In-depth analysis and opinion of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. All the details and changes for which the Note 8 wants to differentiate itself. Worth?
The Note 8 is the best smartphone that Samsung has created, but it would be weird if it were not so. Here is the analysis of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
You have to give Samsung credit for the bravery of betting on big smartphones. We called phablets to devices that were smaller than the ones we practically all carry in our pockets today. The Note started that trend, it became unmarked and also revived the stylus with it.
The years have passed and there are few of those marked differences between this Note 8 and his brother the Galaxy S8 +, are the S-Pen and the double camera sufficient to justify a greater outlay?
Features of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8
After the Note 7 incident, Samsung needed to make amends and for that there was no other solution but to put all the meat on the spit and include in the Note 8 the best they have at their disposal. On a technical level, this device and the Galaxy S8 have several similarities, but also differences . We have the same Exynos 8895 processor that performs at a very good level (remember that in some markets the version with the Snapdragon 835 is sold), but in this case they are accompanied by no less than 6GB of RAM (they are 4GB in the S8 / S8 + ).
The storage remains intact, with a single version of 64GB, of which there are about 51GB available to the user, although we can also expand this memory through microSD cards of up to 256GB. We no longer remember the days when the Note represented a smartphone of a size much larger than the rest. With its 6.3 inches, the Note 8 is almost traced to the S8 + (6.2 “) and although it has grown, the way is 200mAh battery left, although in practice we hardly notice it, as we will see below.
Note 8 specifications
- 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
Big, more square and with a spectacular screen
As it happened and happens with the S8, the screen is the special protagonist of the Note 8. And what screen. We speak of a SuperAMOLED panel of 6.3 inches in size with a maximum resolution of 2960 x 1440 pixels (522 pixels per inch).
Again they repeat the 18.5: 9 aspect ratio and therefore we have a longer screen than usual. The truth is that this ratio is striking at first sight, but one soon becomes accustomed and even appreciates when it comes to enjoying content such as texts or videos with panoramic resolution (in applications such as YouTube we can eliminate black frames at the expense of making a cut in the video). What’s more, after a few days it becomes strange, wide, to hold a smartphone with a traditional 16: 9 screen.
The screen of the Note 8 is fantastic, the images and videos look great in it, but remember the tradition of Samsung highlighting the contrast of colors in their AMOLED. That causes the tones are distorted, too saturated – and it shows especially when we see the same photos / videos on screens more true to reality and with a less aggressive calibration – but luckily we can adjust to our taste the screen mode from the adjustments.
The Note 8 has HDR support , so multimedia content can be enjoyed in high dynamic range of services that support it, as YouTube has recently enabled
Although we have a WQHD + resolution panel, by default it does not come as such, but it is configured in FHD + (which is equivalent to 2220 x 1080 pixels). It is the user who must decide whether to upload it, or download it to HD +, from the Settings.
This change allows us to save a little battery – which is always appreciated – but if we raise it to the maximum we can, for example, watch videos on YouTube at 1440p. A detail, YouTube videos at that resolution and in HDR are going to pull, below 30fps. We have also checked it in the S8 + and the same thing happens.
The viewing angles of the screen are very good, as well as the outdoor brightness. Samsung has done a great job here, the panel can reach 1200 nits of brightness, so we have a good view even in full sunlight.
At the design level, this generation of the Note inherits the ‘infinite’ frames of the Galaxy S8, resulting in a very immersive and curved front on the sides. However, it is not simply a larger S8. The shape of the terminal has changed, the S8 is has much more curved corners while here the aspect is more rectangular, with more sharp angles.
The comfort in the hand will depend on the person, personally I find it very comfortable and it does not bother that that ‘corner’ is keyed more in the palm of the hand; but of what there is no doubt is that it is a huge smartphone. I still do not forgive the location of the fingerprint reader. It’s still as uncomfortable as it was in the S8 +. More even here, for being a larger terminal.
In the rear the change is obviously in the double camera with which we can now perform a 2x optical zoom without losing quality and get the famous portrait effect with a very sharp blur (or not). The Note 8 is not slippery despite being finished in glass both in the front and back, the drawbacks is that it is more vulnerable to blows and a bad fall, without being hard, can end in a beautiful glass exploded.
