Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8, the follow-up to the Note 7, or as it’s more commonly called, one of the worst public relations disasters in the history of consumer electronics, is finally here. And it’s quite the encore.
Not only has the handset been completely redesigned from the Note 7, but it’s also got a larger display and, more importantly, a new dual-lens rear camera designed specifically to take on Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus.
But the Note 8 looks to have some stiff competition in Apple’s (AAPL) upcoming iPhone 8. Samsung’s handset, however, offers plenty of appealing features including a gorgeous display, impressive performance and, best of all, a battery Samsung says won’t explode. It’s certainly a fantastic smartphone, but might not be for everyone, especially if you don’t want to spend nearly $1,000.
Copy and paste
The Galaxy Note 8 takes nearly all of its design cues from Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. The handset is a sleek, rectangular piece of aluminum and glass with sharper edges than the S8 and S8 Plus. But beyond that, the three phones are all incredibly similar.
In fact, the Note 8 and S8 Plus, in particular, look nearly identical. That’s because of the Note 8 sports a 6.3-inch display, while the S8 Plus packs a 6.2-inch panel. That’s a bit odd since Samsung has always used the Note brand’s extra large screens to differentiate it from its Galaxy line of handsets.
I’ve got both the Note 8 and S8 Plus at my desk and frequently confuse the two. That won’t be a problem for most people, obviously, but it does mean consumers will question why they need to buy one phone over the other if they’re just looking for a big screen.
That said, the Note 8’s Super AMOLED Infinite Display with its wraparound edges is as gorgeous as a smartphone screen can get. Colors are bright and vivid and blacks are almost as deep as the phone’s bezel, making for a nearly seamless viewing experience.
S Pen stylus
Beyond its huge display, Samsung uses the Note 8’s stylus to help its handset stand out from the pack. With the S8 Plus and the Note 8 so close in size, Samsung is leaning more heavily on the S Pen stylus to push the phone.
As with the Note 7, the Note 8’s stylus allows you to take on-screen notes without turning on the phone’s display, by simply removing the pen from its holder while the screen is off.
But rather than letting you take just one page of notes, Samsung now lets you take 100. That’s pretty helpful if you’re the type of person who needs to write things down to remember them 10 minutes later. (Like me.)
So if the Note 8’s display size isn’t unique anymore, and the S Pen stylus doesn’t quite do it for everyone, what’s the phone’s biggest selling point? How about its dual-lens camera? Yes, like Apple, Motorola, Essential and others, Samsung has slapped an extra lens on its smartphone.
But unlike Essential and Motorola, which use their secondary camera to capture black and white images in addition to color for improved contrast, Samsung, like Apple, uses its second lens for optical zoom.