Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review: Rising from the ashes
If you can get comfortable with the size, it really is a fantastic phone.
Price: Rs 55,900
Specifications: 6.3-inch super amoled HDR10 screen (2960 x 1440 pixels, 522ppi) with Gorilla Glass 5 , Exynos 8895 SoC (10nm, octa core), 6GB RAM, 64GB storage (expandable, up to 256GB), 4G with VoLTE, dual primary camera (12MP f1.7 OIS + 12MP f2.4 OIS), 8MP f1.7 AF front cam, WiFi ac, BT5.0, NFC, IP68 rated
Pros: Fantastic super amoled infinity display — the best in the market, dual camera with dual OIS (a first on any phone), great price, excellent performance, versatile S-Pen and useful software enhancements.
Cons:Large (even for a Note), small battery (smaller than even S8+), ridiculous placement for finger scanner.
That Samsung is quick to learn from past mistakes is evident from this new device. You have probably heard of how Samsung’s Note 7 dreams literally went up in flames. A lot of thought, money and time went into making that phone and despite the relatively low number of people that were eventually affected, it was binned permanently.
The Note 8 is a chance at redemption — albeit a much better chance, since the Galaxy S8 has been received so well (from both reviewers and consumers). This phone is all-new yet instantly recognizable as a Note — in case the sheer size doesn’t tip you off. There’s a strong family resemblance with all the recent flagships (glass + metal + curves) and in particular with the S8 series. This phone shares a lot with the S8 actually: it has similar construction, has an amazing edge-to-edge amoled screen and similar performance.
The S Pen is easier than ever to use: it’s light, functional, glides smoothly and has very low latency. (Image: AP)
It also shares the same, ridiculous placement of the fingerprint scanner. It’s actually the most inconvenient placement of all because of the taller size. On the inconvenience scale of 1 to 10 (10 is worst), S8 is a 6, the S8+ is an 8 and the Note 8 is a complete 10! Thankfully it still has iris scanning which works flawlessly.
Being a Note, it has to have the S Pen stylus, paired with an even bigger list of software enhancements. For easier stylus usage, the curve at the edges of the screen is a little less pronounced compared to the S8. The S Pen is easier than ever to use: it’s light, functional, glides smoothly and has very low latency. You’ll keep discovering more uses for it as you go along.
The Note 8 has Samsung’s first dual camera system. It’s a real cracker of a camera too, with an f1.7 aperture and optical image stabilization on both lenses — a first for any smartphone. This is something we’ve been seeing since the Galaxy S6 series — the camera is quite effortless in the way it captures stunning photographs.
Thanks to the second camera there is obviously the Live Focus (shallow depth or portrait) mode and 2x optical zoom. What sets it apart is that it captures both a wide angle and cropped portrait photo. You can choose what you like. There are a lot of video modes and resolutions available too, but you won’t get very effective stabilization if you shift to anything above 1080p. And it can’t do 4K video @60fps, unlike the new crop of iPhones. That being said, this is among the best cameras on a smartphone and you really can’t go wrong.
At the time of writing, there are several offers on the Note 8. There are exchange offers and EMI schemes as usual, plus a Rs 4,000 cash back on HDFC cards, a onetime screen replacement offered at Rs 990, free wireless charger and special benefits for Jio users (free prime membership, 448GB extra data). That’s great value.
There’s so much that’s good about the Note 8. If you can get comfortable with the size, it really is a fantastic phone. It’s a very safe phone because Samsung reduced the size of the battery considerably and stepped up testing. The battery life suffers obviously, but at least there’s fast charging out-of-the-box and wireless charging too. A calendar year is a long time in smartphone years. And we think power users everywhere, especially Samsung loyalists, are ready to forgive, forget and buy.