The newest member of the Note-series, the Note 8 is finally here. With Note 7 burning down in flames, we thought the days of Note series were over. But the new device comes with a bang en route to claim the title of the best Android smartphone right now. So what does the Note 8 hold that makes it so desirable and worth the exorbitant price of more than 1 lakh? We’ll talk about that in this review.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Specs Highlights
- Display: 6.3 inches Super AMOLED Quad HD+ display with Gorilla Glass 5 protection
- Resolution: 1440 x 2960 pixels (521 PPI pixel density)
- OS: Android Nougat (7.1.1)
- Chipset: Exynos 8895
- CPU: 10nm Octa-core (4×2.3 GHz & 4×1.7 GHz)
- GPU: Mali-G71 MP20
- RAM: 6GB LPDDR4 RAM
- Storage: 64GB internal storage, Expandable up to 256GB
- Rear Camera: Dual 12MP (f/1.7, PDAF, 1/2.55″ sensor size, 1.4 µm pixel size + f/2.4, AF, 1/3.6″ sensor size, 1.0 µm pixel size), autofocus, 2x optical zoom, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
- Front Camera: 8 MP, f/1.7, 1/3.6″ sensor size, 1.22 µm pixel size
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, A-GPS, NFC, 3G, 4G LTE, USB Type-C
- Sensors: Iris scanner, fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate, SpO2
- Other Features: Samsung Desktop Experience support, Bixby, HDR10 Compliant Display, IP68 Certified (Water and Dust resistant), Stylus, Wireless Charging
- Battery: 3300mAh (non-removable) with Quick Charge 2.0
- Price: Rs. 1,02,990
Galaxy Note 8 is the perfect mixture of metal and glass. The central metal frame acts as a bridge between two glass plates on the front and back giving it a seamless look. The glass body sure makes it look premium but it’s a fingerprint magnet. The phone is definitely tall with a 6.3inch display incorporating the elongated 18:9 aspect ratio. But unlike the S8’s, the phone has rectangular edges making it look boxier. But with a narrow width, the phone sure is easy to carry around even with a hefty weight of 195 grams.
Despite being a tall phone, the buttons are well placed but the dedicated Bixby button feels like a complete waste to me as it cannot be programmed for any other things. The baked-in one-handed mode proves to be of convenience on this tall display. The phone is unlike any other phones in the market and carrying it definitely feels a class apart. But you don’t always get to show the beauty of this phone in the wild, because, first it’s really slippery and second, if you drop it, the glass is very susceptible to cracks and scratches. So a cover is a must for this beauty.
Samsung always has had the best display in their flagship and this time, it’s no different. It carries the best rated 6.3-inch Super AMOLED display which is HDR 10 compliant meaning, this is the sharpest display out there and viewing HDR content or anything on this display simply looks amazing. The infinity display pulls you right in for an immersive experience – if the video supports 18:9 aspect ratio. But the mono speakers don’t go well with the visual experience, I wished there were stereo speakers so I could enjoy the content even better. Also, there’s no audio DAC so the output from 3.5mm headphone jack is average.
The touch on this display is super responsive, so much so that everything feels like it’s floating. The display for battery reasons is tuned in to Full HD by default, to get the best display experience you have to switch onto the WQHD+ option. But this again is going to hit your battery life. Not to forget this is one of the brightest display out there with 1200 nits of brightness, so it can easily crush the direct sunlight. As an AMOLED display, Samsung has incorporated the always on display which allows you to peek on time, calendar and notifications. The display also holds a pressure sensitive home button which on hard press takes you to the home screen. And for protection, it comes with corning gorilla glass 5 which gets fewer scratches compared to the s7 edge in my experience.
The only thing that makes Note a Note is the S Pen. Like the phone, S Pen is now IP68water and dust resistant so this expensive piece of hardware won’t get damaged easily. Talking about the S Pen features, the unlimited Off-screen memo is a great addition to jot down your notes on the go. It has very little latency so if painting and doodling is your thing, this might be the perfect pick. It can also translate text by selecting it. Samsung has also introduced Live Message feature with which you can doodle a GIF and share it with your friends. This feature is gimmicky and could have been better, plus it has very few colors to play around with.
