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Galaxy Note 8 Review: Back of Samsung to Strengths from Weaknesses

Samsung brings back the Galaxy Note! Some feared that with the battery disaster and recall of Galaxy Note 7, the end of the series would have come, but by no means. With the Galaxy Note 8, the leader of South Korea wants to regain the supremacy of yesteryear in the market of phablets. During the analysis, we discovered that the Galaxy Note 8 emphasizes this statement, but there are also some aspects to criticize.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – Availability and Price

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is now available almost everywhere in Europe. The Galaxy Note 8 come in four colours: Midnight Black, Maple Gold, Deep Sea Blue and Orchid Gray, although the latter will not reach Europe. For the Duos version with Dual SIM, the availability will depend on the market, but it seems that it will be available directly from the official online store of Samsung.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – Design and Finishing

Those who know the Galaxy S8 will also know the Galaxy Note 8, at least in terms of design, as the manufacturer continues the line of Galaxy Smartphones with this phablet. And it seems to be very successful because the curved glass and the aluminium frame fit very good to Note 8. The finish presents the quality expected of the “S” series. With 8.6 millimetres, is not excessively thin, to which we must add that weighs 195 grams, so it does not go unnoticed by our hands or pockets.

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The side buttons are arranged as in the Galaxy S8 and, likewise, the traditional Samsung start button disappears. The fingerprint sensor is placed right next to the LED flash of the rear camera. Like the Galaxy S8 +, this location is quite uncomfortable even for someone with big hands like mine, since it is not very easy to find. In this regard, Samsung still has to catch up and improve. Finally, the power button and volume did not pose any problem.

Located on the left side we have the button dedicated to Bixby, which currently does nothing more than show the Bixby home screen or start language input. Luckily, the button can now be turned off to prevent it from being opened by mistake. On the other hand, the digital assistant still does not speak some language like Spanish.

Something that is nowadays more frequent and I think that important enough is that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is protected with an IP68 certificate against the entry of dust and water, just like the S-Pen. This stylus, as it comes to tradition, has a hole to stay inside the device itself.

We could say that the design of Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is, in general, consistent. The telephone combines perfectly elegance and modernity. However, the design is always a matter of taste and in this device has lost the factor of surprise, especially with the screen. The new Note looks good and feels nice to touch, but it really has not impressed me so much optically. The black version seems a bit boring and the blue variant is too dull for me, although other colleagues give the approval. I would probably favour the golden version of Galaxy Note 8, but as I said, it’s a matter of taste.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – Screen

The screen of Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has a record measures of 6.3 inches. We remember that his predecessor had a screen of 5.7 inches. With the new design, Infinity display, practically without frames and a new relation of sides, the size has grown especially in length with almost one centimetre more. The resolution of the SuperAMOLED panel in the new Galaxy Note 8 is 2960 x 1440 pixels, somewhat longer than a normal QHD. By default, the system default resolution is FHD +, but you can change it in the settings to use all points.

The representation of the screen is impressive. The SuperAMOLED panel is one of the best screens you can buy. It offers deep blacks, rich colours, spectacular brightness and a fantastic stability of viewing angle. The Galaxy Note 8 widescreen format does a good job of watching movies; that yes, when the image is completely elaborated, otherwise they appear black borders to the sides. The 18.5: 9 elongated aspect ratios have its advantages, for example, when reading web pages or in multi-window mode using two applications in parallel.

Many may ask where the curved screen of Note 8 is! In this phone, the panel curves only slightly around the corners, so that the pencil does not suffer. Given that the Edge Sense menu works just as well on a normal flat screen, Samsung should ask, what the curved edges actually bring to Note 8, because I honestly do not see any advantage to it, but rather disadvantages. Note 8 is, therefore, far from the premise “form follows function“.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – Special Functions

What differentiates the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 from all other smartphones is the S-Pen. The pen has its place in the casing easily accessible whenever it is needed. Like the phone itself, the S-Pen is protected by IP68 against water and dust. By the way, the S-Pen can distinguish 4,096 pressure points.

Samsung has expanded the stylus features in the Galaxy Note 8. Now we can write 100 pages of notes directly from the lock screen. Likewise, we can also set a note on the lock screen, in order to always keep the list of purchase or important information in sight. On the other hand, we can also create GIF images; make screenshots, translate texts and much more. With the S-Pen, Samsung underlines the character of the Galaxy Note 8 as a true work accessory.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Bixby
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The Galaxy Note 8 offers three possibilities for unlocking with biometric features: iris scanner, facial recognition and fingerprint scanner. After my analysis, I can say that none of the three options is completely convincing. The iris scanner is the safest, but also the slowest. Those who wear glasses will have recognition problems as well as if we wear sunglasses. By the way, the sunglasses also prevent facial recognition. This method is the fastest, but the most insecure, since it works with a photo. In addition, I have experienced that the Galaxy Note 8 has often not recognized any registered faces. In low light conditions, the sensor reaches the limit.

