During the lead up to the Galaxy Note8 launch, there were a lot of rumours in late 2016 and early 2017 of Samsung abandoning the Note series over the Note7 series debacle, but all were unfounded, after it launched the flagship phablet just on schedule in August, just before IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) 2017 in Germany.
The Galaxy Note8, which I have been using as primary device for close to two months, comes with top-notch features, beautiful Galaxy S8-inspired Infinity display, dual-camera, a first for Samsung flagship series and more. But, does it live up to the hype? Let's check out.
Display and design:
As said before, the new Galaxy Note8 borrows design language of its smaller cousin Galaxy S8 series but also improves on it.
It flaunts a gorgeous Infinity Display on the front with the screen occupying the maximum landscape with bezels pushed to the tilt on top and the bottom, leaving little space for camera and other companion sensors, whereas the side-screen cascades to the middle of the frame on the right and left sides resulting in the infinity pool like effect, when viewed horizontally.
On the back, it features a well-blended metallic-case with a glossy glass-cover on top. Most importantly, the company has made small, but necessary changes in terms of the rear camera module and fingerprint sensor positions, which was found wanting in the Galaxy S8 series. It now boasts LED flash and other sensors in between them, creating a small discernible gap between fingerprint scanner and the camera, and to an extent, avoid unintentional touching of the camera lens while trying to use the fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone.
It houses a dedicated slot at bottom edge for S-Pen stylus and single-grille speaker, a mic, Type C port and a 3.5mm audio jack beside it (from right to left).
With so many open gaps/holes at the bottom, users need not worry of water/raindrops entering them, as the Galaxy Note8 boasts IP68 certifications, meaning the device can survive up to 30 minutes close to five feet under water. He/she can take it for a dip in the swimming pool or any freshwater bodies like pond/lake/river, but not salty sea/ocean.
It also features volume rockers and a dedicated Bixby digital assistant button on the left side placed one above the other. Whereas, on the other side, it houses the physical wake button and on top, it has SIM tray and a mic.
As far as the super AMOLED (6.3-inch) display is concerned, it is best in the smartphone industry. It's a delight watching high resolution videos and playing games on the Galaxy Note8 screen and the visually appealing Infinity Display, make the viewing experience more exciting.
Also, Galaxy Note8 has a nifty one-hand mode and multi-window features, that helps users with small palms for single-hand operation, reach all apps and work on two applications simultaneously on the screen.
Samsung Galaxy Note8 Display: 6.3-inch Quad HD+ (2960x1440p) Super AMOLED screen, HDR 10 content compatible Corning Gorilla Glass 5 shieldPixel density: 521ppi (pixels per inch)
Dimensions: 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm
The Galaxy Note8 sold in India, houses the company's proprietary 10nm architecture 64-bit class Samsung Exynos 8895 octa-core (2.3GHz cores x 4 + 1.7GHz cores x 4) CPU and is backed by the Mali-G71 MP20 graphics engine, sumptuous 6GB LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB storage with the option to expand up to 256GB via microSD card.
During our tests, Galaxy Note8 aced everyday tasks such as app loading, switching between apps and camera launch, among others. It showed no lag whatsoever. Even while playing the graphics intense Asphalt 8, it was blazingly fast and the beautiful display (the best in the industry), made it a delightful experience.
On AnTuTu, it scored an impressive 1,74,208 points and on the Geekbench v4.0, the Galaxy Note8 got 2,009 and 6,611 points on single-core and multi-core tests, respectively.
As far as the user-interface experience is concerned, the Galaxy Note8 comes with Android 7.0 Nougat-based Magazine UI. It's pretty clean and easy to find apps. Though, it has lot of pre-loaded apps, it doesn't annoy us anymore, the device has lot of spare storage, close to 49GB.
Model 1 for USA and China: 10nm architecture 64-bit class Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998) octa-core (2.35 Kryo cores x 4 + 1.9GHz Kryo cores x 4) CPU.
Model 2 for EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa), India and other regions: 10nm architecture 64-bit class Samsung Exynos 8895 octa-core (2.3GHz cores x 4 + 1.7GHz cores x 4) CPU.
Besides the visually appealing Infinity Display, camera is the other notable aspect of the Galaxy Note8. It takes stunning images in almost all light conditions, the colour temperature in the images comes as close to the natural settings and the Live Focus, which offers Bokeh blur effect consistently fared well.
With dual-camera in place, the Galaxy Note8 was able to capture wider area surrounding the subject. As far as the front camera is concerned, it took decent selfies on par with any flagship phone in the market.
For those unaware, the Samsung flagship phablet scored 94 DxO ratings, making it third best camera phone compared to iPhone X (97) and Google Pixel 2 series (98), respectively. But, it is interesting to note that the Galaxy Note8 received highest rating for its Zoom feature.
