The Galaxy Note 8 has been launched in India at a price of Rs 67,900. The Note 8 is the successor to the ill-fated Note 7 which literally crashed and burned upon launch and caused a lot of damage to Samsung’s reputation. Does the Note 8 have what it takes to quench the fiery reputation of the Note 7?
On paper, the smartphone comes across as an absolute beast with top of the line specifications, a huge OLED display, a gorgeous bezel-less design, an improved version of Samsung’s iconic S Pen and much more. Samsung has truly gone all out to make sure the Note 8 has what it takes to erase the memories of the Note 7 from people’s minds forever.
Let’s delve a little deeper and examine the top five features that make the Note 8 a phone to be reckoned with. And just to be fair let’s also talk about three ways the smartphone could have been better:
There is no denying the fact that Samsung has been late to the dual camera game. However, as the saying goes – it is better late than never. The Note is the first smartphone from the Samsung’s stable to come with a dual camera setup at the rear and the company has added a few nifty tricks to make up for the lost time.
The Note 8 is the first smartphone in the world in which both the primary and secondary sensors are optically stabilised. This means images from both sensors should be crisp and sharp in the majority of lighting conditions.
The dual camera array consists of a primary 12MP wide-angle lens with an aperture of f/1.7 and a secondary 12MP telephoto lens with an aperture of f/2.4 that allows for 2x optical zoom. This is a similar dual camera implementation to that found on the iPhone 7 Plus and OnePlus 5. The two sensors also allow for the capture of images with depth of field effects (bokeh shots).
Now the Note 8 comes with a rather cool ‘Live Focus’ feature which allows you to adjust the depth of field while previewing a shot or after you have taken the image. The last trick up the Note 8’s sleeve is called ‘Dual Capture’ which allows you take an image using both the wide-angle and telephoto lens simultaneously. You can just choose whichever photo you want after you have shot the image.
An absolute powerhouse, iris scanner
The Galaxy Note 8 is powered by the 10nm octa-core Exynos 8895 processor paired with 6GB of RAM and the Mali G71 GPU. Additionally, the smartphone has 64GB of internal storage which can be expanded via a microSD card (of up to 256GB). In the US, the smartphone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor which is found in most flagship smartphone of late and is arguably one of best Android processors out there. On the software front, the smartphone runs on Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Samsung’s Grace UX on top.
The Galaxy Note 8 supports Bluetooth 5.0 which guarantees twice the data transfer speeds and up to four times wider range than its predecessor (Bluetooth 4.2) as well as the ability to connect two sets of wireless devices. The Note 8 also comes with a USB Type-C port for charging and data and transfer and a 3.5mm jack, which is fast becoming a rarity in today’s flagships.
Samsung has also equipped the Note 8 with an iris scanner, a feature that was first introduced in the ‘too hot to handle’ Galaxy Note 7. It allows you to unlock the smartphone using your eyes. Along with an iris scanner, the Note 8 also comes with a rear mounted fingerprint scanner and facial recognition.
The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are absolutely gorgeous smartphones that come with stunning bezel-less designs. It will not be remiss to say that these two phones absolutely shook up the smartphone market when it comes to design and ushered in a new era of bezel-less phones.
The Galaxy Note 8 looks as stunning and sleek as the S8 and S8 Plus. It comes with the same edge-to-edge ‘Infinity display’ and inadvertently looks as gorgeous. While the display has the same 18:9 aspect ratio, at 6.3-inches, it is a bit larger than the panel found on the S8 Plus (6.2-inches).
The Note 8 is carved out of Glass (that too Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for extra toughness) and metal. The metallic centrepiece that joins the front and back is polished in a way that it gives out the impression that the whole smartphone is continuous sheet of glass.
The Galaxy Note 8 looks as stunning and sleek as the S8 and S8 Plus. It comes with the same edge-to-edge ‘Infinity display’ and inadvertently looks as gorgeous
While the dream of a completely bezel-less smartphone with just a pane of glass is still some time away, the Note 8 comes close to help Sci-Fi fans like me feel uber cool. The smartphone has a screen to body ratio of 83 per cent – which means there are almost (with almost being the key word) no bezels to speak of. the end result – a phone that looks extremely futuristic.
While the Note 8 looks strikingly similar to the S8 and S8 Plus, there are a few differences here and there. The most major of them being that the Note 8 is not as curvaceous – the smartphone looks much more blocky and squared off. While some might miss the in hand feel that the S8’s rounded corners and curvaceous design provide, I personally feel the blocky design looks more industrial and solid.
