Samsung Galaxy Note8 Review – Note is back

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the 6th generation of the Galaxy Note series (excluding the disastrous Galaxy Note7), after the Galaxy Note5 which launched 2 years back, Samsung skipped Galaxy Note6, and Galaxy Note7 came up with a fire story that could put an end to the entire product line. But, that did not stop the company from producing the next one, this could be the coolest Note Samsung has ever made and there are no direct competitors of the Note lineup.

What Samsung has highlighted in the new Note8 are its 6.3-inch Infinity display, an improved stylus a.k.a an S-Pen, a bold camera, actually two rear cameras, water and dust resistant, and with Bixby Assistant. There’s more to it, head on to the full review of Samsung Galaxy Note8.

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What’s in the box

  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 with built-in battery
  • USB Type-C Cable
  • Adapter (9V, 1.67A | 5V, 2A)
  • AKG Earphones worth ₹6,500
  • USB Type-C OTG Connector
  • Micro USB to Type-C Converter
  • SIM Tray Ejector
  • User Manual and Warranty Card

Samsung Galaxy Note8 Specifications

  • Display: 6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity Display (2960 x 1440 pixels resolution | 521 ppi), Always On Display, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on top
  • Fingerprint Scanner: Yes, at the back (next to the rear camera)
  • Iris Scanner: Yes
  • Protection: IP68 Ratings (dust and water resistant), Scratch resistant Corning Gorilla Glass 5, IP68 for S-Pen
  • Software: Android 7.1.1 Nougat, TouchWiz UI, Bixby Assistant
  • CPU: Up to 2.35 GHz octa-core processor (4 x Samsung M2 cores & 4 x Cortex-A53 cores), 10 nm Samsung Exynos 8895 SoC
  • GPU: Mali-G71 MP20 (546 MHz)
  • Memory: 6 GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • Storage: 64 GB UFS 2.1 internal storage, expandable up to 256 GB via microSD card
  • Main Camera: Dual Cameras with Dual OIS, 12 MP f/1.7 Dual Pixel for wide angle, 12 MP f/2.4 for Telephoto, 2X optical zoom, 10X digital zoom, dual-tone LED flash, 4K 2160p video @30fps, 1080p video @60fps, Slow Motion 720p video @240fps
  • Front Camera: 8 MP f/1.7, wide angle, Iris Scanning, Facial Recognition, QHD 1440p video @30fps
  • Connectivity: USB 3.1 (type-c), Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5 GHz), VHT80 MU-MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, MST, GPS
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Barometer, Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, Heart Rate Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB Light Sensor, Iris Sensor, Pressure Sensor
  • Cellular: 4G LTE network, dual nano SIM (GSM Bands), SIM2 as MicroSD, VoLTE-enabled, Cat.16 5CA 1 Gbps (download) and Cat.13 2CA 150 MBps (upload) LTE modem
  • Battery: 3,300 mAh Li-Ion (non-removable), Wireless Charging (WPC & PMA), Fast Charging QuickCharge 2.0
  • Charging: Fast Charging on wired and wireless, Wireless Charging compatible with WPC and PMA
  • Dimensions: 162.5 mm x 74.8 mm x 8.6 mm (Galaxy Note 8), 5.8 mm x 4.2 mm x 108.3 mm (S-Pen)
  • Weight: 195 grams (Galaxy Note 8), 2.8 grams (S-Pen)
  • Colors: Midnight Black, Maple Gold
  • Price: ₹67,900
  • Availability: 21st September 2017, Amazon India, Samsung Online Store, offline retails stores
  • Offers: One-time free screen replacement (pre-order only), Free convertible wireless charger (pre-order only), 448 GB additional Jio 4G data for 8 months, ₹4,000 cashback if purchased from HDFC Credit Card

Design, Build & Ergonomics

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is fully recovered and with these all-new features, this could be the best Samsung mobile device. A large 6.3-inch Quad HD+ screen, narrow bezels, curves everywhere, covered with Gorilla Glass 5 on both sides, and slim form factor makes it ideal in the design segment.

And dual 12 MP Cameras with dual OIS support, one has wide angle lens, another is Telephoto lens, supports 2X optical zoom, and takes depth-of-field photographs. Samsung has doubled the camera specs, Note8 now comes with two 12 MP cameras.

All of a sudden, there comes a new S-Pen much cooler than that of previous Notes. The S-Pen has been one of the prominent features of the Note series. The new S-Pen has a whole new way to communicate, packed with features, creates wonderful GIFs with Live messages, and well, it’s too, IP68 certified along with the smartphone. The enhanced S-Pen unlocks entirely new ways to write, draw, and interact with the phone and communicate with friends.

