Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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Samsung is inside a design cycle launched with the Galaxy S6, refined with S7 and Note 7, completed with top of the range this year. In some ways, therefore, Galaxy Note 8 loses some of its historical identity, which has always made our favorite series in Samsung home, since the thunderous strike for the first, huge and unforgettable, Notes in the Late 2011. Notes 8 not only remembers the Unfortunate Note 7 of last year, but goes so far as to look like S8 +. If not just brothers, the two devices are at least cousins ​​with the same DNA. That is why we refer to the discussion we made at that time.

Differences with the Galaxy S8 +
Compared to S8 +, Note 8 has a tenth of an inch for the display of Note 8, Edge Edge curves a little less accentuated (to facilitate the use of the pen), the presence of a dual camera at the back, 2 GB more than Ram.

Camera

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Then there is of course the S-Pen, the stylus that is back here: it now has 4,096 levels of pressure, capacity that opens to possible professional uses; you can take captured clipboard notes up to 100 linked screens; Functions (text-to-screen translation, selection of screen portions with annotations, etc) adds fun animated messages. Compared to S8 +, the more than 2GB of RAM helps manage S-Pen’s native software without any hesitation, and keeps the system running smooth even with many open apps. As for the dual camera, the use is in the range of the one set by the iPhone 7 Plus: the second camera serves 2x optical zoom and blurry effect on the portraits. This latter function is quite convincing but not just about the counterpart with the apple. And to tell the truth it does not seem to bring huge differences to the blur realized solely via software that Samsung has long offered on its top of the range.

There are three types of dual-cam at the moment: one with a wide-angle companion , one with monochrome sensor and one with zoom optics seen on the latest iPhone. The Korean House chose this latter road, understandably understandable as Apple is in fact the main competitor in terms of global sales. Anyway, the dual cam is a forced step that extends the potential and I hope to see it again on the upcoming flagships.

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Samsung speaks of a wide-angle camera and a zoom, too simplistic definitions that need to be paused for a moment.  See Galaxy Note 8 specifications:

  • Main Camera 12MP (1.4μm pixels) 4: 3 pixels with optical stabilization and F1.7 aperture
  • 12MP (1.0μm pixel) zoom lens with optical stabilization and aperture f2.4

The first, SLSI_S5K2L2_FIMC_IS code, does not differ much from the one mounted on the Galaxy S8/S8 Plus and is certainly not bad news. Fast autofocus, the ability to increase or decrease exposure with the usual side cursor and all the major features available. With this camera, we’re on the safe side: wide field (not large), high fidelity of portrayed colors and great brightness even under difficult conditions.

The real difference lies in the secondary camera, if we can call it that way. It can not always be used by the fact that the 2X optical equivalent forces us to be far beyond normal than the subject you want to immortal, as well as a 45 ° narrow angle typical of the telephoto.

But as soon as you have a detail to be framed, a macro, a portrait to take, this cam will come to rescue by offering what many smartphones do not have. Macro and portraits are great: in the front you can focus up to 6-8 cm away from the object, picking up a remarkable amount of details and details, ensuring a soft and extended bokeh.

S Pen

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For the first time dealing with Samsung note series, the S Pen is therefore something new, nice and all to discover. At first I was forced to use it, if you’re used to managing your smartphone in a traditional way it’s hard to think differently. But as soon as you discover the benefits of the S Pen, the ‘fear’ passes and you understand why this small accessory is a must for the series.

The dimensions are adequate: 108.3mm in length, 5.8mm for the widest flat side and 4.2mm for the narrowest one. It holds well in your hand and the built-in key works well with your thumb.

When the S Pen comes out of its housing, the on-screen display activates the context menu with all the major features: Create Note, See All Notes, Smart Selection, Screen Writing, Live Message, Translate, Bixby Vision, Coloring, Reduce to icon and Enlarge. Creating a note opens a white sheet and allows maximum personalization with the choice of pen type and color, nothing that we have not seen before.