There are conventional options for S Pen like Screen Write, Smart Select, and Create Note. S Pen, in my opinion, is very limited till now. This is already 8th iteration of the Note series and most of the S Pen features hasn’t evolved much and nor are there any 3rd party apps that utilize the S Pen that much. I wish it could do more than just write and draw.
The Note 8 comes with few biometric security features. But first let’s start off with the basics, the phone offers a fingerprint scanner which is way up high on this tall device. It was really hard to reach first but with time I learned to juggle may hand just to reach the sensor perfectly. But still, this is the worst fingerprint placement on any smartphone.
Second, we have the facial recognition feature which is blazingly fast, and most often I turned on the phone even when I didn’t intend to so it was not a convenient feature for me. And lastly, we have the Iris scanner, which in my opinion is the perfect replacement for the awkwardly placed fingerprint sensor. It’s easy to register and unlocks your device in a jiffy. But for those wearing spectacles, this is again not convenient. Also, Iris scanner and face unlock allows only a single person to register which is great for security. You cannot enable face to unlock and iris scanner at the same time.
With a small 3300 mah battery, I was skeptical about the battery life of the device but on my test I found it to be above average. It’s not that great but you can make it till the end of the day. On my regular usage, I got around 4 hours of screen on time with the highest display setting(WQHD+). If you want more battery life, going all black on this AMOLED display sure helps. Note 8 comes with fast charging 2.0 which takes more than one and a half hour to fully charge the device.
With previous battery mishaps, Samsung has played safe with the slower charging standard. The device also comes with wireless fast charging. The previous generation of Notes was all about the battery but this time around it has failed to hit that mark properly.
Powering the Note 8 in Nepal is the Exynos 8895 octa-core chipset which is both powerful and power-efficient compared to Snapdragon 835. Normal navigation and the opening of apps are very fast. I never had issues of freezing and stuttering of apps or UI at all. Playing high-end games on this high-end crisp display with maxed out settings was simply amazing and for the device – well it was walk in the park. Gaming for a long time also didn’t result in any noticeable heating issues. Also with 6GB of RAM, I could switch between heavy titles without breaking a sweat. Also, you can use multi-window to use two heavy apps side-by-side. Galaxy Note 8 will live up to your expectations when it comes to performance.
Experience UI on the Note 8 is very minimalistic with not much going on. It feels light and swift without complexities like in the old Samsung phones. Everything is well organized in the settings menu so you easily find what you’re looking for. Notable software features of the phone include S Pen features and biometric security options which we’ve already talked about. But one unique feature for the Note 8 is the app pairing, this helps you to put together two apps you use side by side most often and for a phone that is made to multitask it’s a great feature. It comes with Galaxy Themes to customize the device to your liking by changing wallpapers, icon packs and so on.
The inbuilt Samsung notes prove to be a great app for doodling and sketching with loads of features to play around with. You also have the Secure Folder to secretly lock all of your important data from outside world. And the S Health app is something I look for in every device. I simply love this app. Not to forget we also get the edge panels with your quick contacts, apps, and tools which I found myself using the least. But the tragedy of app fragmentation still prevails, it has two apps for few things like two app stores, two browser apps and two email apps.
Note 8 is the first phone from Samsung to sport a dual camera setup. Both the camera sport 12MP sensor where the first sensor comes with f/1.7 aperture and the assisting telephoto lens offers f/2.4 aperture. Both the camera sports OIS so videos are smooth and the photos at night time are amazing. During daytime, typical of Samsung, the images are super saturated, details are well preserved and it has one of the best dynamic range. With the dual camera, you can now zoom into your subject without losing any quality. So either near or far from the subject, you’ll always get the best image possible. Also with dual camera, you can now take bokeh images with the live focus feature. You have to be 1.2 meters away from the subject to make it work, amount of blur can be adjusted right from the viewfinder or you can adjust it afterward from the gallery as well. The Live Focus Mode takes two pictures at once so you can zoom out of the bokeh mode to see the whole image as well. It’s a hit or miss feature and might not always give the best results but when it does work, the results are simply amazing.
