The excuse of the imminent launch of the Galaxy Note 9, we review its predecessor. The Galaxy Note 8 has almost a year behind him and in his day we thought it was spectacular. Will it remain so?
We return to analyze the Galaxy Note 8
I have spent the last few months using this phone as the main phone, alternating it sporadically next to the first generation Google Pixel XL (I am testing the beta version of Android P, so the Galaxy Note 8 has been the “stable” phone) and I have a lot to tell about my experience.
On a personal level, it is the first time that I have come face to face with a Galaxy Note for so long. After several months being a happy user of the iPad Pro and its Apple Pencil, I was curious about whether the SPen was going to satisfy my demands on a day-to-day basis. Although both pens are excellent, the format of each device means that they are used differently.
A review of its technical sheet
- Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 / Exynos 8895 in Spain
- 6.3-inch screen WQuadHD + resolution (2960 × 1440) with ratio 18.5: 9
- 6GB of RAM memory LPDDR4
- 64GB of storage UFS 2.1 + microSD up to 256GB
- Rear camera
- 12MP main sensor with aperture f / 1.7 and OIS stabilizer
- 12MP secondary sensor with aperture f / 2.4, OIS stabilizer and 2x zoom
- Front camera with 8MP f / 1.7 sensor
- Fingerprint reader, facial and iris recognition
- 3.300 mAh battery, with wireless and fast charging
- IP68 water and dust resistance
- Operating system: Android 7 Nougat with Samsung customization
- WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, ANT +, USB Type C, GPS (Glonass and Galileo)
- Virtual assistant Bixby
- S-Pen with functions and apps adapted in software
- Dimensions: 162.5 x 74.6 x 8.5 mm
- Weight: 195 grams
Are the specifications still up to scratch?
My first concern when using a Galaxy Note was whether it was going to stay at full capacity. Many acquaintances with Samsung had told me that as the months go by the system struggles to maintain consistency. That is, it slows down the longer we use it.
My adventures with the Galaxy Note started with Android 8.0 newly installed, and during these two months I have been able to verify that the performance of the terminal is slightly higher than we had when my partner Pedro made the analysis. There has not been any problem in this aspect and that is that the system has remained fast at all times.
Playing video games, watching series or simply browsing the networks is a delight. However, Samsung’s customization layer still has several aspects to polish that we will discuss later.
The amazing screen that should not be curved
Here comes my first wish for the Galaxy Note 9. The Edge screen is an error in the Note range. The truth is that I have never been a big fan of this type of screens, but I understand that there are users who like it a lot. However, it is an aesthetic feature that conflicts with the main protagonist of the Note range.
We talk about the SPen, the integrated pen in the Galaxy Note 8. It is a device designed for us to write by hand, but there is a use case that makes it an annoying task.
When you take the SPen to draw, it is normal to take advantage of the entire touch screen. We think of a delimited rectangle where we can write by hand, and that would be common. Well, when writing in the Galaxy Note 8 you have to think that if the screen itself was already narrow, the lateral curves make the drawing area even narrower. If you approach the edge, the use of the pencil will slip.
It may seem silly, but remember that it is the great asset of the Galaxy Note 8, to omit the use of the pencil is to keep an S8 Plus with double camera, more RAM and less battery. If we choose a mobile phone like the Galaxy Note, we do not just expect it to work perfectly, but also that the integration with the pencil invites us to use it as much as possible.
For the rest, I will not tell you more than you have seen in the reviews that have been on the air for months. At the time it was the best screen on the market and it remains at the highest quality standard. The customization of its color modes means that it will not cost us to find our favorite color profile.
The software loves in its capacity for the pencil
If the theme of the curved screen has been a drama for me, software and applications I have nothing but praise. I admit that I do not take advantage of all the features offered by the Galaxy Note as standard. But what I am sure is that the ones I use on a daily basis seem essential to me.
The pencil is a productivity tool, but to say that it makes us more productive would be to make a half affirmation, and in this analysis we want to get wet with the characteristics that the SPen has to make my work flow better. Sometimes faster, others with better results. I tell you which I have finished using in my day to day.
- The use of the pencil with the screen off is sublime. Anything you need to write down is to take out the pencil and write directly with the screen off. It is so fast and easy that in the end you use it like someone who has a notebook always at hand.
- Marking screenshots is another feature that is beyond doubt. If you read something on the Internet that you want to share select the marking tool. The Galaxy Note takes a screenshot in which you can draw directly.
- Smart select allows us to create a GIF of what we are wind in a sector of the screen. Either to convert a small video into GIF or to make a small recording of what you do on the screen. It is more useful than it may seem.
