+ has the same design upgrade and larger screen, but the Quad-HD Super AMOLED screen found on the Note 8 is still marginally larger (0.1”) and significantly brighter than S8 and S8+.
For many, the capabilities of the camera are some of the most important factors in choosing a smart phone, and this is where the Note 8 really begins to set itself apart from other Galaxy phones with the number 8 in their titles.
The Galaxy Note 8 is the first Samsung smartphone to take a page straight out of the iPhone playbook and come equipped with two individual cameras on the back of the phone. The Note 8 features a dual-pixel wide-angle 12MP with a f/1.7 aperture and a 77° field of view, accompanied by a 12MP f/2.4 telephoto camera with dual optical image stabilization.
What does this mean for smartphone photographers? It means dramatically better separation and detail in photos shot on the Note 8 thanks to the combined efforts of the two cameras. To highlight this, Samsung has introduced Live Focus, where you can specifically tag your subject on the screen and quickly adjust the focus and background blur as you shoot the picture. Photogs can even opt to have the Galaxy Note 8 save full resolution photos from both cameras as you shoot and then adjust focus and separation later.
The front-facing 8MP f/2.4 camera in the Note 8 remains unchanged from the Galaxy S8 and S8+ and includes all the Snapchat-like software filters and fun add-ons that Galaxy owners have come to expect.
For video, the Galaxy Note 8 comes equipped with options that have become somewhat standard in flagship smart phones like 4k, 1080p, and 720p recording at 30fps, as well as slow motion recording at 720p and 240fps. All video modes take full advantage of the optical image stabilization features of the Note 8 cameras to help with sharp, focused video even while moving.
S Pen Features
The single biggest difference between the Note 8 and its smaller siblings is the inclusion of the Galaxy S Pen and the features that come along with the stylus that is slickly hidden along the bottom of the phone. In fact, whether or not you can make good use of the S Pen is probably going to be the biggest deciding factor on whether or not the Note 8 is worth the extra cash.
Taking full advantage of that extra 2GB of RAM, the S Pen offers many slick applications that overlay themselves in almost every area of the phone. Most obvious is the ability to quickly jot down notes from almost anywhere thanks to the dedicated S Pen menu that slides in from the side of the screen when you eject the stylus.
Convenience is the key here as not only is it quicker to scribble down notes rather than launch a notepad app and start typing, but even from the lock screen you can jot down notes which remain on the lock screen for you to glance through without unlocking the phone.
Photo manipulation is also easier than ever, you can crop screenshots, photos, and videos, and even scribble on photos and videos and convert them into animated gifs.
The S Pen itself even has a nice upgrade over the older S Pens, featuring an erase button that lets you quickly make corrections and scribble out mistakes just by holding the button down as you move over your notes.
Rounding out the features in the Note 8 is all the latest bell and whistle technology we’ve come to expect in a Galaxy phone, including Bluetooth 5.0, wireless charging, 802.11AC Wi-Fi, fingerprint reader, and NFC.
The only question remaining is whether or not the Galaxy Note 8 is worthy of the $999.99 MSRP found at retailers and major carriers nationwide, and the answer to that question really comes down to two features: the dual cameras and the S Pen. These features are the only significant upgrades over the S8+, so if they seem unimportant to you, then the Galaxy S8 or S8+ are probably where you want to look.
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