Nearly a year since the Samsung Galaxy Note7 gained unprecedented notoriety for bursting into flames spontaneously and being banned from airplanes, Samsung is back with its successor unsurprisingly called the Galaxy Note8.

Two things I learned are that there’s a fervent Galaxy Note fanbase and that Samsung is big enough a company to persist on product releases under a tainted brand name.

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 has been released at an inopportune time. Not only does it follow the remarkable Galaxy S8 and S8+—which are cheaper, offer the same Infinity Display, and many similar features—it comes out a few weeks before the new iPhone 8 is launched. This gives the Note8 very little time in the tech limelight. Thankfully, it brings a lot of key features users will appreciate.

Power. This is Samsung’s most powerful smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core (2.35GHz Quad + 1.9GHz Quad) 10nm processor and 6GB of RAM.

Light and bright. There are 12-megapixel dual cameras with a wide-angle and telephoto combo, as well as an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with a wide f/1.7 aperture. The camera combination is amazing and takes truly notable photos in bright conditions.

The most captivating aspect of the Note8 has been the camera performance. Not only does it take very accurate and detailed photos, the implementation of the “Live Focus” feature, which uses computational photography to blur the background and create a “bokeh” effect, is very impressive.

I have also become a fan of Samsung’s camera software, which gives a wide range of control and can match the range of many standalone cameras. My only complaint is that it seems the smartphone industry has been stuck at 12 megapixels for some time now.

Explosions not allowed. The battery is smaller at 3,300mAh. On the bright side, this fast charging battery has been designed not to explode. The Note8 also features water and dust resistance with an IP68 rating.

Slim and sexy. Because the Note8 has appropriated (and actually refined) the Galaxy S8’s curved lines and Infinity Display, it is actually a slim and tall 6.3-inch Quad HD+ (2,960 x 1,440 resolution) display that’s easily the best Samsung has produced.

The pen returns. Being a Note device, the S Pen stylus is also available and has improved sensitivity and functionality.

Enter the ecosystem. Many of the ecosystem plays from the Galaxy line work here. The DeX dock, which turns the Note8 into a pseudo PC (running Android on a large screen), works. The new Gear VR headsets are also compatible with the Note8, giving it a leg up for more serious content creation and VR and AR applications.

Pricier than pricey. The Note8 is also the most expensive smartphone Samsung’s ever put on the market. Granted, it is a premium device, with many delightful features, it costs more than many Ultrabooks or premium tablets. This is the price of admission for one of the most impressive technology products released this year.

VERDICT

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Note8 is the premium phablet users deserve. It brings the new Samsung design aesthetic to a larger form factor and is really the only stylus-focused smartphone in the market right now.

Samsung has proven that it can rebound and rise from the ashes of bad publicity and the infamy of a failed product with a premium successor that successfully combines all its best technologies.

Specifications
Display 6.3″ Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen (2,960 x 1,440 resolution)
Operating System Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core
Memory 6GB of RAM
Storage Up to 256GB
Camera Dual 12MP (26mm, f/1.7, PDAF & 52mm, f/2.4, AF) rear w/ OIS, autofocus, 2x optical zoom, dual-LED (dual tone) flash, video up to 2160p@30fps; 8MP front w/ f/1.7, autofocus, 1/3.6” sensor size, 1.22μm pixel size, video up to 1440p@30fps, dual video call, Auto HDR
Connectivity & I/O Ports Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot; Bluetooth 5.1, A2DP, EDR, LE; GPS w/ A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO; NFC; USB Type-C, USB 3.1
Security Iris scanner, rear-mounted fingerprint sensor
Battery Non-removable Li-ion 3,300mAh
Dimensions and Weight 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6mm, 195g
Price P49,990
Test: Samsung Galaxy Note8: phoenix rising
Form Factor9.7
Build Quality9.7
Ease of Use9.8
Performance10
Value for Money6.5
9.1Overall Score