What of the fingerprint? Well, first, the sensor is elusive. It is too high, it hardly differs from the note surface and, therefore, it is difficult to feel. However, if the finger finds the sensor, the detection is neither reliable nor fast. Almost all flagship competitors offer better and faster solutions to unlock. Honestly, I think you should return the home button with fingerprint sensor, able to unlock the phone with a single click. In the case of the Galaxy Note 8, after so much innovation and sensors, you will see yourself using the classic PIN.

In addition to the poor placement of the fingerprint sensor and the weaknesses of face detection, there are flaws in the ergonomics of the Galaxy Note 8. Specifically, I’m talking about the size of the phone. Even if you have big hands, you will not be able to use it with one hand. Despite having an elongated display, this phablet is not really compact and feels a bit uncomfortable in the hand. In addition, its slippery material and its high weight increase the danger of it end up on the ground on more than one occasion.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – Software

Samsung equips series Galaxy Note 8 with Android 7.1 Nougat. The update to Android Oreo is basically a formality, but it may take several months to arrive. On the Google system Samsung has placed its interface, formerly known as TouchWiz, but now called Samsung Experience. The current version is 9. Those who do not like Samsung’s pre-installed style options can always tailor icons, fonts and the complete design to their preferences.

Samsung has introduced a new feature in the Galaxy Note 8, which provides great relief in the simultaneous use of two applications. In the Edge menu, which the user can slide from the right side, there is a series of applications that can be grouped in two packets, to be launched on the double screen simultaneously which is something very practical when it comes to exchanging data or information between applications. As already Huawei does, Samsung does not allow a double installation of some applications like, for example, WhatsApp; which would make it possible to use it on two different phones.

Unlike HTC, Samsung is not going to eliminate its own applications in favour of the pre-installed applications of Google. There are two applications for the calendar, the contacts, the photo gallery and some more. This is a little absurd.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – Performance

The European version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 comes with the brand’s own chip. The Exynos 8895 has eight cores, operates up to 2.3 GHz and is manufactured using a 10-nanometer process. A Mali-G71 MP20 is responsible for the graphics. The chip is also equipped with an LTE Cat 16 modem, GPS, Glonass and Beidou support and LPDDR4X-RAM. Finally, the Galaxy Note 8 brings a RAM of 6 GB, which thanks to UFS 2.1, is very fast.

If you are one of those who usually checks Benchmarks, it is clear that the Samsung chip cannot compete with Qualcomm’s offer. The OnePlus 5, the HTC U11 or the LG V30 with its Snapdragon 835 are faster in tests with enabled graphics and reach higher values. The performance of the individual cores, however, is at least the same according to the Geek bench test.

However, these shortcomings are quite theoretical. In practice, the Galaxy Note 8 does a good job and is not overloaded with any tasks. The impression you have is that the Exynos 8895 still has a lot of energy reserves. In terms of computer and graphics performance, the Galaxy Note 8 will remain safe for some years; even if new chips like the Kirin 970 with KI technology and Apple’s A11 with the Bionic chip make it difficult.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – Audio

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 does not have special qualities to offer on the speakers. In fact, the sound is quite normal and not very exciting. The included AKG headset has a little more to offer: a very balanced sound with decent volume, and not to exceed. However, we have to make sure that we have placed the headphones well because if it is not, the basses are quickly lost. On the other hand, these headphones are not good companions of the sport, since they do not fit entirely to the ear.

The quality of the voice during calls is one of the highlights of the Galaxy Note 8. The conversation with our interlocutor is impeccable because the suppression of ambient noise is exceptionally good. There is nothing to complain about.

S-Pen: A Useful Niche

Actually, the S-Pen is the only remaining feature that makes it clear that this is a Galaxy Note smartphone and not Galaxy S8.5. The stylus has been a distinctive aspect of the series for years and also this year some new features have been added. The most convenient is the ability to take notes while the device is in standby mode. You write on the black screen, and when you activate the Note 8 again, your notes are stored.

Little has changed in the design of the S-Pen itself. It is a more than adequate replacement for a pen or pencil, and ideal for taking notes along the way. For drawing or sketching, the pen does not feel exactly enough, as far as we are concerned, and you better go to a professional drawing tablet.

Random Widgets and Accurate Voice Recognition

With one push of a button, you get Bixby Home in the picture, not much more than an overview of different widgets. Many of those widgets are quite redundant: you can view a list of trending topics on Twitter, or popular GIF images on Giphy. Other widgets, such as an overview of the latest news, might as well have been on your home screen.