Much like the S8 and S8 Plus, the Note 8 is also IP68 dust and water resistant. There are a few caveats with the design though such as the heft and the frankly embarrassingly awkward location of the fingerprint scanner, which we will discuss later on in the article.
Samsung has always been known to make stellar AMOLED displays with excellent contrast, deep blacks and punchy colours. And the Note 8 is no exception. The smartphone comes with a 6.3-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2960 x 1440 and an aspect ratio of 18:9.
The Note 8 has the same ‘Infinity display’ as seen on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus – which means an edge-to-edge panel with almost no bezels to speak of. What does this mean in real life? Well, that Samsung has been able to cram a 6.3-inch panel into a body that is almost the same size as the Galaxy Note 7, which had a 5.7-inch display.
The Note 8’s display won the highest grade ever from Display Mate, with an A+ score. The QuadHD + display also has a few tricks up its sleeve – it comes with Samsung’s trademark always-on functionality and HDR support.
S Pen has learnt many new tricks
When the original Galaxy Note was released, many critics ridiculed Samsung for including a Stylus in a world that had moved on to capacitive touchscreens. However, a lot of people had to eat humble pie as the S Pen turned out to be one of the most popular and compelling features of the Note 8 line-up.
With the Note 8, Samsung has further enhanced the S Pen’s capabilities. The new S-Pen has a 0.7mm tip and a pressure sensitivity level of 4,096 in order to emulate the experience of using an actual pen. There are a host of new features on offer as well – you can now jot down notes without even turning the screen on. The Screen off memo feature allows you to take down up to 100 pages of notes without even having to do the arduous task of actually turning on the screen and unlocking your phone.
You can also pin these notes on the Note 8’s always on display from where you can edit them at will. There is also another feature on offer called Live Messages through which you can send messages to people you know in creative ways. Why just annoy people by sending them emojis or messages? You can now draw or write anything and then the phone will animate it and add effects like sparkles.
Jokes aside, it is a great way to celebrate an occasion like a birthday or anniversary and send messages to your family or loved ones. These messages can be sent to anyone as a regular GIF without the need of a specialised messaging application.
The Note 7 Karma
If you have not been living under a rock for the past year or so, and I presume most of you have been not, you must know about the ‘fiery’ Note 7 debacle. To put it bluntly – the smartphone literally blew up upon launch and caused a lot of headache for Samsung across the world.
Due to defects in the smartphone’s battery, Note 7 units across the world started blowing up and catching fire. Samsung had to issue a worldwide recall – twice. It was a mess. Even though the Note 7 is all but a distant memory now, the repercussions of the Note 7 disaster are still being felt.
While Samsung will never admit it directly, the Note 7 is the reason the Note 8 comes with such a lackluster and conservative 3,300mAh battery. The company had no other option but to play it safe – they simply cannot risk another PR disaster of the Note 7’s proportions.
The ill-fated Note 7 is the reason the Note 8 comes with such a lackluster and conservative 3,300mAh battery
Earlier this year, Samsung introduced an 8 point battery check in the wake of the Note 7’s battery failures. Every device now goes through this extensive battery check, that involves a durability test, a X-Ray test and a charge and discharge test amongst others before it is shipped. In addition to these checks, Samsung has also implemented multi-layer safety measures in their smartphone batteries.
All this is well and good. But the truth of the matter is that since the Note 7, Samsung has been very conservative with their smartphone batteries. The S8 barely lasts a day with moderate use. What does not help the Note 8’s cause is the fact that the less expensive S8 Plus comes with a battery that is actually 200mAh larger.
Where are the stereo speakers?
When your biggest competitor comes with stereo speakers (read the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus), so should you. The lack of stereo speakers was one of my biggest issues with the Galaxy S8 Plus and the same rings true for the Galaxy Note 8.
If space is an issue because of the bezel-less design (which is gorgeous, I must once again add), Samsung could have followed the iPhone 7’s example and amplified the front earpiece – effectively turning it into a second speaker.
That fingerprint sensor location
There are no two ways about it. The fingerprint sensor location on the Galaxy Note 8 is an ergonomic disaster. It is extremely odd to see Samsung not rectify what was one of the biggest problems people faced with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.
That fingerprint sensor location was awkward in the S8 and S8 Plus and is now even more awkward in the Note 8 due to its increased size and heft. People with smaller hands will have to shuffle their uber-expensive phone awkwardly in order to reach the sensor.