A few months ago, we reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S8+. Though, there are many Samsung lovers who are awaiting the Galaxy Note8. It has been on hiatus for more than a year – and the void within these Note series lovers are growing. With the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy Note8, it’s a major step-up from the Note5.
Samsung sparked a change – but is the new Galaxy Note8 only about these little changes? Is it more than just a Galaxy S8+ with S Pen functionality? Let’s all find out together in this in-depth review of the brand new Samsung Galaxy Note8.
The all-new Galaxy Note8. I have to say, the packaging design language here screams class and sleekness, yet subtle. The word “Note8” is debossed on the black, just like the Samsung Galaxy S8+ that we’ve reviewed here.
Opening the sleeve reveals a box that opens its lid from the side. Funky. Once the lid is open, the Galaxy Note8 presents itself to you. Be careful though, as the phone might just fall off its shallow cradle.
Removing the Galaxy Note8 and its cradle reveals a box. Underneath the box are where all of the accessories are found. Let’s take a look at each and every single one of them.
Firstly, you have these two converters. The first one is a micro USB to USB-C which is used to charge your phone if you have other micro USB cables lying around. The second adapter is a USB-A to USB-C, which is essentially an OTG adapter for your Galaxy Note8.
The box actually has a hard shell case in it too. That means the Galaxy Note8 does come with a case in the box so that you don’t have to spend extra for a case. It’s transparent and works as intended, obviously.
Then comes the AKG-tuned pair of earphones, different silicon eartip sizes, and an S Pen. In case your S Pen’s tip is worn out, you can change it using this toolkit. Samsung did include a few spare pen tips, too.
Of course, there’s a charger and a USB-A to USB-C cable too. Just like we mentioned in the Galaxy S8+ review here, the cable that Samsung included is of high quality. It wouldn’t fray easily.
Since the Galaxy S8 and S8+, the little upgrade done to its screen seem subtle. But the result is clear – it took the world by storm. Other smartphone manufacturers started to go with something that we’re calling “FullView display”, which is essentially an elongated 16:9 display and high screen-to-body ratio.
Again, let’s talk about the display first. With Samsung’s brand new display that sets off a trend that’s now being dubbed as “FullView display”, the Galaxy Note8 is just filled with gorgeousness right up to the brim.
The Galaxy Note8 sports a 6.3-inch 1440p Super AMOLED display with its iconic 18.5:9 aspect ratio – only 0.1-inch bigger than the Galaxy S8+, apparently. It still retains the superbly high screen-to-body ratio, making the Galaxy Note8 about the same width and a little taller compared to other conventional 5.5-inch smartphones. Also, it weighs 190 grams – slightly denser than other smartphones, but I like its solid feel.
The weird aspect ratio of 18.5:9 will still be weird for movies especially. As we’ve stated back in the Galaxy S8+ review, 21:9 videos will fill the screen nicely as there will be no spill on the edges, and 16:9 movies will have a whole lot of darkness on both sides.
Though, that extra height is just perfect for those who use their phones for productivity purposes. Coupled with the S Pen, this new screen is a total bliss to work with.
Oh yeah, I’m not sure if this feature was available back when I reviewed the Galaxy S8+, but now there’s a little dot at the leftmost side of the navigation bar. Tap it twice and it’ll hide the navigation bar entirely. Swipe up from the bottom to reveal the bar.
This little feature does indeed improve immersion when it comes to the overall user experience – especially in gaming.
My one complaint is the curved screen and how the S Pen interacts with it. It’s just… weird, as I can’t write around the corners. Essentially, the Galaxy Note8 has more vertical space to use the S Pen, but limited on both sides.
Again with the same trend here – Samsung equipped the Galaxy Note8 with top-notch hardware. At the top is where you’ll find the SIM/microSD tray – pretty much the usual, as it holds a single dedicated nano-SIM card in the SIM1 slot and a microSD/nanoSIM combo on the second slot.
