One year ago around this time of year, Samsung had no clue what they’d be in for. The Galaxy Note 7 massacre was arguably the worst series of events to ever take place in the smartphone industry, at least in all my years of doing this. 2016 was not only one of the worst years of the South Korean giant’s history, but in all of the Android ecosystem so we like to call it here on Droid Turf. This year, during Unpacked 17 in NYC, Samsung unveiled the much-anticipated Galaxy Note 8, which in our mind is the successor to last year’s recalled Galaxy Note 7. Whether it will do more good than bad for the company is still a question that will be answered this fall.
The Galaxy Note is what pioneered the phablet category. It’s the reason why smartphones nowadays are getting only bigger. Since the very beginning, the Galaxy Note series has brought industry firsts, and this year, the all-new Galaxy Note 8 brings a radical change is design unlike anything we’ve ever seen with past iteration Galaxy Note devices. Samsung has taken a bold stance and we think you’re going to like it, in fact, it’d surprise us if you don’t.
Despite the thinking that Samsung would ditch the Galaxy Note moniker after all the implications it had on people, the environment and the company’s own brand image last year, Samsung has gone ahead with the announcement of a new model for 2017. Each year, fans and power users around the globe look forward to a new Galaxy Note thanks to its proven evidence to be one the most influential.
Thanks to a bunch of leaks, rumors and reports, most of us got an idea of what to expect from this new model before the annual showcase began. However, Samsung did leave some nice surprises. Here’s a full roundup that should answer all if not most of your questions about Samsung’s “Next big thing,” the Galaxy Note 8.
As some of you probably know, Samsung has had quite the turnaround from 2016. The company’s stock hit new heights, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ became the hottest selling Android devices ever made, and Samsung’s reported results for Q1 and Q2 saw record gains in revenue and profits. The same can not be said about other Android manufacturers who have expressed continuing struggles into 2017. To change the minds of hesitant Galaxy customers, Samsung has gone above and beyond with this year’s Galaxy Note 8 to ensure that history won’t repeat itself. Galaxy Note 8 is certified using a new eight-point battery safety check, an added manufacturing process first implemented with Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. And as usual, Samsung has compromised this year’s Galaxy Note in no way, to make sure that every user has just what they have been looking for. Whether the phone will live up to all of our expectations will untimely come down to our full review.
If you thought Samsung was done innovating, shame on you! Change is in the air and for Galaxy Note 8, Samsung invested years of experience and know-how to engineer best in-class hardware and design. Galaxy Note 8 has a 6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED 18.5:9 Infinity display coated in Corning Gorilla Glass 5. And as they do with every Galaxy flagship, the AMOLED screen technology has been tuned to offer best in-class color reproduction with high contrast, exceptional brightness for outdoor visibility, and true to life colors. Enhanced HDR Video is here, and in case you accidentally drop your phone in a bit of water, the IP68 certification will protect your Galaxy Note 8 in water up to 5 feet deep for 30 minutes.
There’s no word that can describe how beautiful the Galaxy Note 8 looks in person. Samsung’s signature curved dual-edge panels wrap around the sides giving the illusion that the phone is completely bezel-free, and on Galaxy Note 8, they’re steeper than on earlier models. The back is made of metal and the sides of glass, which melt into each other giving to the rounded backside. Gone are all the unnecessary elements (bezels, logos, branding), allowing the device to be held and in some circumstances, interacted with using only a single hand. Like on Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, there’s no physical home button but instead customizable software keys and an invisible button hidden beneath the front glass. Samsung’s fingerprint reader has been relocated to the back of the phone since Galaxy Note 7, which allows for more immersive multimedia and VR experiences. This is a given thanks to the screen-to-body ratio of over 80%.
To continue modern smartphone design trends, Samsung has elected to go with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio on Galaxy Note 8. This is in contrast to 16:9, so expect taller but narrower screen dimensions. Samsung has loaded the latest version of Samsung Experience UI, which uses up the extra screen real estate to add features and small touches. Though, some drawbacks of the new format still remain, such as letter-boxing while watching some video content. Powering Samsung’s new clad will be either the Snapdragon 835 processor, or Exynos 8895 chipset, which is equally good in supplying day-to-day performance and battery life. Samsung has finally made the upgrade to 6GB of RAM, which should add to one’s experience switching between apps.
Taking a look underneath the hood we have a large 3,300mAh battery, though it’s still smaller than the Galaxy S8+ 3,500mAh capacity. Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 will be at the ready via USB Type-C and fast wireless charging is on board as well. Other notable hardware include an air gap with built-in cooling system to prevent overheating.
For starters, the Galaxy Note 8 will come with 64GB of storage. But if you’re looking to pay a bit more, Samsung has 128GB and 256GB variants of the smartphone. Additionally, microSD card support is present and can add up to an extra 256GB of memory. This port along with a SIM card tray, power button, and volume controls have been placed along the sides of the handset with addition to a hardware button for Samsung’s new voice assistant “Bixby,” which uses machine learning and AI to provide a personalized and ever-improving experience. And now, Bixby brings ‘Quick Commands’ designed to complete complex tasks with a set phrase. For example, saying “Good Night” can turn notifications off and put the phone’s blue-light filter on. On the back of the phone you’ll have your fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor. Iris scanning and facial recognition are also on board with of course MST and NFC for Samsung Pay, the most widely accepted form of mobile payment out there.
