Following the fiasco of the Samsung Galaxy Note7, the South Korean company is officially launching its successor with hopes of keeping its loyal fan base and attract new Note users.
But what’s new this time around? What would make people want to give it a second chance? Samsung is packing in a (slightly) bigger display and a dual-camera setup. When we say slightly bigger, it is just a smidgen bigger than the Galaxy S8+ at 6.3 inches (compared to the 6.2 inches on the S8+). The Note8 also becomes the first Samsung device to have a dual-camera setup.
Before we get into that, let’s talk a bit about design. From the front, you can’t really distinguish it much from the S8 and S8+, it does look boxier and flatter around the edges. The curve is still there but it isn’t as rounded, perhaps with the thinking of making it easier for users to write with the trusty S Pen.
From the back, you see the dual cameras and, unfortunately, Samsung is sticking with placing the fingerprint sensor beside the flash (at least it’s farther from the camera sensors). Its 6.3-inch display is a Quad HD+ Super AMOLED screen with 2,960 x 1,440 resolution and an 18.5:9 aspect ratio.
Under the hood, Samsung is packing in a Samsung Exynos 8895 processor or Qualcomm Snapdragon 835. We’ll most likely get the Exynos version as the Qualcomm one will be released in the US. Storage is at 64GB with up to 256GB via microSD expansion (Samsung seems to be proud enough of this to announce it during the event). You also get 6GB RAM and a more conservative 3,300mAh battery, still with wireless and fast charging capabilities. Samsung promises they’ve followed the new rigid battery tests they do for their devices.
The Note8 will run on Android 7.1.1 Nougat but we do expect it to update to Android 8.0 Oreo. It is also still IP68 water- and dust-resistant and has USB Type-C. And as Samsung takes a shot at manufacturers who’ve taken out the 3.5mm headphone jack, the audio port is still on the Note8.
But now let’s get to the good stuff: the new features and what they offer.
Samsung has finally gotten on the dual camera bandwagon. They equip the Note8 with a 12-megapixel wide-angle sensor with f/1.7 aperture and 12-megapixel TelePhoto sensor with f/2.4 aperture. Samsung is boasting that this is the first smartphone to feature dual optical image stabilization (OIS) and comes with some new nifty features.
One is Live Focus, which is Samsung’s take on portrait mode of sorts. It’ll let you adjust the blur on the background of a subject while you’re taking the shot and then it’ll also let you adjust the blur after you take the photo.
Another is Dual Capture, this mode stitches together photos from both rear cameras and save them so you can decide which one you’d like to share.
While the S Pen isn’t new, it is the most distinguishing part of the Note. That’s why Samsung tweaked it a bit to give you a bit more use out of it. Samsung says the S Pen now comes with a finer tip and greater pressure sensitivity. Its screen off memo will also now let you write while the display is off for up to 100 pages.
With the S Pen, Samsung is introducing Live Message, which lets you write out little notes for people. The phone will save these as GIFs that you can send to others.
The S Pen can also now be used to translate text and make currency conversions on the fly.
Samsung’s own virtual assistant gets a bit smarter this time around, too. Bixby gets Quick Commands, which we understand will let you preset a keyword or keywords to have the phone do specific actions without your interference. The example at the event was about taking food photos. Once you say the keyword, the phone will head to the camera app, take the photo in its appropriate mode, head to the gallery and even put it in the appropriate album. Bixby is also getting Spotify integration later this year.
While split screen is still there, Samsung is introducing a new, easier way to activate this. The company is enabling what it calls App Pair, which creates a shortcut in Apps Edge so you can launch the pair of apps simultaneously in split screen with just a tap of the icon.
Color variants & availability
There are four colors announced at the Unpacked event in New York: Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Maple Gold, and Deep Sea Blue. We will find out later today which ones will be coming here. And more importantly, how much and when pre-orders and sales of the Note 8 will start. Samsung gave a September 15th release in the US, whether that’s the same here we’ll find out later. Carrier price in America start at US$930 (around P47,500), making it one of the more pricier Samsung devices. Will it be worth it? That’s something we’re going to find out soon. (Actually, we already have the details about that here.)
Here’s a link to the live stream earlier: