Samsung has finally unveiled the Galaxy Note8, revealing the (rather heavily-leaked) device at its Unpacked event in New York City opppll. You won’t be surprised to know that it comes with little in the way of surprises. It’s basically a bigger Galaxy S8+ with a stylus and dual cameras.
The Note8 is something of a chance for Samsung to make things up to fans of the Note series, after the Note7 was forced off shelves because of defective batteries that led to the smartphone catching fire. Knowing that Note fans were deprived of a generation of hardware, Samsung is likely eager to capitalize on the eagerness of said fanatics to finally upgrade.
The Note8 sports a 6.3″ Quad HD+ Super AMOLED display at an aspect ratio of 18.5:9. Branded as an Infinity Display like those on the S8 and S8+, the Note8’s screen has incredibly tiny bezels all around, giving it a striking and modern look. But the similarities don’t end there. The Note8 has the same processor (Snapdragon 835), same storage (64GB in the US), same IP68 rating, wireless charging, and same ports (USB-C, 3.5mm) as the S8. It runs basically the same TouchWiz software, albeit updated to Android 7.1.1. There are, of course, additions to the software for the stylus functions, as well as some in the camera department. Which brings us to the major hardware upgrade the Note8 offers over its S-siblings.
On the back of the Note8 are not one, but two cameras. One is very similar to the camera found on the S8 and S8+ – f/1.7 aperture, dual pixel autofocus, and optical image stabilization. There’s now a second sensor and lens, though. This telephoto camera offers an effective 2x optical zoom ideal for shooting portraits or getting a bit closer to your subject. It has an aperture of f/2.4, autofocus of an undescribed typed, OIS, and the same 12MP resolution. You’ll be able to easily switch between the cameras in the app
|Samsung Galaxy Note 8||Column1|
|Display||6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity|
|2960 x 1440 resolution|
|18.5:9 aspect ratio|
|Processor||US: 64-bit octa-core (2.35 GHz Quad + 1.9 GHz Quad) Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 10 nm processor|
|Global: 64-bit octa-core (2.3 GHz Quad + 1.7 GHz Quad) Samsung Exynos 8895, 10 nm processor|
|MicroSD expansion up to 256 GB|
|– Main: 12 MP wide-angle AF Dual Pixel sensor with ƒ/1.7 aperture, OIS|
|– 12 MP telephoto AF sensor with ƒ/2.4 aperture, OIS|
|– 8 MP AF sensor with ƒ/1.7 aperture|
|Fast charging on wired and wireless|
|WPC and PMA wireless charging|
|Water resistance||IP68 dust and water resistance|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5 GHz)|
|Bluetooth v5.0 (LE up to 2 Mbps)|
|Location: GPS, Galileo, Glonass, BeiDou|
|Heart Rate Sensor|
|RGB Light Sensor|
|Software||Android 7.1.1 Nougat|
|Dimensions and weight||162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm|
What’s to be done with the Note?
Will there be a Galaxy Note9? Probably. A Note10? I’d even say that seems kind of likely. But I have a strong feeling we’re about to watch the Note brand undergo a shift – from being the hard-charging, boundary-pushing, feature-stuffing king of the Samsung hill to something a bit more lifestyle-oriented. The Note8’s own keynote made that obvious: Samsung must have used the phrase “Note lovers” fifty times. The idea that the Galaxy Note is a device for a particularly loyal Samsung customer, who wants what the very top of the line Samsung phone has to offer (the most X, the best Y, and… a stylus).
The Note as the phone for those in the know, though, seems to be on the way out. There are lots of big smartphones out there, and some of them arguably do a better job catering to an enthusiast audience. The Note8 may very well be an excellent smartphone, but it hardly stands alone – something that could more easily be asserted of Notes several years ago, when big, premium phones simply weren’t very common. Most importantly, the Note doesn’t even stand alone in Samsung’s own portfolio of big, premium phones. The S8+ beat it to the punch by five months.
So, yes: if you’re a smartphone enthusiast feeling particularly unexcited by the Note8, you’re not alone. Samsung’s clearly begun to focus the core of its technical advancements around the Galaxy S phones, leaving the Note more as an afterthought, a premium branding exercise. And given that’s meant the S phones have become more Note-like in some respects, I’d argue that’s not especially a bad thing.