Galaxy Note 8 Review Roundup: What Critics Love and Hate

Starting at $930, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 offers a top-tier Android experience for a premium price, including a huge 6.3-inch screen, dual cameras and several S Pen improvements. But is it worth the price? And is it better than the Galaxy S8?

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Available in midnight black and orchid gray, the Galaxy Note 8 sports a colorful, 6.3-inch Infinity display; a fast Snapdragon 835 processor and 6GB of RAM. Unlike prior Samsung phones, the Galaxy Note 8 ups the ante with dual cameras that can compete with the iPhone 7 Plus. Though the Note 8 sports an awkwardly placed fingerprint scanner, reviewers generally have positive things to say about this handset.

Here's what critics are saying around the web.

Tom's Guide

"The Note 8 ushers in a new class of smartphones that is super-premium."

Tom's Guide's Mark Spoonauer tested the Galaxy Note 8 and found it to be an excellent addition to Samsung’s Galaxy lineup. With a larger-than-life screen, new S pen tricks and innovative multitasking, Spoonauer said the Note 8 is worth the additional $80 to $100 compared to the Galaxy S8.

The Note 8’s all new dual cameras took “amazing photos,” while its battery, performance and graphics all earned high benchmarks. Though Bixby isn’t the best AI assistant out there, it still responds to simple voice commands to save you from monotonous taps. Spoonauer did find fault with the awkwardly located fingerprint sensor.

The Good

“Samsung isn't just playing catch-up with the dual cameras on the Note 8. It has leaped ahead of the iPhone — at least for now.”

“The Note 8 also offers more RAM than the Galaxy S8 and S8+, as well as a smart new way to multitask.”

“As with the Galaxy S8, the Note 8 is water-resistant. It's also pretty tough; I accidentally stepped on the screen, and it didn't crack.”

The Bad

“The fingerprint sensor is located in an awkward spot, and the Live Message feature (as novel as it is) doesn't always work the way it should.”

“I do wish Samsung would offer more color options in the U.S. to make this phone truly pop.”

Ars Technica

“It's the same device, with just a few tweaks here and there.”

Ars Technica's Ron Amadeo took the Galaxy Note 8 for a spin and found it had a few kinks. Like other reviewers, Amadeo disliked Samsung’s placement for the fingerprint reader, and posed a question for the Note 8’s engineers, “If the launches are so close together that you can't do anything about the Galaxy S8's biggest flaw, why are you bothering?”

Credit: Ars Technica

(Image credit: Ars Technica)

Authentication features aside, Amadeo wrote that the Note 8 is a decent phone, but that’s because it seems to be a rehash of the Galaxy S8. The Note 8 has a beautiful display, sleek design and speedy processor, while the S pen has improved functionality, however, he wished it was made out of a sturdier material, since the phone costs over $900.

The Good

“The on-screen buttons are a great change, allowing you to change the default ‘Samsung order’ to a button order that matches the rest of the Android ecosystem.”

“Like past Note devices, the S-Pen stylus is here and works like it always has. Writing is fast, fluid, and pressure sensitive, without a hint of lag.”

The Bad

“Samsung's earlier flagship for 2017, the Galaxy S8—specifically the Galaxy S8+—is so close to the Note 8 I'm not sure why anyone would wait the five months of lag time between the two devices.”

“All the bad stuff is here, too. The body is entirely glass, making any single drop a heart-stopping affair and making the whole phone a fingerprint magnet.”

CNET

“The Galaxy Note 8 retakes the throne as the ultimate Android phone for now, but some intense competition is just over the horizon.”

Jessica Dolcourt from CNET said the Galaxy Note 8 is the best smartphone Samsung has produced so far. Though the Note 8 is pricey, it’s well worth it if users can implement the S pen into their daily lives. Other than that, Dolcourt said consumers should wait and see what Samsung’s competitors have to offer, since the Note 8 isn’t the only dual camera phone on the market.

Credit: CNET

(Image credit: CNET)

Dolcourt found the Note 8 to have a sharp and feature packed camera, as well as a longer lasting battery compared to the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. Dolcourt also noted the Note 8’s Live Message feature was fun to use and allowed her to send customized GIFs with a few strokes from the S pen.

The Good

“Everyone who saw me whip out the Note to write down numerous Starbucks orders on the lock screen, create cute animated GIFs of our silly photos, and take depth-effect portraits of wedding guests in their finest was immediately impressed.”

“You can adjust the blur intensity before you take the photo, and even afterwards in edit mode, which is a great feature.”

The Bad

“It largely merges the Note 7 with the S8 and S8 Plus. The upshot: It's really good, but feels rehashed instead of truly fresh. Samsung played it safe.”

“With sharp detail and Samsung's standard color reproduction that's so vibrant, (the camera) borders on gaudy. Low-light and night shots can look brighter than you'd expect them to be; not entirely natural.”

The Verge

“The Note used to be the best and only truly great big phone. Now it has company.” — Dan Seifert, The Verge

The Verge's Dan Seifert wasn’t as impressed with the Galaxy Note 8. In particular, Seifert was disappointed by the quality from the secondary camera. Though Seifert expressed skepticism over whether the Note 8 is better than the Galaxy S8, he did admit Samsung’s new model is a top performer.

Credit: The Verge

(Image credit: The Verge)

With a vibrant display, speedy performance and and a reliable battery, Seifert said Galaxy Note fans will be pleased with the Note 8. However, he questioned whether non-Samsung diehards can be satisfied with all the Note 8 has to offer considering its expensive price.

The Good

“If you’re an S Pen diehard, this is the phone you’ve been waiting for, the one that can finally replace that creaky old Galaxy Note 5. You’ll like almost everything about the Note 8.”

“Samsung shrunk the battery capacity in the Note 8 compared to last year’s Note 7. This time it has a 3,300mAh battery that supports both fast wired and wireless charging. That’s a little smaller than the 3,500mAh cell in the S8 Plus, but in practical terms, the two phones have similar endurance.”

The Bad

“It’s almost impossible to use in one hand and it doesn’t fit comfortably in any of my pants pockets.”

“The Note 8 is one of the most expensive phones you can buy, starting at $930 for a model with 64GB of storage.”

Time

“The Note's larger screens have made it the go-to mobile for fans of phablets: devices that straddle the ergonomic turf between a phone and tablet.” — Lisa Eadicicco, Time

Credit: Samsung

(Image credit: Samsung)

However, the Note 8’s dual cameras are the game changers that separate it from the previous Samsung phones. The Note 8’s camera offers more controls in Live Focus, such as setting the desired level of blurriness in the background for cinematographic effect. Though captured images were sharp and colorful, Eadicicco found the Note 8 did struggle with indoor lighting conditions.

The Good

“With its dazzling screen, long battery life and useful productivity features, Samsung's Note 8 is a top-notch smartphone.”

“The Note 8's crown jewel, and the one that distinguishes it from the Galaxy S8+, is its new camera. The phone comes with a dual camera setup that includes a wide angle and telephoto lens, each with 12-megapixel sensors and optical image stabilization.”

The Bad

“Live Focus camera isn't as good as Apple's Portrait Mode, facial recognition is unreliable, not significantly different than Galaxy S8 and S8+ though more expensive.”

“Bixby's potential seems to be more as a multitasking time-saver, since Samsung focused on making it a faster means of navigating your phone, not an all-encompassing virtual butler. This all hinges on third-party app compatibility, of course, which remains a work-in-progress.”