The panorama stitching on the phone is super fast, once you complete taking panoramas, it is instantaneously available. You have manual controls but I like the default images the phone creates, apart from that, the phone offers slow motion, hyper-lapse, virtual shots and sticker camera filter like those of snapchat and Instagram. Note 8 can shoot full HD videos at 60fps which is my go-to mode or else it can also shoot 4k at 30fps. It can shoot Full HD at 60fps for only 10 minutes which might not be enough time to capture moments for everyone. Up front, it holds an 8MP camera which again is incredible. The selfies come out bright with high details and well-balanced colors. But mind this slippery phone while holding it with one hand for selfies. In short, this is the best smartphone camera I’ve used in a smartphone. Every image you take feels like images worth sharing which gets you clicking more images.
ON connectivity side of things, Note 8 offers hybrid sim slot where sim 2 is used for Micro SD expansion. It comes with dual-band wifi which supports gigabit speed. The wifi and network strength are strong so you’ll always have a reliable connection. On calls, the audio from the earpiece is loud and the clarity is maintained well. It also supports Bluetooth 5.0 so it can now be connected with more than one device at once. Samsung Pay feature is baked in but there’s no use for it here. For charging and data syncing, it comes with USB C port. And it offers all the sensors you could think of including, barometer, heart rate, and Spo2. But sadly there is no IR blaster which could have been a great addition.
The Note 8 checks off all the boxes that make up a great smartphone. That raises the same question again, is it worth one lakh rupees? Well, it’s the premium built quality, the convenient S Pen features, and an awe-inspiring camera. There are very few things to complain about the Note 8 as you have to be very specific about its shortcomings based on your preference. For me, I think it wouldn’t be a compromise to opt for the S8 or the S8 plus would be a better purchase decision. Because for S Pen, if you are not a business professional or an artist, it’s hard to decide what you make use of the hardware, and for Dual Cameras, well it depends on deciding how often do you come with subjects that you need to zoom in. With S8’s you won’t be missing out on the great build quality and amazing camera, plus you would be saving 15% and 25% buying the S8 and S8 Plus respectively.
Here are the alternatives of Samsung Galaxy Note 8:
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+
- 5.8-inch (S8)/ 6.2-inch (S8+) QHD+ Super AMOLED Infinity display
- Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection
- 2.3GHz Octa-Core Exynos 8895 processor
- 4GB RAM, 64GB Internal Storage, expandable (up to 256GB) via micro SD slot
- Android 7.0 (Nougat)
- Dual SIM ( nano + nano) with 4G LTE
- 12MP Dual Pixel rear camera, OIS, PDAF, f/1.7 Aperture, LED flash
- 8MP front camera, f/1.7 Aperture
- Water and dust resistant (IP68)
- Fingerprint Scanner, Heart Rate Sensor, Iris Scanner
- 3,000mAh (S8)/ 3500mAh (S8+) battery, Fast Charging
- Colors Available: Midnight Black, Arctic Silver, Orchid Grey, Coral Blue
- Samsung Galaxy S8 Price in Nepal:
- Samsung Galaxy S8+ Price in Nepal:
iPhone 8 Plus
- 5.5 inches True Tone Display (1080 x 1920 ) @401 ppi
- Apple A11 Bionic Chipset, Hexa-core (2x Monsoon + 4x Mistral) with Apple GPU
- 3GB RAM
- 64/256GB Storage
- Dual 12 MP Rear Camera, 2X Optical Zoom, phase detection autofocus, OIS, [email protected], 1080p @240fps
- 7 MP Front Facing Camera with f/2.2, face detection, HDR, [email protected], [email protected]
- Stereo Speakers
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Bluetooth 5.0
- Non-removable Li-Ion 2691 mAh battery with Fast Charging ( 50% in 30 min) & Wireless Charging
- 5.5-inch (1920 x 1080) Optic AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 5 protection
- Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) with Oxygen OS on the top
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset
- Octa-core (4×2.45 GHz Kryo & 4×1.9 GHz Kryo) CPU
- Adreno 540 GPU
- 6GB RAM
- 64GB of internal storage
- 16 MP Sony IMX398 sensor with f/1.7 aperture and EIS + 20 MP Sony IMX350 sensor with f/2.6 aperture – Rear-facing Cameras
- 16 MP Front camera with Sony IMX371 sensor and f/2.0 aperture
- USB Type-C
- 3,300 mAh battery with Dash Charge
- Front-mounted fingerprint scanner
- Price: Rs.59,500