Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review Roundup: Big Screen and S Pen Steal the Show

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 is set to hit the retail stores on September 11 in the US but the first batch of reviews of the handsets have already made it to the internet.

If you are interested in the Note 8, check out our review roundup below to help make your decision easier.

The Verge

Last year, the publication claimed the Galaxy Note 7 was the best big phone in the market. This year, that’s not the case though.

Samsung has done everything it can to make this giant screen fit in something that resembles a phone — shrinking the bezels, elongating its shape, curving the sides — but there’s no avoiding the fact that the Note 8 is a giant phone that comes with giant phone problems. It’s almost impossible to use in one hand and it doesn’t fit comfortably in any of my pants pockets.

The fingerprint scanner continues to be a problem on the Note 8 just like it was on the Galaxy S8:

In addition, the Note 8’s larger size make its fingerprint scanner even more frustrating to use than it is on the S8. Like the S8, the scanner is on the back of the phone, to the right of the camera module. And like the S8, it takes some dedicated finger gymnastics to reach it. I’ve been using an S8 Plus for months and I’ve become somewhat accustomed to the annoying fingerprint scanner placement. That could happen with the Note 8 as well, but it’d have been easier for everyone if Samsung just put the scanner below the camera like every other phone maker does.

Overall, the Galaxy Note 8 performs similar to the Galaxy S8. It is the S Pen and the dual-camera setup at the rear that separates the device from Samsung’s other large phone. While the primary camera performs very similar to the Galaxy S8, the secondary camera allows the handset to offer 2x optical zoom. The Portrait mode — similar to the iPhone 7 Plus — is on par with what the iPhone captures. The ability to save both, the wide-angle and portrait photo, on the Galaxy Note 8 does give it an edge over the iPhone 7 though.

That means this year, the Note 8’s value all comes down to how important the S Pen and the second camera are to you. In my experience, the camera doesn’t do enough to justify its existence. It needs more work before it’s truly great and worth the cost of admission.

If you’re an S Pen diehard, though, 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.

Review

Wired

The publication calls the Galaxy Note 8 as the nearly perfect phablet. It is big but the bezel-less design helps keeps the size in check. Plus, the display is stunning to look at.

All 6.3 inches of the Note 8’s display look fantastic. Samsung’s OLED displays always show rich blacks and vibrant colors, and this is so big and high-res that you can’t help but admire it. A toothpick-thin bezel surrounds the Note’s sides; the Infinity Display looks every bit as impressive here as it does on the Galaxy S8.

The battery life of the Note 8 is a bit of a concern though.

With relatively light use, it still lasts a 15-hour day. But when the screen’s on, I’ve never seen a battery die like this one. I lopped off 40 percent during a two-hour drive just by using Google Maps; a little Netflix and some light Twittering killed the entire battery in less than eight hours. The screen alone usually accounts for upwards of 50 percent of my battery spend—and that’s with the display at its default setting, not even the highest-res it can be. Every time I turn on the Note, I try to minimize my time with it so as not to kill the battery. I don’t like feeling afraid to use my phone.

The primary camera is great but the secondary camera still needs a lot of work.

You know what I don’t trust? The Live Focus mode, which uses both cameras to approximate a soft-background portrait, a la the iPhone’s Portrait Mode. Sometimes it works great, and my photo looks like I shot it on a DSLR. Sometimes it decides that part of my subject should be in focus and part of her should be really, really blurry. Sometimes, it looks like someone went over the photo on their first ever attempt at blurring in Photoshop, and you just get a weird rectangle of focus. You can tweak the amount of background blur after taking your photo, which helps, but only because you’ll want to remove the effect a lot.

Review

Gizmodo

Similar to other reviews, Gizmodo review also points out that the Note 8’s dual-camera setup is not perfect.

Yet even in ideal conditions, the Note 8 didn’t always nail it. Take, for example, photos I got when I tried to snap a picture of New York’s favorite large adult sonat a recent Yankee’s game. At first I was absolutely thrilled that the Note 8’s zoom let me get up close and personal like not many phone cameras can. But when looking at pics side-by-side from the Note 8 and the iPhone 7 Plus, things were close, but the iPhone’s pic was sharper and less blown out.

Overall, the Note 8 is all about that S Pen, some handy software tricks, and that screen.

The Galaxy Note 8 is supposed to be a phone of excess. It’s supposed to have all the most outrageous tech while simultaneously pushing boundaries that other companies wouldn’t dream about touching. Yet its screen is only marginally bigger than the S8 Plus’ and it doesn’t look that much different either. And even though I like many of the S Pen’s new features like Live Messages and full sentence translation, they really aren’t much more than a collection of handy software tricks.

Review

MrMobile’s Note 8 Review


So, what do you think about the Note 8? Still planning on buying it?

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