The Galaxy Note 8 is the most powerful phone from Samsung that you can buy today. On the face of it, the phone combines the best of available hardware, offers an innovative design pushed to the limits, comes with a capacitive stylus, and has the highest rated dual camera system on a phone.
But how was the experience of living with the Note 8? Does all the hardware and software prowess add up to a meaningful experience that justifies its high-end price? Let’s try and answer that in our Galaxy Note 8 review.
Key Specifications of Samsung Galaxy Note 8:
|Model||Samsung Galaxy Note 8|
|Display||6.3-inch, QHD+, 18.5:9 Infinity display, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection|
|Processor||2.3GHz octa-core Exynos 8895 processor|
|Camera||12MP + 12MP, dual OIS, 2X Zoom, 4K video, f/1.7 aperture
8MP front cameras, f/1.7 aperture
|Internal Memory||64GB, Expandable up to 256GB|
|Dimensions and Weight||162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm and 195 grams|
|Software||Android 7.1 Nougat OS with Experience UI|
Design and Build
The Galaxy Note 8 includes an 18.5:9 QHD+ Infinity display that’s 6.3-inches in size and HDR 10 compliant. The Infinity display runs edge to edge and is flanked by minimal bezels on top and bottom, thus pushing the screen to body ratio all the way up to 83.3 percent.
The phone has Gorilla Glass 5 on front and rear and a color matched metal side frame running along the edges. Surprisingly, Samsung has managed to fit in an S Pen and Audio jack without compromising on the aesthetics. And the phone is also IP68 water and dust resistant certified.
The phone is, however, thicker and heavier than you’d expect. All the tech pushes the weight to 195 grams and thickness to 8.6 grams. At the same time, we got used to its heft in no time. The Note series phones aren’t meant to be compact, slim and dainty and thus, Note 8’s substantial heft isn’t a deal breaker by any yardstick.
The dual camera system has been implemented without any sort of camera bump. The only downside of the design is the fingerprint sensor placement. Samsung has chosen form over function here. The sensor doesn’t look mismatched and fits well in the overall design but it’s no longer easily accessible.
Samsung makes the finest AMOLED display panels, something that’s even more apparent in the light of Google Pixel 2 XL and LG V30 display fiasco.
The Galaxy Note 8 features one of the best smartphone displays as of today. It’s super bright, vibrant, and light on eyes. From settings, you can choose between different color pre-sets based on your individual preferences. All in all, an excellent quality display.
Performance and software
The Galaxy Note 8, in India, is powered by 2.3GHz Exynos 8895 octa-core processor paired with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage. We didn’t hit any performance snag on the device even with multitudes of experimental apps installed.
Also, the S8+ also has the same chipset but the performance we are getting on the Note 8 feels more refined and smooth.
The handset is running Android Nougat based Experience UI, which is also the Software you can experience on several other Samsung phones launched this year.
What makes the Note 8 experience unique is the S Pen. Using it, you can take notes even on the lock screen, translate text, write on the screen (shots) or simply have fun with the coloring book. Users will have polarized opinion on the S Pen, while for most it would be a frivolous plastic stick that they will rarely unplug, others (particularly people who use their phones for professional purposes) might find it to be a solid productivity tool.
The fingerprint sensor on the phone is fast and accurate but, as mentioned above, it’s not very accessible. The alternate unlocks options are Iris scanner (that works in the dark as well) and face recognition (which is convenient but not very secure). Neither of the two is flawless and you will still be compromising.
Call quality is excellent on the phone. Jio SIM cards work well on both SIM slots.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has two 12MP rear cameras each with OIS. The extra shooter uses a telephoto lens for 2X Zoom. The Note 8 has the best Zoom camera that we have seen so far. The rear camera performance is excellent even indoors in low lighting.
Using Live focus, you can also shoot images with real-time bokeh effects (same as portrait mode) and the quality of the bokeh is very good. The 8MP selfie camera has AF and can shoot awesome selfies even in low light. This is still one of the best smartphone cameras available around. We are really impressed with the back camera of Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
Bixby and Audio
The Bixby voice assistant now understands voice commands. It is still not very competent at understanding Indian accents and names, but Samsung’s approach is still worth being excited about. The best part is the deep integration of Bixby with Samsung’s hardware.
For instance, you need to change the Always-on display type but aren’t sure where to find the option in the settings menu, just press the Bixby Key and ask the voice assistant to ‘Open Always On display settings’. Bixby has full control of phone’s hardware and it can even execute complex commands.
Samsung has also improved the audio of the phone compared to the Galaxy S8 and S8+. The loudspeaker is loud and audio output is very clear. Audio via headphones is excellent too. Samsung also bundles good quality AKG headphones in the box.
Battery, Price, and Verdict
The 3300mAh battery on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 can last a day of moderate usage, but not more. You can extend your mileage by making mild compromises like dialing back display resolution and turning off always on display or resort to mid-day charging. Fast charging and wireless charging are supported.
Priced at Rs. 67,000, the Note 8 is cheaper than contemporary flagships like iPhone X and Pixel 2 XL and can offer the same grade of premium flagship experience. If you don’t mind a big phone, you can very well go with the Galaxy Note 8. If you are undecided between the Galaxy Note 8 and Samsung Galaxy S8+, the Note 8 certainly has more to offer but if you are a normal user and does not want to use S-pen you might as well opt for the Galaxy S8+ to save some money.