The brand Samsung is synonymous with one thing its screens. Whether it’s the electronics giant’s TVs, tablets, laptops or smartphones, you know that the screen is going to stand out. With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the electronics giant has built not only its biggest but brightest display in the Galaxy range.
And there’s an even brighter side to this – for the screen to be legible under sunlight, it has to be very bright. So it goes without saying that you’ll have no problem viewing the Samsung Galaxy Note 8’s display outdoors.
Just like with the Galaxy S8/S8+, Samsung has chosen to make the screen larger by making it longer. So you see more and scroll less, and won’t have a problem gripping the phone comfortably as its girth remains slender.
However, the result is an unusual aspect ratio, so some apps and most videos won’t fit the screen entirely. Samsung has a simple solution – it can blow up the app and videos to fill up the screen but a little will be lost on the sides.
One last thing about the screen – it supports mobile HDR (high dynamic range). So HDR shows like the Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix would look even more vibrant on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8’s screen.
At this point there isn’t much HDR content but with YouTube now supporting HDR, things will change soon.
Your eyes only
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 packs an iris scanner for authentication and an improved front-facing autofocus camera for facial recognition.
The iris scanner had no problems recognising my eyes even though I wear specs. It was accurate and fast almost all the time, only occasionally prompting that I should open my eyes wider in the mornings.
Or you can use the fingerprint sensor like the S8/S8+, the fingerprint scanner is on the back but takes a little getting used too as it’s high up and off centre.
So I actually prefer facial recognition even though it’s less secure because it’s the easiest to use.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 also has a Secure Folder for keeping your personal files and even apps safe from prying eyes. Apparently it’s protected by its defence-grade security system, Knox, so you know it’s really safe.
It also has a function for keeping your work and personal life separate – the Dual Messenger feature can clone your messaging apps. For instance, you can have two Facebook apps, one logged into your business account and the other into your personal one.
The S Pen has been mightily upgraded, now with a tinier nib (0.7mm vs 1.6mm on Note 5) that’s able to detect double the pressure levels (4,096 vs 2,048 levels). In other words, it makes writing feel more natural than ever.
What I like about the S Pen is that I can start scribbling as soon as I eject the stylus from the holder, without having to unlock the smartphone.
And if you have the Always On Display mode on, you can just pin the note to the screen.
You can even record your writing and drawings and send it as animated GIFs on any platform that supports the standard (and most do). You can, of course, choose to add sparkles and neon lighting to make your message livelier.
In fact, Running Man’s star Song Ji-hyo will be coming to Malaysia for the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 on Thursday (Sept 21) to demonstrate this feature which is called Live Message.
And just so you know – you can even write notes when the phone is wet, you know, just in case you have a Eureka moment in the bathtub.
The S Pen also has other tricks up its sleeve such as being able to magnify images and text, and translate words (including text in images) and now it supports up to 71 languages.
On the double
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8’s main distinction is that it’s the first Samsung Galaxy smartphone to feature two 12-megapixel cameras on the back.
One has a wide-angle lens and the other a telephoto lens but both have OIS (optical image stabilisation) so you don’t have to worry about shaky hands when shooting stills.
One of the main reasons for having two sensors is so that you can shoot photos with the Bokeh effect made popular by DSLRs. The effect – Samsung calls it Live Focus – makes the subject stand out by blurring out the background.
While most phones allow you to adjust the Bokeh effect after you shoot the photo, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 actually allows you to adjust it before you take the photo.
The photos turned out really nice overall although the Bokeh effect could do with some improvements to make it look more natural.
Live Focus also has another handy feature – it can take two shots simultaneously with a press of a button so you’ll get a close up shot and a zoomed out shot.
In terms of battery life, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 had no issues lasting until the end of the day with standard usage which is not bad considering that it has a smaller battery and a bigger screen. The battery has also undergone extensive tests to ensure that it’s safe.
There is a lot to like about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. It’s speedy and the first Samsung smartphone to feature 6GB RAM. You can pretty much throw any resource hungry app or game at it – even running them simultaneously – and it won’t buckle.
It even features Bluetooth 5.0 which is 2x faster and has 4x the range of Bluetooth 4.2 for a better listening experience when using wireless headphones and speakers.
And rain or shine, this device won’t let you down because it meets the IP68 standard for dust and water resistance.
But at the end of the day there are only two big factors you need to consider before getting the smartphone. First, if you have hands large enough to handle it. Samsung has kept the width manageable but it may still be too big for some.
The other question is if you can afford the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 as its costs RM3,999. If you can, then you will be getting a really cool phone that will let you do just about anything, as there is little doubt that the Note 8 is Samsung’s finest Android yet.
Pros: Superb supersized screen; excellent dual cameras; new S Pen makes it easier to take notes; fast processor and ample memory for multi-tasking; supports Bluetooth 5.0.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 7.1.1 Nougat
DISPLAY: 6.3in QHD Super Amoled (1,440 x 2,960 pixels)
CAMERA: Dual 12-megapixel rear cameras with OIS, 8-megapixel front-facing camera
CONNECTIVITY: USB Type-C, Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
PROCESSOR: Exynos 8895 octa-core (quad-core 2.3GHz + quad-core 1.7GHz)
MEMORY: 64GB internal memory, 6GB RAM
OTHER FEATURES: Heart rate monitor, water and dust resistant (IP68), fast wired and wireless charging
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6mm