[FYI: Rear side: Wide-angle 12MP (Dual Pixel AutoFocus, f/1.7 aperture) + Telephoto 12MP (AutoFocus, f/2.4 aperture); both the cameras boasts OIS: Optical Image Stabilisation, 2 x Optical ZOOM, up to 10 X Digital ZOOM, dual-tone LED flash, PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus)
Front side: 8MP snapper with f/1.7 aperture]
Samsung Galaxy Note8 Primary Camera Samples:
Though the battery life test is a norm for any phone review, it is taken with serious note, especially for the Galaxy Note8, as its predecessor Note7 met a fateful demise to this very feature.
For the uninitiated, Samsung, after the conclusion of the Galaxy Note7 fire investigation, had set up a broad range of internal quality and safety measures to improve the product safety, including the 8-Point Battery Safety Check (BSC) and additional protocols like multi-layer safety measures. The new Galaxy Note8 is said to have undergone these tests before getting the nod for mass production. Rest assured that the device will not go up in flames. And, there are no reports of the Galaxy Note8 battery issue whatsoever since its release in September to date.
Samsung Galaxy Note8 comes packed with a 3,300mAh battery with fast wire/wireless charging capabilities.
During our tests, It cwhich included binge watching of videos on YouTube, WhatsApp messaging (including Multimedia content sharing), Facebook/Twitter browsing, websearch, S-Pen Note writing, gaming session, it was able to consistently deliver a full day of battery life. This was a surprise for us, as the device has large 6.3-inch screen and it was on AOD (Always On Display) mode. Samsung gets a big thumps up from us. If users de-activate the AOD feature, they can extend the Galaxy Note8 battery life more.
3,300mAh; Wireless Charging compatible with WPC and PMA Fast Charging compatible with QC 2.0]
S-Pen: This makes the Galaxy Note8 most unique flagship phone in the industry. It brings so much value addition to the phone such as natural brush stroke features, S Memo, GIF animations with Smart Select, Air Command functions, Magnify and Translate.
With the new unified app Samsung Notes, S-Pen allows users to jot down handwritten notes, draw, or edit memos from one location
Also, the Screen off memo feature lets user to take up to one-hundred pages of notes as soon as you remove the S Pen, pin notes to the Always On Display and make edits directly from the Always On Display.
Like the Galaxy S8, the new Samsung Galaxy Note8 too comes with Facial recognition and Iris scanner. Though the former works pretty fast in terms of response time, but the latter needs some work, as it sometimes fails to identify my eyes when wearing the glass.
Since its debut in the Galaxy S8 series, Bixby digital voice assistant has improved a lot.We were also impressed with Bixby Vision picture search, which when asked to identify, it suceeded in producing correct information of the subject.
Samsung Galaxy Note5 is one of the handful of flagship phones in the market to boast this advanced wireless data transfer feature. With Bluetooth 5.0 certification, the device owners will be able to transfer files between connected phones for up to 2mbps speed wirelessly.
And also the distance range has quadrupled, meaning the Galaxy Note8 users can maintain connectivity between compatible headphones, speakers and fitness trackers, for up to a staggering 800 feet.
Another notable aspect of this feature is that the Galaxy Note8 will also be able to stream audio to two Bluetooth headsets or speakers at the same time.
Final thoughts 4.5: It's the best all-round smartphone of 2017. Period
Samsung undoubtedly was under lot of pressure to make the Note8 debut controversy-free and it succeeded with great elan. In our opinion, the Galaxy Note8 is the best of the best phones of 2017.
There is no denying that there are a handful of alternate good phones in the market such as Google Pixel 2 series, Apple iPhone X, HTC U11 and OnePlus 5T, among others, but they all excel in one or two features. However, the Galaxy Note8 has a mix of all.
Also read- Google Pixel 2 XL review
The feature-rich Galaxy Note8 is closest to reach the idealistic phone benchmark by huge margin over rivals. It has everything, be it the top-notch camera, powerful hardware, good security features, enviable gorgeous design language, the best display and top it off, the S-Pen, which not only makes the Galaxy Note8 unique, but also the most versatile phone.
- Best Display for a phone in 2017
- Powerful Processor
- Top-notch Camera
- Gorgeous Design language
- Day-long Battery
- Versatile S-Pen makes Samsung Galaxy Note8 unique among competition
- Though facial recognition is super fast, Iris scanner needs some work, as it sometimes fails to detect eyes when wearing glass; but, we believe software updates over time might fix it.
- No wireless charging pad with the package, but we are just nitpicking here for lack of complaints. No other brands offer the same, so it's not a deal breaker.
If not for the battery, its predecessor Galaxy Note7 would have been bestowed with the title: The best phone of 2016. Having learnt a valuable lesson, Samsung has made its successor Galaxy Note8, safer and feature-rich, and in the processs, has set a new benchmark in the industry.
It will be interesting to see how the South Korean company will be able to push the envelope with either the Galaxy S9 or the Galaxy Note9 series in 2018.