Now for the part we know you’ve all been waiting to hear about, camera. The Galaxy Note 8 is the first-ever Samsung flagship with a dual rear camera combination. One is a 12MP rear shooter with Dual Pixel Multi-Frame processing, OIS, f/1.7 and a 1.4µm pixel size for crisp low-light shots with up to 2X zoom, and the other is an 8MP telephoto lens for shooting in wide-angle. Both feature optical image stabilization (OIS) for each photos and videos, the first for a smartphone. Neither protrudes and dual LED flash is for use on the phone’s back. The front camera is an 8MP lens capable of shooting 30fps, 1080p video. It’s extra special thanks to smart auto-focusing and OIS.
On the software front, Galaxy Note 8 gets it right with Android 7.1.1 Nougat. And best of all, it shouldn’t be long before Android O and a fresh batch of security patches make way via an over-the-air update. See our Droid Updates Weekly Series. Google’s latest software will bring about a range of new features including doze on the go, bundled notifications, split screen multitasking, enhanced security, new emoji, and a new Vulkan API for better overall graphics performance. Also preset will be some Android 7.1.1 Nougat (MR1) features like app shortcuts, GIF touch keyboard support, live wallpaper metadata, and more. Perhaps the greatest addition is the Google Assistant, which will come in addition to Bixby Voice. Both assistants will learn about you and improve with time using incorporated fifth-generation programming technology. To top everything off is Samsung’s updated Experience UI on top of Android that performs faster now than it did before.
The Galaxy Note 8 comes with a bevy of new features. First off, the S Pen is now better than ever. The button has been pushed slightly downward to be more reachable, and the stylus itself has a finer tip that can detect more levels of pressure than the previous S Pen model. There are new off-screen memo features that allow the user to do more than before, even when underwater, without having to even turn on the phone’s display. And a new hover mode allows the user to translate text to a different language or a foreign currency value to the currency he or she is using. The camera interface on Galaxy Note 8 also received a revamp. Live Focus is a new mode for taking profile pictures, Samsung concluded, which blurs any background in real-time. One can also adjust the blur setting to fit their own liking after the shot has been taken. Dual Capture is another new feature on Galaxy Note 8 to make sure nothing gets left out of the shot. Two features were also added to the Samsung Experience UI. App Pair multi-tasking allows one to pin two apps to Apps Edge for easy dual window access, and our favorite, ‘Live Message,’ allows one to give text messages more personality. You can add animation to writing, drawings or images and send via text in a standard format to add emotion or expression to your text messages.
Among other new features are Harman AKG sound and audio headphones. A first for the Galaxy Note series, the Galaxy Note 8 features enhanced audio output through both the device’s 3.55mm headphone jack and outward-firing speakers. This will provide a wider amplitude, crisper audio, deep bass, and clear treble that will remind you of what it feels like to be at a live concert. And to top it off, Galaxy Note 8 will come with a pair of Harman AKG audio headphones ($99 value) in every box. Still, Samsung managed to create a visually striking and premium looking phone, something other manufacturers struggle to do itself. On Galaxy Note 8, you’ll also find all the typical sensors such as Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11/a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, various fitness tracking sensors, and more. The only thing that seems to have been left out is support for Google Daydream, the virtual reality platform from Google, though support could easily be added with a software update.
2017 may just entail the greatest looking lineup of Android flagship smartphones we’ve ever seen and it’s definitely going to be an interesting market to watch. Samsung will begin its global release of Galaxy Note 8 on September 15 in over 100 countries. In order to avoid competition that is on the nearby horizon, Samsung will allow you to buy a Galaxy Note 8 in select regions from select retailers and carriers starting tomorrow, August 24. This year’s handset will become available on most cell carriers with addition to an unlocked model that will be sold by Samsung and some retailers. As a reminder, buyers can sign up for the company’s return program, ‘Samsung Premium Care,’ which allows one to return the device for a full refund or get a single screen replacement within a certain time frame with the only cost being a small monthly fee. Buyers of the Galaxy Note 7 can also snag a discount for a limited time.
Samsung’s new Galaxy Note has a Black front with Black-colored camera strip and will come in choice of Midnight black, Orchid Gray, Maple Gold, or Deepsea Blue color options as far as the rear, sides and S Pen go, but availability will vary by location and carrier. Pricing for the unlocked model has not yet been announced, but Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, Cricket, and U.S. Cellular have all confirmed the phone’s availability, and buying early will of course spare you some free goodies. We’ll have a separate post detailing availability, any deals you should know about and the handset’s release information coming later today. Be sure to bookmark this page and return back as the news continues to pile up. Those interested in buying the phone can also sign-up for email status updates over at Samsung.com. Be sure to let us know your initial thoughts about the next Galaxy in the comment section below this post.
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