If you hold down the button, you can talk to Bixby. For the time being, the assistant is only available in English and South Korean. However, even in English Bixby have quite a few cures. You can also activate the assistant by calling “Hi Bixby” when the device is unlocked, but a small variation like “Hey Bixby” is not recognized yet. On the other hand, the assistant is sometimes activated randomly while listening to music or watching a video through the loudspeaker.

Unlike other assistants, Bixby can be used for actions in virtually any other app. For example, you can call ‘Open WhatsApp and send a message that says’ I’ll see you tonight ‘to Sophie’ to send a message. Bixby also requires precision, because if you pronounce a word incorrectly, the assistant does not get enough of the content to still execute the assignment.

Bixby is a poor alternative to the Google Assistant that is more in the way than it adds.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – Camera

On the back of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, we have a great novelty. For the first time, the manufacturer mounted a smartphone on a double camera. Both cameras have an optical image stabilizer and a 12-megapixel sensor but differ in the diaphragm and focal length. The wide-angle camera has an aperture of f / 1.7 and a dual-pixel autofocus. The set with telephoto lens operates at an aperture of f /2.4.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 features
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The picture quality of the Galaxy Note 8 camera is excellent. Colours reproduce in a natural way, only red can be a bit forced. Sharpness, dynamic image and exposure are very good. Those who enjoy combining it themselves can use manual mode and post-processing RAW images. In low light conditions, the image noise rises. Samsung’s dual optical zoom also works fast and makes the Galaxy Note 8 an excellent instant camera. Also, the selfies with the front camera know how to please you when taking pictures.

The bokeh effect, which Samsung places under the ‘Live Focus‘ function, depends on a lot of the photographed landscape. It is not always possible for software to avoid errors. The depth of focus is taken with the telephoto lens and sometimes we are going to have to move so that they are done correctly, so the result can show some cut in the landscape. As a positive, I point out that the Galaxy Note 8 saves the photo taken with the normal wide angle, so the user can choose.

FURTHER READING:

During our test, I have experienced that ‘Live Focus‘ does not work. The phone displays a message that the object is not far enough away. From time to time, the gallery also spits out the “invalid image file” error message and refuses to edit the photo. On other dual camera phones, such as Huawei’s current models, the bokeh function produces fewer errors and often shows more beautiful results. Here, Samsung still needs to learn a lot. With the help of software updates, the manufacturer can, however, improve.

Galaxy Note 8 – Battery

With such a large screen you would think that there is also room for a large battery. That is unfortunately disappointing because the battery capacity is 3,300mAh. That while the Galaxy S8 Plus which is 0.1 inches smaller, has a larger 3,500mAh battery. The S-Pen takes up some space on the inside, so there is less space for the battery.

Too bad, because in practice the battery life during our test period was good, but far from great. With a full battery, we could often just spend a whole day without charging. Especially the large, clear screen seems to drain the battery. Usually, the screen could be on for about four to five hours before the smartphone was empty, but on some days we narrowed the three hours. If you watch a lot of videos or play games on the go, the Note 8 is so empty quickly.

Fortunately, the Note 8 comes with a Quick Charge charger, so that your battery is full again soon. A virtually empty battery, therefore, needs a little more than one and a half hours to recharge. A half hour of charging is enough for 40 percent battery. That is not as fast as, for example, the Dash Charge function of the OnePlus 5, but it is likely that Samsung will not repeat the overheated battery failure of the Galaxy Note 7.

