At its Unpacked event in New York today, Samsung has unveiled its next generation Galaxy Note8, its biggest and most advance Note yet. It boasts a 6.3-inch Infinity Display, a new S Pen, and for the first time, a ground-breaking dual-camera setup with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS). It may also be the most premium-priced smartphone Samsung has ever released.
It’s hard not to mention the doomed Galaxy Note7 when we talk about the Note. And kudos to Samsung, they’ve been upfront about it. So much so that in the opening launch sequence, the Galaxy Note7 was the first thing to be mentioned. It’s one thing to make a mistake, and it’s another to man up, take responsibility, and do something about it. Call it “courage,” or “bravery” even.
The fact of the matter is, the mistake with the faulty Note7 batteries was terminal. Yes, it ultimately killed the product line. It cost the company a billion and a bit. What was even costlier though, was the damage to its reputation and consumer confidence.
Not since the Apple iPhone 4’s “antenna-gate” has something so irrevocable hit a tech company in recent years.
To its credit, in my opinion at least, Samsung handled the debacle well. It responded swiftly with statements, and subsequently announced product recalls and refunds. While things didn’t quite work out in the end, and the entire product line was cancelled, there was some good that came out of that.
The company introduced a stringent 8-point Battery Safety Check as part of a series of device and battery safety compatibility test protocols. Samsung claims its 8-point check is the most rigorous in the industry.
As cliché as it sounds, life does go on. And move on Samsung certainly did. For the most part, consumers (and especially Samsung fans) have been a forgiving lot. It also helped that since the Note7, Samsung rolled out some solid products. From the A series, to the Galaxy Tab S3, to the cutting-edge Galaxy S8 and S8+, the Korean tech giant delivered.
And sales numbers reflected this, too. The flagship Galaxy S8 pushed some 10 million units in the first two months of launch. While comparatively lower than S7 launch numbers, it’s still a sign that Samsung has completely turned around.
In Samsung’s shoes, I guess you’ll need to thank the fans and enthusiasts, who continue to support and stick with the brand despite the Note7’s premature doom. There’s an estimated tens of thousands of units of Note7s still lingering worldwide. Such love for a phone!
To be honest, it’s easy to love the Note. Thanks to its unique S Pen, powerful hardware and big screen, it continues to have a loyal fan base. In fact, according to Samsung market research, 85% of Note users say they’re proud to show of their Note and recommend it to friends, and 75% say it’s the best phone they’ve ever owned.
At the impressive New York launch, DJ Koh, president of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung thanked the Note community for supporting and inspiring the brand. He said, “They’ve been a constant inspiration to us and we designed the new Note for them.”
Biggest screen yet
At 6.3-inches, the Note8 has the biggest screen ever on a Note device. Thanks to its near bezel-less Infinity Display design, though, its footprint is smaller than expected. It’s slightly bigger than the S8+, and at 195g, noticeably heavier too. The display is what you’d expect from a Quad HD+ Super AMOLED (2960×1440 @ 521PPI), it’s bright, crisp, vibrant with support for HDR. And by the way, it retains the 18.5:9 screen ratio from the S8 and S8+.
Samsung retains the Edge panel, but has added something called App Pair, where you can create a custom pair of apps on the Edge. You can simultaneously launch two apps with ease.
A mightier pen
The S Pen hasn’t changed a whole lot, and is seemingly thinner and lighter. It has a finer tip, and improved pressure sensitivity compared to the Note5.
Samsung has introduced a couple of new tricks though—firstly, Live Messages. Yes, it’s Digital Touch on iMessage as you’ve seen on the iPhone, but with a twist. You can handwrite a message, or get creative on a photo, and send it to someone. The message will play back as you had written it, animated of course. The only difference with Apple’s implementation is that it saves your message as an animated GIF. So it’s easier to share across different platforms and devices.
In the much-loved Screen Off Memo mode, you can write up to 100 pages! Notes can be pinned to the Always On Display.
Another trick is with the Translate feature, invoked with the S Pen, you can instantly translate entire sentences into 71 languages.
Two eyes are better than one
Samsung had a winning camera with the Galaxy S7 edge and subsequently the Galaxy S8, setting the standard for smartphone cameras, especially in low-light performance.
With the Note8, Samsung goes one up. Literally. The Note8 has two 12MP rear cameras—one with a wide-angle lens and the other, a telephoto. The wide-angle boasts a 12MP Dual Pixel AF f/1.7 sensor, while the telephoto rocks a 12MP AF f/2.4 sensor that is capable of 2X optical zoom and up to 10X digital zoom.
What appears to be an industry first is the integration of Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) for both cameras.
The Note8 introduces a Live Focus feature that lets you control the depth of field of a photo. It allows you to adjust the bokeh effect in preview mode, and after you take the photo.
There’s also Dual Capture mode, where both rear cameras take two photos simultaneously—one from the telephoto, and the other wide-angle that shows the entire background.
On the front, it gets an 8MP f/1.7 Smart Auto Focus camera.
Under the hood, the Note8 rocks 6GB of RAM, an 10nm octa-core Exynos 8895 or Snapdragon 835 processor with 64GB/128GB/256GB of storage.
It’s offered in single or dual-SIM variants (region dependent) that supports two SIMs or one SIM and one microSD card.
The built-in battery is smaller than that of the S8+, rated at 3,300mAh. It supports wireless charging (WPC and PMA), as well as fast charging that’s compatible with QC 2.0.
Just like the S8, it features several biometric authentication methods including an iris scanner, fingerprint scanner, and facial recognition. The various authentication methods complement Samsung Knox, its defense-grade security.
For ultimate productivity, the Note8 supports Samsung DeX, a unique solution that gives you a desktop experience, powered by the Note8.
Let’s also not forget Bixby, Samsung’s intelligent personal assistant, that’s rolled out in 100 countries worldwide.
The flagship phablet runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat with TouchWiz on top.
Pricing and availability
The Galaxy Note8 will be available in retail channels from 15 September 2017, and will be offered in Midnight Black, Orchid Grey, Maple Gold and Deepsea Blue (region specific).
In Malaysia, Samsung has announced that you can pre-order from 5-10 September 2017. More details will be available soon from http://www.samsung.com/my/note8preorder.
No pricing has been revealed yet, although based on major telcos in the US, prices may start from USD950/MYR4,065.
So, what do you think of the Galaxy Note8?
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