Of course, once the SIM tray is ejected ever so slightly, the screen lights up and a message pops out saying that the SIM tray is to be installed for proper waterproofing. How mindful of Samsung to warn us users to avoid potential damages.
Once again, the Galaxy Note8 comes with the Dual Audio feature – where you can use its Bluetooth 5.0-compatible chipset and connect two different Bluetooth speakers at once and play the same audio.
With top-notch connectivity comes AC WiFi, obviously.
Speaking of its connectivity, I can say that the iris scanner is a part of connectivity as well. I find myself using the iris scanner as my main method of unlocking the phone. Sure, sometimes the iris scanner just can’t catch my eyes – and that’s when I use the old-school pattern unlock.
Why? Because the fingerprint scanner location is still messed up. I’d rather use the iris scanner or draw out my pattern on the screen, actually.
To me, the most interesting thing about the Galaxy Note8 is none other than its camera. We’ve discussed the two significantly different types of dual-camera systems in-depth here, but the Galaxy Note8’s dual-camera system is something beyond those two dual-camera systems. It’s a combination of both. It does both the function of a hybrid dual-camera system and a stereoscopic dual-camera system together.
For all of the photos taken with the Galaxy Note8, check out our Flickr album here!
As for the specs of the Galaxy Note8’s camera, you have:
- 12MP sensor with 26mm f/1.7 lens; has PDAF, OIS
- 12MP sensor with 52mm f/2.4 lens; has AF, OIS, 2x optical zoom
- Selfie camera
- 8MP sensor with f/1.7 lens; has autofocus
Regarding the dual-cameras at the rear – take a look at this image. I’m not sure what sorcery Samsung enchanted the Galaxy Note8 with, but for all I know, the pictures taken are just superb in quality. Take a look at the sample photos below.
We did dive in-depth on what’s the differences between dual-camera systems that are available in the market today, but what the Samsung Galaxy Note8 has is something that we’ve never seen or heard before.
Truly, it’s something special. Take a look at sample photos we took using the Galaxy Note8 here.
I absolutely love the way the pictures it produces. Colors are properly saturated, details are sharp, and most importantly – it’s quick. I have absolutely zero negative comments to say about the camera. I’ve actually taken only this phone to events and take pictures with it, and the quality is magnificent.
Check out the pictures taken for this event and also this event! They’re both taken with the Galaxy Note8 exclusively.
This picture is taken with ISO 50 on manual mode with 2-second shutter speed.
Then the sun came up, I took the picture again (surprisingly at a very similar perspective) at 1/2000 shutter speed.
The Live Focus mode on the Galaxy Note8 is much better than what the other competitors are offering. I really love how the pictures turn out – the subject is sharp, whereas the background is blurred. I like how clean the edges are, too.
Sure, there are little minor parts of the picture that the Live Focus mode can’t separate out clearly, but it still looks magnificent!
This picture is actually a mode within the Galaxy Note8’s camera itself. It detects your face and takes the picture for you. It’ll tell you the picture is taken through mini vibrations – and the selfies come out super sharp!
By the way, thanks to Tech Critter for taking this pic with me 😉
I absolutely love the autofocusing feature on the selfie camera. Best thing is, the autofocusing is speedy and sharp. Take a look at these selfies – our hair is crisp and sharp!
Yes – Tech Critter and I took a selfie with Le Josette!
And congrats to our winner of the Razer Kraken Pro V2 giveaway too!
Samsung has improved a lot with its latest iteration of the software. Though they have skinned it thoroughly, Samsung’s suite of software is still one of the best out there when integrated with their proprietary hardware.
The Note series had been on hiatus for a year, but Samsung’s comeback with the Galaxy Note8 is one that is not to be messed with. The new features that it brings to the table are something that I’m most impressed with.
Take a look at the new big screen. With the S Pen here, it’s like a perfect marriage between hardware and software. More screen, less bezel. Still easy to hold.
