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Last year, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was announced and released with much praise. It was a very highly reviewed phone and easily the best device from Samsung to date. However, the story did not have a happy ending. By now, everyone knows what happened, and that’s part of the problem that Samsung has to battle.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is in many ways a Note 7.5 or Galaxy S8++. There isn’t a huge list of new features to talk about. The Note 8 is basically just an ever so slightly bigger version of the Galaxy S8+ with dual cameras, stylus, and a more square design. Nevertheless, we got our hands on the new Note in New York today.
The design of the Note 8 is very reminiscent of the Note 7. It has sharper corners compared to the rounder Galaxy S8. The edges of the display are still curved a little and the body is made from glass and metal. It feels exactly like you would expect. Samsung showed off a few colors, but we’ll only be getting black and white in the U.S.
One of the most divisive design elements is the camera housing on the back. Samsung put the dual cameras, LED flash, and fingerprint scanner all together in a rectangular group. It looks kinda weird and the fingerprint scanner is still in a bad position. Hopefully, the Note 8 will be the last phone with this placement.
The Note 8 is the first Samsung phone with dual cameras. It’s equipped with two 12MP shooters on the back, both with optical image stabilization. Samsung calls the main camera “wide angle,” but that’s being generous. The real star is the second camera with a 2X optical zoom lens. You can zoom in on something without losing quality with digital zoom.
Samsung also uses the dual cameras to do some background blur tricks. A new feature called “Live Focus” allows you to adjust the amount of background blur before and after you take a photo. We’ll need more time to test the camera, but it seems pretty great so far.
A new Note means new S Pen features. As the line between Note and Galaxy S gets more blurry, the S Pen remains the defining feature of the Note series. The tip of the S Pen has been thinned down again to make it even more precise. You can now translate full sentences by highlighting. They also added a feature that allows you to send live handwritten messages as GIFs. It’s pretty fun.
Performance is something that Samsung phones tend to get a lot of flack about. Samsung has bumped the RAM up to 6GB and paired it with the Snapdragon 835. On paper, this combination should be more than enough to power the Note 8 smoothly. However, we know from experience that Samsung phones don’t always live up to the performance hype. We’ll need to test it for ourselves.
The battery has been shrunk from 3500 mAh in the Note 7 to 3300 mAh in the Note 8. It’s always disappointing to see batteries shrink from previous models. Phablets are supposed to have big, beefy batteries. Samsung crammed a 4000 mAh battery in the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active. Why can’t we have that in the Note 8?
It’s becoming more and more apparent every year that the Note series is for Android diehards. With a price tag of almost $1,000, you really need to love this phone if you’re going to buy one. The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are not that different from the Note 8. Unless you’re desperate for the S Pen, there aren’t many reasons to get the Note.
Let’s hope this one doesn’t have the same fiery tendencies as last year’s model.
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