What’s new in Note8? It’s IP68 Certified meaning dust and water resistant, boasts Iris Scanner and Face Recognition features, power-packed hardware, USB 3.1 (type-c), Gigabit LTE modem, Bluetooth 5.0, and some stuff you have seen in the Galaxy S8. With the Galaxy Note8, the physical home button is removed and added software-based buttons. A new button is added for Bixby assistant and the fingerprint scanner is moved to the back.

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Display

One of the most crucial parts of the smartphone is actually its screen. The screen that just looks beautiful you can’t get your eyes off. It features a large 6.3-inch Super AMOLED Infinity display with a resolution of Quad HD+ (2,960 x 1440 pixels, 521 ppi pixel density). This display is of high quality, super-bright, very good color standards, and contrast is amazing. Not all flagships prefer a Quad HD display. One of the features that I like is the Edge lightning triggered up on notifications.

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Software & User Interface

On the software side, rather than having the new Android Oreo, it comes with Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box. However, in the coming months, there might be an Oreo update available. The latest security patch is dated 1st August 2017.

Samsung has its own TouchWiz UI that comes with many features, and since it’s the Note series and the flagship device, Samsung has put as many features as possible. The overall software experience would be almost same as Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus without S-Pen. Edge feature, Bixby, S-Pen, Always On Display, Dual Messenger, Multi-window, and more.

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S-pen is what Galaxy Note series is known for. The S-Pen feels like using a real pen or pencil writing on paper, it has a pressure sensor, the more you press, the darker the line forms. S-pen is also dust and water resistant, so no need to worry when it gets wet. S-Pen features include Smart select, Screen write, Live Messages, Translate, and Bixby Vision. The added button on the S-Pen can be used to erase the text or can be used for other purposes.

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Live Messages (Non-GIF)

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S-Pen Translate

Hardware, Performance, & Gaming

As the Galaxy Note8 is the top-of-the-line smartphone, the hardware is the best in class. It is worth mentioning that the specs are among the powerful range of hardware, Samsung has put its own 10nm Exynos Exynos 8895 SoC having 8 cores while the same chip we have found the Samsung Galaxy S8. Compared to Galaxy S8, the RAM bumped to 6 GB LPDDR4X (~1794 MHz).

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Samsung Galaxy Note8 tops the benchmark results with the highest score in the AnTuTu. The Geekbench 4 showed us points similar to the Galaxy S8 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium. AnTuTu scored a whopping 173,290 points, Geekbench scores 1,875 points (single-core CPU), 6,413 points (multi-core CPU), 6,597 points (GPU). The Quadrant Standard Edition scored 39,914 points.

AnTuTu Benchmark

  • 173,290 points

Geekbench 4

  • 1,875 points (single-core CPU)
  • 6,413 points (multi-core CPU)
  • 6,597 points (GPU)

Quadrant Standard Edition

  • 39,914 points

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Quadrant Standard Edition

The GPU is a 20-core Mali-G71 MP20 for gaming and graphics related tasks. Gaming on the Galaxy Note8 is excellent, throw any graphics intensive game, the performance is definitely smooth, you can expect performance similar to Adreno 540 (Snapdragon 835). We played games including Real Racing 3, Dead Trigger 2, Sky Force Reload, N.O.V.A. Legacy, Need For Speed No Limits and others.

Games Tested on Samsung Galaxy Note8

  • Real Racing 3
  • Dead Trigger 2
  • Sky Force Reload
  • N.O.V.A. Legacy
  • Need For Speed No Limits
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Need For Speed No Limits
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Sky Force Reload

Storage & Memory

On the storage side, the Galaxy Note8 offers 64 GB UFS 2.1 internal storage with microSD option to expand it to 256 GB. Plus, you get 15 GB Samsung cloud storage. The RAM usage is more than 50% on average use.

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The storage benchmarks also topped the results, higher in its class. See them below.

A1 SD Bench

  • 388.01 MB/s (Read)
  • 75.30 MB/s (Write)
  • 5,304.82 MB/s (RAM Copy)

AndroBench

  • 788.63 MB/s (Sequential Read)
  • 131.62 MB/s (Sequential Write)
  • 123.09 MB/s (Random Read)
  • 12.88 MB/s (Random Write)

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Cameras

One of the main highlights of the Samsung Galaxy Note8 is its dual camera on the rear side. Live focus being the main feature of the dual camera that creates a bokeh effect. And no wonder, it takes amazing Live Focus shots during the daylight. The camera includes two 12 MP sensors, one with Telephoto lens, and another dual pixel wide-angle lens, both support Optical Image Stabilization. The front camera is 8 MP without any LED flash.

