Samsung is ready to put the embarrassment of the Note 7 behind them. They’ve officially introduced the Note 8 at an immersive Unpacked event. It’s a little bigger than the S8 Plus, but has three notable distinctions: a bigger display, new S-Pen features and dual cameras.
This post is sponsored by Philips and created with the help of Philips SpeechLive transcription service. However, all opinions regarding the Note 8 are mine.
BIGGEST DISPLAY YET
The Note 8 packs the biggest screen of any Note phone: a 6.3-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED Infinity Display.
To better take advantage of the real estate, the Note 8 has a new multitasking and create app pair shortcuts. These shortcuts, located in the Edge panel, can launch two apps with one tap in split-screen mode. That means you can launch Google Maps and your personal music app at the same time. App pairs will catch on quickly for those that have apps they like to launch in tandem.
There also doesn’t seem to be any limitations around what apps you can pair. Twitter and Facebook. Google Play Music and Spotify. YouTube and Twitter. Whatever works for you. I only wish these pairs weren’t stuck in the Edge panel and hope this is a feature that Google will be inspired to incorporate into Android.
The Note 8 also officially puts Samsung in the dual camera game. The Note 8 packs dual 12MP rear cameras, a wide angle and a telephoto lens, with optical image stabilization. They also bring new features like dual capture and live focus to the Note lineup.
While most dual camera phones force you to choose a lens, dual capture takes pictures with both lens simultaneously. Live focus, a direct competitor to “Portrait Mode” on the iPhone 7 Plus, gives portraits a nice blurred background. On the Note 8, you can adjust the intensity of the blurred background before and after taking a picture.
In my brief hands on with Note 8, live focus worked well, but I’ll reserve my final verdict until I’ve spent more time with it.
The Note 8 also introduces Bixby commands. Using a specific phrase, the Note 8 can perform a series of actions. Samsung reps demonstrated Bixby opening the camera app, taking a photo of a plate of food, opening the Gallery app and moving the photo to an album labeled “Food”. All of this happened after telling Bixby to “take a picture of my food.”
Bixby commands are the most compelling case Samsung has made for using Bixby and takes the digital assistant a littler further than Google Assistant. I’m looking forward to seeing if and how Google responds.
You can now use the S-Pen to write up to 100 notes on the Note 8’s screen without turning it on. It avoids the tedious process of turning on your screen, unlocking your phone and finding the notes app just to take a note. Unfortunately, these notes are pinned to the Always on Display, which means they’re open to prying eyes. I wouldn’t use this feature to jot down confidential information. However, it could be handy for reminding yourself of groceries you need to pick up or quick tasks you need complete.
The Note 8 also includes a microSD card slot, a headphone jack, and 64GBs of RAM. It’s IP68 water and dust resistance (just like the S8/S8 Plus), has wireless charging capabilities and a number of biometric lockscreen options.
Interestingly, the Note 8 will not run the latest version of Android, Android Oreo, out of the box. Instead, it’ll run the 7.1.1 update of Android Nougat, which isn’t even the latest version of Android Nougat.
ABOUT THAT BATTERY
The Note 8 is under even more scrutiny than every due to the Note 7 fiasco where a number of units caught fire. Samsung opted for a smaller battery for the Note 8. At 3,3oomAh, the battery is not only smaller than its predecessor, but also smaller than the S8 Plus. In a Q&A with The Investor, Samsung’s mobile chief Koh Dong-jin said,
“There are some reasons why we can reduce the battery capacity. One of them is the 10-nanometer processor that has enhanced the phone’s power efficiency by 30 percent. Users are also allowed to adjust their battery use based on their smartphone use patterns, which increases battery efficiency overall. Now I can guarantee battery safety. The phone will maintain more than 95 percent of battery capacity even after two years of use.”
Samsung has put the Note 8’s battery through its own internal safety testing, and worked closely with an outside partner, Underwriter Labs, to further assure the Note 8’s battery doesn’t explode like the Note 7’s.
NOTE 8 AVAILABILITY & PRICING
The Note 8 is now available for pre-order. It officially arrives in stores September 15th for a minimum of $930. That’s right, $930.
Former Note owners are eligible for a special offer on Samsung.com where they can receive an instant trade-in value of up to $425 when they upgrade their current phone for the Note 8. Bundled deals include a Gear 360 camera or a wireless charging pad and 128GB memory card.
Time will tell whether Samsung has made a phone worth putting $1000 where your mouth is.