Also, the S Pen now has something called Live Message. It might sound like a gimmick at first – even I thought the same, but once I got to try it, my perspective changed. It brought my pen strokes to life.
Yeah… I know my writing is terrible.
Though there is one complaint when it comes to the software – some games still need to be restarted if the game is started before hiding the navigation bar. Else, there will be unused space. Of course, these are minor issues that can be ironed out through software updates in the future.
When it comes to performance, I don’t think you’ll have to worry at all. It’ll perform just as well in all tasks thrown at it. Need the list of specs? Here it is:
- Exynos 8895 Octa
- 4×2.34GHz + 4×1.7GHz
- Mali-G71 MP20 graphics
- 6GB RAM
- 64GB storage
- 3,300mAh battery
Onward to scores – first with Epic Citadel. As mentioned earlier in the review, the Galaxy Note8 can have the game take over its entire screen – all 2960×1440 pixels. That’s exactly what I did for the Galaxy Note8 when it comes to Epic Citadel, and it performed as expected with a maximum of 60FPS.
In Vellamo test, the Galaxy Note8 just breezed through the benchmark and scored highest among all other smartphones in the list – as expected. I start to question the relevancy of Vellamo benchmark at this point in time, actually.
When it comes storage test, the Galaxy Note8 is obviously equipped with Samsung’s very own UFS 2.1 chips. The Galaxy Note8 has blazing fast speeds – with ~800MB/s in sequential read speeds and ~200MB/s of sequential write speeds.
With a 3,300mAh battery, I feel that the Galaxy Note8 deserves a larger battery than what it has now. I mean, come on – 3,300mAh on this phone is just okay. It’s not going to guarantee a full day worth of usage under my heavy use case scenario.
However, like the Galaxy S8 and S8+, there’s a little feature to change the resolution from 1440p to 1080p. That way you can technically have a bit more juice available as the phone doesn’t have to crunch out that many pixels.
Once again, thanks to the beauty of FinFET, the Samsung Galaxy Note8’s efficiency is actually pretty high. It doesn’t feel hot at all.
Then comes the charger. I find the design of the charger is – weird. It has a conventional shape – but the location for that USB port is weird. Like really weird.
It’s facing the bottom of the charger. I can say for sure that this is a design choice that you either like it or hate it. Imagine if your wall outlet is near the floor and the USB port is facing downwards…
Whichever the case may be, Samsung’s charger has a collapsible 3rd prong for ease of plugging in the charge and can output either a maximum of 9V at 1.67V (15W) or 5V at 2A (10W).
As this is indeed Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charger, it only takes about 1.6 hours (or about 1 hour and 36 minutes) to charge the Galaxy Note8 from 3% of battery all the way up to 100%. It takes only about 40 minutes to reach 50% of battery charge, too.
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Let’s face it – with the price tag of RM3,999, it’s enough to scare away people already. I mean seriously – that price tag is not something to be taken lightly. Though, with great price comes great user experience – as the Galaxy Note8 checks boxes on my list like none other phones can.
The camera, for one, is indeed something special that only the Samsung Galaxy Note8 has to offer. In terms of technicality and how it works, Samsung did indeed create something new and brought it to the market. The picture quality speaks for itself, and people are indeed asking me what camera I used to take these great pictures.
I guess if I really had to nitpick, then the only complaint I have is the tiny battery that the Galaxy Note8 has. About 2 years ago, manufacturers across the globe pushed the battery capacity all the way to 3,000mAh – but after that, there hasn’t been much improvement. It has always been floating around the 3,000mAh range. What I like to see is the Note8 to have a 5,000mAh battery, even though it means the phone will be bulkier.
All in all, the Samsung Galaxy Note8 is a one-of-a-kind smartphone that I can vouch for. Get this phone if you can. You won’t regret it.
- Included hard shell case
- Impressive camera
- Sleek design
- Magnificent screen
- Fantastic user experience
- New S Pen and its features bring life to writings
- Sky high price
- Battery could be larger in capacity
- Terrible fingerprint sensor location
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