 Samsung Galaxy Note 8LG V30Galaxy S8 PlusOnePlus 5iPhone 7 Plus
Screen6.3 inches6 inches6.2 inches5.5 inches5.5 inches
Resolution2,960x1,440 pixels2,880x1,440 pixels2,960x1,440 pixels1,920x1,080 pixels1,920x1,080 pixels
Density of pixels521ppp537ppp531ppp401ppp401ppp
OSAndroid NougatAndroid NougatAndroid NougatOxygenOS 4.5 (Android Nougat)iOS 10
Processor2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (eight cores) / 2.3GHz Samsung Exynos 8895 (eight cores)2.45GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (eight cores)2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (eight cores) / 2.3GHz Samsung Exynos 8895 (eight cores)2.45GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (eight cores)2.34GHz Apple A10 Fusion (four cores)
Storage64GB64GB / 128GB64GB64GB / 128GB32GB / 128GB / 256GB
Storage ExpansionYesYesYesDo notDo not
Rear cameraDouble rear camera of 12 megapixeles. A wide angle and double pixel with f / 1.7 aperture. Another telephoto with f / 2.4 aperture. Both have optical image stabilizationDouble chamber. A 16-megapixel f / 1.6 aperture and optical image stabilization, another 13-megapixel f / 1.9 aperture.12 megapixels with optical image stabilization, double photodiode (double pixel) and aperture f / 1.7Dual 16 and 20 megapixel camera with f / 1.7 aperture and f / 2.6Dual 12 megapixel camera with optical image stabilization and f / 1.8 aperture and f / 2.8
Front camera8 megapixels5 megapixels8 megapixels16 megapixels7 megapixels
RAM6GB4GB4GB6GB / 8GB3GB
Battery3.300mAh3.300mAh3,500mAh3.300mAh2,900mAh
Removable batteryDo notDo notDo notDo notDo not
Connectivity4G LTE, Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4, 5GHz)4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4, 5GHz)4G LTE, Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4, 5GHz)4G LTE, Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4, 5GHz)4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4, 5GHz)
NFCYesYesYesYesYes
WaterproofYes (IP68: up to 1.5 meters deep for 30 minutesYes (IP68: up to 1.5 meters deep for 30 minutesYes (IP68: up to 1.5 meters deep for 30 minutesDo notYes (IP67: up to 1 meter deep for up to 30 minutes)
Fingerprint readerYesYesYesYesYes
Iris readerYesDo notYesDo notDo not
Wireless chargeYesYesYesDo notDo not
Important featuresQuick Charge 2.0, water resistance, microSD card slot, Google Assistant, USB-C, fingerprint reader, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, dual camera with stabilization Bixby virtual assistant, iris scanner, Edge display functions, AKG-optimized headphones (Harman company), can be converted into a desktop computer with Samsung DeX and virtual reality glasses with Gear VR.Quick Charge 3.0, waterproof, microSD card slot, Google Assistant, USB-C, fingerprint reader, Android Pay, square photo functions, 2x optical zoom, camera with optical image stabilizationQuick Charge 2.0, water resistance, microSD card slot, Google Assistant, USB-C, fingerprint reader, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, camera with optical image stabilization, new virtual assistant Bixby, iris scanner, Edge display functions, brings AKG optimized headphones (Harman company), can be converted into desktop computer with Samsung DeX and in virtual reality glasses with Gear VR.Fingerprint reader, 2x optical zoom, Dash quick charge, Android Pay, initial price less than US $ 500, Google Assistant, USB-C, automatic reading mode, up to 8 GB RAM, they do not charge you taxes to buy it3D Touch (Force Touch), fingerprint reader, camera with optical image stabilization, Apple Pay

Galaxy Note 8 – Price and Alternatives

Unfortunately, you will have to dig deep into the pouch for the device. The suggested retail price is 999 euros, making it the most expensive smartphone of the moment. Only the iPhone X, which appears in November for 1159 euros, goes over it.

That is, of course, in a vacuum already a sky-high price, but if you put the alternatives next to it, and then it is completely lost. The Samsung Galaxy S8, which on the extra camera lens and the S Pen after the same offers, you already get it for 600 euros. Even the S8 Plus, which offers the same screen size and a slightly larger battery, is available separately for 700 euros and thus hundreds of euros cheaper than the Galaxy Note 8.

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Even with the competition are often cheaper. The LG V30, like the Note 8 with a front-filling OLED screen, is in October for around 700 to 800 euros in stores. That device also has a dual camera and is reasonably comparable in terms of power. If you really want to keep it cheap, you can also consider the Nokia 6 or the OnePlus 5. However, they have come close to the Note 8 in terms of screen and design. On the other hand, you get both smartphones for the price of one Note 8.

Conclusion Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the best Android smartphone at the moment. The design with front-filling screen remains unprecedented and actually surpasses all competitors. The extra lens lifts the camera to an even higher level, although we are not completely convinced by the “Live Focus” mode. The Note 8 also has more than enough in terms of pure power to always run smoothly.

Despite all those advantages, the Galaxy Note 8 is not the best smartphone to buy. For that, the price difference is too great with some alternatives. The differences with the Samsung Galaxy S8 are too small in our opinion. Hundreds of euros to pay more for a fairly small upgrade cannot be justified, or you have to have your heart pledged to the S-Pen.

Are you convinced with the price tag of this phone based on its features?

 

Galaxy Note 8 Review

Performance
Design
Camera
Battery

Amazing Phone

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the best Android smartphone at the moment. The design with front-filling screen remains unprecedented and actually surpasses all competitors. The extra lens lifts the camera to an even higher level, although we are not completely convinced by the “Live Focus” mode. The Note 8 also has more than enough in terms of pure power to always run smoothly.

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