The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is tasked with repairing the product family’s image after last year’s cancelled sixth generation. The tech giant began its comeback earlier this year with the excellent Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. With a larger screen, an even longer spec sheet, and the signature S Pen stylus, the Note 8 is expected to complete the process.
Polished Design and Exceptional Craftsmanship
Save for its slightly sharper corners, the Galaxy Note 8 looks a whole lot like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. That said, the phone has incredibly refined design, featuring symmetrically-shaped, slightly curved front and back glass panels.
An almost complete lack of screen bezels makes the Note 8 look and feel a lot smaller than its 6.3-inch display size suggests. Samsung also deserves a hat tip for managing to fit a sophisticated dual camera setup into the phone without creating a hump on its back.
The Note 8 has an awkwardly-placed fingerprint sensor just like the Samsung Galaxy S8. However, you have the option to use the excellent iris scanner to log in instead.
Unsurprisingly, the Note 8 has superb build quality. The phone, like the Galaxy S8 lineup, is also IP68 water-resistant, so you can fully submerge it underwater.
The Best Display in the Business Got Bigger
Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ brought us the industry-leading Infinity display with 18.5:9 aspect ratio, a resolution of 2,960 x 1,440 pixels, and HDR Premium certification. The Note 8 uses the same screen tech, but, measuring 6.3 inches in diagonal (the Galaxy S8+ has a 6.2-inch panel), it’s even larger.
The display of the Note 8 is simply the best in the business. It delivers an incredible combination of high resolution, vibrant colors, and infinite contrast. It makes every single interaction with the device a special occasion.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has one of the longest spec sheets out there. Just like the Galaxy S8 family, the phablet utilizes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip. However, with 6 GB of RAM (50% more than its smaller relatives), the phablet has a significant edge in multitasking.
The Note 8 is the first Samsung Galaxy with a dual camera. It features two 12 MP camera sensors — one using a wide-angle lens with a fast f/1.7 aperture, and another with an f/2.4 telephoto lens. Both sensors have optical image stabilization. The front-facing camera has an 8-megapixel sensor.
The rest of the phone’s specs include 64 GB of expandable memory, gigabit LTE network compatibility, Bluetooth 5.0, and support for fast wired and wireless charging. The Note 8 has a 3,300mAh battery, which is a bit smaller than the 3,500 mAh unit found in the Galaxy S8+. That’s not a surprise, as the smaller battery helps make space for the S Pen.
After the battery-induced Galaxy Note7 cancellation, Samsung took no chances with the Galaxy Note 8. In addition to putting every component through a multipoint safety check, the manufacturer also partnered with an external company to ensure the uncompromising quality of every battery.
The Note 8 comes with both a fingerprint sensor and an iris scanner. A standard audio jack is also on board, complemented by a pair of excellent AKG earbuds in the box.
The Note 8 runs Android Nougat, enhanced by Samsung’s sleek and capable custom interface. In addition to the powerful suite of S Pen apps and features, the latest iteration of the Samsung Experience UI on the Note 8 will allow you to simultaneously launch two apps side by side — a feat that’s exclusive to the phone.
Of course, the device is also capable of offering enterprise-grade security via the latest iteration of the Samsung Knox platform. And yes, Samsung’s virtual assistant Bixby is also part of the user interface. Constantly growing in capabilities, Bixby has a dedicated button on the left side of the Note 8 just like in Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.
Being a Galaxy product, the Note 8 also comes with an excellent ecosystem of original Samsung accessories. They range from various protective cases all the way to the Gear VR.
The Best S Pen to Date
Naturally, the Galaxy Note 8 comes with the latest iteration of the S Pen stylus. Fully waterproof and more sensitive than ever, the retractable accessory now feels even more natural — its tip has the exact same diameter as a ballpoint pen.
The S Pen suite of apps and features has been significantly improved as well. In addition to an elaborate set of note-taking and drawing tools, the S Pen in the Note 8 can now translate highlighted text in real time. All you need to do is hover the stylus above the text. Another fun addition to the repertoire of the stylus is the ability to create and share animated notes and sketches as GIF files.
The Note 8 is nothing short of spectacular when it comes to performance. By combining Qualcomm’s most powerful chipset and ample amount of RAM, Samsung has ensured that the phablet can power through any task with ease.
The 3,300 mAh battery is good for a full day of heavy use. If you manage your screen-on time more diligently, you can stretch it even further. In case you run out of milliamp hours, you can charge the phone rapidly over USB-C or via Samsung’s own fast wireless charger.
The main 12 MP camera of the Note 8 is the same as in the Samsung Galaxy S8 duo. It’s capable of capturing consistently great photos, even in less-than-perfect light. Overall, it’s one of the best phone cameras out there.
The additional sensor with telephoto zoom adds another dimension to the phone’s photographic capabilities by allowing you to get close to your objects without any loss in quality. However, its f/2.4 aperture makes it better suited for snapping photos in good light.
Live Focus is a cool trick that the dual camera of the Note 8 brings. It enables you to capture images with a blurred background behind the main object, similarly to the dedicated portrait mode of iPhone 7 Plus. The great bit about the feature is that it actually allows you to adjust the background blur both before and after you capture the photo. You can preview the results before saving, as well as capture Live Focus and a regular photo simultaneously.
The Best Big Phone Out There
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is stylish, powerful, productive, and hugely entertaining when you want it to be. The device is a great complement to the Galaxy range, as well as a statement that the Note is back after taking a year off.
The large Infinity display, the S Pen stylus, and the top-notch dual camera set the Note 8 apart from its big-screen Android competitors. For the time being, there’s no competitor that can work and play as hard as the latest Note.
Samsung has priced the note at a rather princely $930, but you must really try hard to pay the full price for the phone. The tech giant offers an excellent trade-in program, which will pay you up to $300 for popular smartphone models going back to the likes of iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S5, among others.
If you purchased a Galaxy Note7 last year, you’ll be treated to an even sweeter discount of $425 — all you have to do is show proof that you purchased the phone. There’s also the option to purchase the Note 8 directly from Samsung, or your favorite wireless carrier with monthly payments. If you order the phone before the end of September, you’ll get a choice between a free Samsung Gear 360, or a fast wireless charger and a 256 GB microSD card.