Samsung Galaxy Note8 hands-on review


Introduction

The successor to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4/5 is finally here – meet the Galaxy Note8. Wait, what? Okay, Europeans didn’t get the Note5 because, you know… Samsung, and we all know how the Note7 lived a shorter product life than it deserved. So in a way, a few of us Note-lovers have been stuck with three-year-old Notes, looking at some poor S-Pen-less S7 edges and S8s to fill the void.

Historically, Notes have been more or less identical to the Galaxy S-series flagship of the respective year, only with a bigger display and an S-Pen. Not this one, though – with the Galaxy Note8 Samsung finally takes the plunge into dual camera territory. And not just any dual camera – it’s the best one there is, Samsung says. They might have a point, we theorize, looking at the specs.

It might be a controversial way of wording this, but Samsung went the Apple way with this dual camera setup – a regular wide-angle cam and a telephoto cam with twice the equivalent focal length. The former comes straight off the Galaxy S8 and S7 before that, while the latter is a new one – a 12MP Type 1/3.4″ sensor is placed behind a f/2.4 aperture lens. Both the sensor size and the aperture are larger than what you’d find on the iPhone 7 Plus, but the winning doesn’t end there – Samsung’s tele lens is stabilized, while the sensor comes with dual pixel autofocus. Dual camera with dual pixel autofocus and dual OIS, then.

Samsung Galaxy Note8 at a glance

  • Body: Polished aluminum frame, Gorilla Glass 5 front and back; IP68 certified for water and dust resistance. Midnight Black, Orchid Grey, Deepsea Blue, Maple Gold color schemes.
  • Display: 6.3″ Super AMOLED ‘Infinity Display’, 2,960x1440px resolution, 18.5:9 (2.06:1) aspect ratio, 522ppi; HDR 10 compliant (no Dolby Vision).
  • Rear camera: Primary 12MP, Type 1/2.55″ sensor, f/1.7 aperture, 26mm equiv. focal length; Secondary 12MP, Type 1/3.4″ sensor, f/2.4 aperture, 52mm equiv. focal length; dual pixel phase detection autofocus and OIS on both; 2x zoom. 2160p/30fps video recording.
  • Front camera: 8MP, f/1.7 aperture, autofocus; 1440p/30fps video recording.
  • OS/Software: Android 7.1.1 Nougat; Samsung Grace UX; Bixby virtual assistant; Smart Connect, Smart Connect Home
  • Chipsets: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835: octa-core CPU (4×2.35GHz Kryo 280 & 4×1.9GHz Kryo 280), Adreno 540 GPU. Exynos 8895: octa-core CPU (4x2nd-gen Mongoose 2.3GHz + 4xCortex-A53 1.7GHz), Mali-G71 GPU.
  • Memory: 6GB of RAM; 64GB of storage; microSD slot for cards up to 256GB, UFS cards support.
  • Battery: 3,300mAh Li-Po (sealed); Adaptive Fast Charging (same as S7/S8); QuickCharge 2.0 support; WPC (Qi)&PMA wireless charging.
  • Connectivity: Single-SIM, Dual-SIM available in certain markets; LTE-A, 4-Band/5-Band carrier aggregation, Cat.16/13 (1Gbps/150Mbps); USB Type-C (v3.1); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac MU-MIMO; GPS, Beidou, Galileo; NFC; Bluetooth 5.0.
  • Misc: S-Pen stylus with 4096 pressure levels; fingerprint/iris/face recognition; single speaker on the bottom; 3.5mm jack; bundled AKG headphones.

What you’ll probably notice is that RAM’s gotten a bump from the Galaxy S8’s 4GB to 6GB. The Galaxy S8 can be had with 6GB of RAM in some parts of the world, but standard equipment is 4GB, while the Note8 with its focus on productivity gets 6GB by default.

Productivity is where the S-Pen comes into action, the Notes’ defining feature, now with 4,096 pressure levels recognized – that’s as precise as on the Note7.

Battery capacity sure would have looked better with a nice round 4,000mAh number next to it, but we can’t have it all, right? And if last year’s model has taught us (and Samsung) anything, it has to be moderation. Still, the Galaxy S8+ has a tiny bit more battery at its disposal that needs to power a marginally smaller display – bet on the S8+ to win the endurance race, if only just barely.

A Deepsea Blue color option will set the Note8 apart from Coral Blue S8s, and it’s quite the looker – not that we aren’t fans of the Coral hue. For a comparison of shades of blue and a few quick hands-on impressions, join us on the next page.



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