- Probably the best hidden application is Write in PDF since it is an application that is not in the list of applications, but that appears when you want to open a PDF. You receive a PDF by email, you open it, sign it and forward it. It has not taken you even ten seconds to have everything ready.
- The translator has left me with a very bad feeling at the beginning. Once activated the application allows you to translate the words individually when leaving the pointer over them, but it does not let you choose several. Fortunately, with Bixby Vision, we can select and translate whole paragraphs. I never thought I’d say this, but thanks Bixby.
All these characteristics I have ended up using in my day to day, although there is one that I have not talked much about, and the reason is that I do not usually talk much on the phone, but I tell you because it has a lot of value.
If you are used to talking on the phone by speaker or headphones, you can minimize the screen and open the notes application. While you are speaking you can take notes of the call, either because they leave us an important message or to write down an address. Yes, for work calls, this feature takes on a new dimension.
The pen has a different use to the iPad Pro. Less focused on a creative use, and more for productivity.
The camera follows the highest standards
On the camera, the truth is that we have nothing new to say. Already in his analysis we highlight and praise all his virtues, and in these months nothing has changed. It is still a spectacular camera that although it has been overtaken by the 2018 mobiles, it does not make it a bad camera either. The quality of the photos is excellent, especially in low light conditions.
In these months using it, perhaps what has bothered me most about the camera is the slowness when opening it. My habit to use the camera of the mobile phone is usually through the shortcut of pressing twice the power button to activate the camera. In the Galaxy Note about three seconds pass since I finished pressing buttons until I can take pictures. Already my previous phones (OnePlus 5 and Google Pixel XL) had me accustomed to a faster load of the camera application, and here it is clear that Samsung still has pending tasks in the software.
The Galaxy Note 9 has to be a revolution in autonomy
The autonomy of the Galaxy Note 8 is not something that will leave us with a good taste in your initial analysis. It would be rather strange that over the months the situation would have improved, although luckily it is not that it has worsened.
We have deactivated the Always On mode , restricted the consumption in the background of the applications, and even then it is insufficient to keep pace on the days of maximum demand. For normal use if that is capable of holding the type, but is that we do not consider that the Galaxy Note 8 is for users who use the phone as an occasional entertainment device.
We consider that the Galaxy Note is a line of products more oriented to the professional user, who uses his mobile as a work tool. It is a user profile that should have a battery for the most intense work days. The Galaxy Note 9 should have more in mind to that type of user, who in the end is the most likely to invest in this type of mobile.
A mobile focused on productivity should have more battery.
A unique mobile that has no rival
Issuing a judgment on the Galaxy Note 8 is relatively simple. It is a mobile that has no rival. We do not speak by specifications, by camera or screen. No, it has no rival because it has a series of features that no other mobile has.
The SPen is the first and last argument to get a Galaxy Note. If you are not interested in the pencil, you have much better options in the market, including Samsung’s own Samsung Galaxy S9. On the other hand, if you are interested in SPen, then you have no other viable alternative, unless you prefer to carry an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.
It is important to note, however, that the SPEN of the Galaxy Note and the Apple Pencil have ended up using them in a different way. On the one hand, the iPad in the end I end up using it in tasks in which I will use the mobile a lot, while the SPen I have finished using it more in tasks and notes that require speed.
In my case, I debate in a line of doubt that makes me doubt whether to love the Galaxy Note 8 or despise it. The pencil itself is a technological prodigy, and creating something that works and is so integrated into the system is not easy. If you are a user who values having extra tools on your mobile you will value it, and much.
On the other hand, I am concerned that this mobile line seems to have lost its focus. Apply decisions as the curved screen should not have been on the table at any time, because although your Galaxy S8 and S9 sell well thanks to it, these phones do not have to deal with a stylus.
The software on the other hand shows that there is still room for improvement. Although the mobile in speed is still up to a high range, the feeling you get is not that of being in front of a fluent phone. Sometimes between you touch and perform the action a small margin of time passes. It goes fast, but at no time do you feel that it really is. Google and OnePlus are light years away from Samsung, even with older models.
The argument to choose or not a Galaxy Note resides in if you are going to use your pencil.
The truth is that none of its weak points is a drama to discard and if you like the pencil the only rival of this mobile will be the Galaxy Note 9 to be presented on August 9, with better features, but at a higher price.
If you plan to buy the Galaxy Note 8, we advise you to do it through a store where you have the guarantee of returning it if you do not like it, such as Amazon or El Corte Inglés. Take the time to learn to use the pencil and see if it really is useful in your day to day, and find out if the curved screen you like it or not (you have to use it on a day to day basis to discover it).