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Samsung Galaxy Note8 Camera Specifications

  • Camera: Dual cameras, 12 MP f/1.7, dual-pixel with wide angle, 12 MP f/2.4 Telephoto, 2X optical zoom, 10X digital zoom
  • Optical Image Stabilization (OIS): Yes, Dual OIS
  • Rear Flash: Dual-tone LED
  • Features: Geo-tagging, Tap to Focus, HDR, Pro Mode, Panorama, Live focus, Slow motion, Hyperlapse, Food, Virtual Shot, Burst Shot
  • Video Recording: Up to 4K @30 FPS, 1080p @60FPS, Slow Motion 720p @240 FPS
  • Front Camera: 8 MP, f/1.7
  • Video Recording: Up to QHD 1440p video @30fps
  • Front Flash: N/A

The camera on the Note8 is the most satisfying thing you will ever see, the camera quality is similar to the Galaxy S8, but the camera is capable of taking bokeh photos using Live Focus, the telephoto lens provides 2X optical zoom. Also, the Galaxy Note8 is the first smartphone to use a dual camera setup with dual OIS. The camera also takes 4K videos at 30fps and slow-motion 720p videos at 240fps.

Here are the camera samples we took from the Samsung Galaxy Note8, check them out.

Samsung Galaxy Note8 Camera Samples

Battery Runtime & Charging

During the time, it’s deadly predecessor Galaxy Note 7 launched, it was criticized mainly for its battery issues, but now Samsung has to make compromises on the battery capacity decreasing it on the Galaxy Note8 (3,300 mAh, previous 3,500 mAh) with support for wireless charging with WPC and PMA. Samsung made commitments to lead the industry in the battery safety, and so far we haven’t found any issues in the battery during this month of use.

That said, the battery life is what suffers here, the Galaxy Note8 is not as powerful as other smartphones when it comes to the battery life. In a nutshell, the battery runs average and can’t stay at the of the day. You can still make use of its features to keep the battery draining minimal, features like changing the resolution, battery saving traits Samsung offers and using it less obvious, to extend the battery. Well, that’s one thing, using Note8 to an extent drains the battery quickly. I managed to keep it alive to 15 hours on medium use with default resolution (FHD+).

Charging the battery is fast, the battery on the Galaxy Note8 charges in about 90 minutes.

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Below Moderate Usage, On FullHD+ Resolution
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Minimum Usage, On FullHD+ Resolution
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Above Moderate Usage, On FullHD+ Resolution, Single SIM
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Below Moderate Usage, On QuadHD+ Resolution

Samsung Galaxy Note8 Battery Test Results

Apps/GamesBattery usedRuntimeBrightnessWireless
1080p Video3%20 minutesAutoOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
4K Video4%20 minutesAutoOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
YouTube (1080p)4%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Real Racing 35%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Sky Force Reload4%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Dead Trigger 26%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Need For Speed No Limits5%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Music (Offline)2%1 HourScreen OffOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
Music (Online) -
SoundCloud
3%30 minutesScreen OffOn (Wi-Fi)
Facebook2%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Instagram3%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)

Verdict

There’s no question, Galaxy Note8 is the most powerful device Samsung has ever made. The Samsung Galaxy Note8 is a modern smartphone with cutting-edge technology but at a premium price. A flagship smartphone with a new bezel-less design, amazing Super AMOLED display, powerful hardware, a camera you can’t deny, IP68 water and dust resistant, it has got everything you always want. If you are a true Note fan, this phone is for you.

The only thing that’s disappointing is its battery life, the Galaxy Note8 is weak and can’t stay longer when it comes to the battery life, although you can use its fast charging or wireless charging options to make up your mind.

It’s hard to find another smartphone equivalent to Galaxy Note8, there are smartphones that offer similar performance at the half price, and they are also a good choice if you are not particular to the Galaxy Note features. For Samsung Galaxy Note5 owners, this could be a worthy upgrade for you. For smartphone enthusiasts who are always looking for the best device, in quality, performance, and features, the Galaxy Note8 is ideal.

Competitors

  • None

Strength

  • Curved and Edge-to-Edge Screen
  • Excellent Display Quality, High Brightness
  • S-Pen works great
  • SSD-like storage performance, USB 3.1
  • Top-notch CPU and GPU
  • IP68 Certified (Dust-proof and Water Resistant)
  • Iris Scanner and Wireless Charging Support
  • Gigabit LTE
  • Samsung DeX compatible

Weakness

  • Average Battery Life
  • Fingerprint Scanner Placement is Awkward
  • Slippery, May Fall From Wet Hands
  • Expensive