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Intelligent Selection allows you to make a portion of the display portion, the interesting thing is that we can even do it on a running video to create a GIF instantly. Nothing wrong, you can even choose the resolution, while we record the screen portion we have the MB counter of the final file and can finally customize it with text and drawings. Sharing is at the touch of a tap.

Performance

There should be a number to explain everything: 172,261. These are the points achieved by the Galaxy Note 8 in the classic Antutu benchmark, an extremely high value that synthesizes the incredible firepower of the SoC Exynos 8895 with octa-core CPU made with 10nm production process. Within this complex and advanced system there is also the GPU Mali-G71, a graphics chip that very simply allows you to play any title available to date, no one excluded, to the fullest detail.

The best of the best for gaming, especially because we also have a large, high resolution display that obviously blinds the eye to virtual reality. All this power to play in the traditional way would make no sense.

performance

Galaxy Note 8 is in my opinion one of the first smartphones where multi-screen mode really makes sense. There are three points for respect, for example, to a Galaxy S8 which even boasts a large 5.8-inch panel. The first is in the amount of RAM memory, here we count 6GB and zero compromise, it can not be saturated unless we move on to Dex (our review) and open a myriad of browser applications and tabs. The second reason is the most discounted one, or the generous size of the display; the third concerns the S Pen, which can facilitate any operation with regard to the precision assured – both in scaling the two windows and in scrolling.

Battery Life

Perhaps one of the few limits, the reason why it does not reach excellence. Samsung has integrated a 3.300mAh battery, a bit if we think that S8 Plus mounts a 3.500mAh, and motivations should be the most obvious. Prudence I believe was obligatory, after the faux pas of Notes 7, Samsung has created a battery-powered chain, caution first and a too dense unit would probably be a gamble. Let’s not forget then that inside there is a 10cm long S Pen, able to steal space for the components.

So here we are to the 3.300mAh, capable of bringing us to the end of the day on an average day. But let’s not have any illusions, the ‘miracles’ we would have had with much more powerful 4,000 or more mAh batteries, as seen on some of the latest generation terminals. Consumption has certainly fallen in relation to the high performance thanks to the 10nm SoC, but if we use the terminal or leave it on the off-screen table (and activated AOD) it changes little, it’s perfectly seen in the end-cycle charts.

Software

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 experience 8.5, which  does not differ much from the previous generation, everything seems easier and quicker, but  it’s also worthy of greater overall optimization and 6GB of RAM that make life easier. So far a tiny bug was found, that is, the Messenger notification circle that goes behind the navbar (on screen), I do not think it’s a desired effect but it’s an insect.

Android 7.1.1 Nougat and the classic Samsung customization, you can access the App Drawer by simply swiping up/down (similarly back to the homescreen) and even more orderly settings, focusing on macro categories. I like this approach, you first find the settings you are looking for, I also like the “Device Maintenance” section that allows you to optimize performance, clean cache, delete unnecessary files that clog the system with a simple tap.

The system requires so many resources, you think that 6GB of RAM overall I have 1-1.2GB on average, the rest occupied by App remaining in the background and ready to reactivate in an instant.   Automatic HDR comes into play when it comes to serving, filters and classic features available: Auto, Pro, Panning, Slow Motion, Hyperlapse, Food, Virtual Slide and others that you can add through the dedicated store. Inevitable Bixby Vision, Also used it several times to translate some menus and texts into unknown languages ​​and me. The novelty is the live focus, easy to use and able to give you so much satisfaction.

Bixby is invited to the party who does not speak our language, with whom we can not really interfaced. The dedicated key or a swype left on the home open its world, even when it’s in stanby: Upday news, easy to navigate, applications we can link (Spotify, Facebook) make the platform as a home to visit without passing from a single app.

If you speak English or Korean, you can talk to Bixby, teach your preferences, associate words to unlock the Android phone, ask to download applications from the store, send messages, or call our contact contacts. In short, a virtual assistant is available, but not all of us can talk to the language barrier.

To conclude, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a powerful phone, complete device with extreme care and with the unique S-Pen resource that no other smartphone can offer. A differentiation element that – together with hardware – justifies, at least in part, the daunting price: $960, a record for the Android world. But less and less of the iPhone X.

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