When almost every review of Samsung Galaxy Note 8 -- including ours -- begins with tech journalists recalling what had happened to its predecessor -Note 7, you can understand how tough it was for the Korean smartphone maker to erase bad memories of the ill-fated Note 7 from the mind of its customers. Even difficult it was for Samsung to bounce back from the plundge.
Note 7 fiasco had not only dented Samsung financially but its reputation was also put on the stake. It was, by all means, a brilliant smartphone. However, a few exploding units forced Samsung to issue a recall and halt its production. Even during the Note 8's launch event, Samsung showcased canned Note 7 and apologised to its customers for letting them down. Recently Samsung has earned praises for S8 and S8+ but it was Galaxy Note 8 that all of us were waiting for. Samsung knew Note 8 is going to be a hard sell for the company after the 'adverse publicity’ of Note 7 over the bad name it had earned. Hence, Samsung returned to the Note series with a vengeance.
If you go through the specifications sheet, there's no major difference between S8 plus and Note 8 as S8 Plus unarguably offers many of the same features. It has a massive 6.3-inch display, a powerful processor, adequate amount of RAM and ROM and almost identical Samsung-skinned Android software. While S8 plus is already available in the market and costing less than Note 8, should you opt for Samsung's latest flagship? The answer depends upon your personal preferences. Things that count are: Note 8 has the best ever S-Pen and it's Samsung's first device to sport dual camera setup. And for those who are fans on the Note series, Note 8 is, notably, the most advanced 'Note'. Note 8 sports top-notch features such as 64-bit Exynos 8895 octa-core processor chipset with 6GB RAM and 64GB internal storage.
Design wise, Note 8 ditches rounded corners as seen on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ and comes with corners that are more squared off. It gets a lot of inspiration from the Galaxy S8+, being just a hair larger with an 6.3-inch display. While during usage, they look almost identical, but they feel distinctly different in hand. Though you won't question Samsung's craftsmanship much but the more squared look doesn’t look that stunning. Put it next to S8+ and you will find out the difference, it actually looks ungainly. There is just 0.1-inch difference in their screen size, but the Galaxy Note 8 is a bit heavier as well as taller than S8+.
Since its inception, the Note series’ defining feature has been its S Pen. Capable of sensing 4,096 levels of pressure, the new improved S Pen in the Galaxy Note 8 also sports IP68 certification for water and dust resistance. It allows users to take notes without powering the Note 8’s screen on, making it one of the coolest feature. If you're busy and need to jot something down in a hurry, just take the stylus out and start writing on phone's display. After getting done, you can 'save' it in 'notes' and your 'Screen Off Memo' will get saved. With the Smart Select feature, you can edit and share the selected content across social media platforms. The S Pen allows you to animate notes in GIF format, select text for real-time translation, quick magnification, and much more.
One of the most talked about features of the Galaxy Note 8 is: Live Message. It lets users create doodles, animated texts or live emojis and use various pen gestures to even edit photos. It, then, allows you to share personalized messages on social media platforms. If you're more into reading and writing, that's where you'll find S Pen more useful. You can circle words and jot down notes directly on the screen. The stylus makes annotating the documents remarkably easy.
The department where Galaxy Note 8 surpasses its rival smartphones is the camera, the most hotly-contested feature in flagship smartphones. Note 8 is the first device from Samsung that includes a dual-camera setup. Both lenses are aided by optical image stabilization - a first for a dual-camera phone. The Note 8 features two 12MP sensors at the back, the primary camera equipped with a wide-angle 26mm f/1.7 lens, and the second with a 52mm telephoto f/2.4 lens for x2 optical zoom shots.
Samsung takes on Apple's boasted Portrait shooting mode with 'Live Focus' in its Galaxy Note 8, and the feature works like a charm. It gives you more control and lets you adjust the intensity of the blur effect both before and after you shoot. The phone actually takes two shots - one using both lenses with the Live Focus enabled and another using the standard main lens. Note 8’s Live Focus mode features a slider so that increase or decrease the amount of blur you want behind the subject. The Note 8 takes brilliant portrait photos. Shooting under indoor lighting conditions, the Note 8’s exposures are excellent. Its camera excels in all conditions including in low light, where it captures remarkable levels of colour and keeps exposure at best. Needless to say, Samsung continues to lead the way in the camera department when it comes to Android devices.
Samsung is trying to give its users a way to interact with their phone and it has developed Bixby for it. Though, Samsung's quest to compete with Apple and Google in Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a rather long and unending one. Honestly, Bixby isn't a match for Google Assistant or Apple's Siri. Samsung released it in April and Bixby is still trying to find its place. Samsung is making it smarter with regular updates but it needs to improve Bixby fast to make sure its customers keep using it regularly.
The battery cell -- 3,300mAh-- itself is actually smaller than the one in the S8+, even though the screen in Note 8 is bigger and brighter. However, the Note 8’s battery gets us through a full day of web browsing, social media, streaming music and taking photos.
The dual cameras and S Pen make the Note 8. If you’re thinking of spending big on a smartphone then this is the one you can consider. It's a powerful and well-made smartphone. It has every feature that made previous Notes worth buying. What may irritate you in the Note 8 is the placement of the fingerprint scanner. As I said, Bixby isn't a match for Google Assistant and Siri. But if you love the big-screen experience and want S-Pen to sway your mind away with its functionality, then the Galaxy Note 8 is for you.