Tech Guide has taken a hands-on look at Samsung’s new Galaxy Note8 smartphone – a worthy follow-up to the ill-fated Note7 – and we were immediately impressed with its versatility and power.
Last year’s Note7 was an excellent device and our review of the product reflected that feeling at the time.
Unfortunately for Samsung and its legion of a loyal users, it was plagued by defective batteries and turned a flagship product into a dangerous one.
We are really happy to see Samsung hasn’t given up on its Note smartphone – and the surprisingly high number of loyal Note users feel the same way.
According to Samsung, 85 per cent of Note customers love their device with three out of four Note users saying it’s the best phone they’ve ever owned.
“Samsung Note customers are among the most loyal we have, so we’re incredibly excited to introduce them to the most advanced smartphone Samsung has ever produced.” said Garry McGregor, Director, IT and Mobile, Samsung Electronics Australia.
The headline for the Note8 launch event was “Do Bigger Things” and that’s exactly what you can do with Samsung’s new smartphone.
The Samsung Galaxy Note8 looks a lot like the S8 but has squarer corners and a larger and wider Infinity Display.
It brings to the table the same design language that we saw with the S8 and S8+ with curved glass merging seamlessly to the edges.
Note8 is a sleek looking device that feels great in your hand.
The Infinity Display looks right at home on the Note but it’s slightly wider than the screen on the Galaxy S8.
This makes a lot of sense and those added millimetres of width gives users more room to write with the S Pen.
The screen is nothing short of stunning. We watched some HDR content and it looked amazing.
Being able to enjoy this sort of quality on the go is going to attract a lot of customers.
And the size of the screen gives you plenty of room to run two apps at once.
The major point of difference between the Note8 and the Galaxy S8 – apart from size – is the S Pen.
While writing on the screen is the main use for the S Pen, you can also use it to create Live Messages and to translate text one sentence at a time.
When writing on the screen, the Note8 was extremely responsive and was just like writing with a real pen on a piece of paper.
And now with 4,096 levels of pressure and a nib as thin as a real pen you can use it to write, draw and paint.
With the Note8 you can now create Live Messages. For example, you can write Happy Birthday in a bright sparkly letters and then record that animation as a GIF that can easily be shared.
What we really like is the Lock Screen Memo. When the device is locked, simply remove the S Pen and start writing on the black screen.
You might want to jot down a To-Do list or a shopping list or some random thought you don’t want to forget. And it can run for up to 100 pages – and all without needing to unlock the device.
Translation with the S Pen is also impressive. You simply nominate the language you want to translate (there’s up to 71 languages) and hover the S Pen over the sentence and you’ll see the translation. If there are amounts of money mentioned – like in an AirBnB listing – it will convert that to the appropriate currency as well.
If you want proof of the power of the Samsung Galaxy Note then plug it into a Samsung DEX with a monitor and keyboard attached.
It has two 64-bit 2.3GHz octa-core 10nm processors by the way, which gives it laptop like performance.
When connected the DEX, the Note8 is nothing short of incredible. We were able to play full screen games that looked like they belonged on a desktop PC as well as run several applications, play 4K YouTube videos and open documents – and we had to remind ourselves that this was all running off a smartphone.
Another big new feature is the 12-megapixal dual pixel camera which, for the first time on a Samsung mobile device, has two lenses.
This is a big move forward for the Note8 because both cameras – the telephotos lens and the wide-angle lens – have OIS (optical image stabillisation).
In a side by side test with an iPhone resting on a device that simulates movement like walking or riding in a car – the Note8’s image was noticeably sharper.
Taking depth of field shots is also possible and you can even adjust the level of background blur manually and preview it in real time and even adjust it afterwards after the picture is taken.
And a nifty feature called Dual Capture can take your depth of field shot and capture a wide shot of that scene at the same time.
The Note8 has biometric authentication including iris and fingerprint scanning.
The fingerprint scanner is on the same side of the device that it is with the Galaxy S8 but the Note8 has put the flash between the scanner and the lenses.
One thing we found with the S8 is we were always smudging the camera lens as we try to find the fingerprint scanner.
That won’t be a problem with the Note8.
Samsung has produced an extraordinary device with the Note8 and it’s all the more extraordinary when you remember that it rose from the ashes of the Note7 disaster.
* Stephen Fenech travelled to New York as a guest of Samsung