We don’t usually review phones, but when we do, we make sure they’re huge. A 6.3 inch smartphone sounds closer to a tablet than a handset, so it’s well worth our time. Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is one such machine, the logical evolution from the Galaxy S8+ and the Note 7. It came last month, during a special event in New York and we also offered you some hands on time with the device. Now it gets unboxed and you can get it for $950.
Available in blue, gold or black, the handset came to us in an elegant black box. We have the dual SIM, 64 GB storage, Exynos version of the handset, in black. Inside the box we find the AKG tuned headphones and plugs for them, the Adaptive Fast Charge capable charger, an USB Type-C cable, manual, a metal key for the slots and S-Pen nibs and a tool to remove them.
There’s also a set of adapters: USB Type-C to full USB and USB Type-C to microUSB, that you’ll rely on to transfer data from an older device. Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is all glass and metal, with a curved glass panel at the front and one at the back, plus a metal frame sandwiched between them. It’s water and dust resilient, within the IP68 standard and it all weighs a hefty 195 grams, 22 grams more than the Galaxy S8.
The weight is smartly distributed, so you won’t feel it. Also, the handset is narrow enough to fit your palm and at no point you’ll feel that you’re wielding a phone that’s 0.7 inches away from being a tablet. The Infinity Display also helps with its very narrow bezels and curved edges. The screen offers HDR10 support, a QHD+ resolution and Gorilla Glass 5 protection. It also has Always On functionality and lets you write on it with the stylus even in standby mode.
Note 8 has 6 GB of RAM inside, a Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 processor and 64, 128 or 256 GB of storage, plus microSD card slot. Its biggest novelty is the dual back camera, with two 12 MP sensors, capable of optical stabilization (both of them), 2X optical zoom and Bokeh. The aperture is F/1.7 and we also get an LED flash. I’ve seen the camera in action and enjoyed its fast focus, great filming and stabilization, plus the refocus for both the front and back shooter. Right next to the back cam there’s the fingerprint scanner and pulse sensor.
Aside from prints you’ll be using the iris and face recognition to unlock the device. Specs end with an 8 MP back camera and 3300 mAh battery. We also get an S-Pen stylus, new generation, now resilient to water and providing 4096 levels of pressure. It has a clickable end, its own button and triggers an Air Command palette, with new features like Live Message, Bixby Vision and Translate, in 30 languages now.
Live Message lets you write on top of photos and then animate the writing. Of course, you can draw, scribble and take notes using this very same accessory. Bixby gets its own button and should be activated from the starts, so there’s no need to wait on it any longer. The Galaxy Note 8 has the “luck” of having a canned Note 7 before it and thus it feels like a really big upgrade from the Note 5 from two years ago.
From the Galaxy S8? Not that much, at least in the core hardware, but the camera and S-Pen may be deciding factors if you come from an iPhone or a last gen Android flagship. We’ll be back with a full review soon. In the meantime you can get the phone here.