Samsung would like you to forget all about last year's Note 7 debacle, and the Galaxy Note 8 unveiled today (August 23) goes a long toward re-establishing the Note name as the go-to phone for power users.
The Note 8 adopts the extra-wide display of the Galaxy S8 while also adding a few under-the-hood improvements that should appeal to the Note's core audience of productivity mavens.
You can pre-order the Note 8 starting Aug. 24, and if you buy before Sept. 24, you'll get your choice of a free Samsung Gear 360 Camera or a Galaxy foundation kit that includes a 128GB memory card and an accessory that supports fast wireless charging. Be prepared to set aside a large chunk of change for the Note 8, hits stores on Sept. 15: T-Mobile is selling the phone for $930, while Verizon lists the Note 8 at $960. Pricing at other carriers will likely fall in that range.
Here are the final specs you can expect to see once the phone arrives.
Galaxy Note 8 Specs
|Screen Size (Resolution)||6.3 inches (2960 x 1440) |
|Pixels Per Inch||521|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835|
|microSD||Up to 256GB|
|Water Resistance||IP68 (5 feet/30 minutes)|
|Front Camera||8MP f/1.7|
|Rear Cameras||12MP f/1.7 wide angle; 12MP f/2.4 telephoto (2x zoom)|
|Size||6.4 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches|
|Colors||Midnight Black, Orchid Gray|
|Price||$930 to $960, depending on carrier|
|Availability||Preorders start August 24; phone arrives in stores Sept. 15|
Screen Size and Resolution
The Note used to be the big bruiser among Samsung's phones, but the arrival of the 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+ means there's more than one big-screen Samsung phone to choose from these days. The Note 8 is still the largest phone in Samsung's arsenal, but only marginally so. It offers a 6.3-inch display that stretches from one edge of the phone to the other.
That's a Super AMOLED display on the Note 8 with Quad HD+ resolution (2960 x 1440). That's the same resolution you'll find on both the Galaxy S8 and S8+ which, because of their slightly smaller screens, pack in more pixels per inch at 570 and 529 ppi, respectively. The Note 8 features 521 ppi.
Design and Colors
The Note 8 takes another cue from the S8 lineup here, and it's a welcome one. Rather than expanding the width of the phone to accommodate the Note 8's larger screen, Samsung merely extended the device. The Note 8 measures 6.4 x 2.9 x 0.33 inches, making it slightly taller and thicker than the ill-fated 6.04 x 2.9 x 0.31-inch Note 7, but just as wide. That makes it easier to operate the Note 8 with one hand, even with the extended screen.
MORE: Galaxy Note 8 Hands-On
If you managed to get your hands on a Note 7 during its brief time on the market, expect some added weight with the Note 8. Last year's Note weighed in at 5.96 ounces, while the Note 8 tips the scales at 6.9 ounces.
You'll have limited color options for the Note 8 initially. Both carrier-locked and unlocked versions of the new phone will come in either Midnight Black or Orchid Gray. Samsung is also making gold and blue versions of the Note 8, which will likely arrive in the U.S. later on if history is anything to go by.
Here's where the Note 8 really departs from the Galaxy lineup — and every Samsung phone. The Note 8 adds dual rear cameras, the first time you'll find that feature on a Samsung flagship device.
Both rear cameras feature 12-megapixel sensors. The wide-angle lens offers an f/1.7 aperture, while the telephoto lens has an f/2.4 aperture. That telephoto lens is capable of providing a 2X optical zoom, which is identical to what the iPhone 7 Plus offers. Both of the Note 8's rear cameras feature optical image stabilization, while the iPhone 7 Plus has only one OIS camera on back.
In addition to a better zoom feature, the dual-camera setup on the Note 8 allows you to add some photo effects on portrait shots, where you'll be able to blur the background for a more artistic focus on your subject. The Note 8 lets you adjust the amount of blur both before and after you take the shot. Other features enabled by the dual camera include a dual-capture mode that simultaneously takes a zoomed-in photo alongside a wide-angle shot.
Up front, you'll get an 8-MP selfie cam with an f/1.7 aperture. That matches the front camera on the S8 lineup while improving upon the 5-MP front shooter from the Note 7.
CPU, RAM and Storage
Samsung really isn't talking up the processor for the Note 8, but for phones sold in the U.S., it'll be a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 powering the device. That's the same mobile CPU inside the Galaxy S8, as well as some other leading Android phones like the OnePlus 5 and the HTC U11.
The Note 8 looks to add more processing oomph via RAM. The new phone offers 6GB of memory, compared to 4GB in the S8 and S8+. That's also a bump from the 4GB of RAM included with last year's Note 7.
Like the S8, the Note 8 will start out with 64G of on-board storage. You're able to add up to 256GB of storage via a microSD card, which should satisfy users who like to cram everything onto their phone.
The S Pen stylus remains one of the Note lineup's big productivity boosters, and the Note 8 adds to its bag of tricks. In previous iterations, the S Pen could take down notes without you even having to unlock your phone. The Note 8 ups the ante on this Screen Off Memo feature by letting you save up to 100 pages of notes. A Live Messages feature turns your handwritten messages into animated GIFs.
The S Pen's language skills have improved, too. Hover the pen over text, and you can now translate entire sentences as well as words. The S Pen's Translate feature supports 71 languages and also pulls off currency and unit conversions.
Taking advantage of the Note 8's big screen, an App Pair feature lets you link together two apps so that they'll launch simultaneously. The feature should appeal to multitaskers who want to write messages or emails while watching a video or calling into a conference.
As for the phone itself, the Note 8's IP68 rating means it can take a plunge into water — it will survive in up to 5 feet of water for 30 minutes, as well the S Pen. The Note 8 also supports iris scanning to unlock the phone, and it will work with Samsung's DeX accessory, a $150 dock that lets you use your phone as a portable computer. Samsung introduced the DeX with the Galaxy S8, but it seems a better fit for the Note 8's power-using core audience.
Battery Life and Charging
Given the troubles the Note 7 had with its battery, you can expect the power pack in the Note 8 to come under extra scrutiny. The Note 8 features a 3,300 mAh battery, a downgrade from the 3,500 mAh battery that caused the Note 7 so much trouble.
We won't know what impact that smaller power pack will have on the Note 8's battery life until we get a chance to test the phone. But the Galaxy S8+ and its 3,500 mAh battery lasted a shade over 11 hours on our battery test, making it one of the longer-lasting phones we've tested. We'll see how the smaller battery and slightly bigger screen on the Note 8 impacts that battery life.
You'll be able to wireless charge the Note 8, as it's compatible with both the WPC and PMA standards. The phone also supports fast charging if you've got an Adaptive Fast Charging (AFC) or Quick Charge 2.0-compatible charger.