This is how the double camera of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 works
Beyond the S-Pen, the camera is the big switch between S8 / S8 + and Note 8. The South Koreans have finally taken the step by introducing a dual camera configuration on one of their smartphones, following the rest of the industry.
Each manufacturer has opted for a use of the double camera. Huawei mounts a second monochrome sensor, LG opts for a super wide-angle, Apple uses that second lens as telephoto… Samsung’s choice has been similar to that of the Cupertino.
Specifically, the Note 8 mounts two 12MP sensors at the rear, but they are not exactly the same. The main one is the same as the one we had in the S8 / S8 +, a sensor with Dual Pixel technology, aperture f / 1.7 and equivalent to a 26mm lens. However, the second 12MP sensor has a lower aperture of f / 2.4 and is equivalent to a 52mm lens.
Therefore, when activating the 2x zoom or the portrait mode (Samsung calls it Dynamic Focus), we will ‘optically’ approach the subject without losing quality, as would happen with a digital zoom. In addition, an especially interesting point is that both sensors have OIS optical stabilization, which mainly helps in video recording and when shooting in darker environments.
Quality of the main camera of the Note 8
If we already said that the Samsung Galaxy S8 + camera was addictive, here, being the same, the pattern is repeated. The main camera of Note 8 (the angle, without activating the zoom) is able to capture images with a huge amount of detail and behaves very well even in scenes with different contrasts and lighting.
In low light, the detail gets slightly worse, but even so it is one of the best in its field. Testing against the S8 + under these conditions shows that it has improved the definition of the elements and edges when making large extensions.
Of course, we can enter Pro mode and tweak all the settings before shooting, but the Note 8 camera is one of those that please the user who does not want to worry about anything other than touching the button, shooting and getting a large picture. quality. Hence, how addictive it is.
- Here I leave a gallery of photos with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 so you can appreciate the results in many situations. CLICK on the next photo to see more.
The double camera and the possibilities of Dynamic Focus
The change this year is here, in the second camera with a focal length equivalent to 52mm and that, together with the help of the software, promises wonders to fans of portrait photography and close-ups.
How does it work? Basically in the Samsung camera application we now find a 2x button on the trigger button. When we press it, we automatically zoom in with the second camera, however we will not obtain the famous portrait with blurring. We must remember that zooming is not only for portraits, but for any situation in which we want to approach the object without losing quality and keeping it focused.
Of course, the quality of this second camera is one step below with respect to the main one. It is not something brutal, but it captures less light and is noticeable mainly in the dynamic range and in the night shots with the 2x zoom, in which there is more noise than usual.
Dynamic Focus: blur for all
Now, the third option is to use the Dynamic Focus option, this is how the South Koreans have called their particular portrait mode and the truth is that it is really versatile. With this mode is with which we get those portraits and close-ups with very marked blurs.
When activated, a message alerts us on the screen that we must be at a distance of approximately 1.2 meters from the subject. It is an approximate measure, when we place ourselves at that distance a confirmation will appear and then we can take pictures with blur. There the intensity selector will appear, but we can forget about it. The reason? Samsung allows us to change the level of defocusing afterwards .
- Here I leave a gallery of photos with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 so you can appreciate the results in many situations
That is, once we have done the photograph, from the gallery itself we will indicate that it is a Dynamic Focus photo and we can adjust it again to our liking. After the experience of these weeks I can assure you that the maximum level is too forced and remains unreal. The best left is half the intensity, although it depends on the scene, of course.
In general, the truth is that the effect is very well achieved if applied with balance. With people and large elements where there is a good difference with the background / environment the blur is great and creates very striking photos. In the eyes of any user not fond of photography or interested in technology causes that effect ” wow, go picture! ” However, sometimes the effect can be more irregular if there are complicated areas, such as hair borders, small shaped objects or scenes in which the software directly makes a mess between what is close-up and what is background.
Another point that I love and gives even more versatility to this camera is the option of “Dual Capture“. We can activate it when we take a photo with dynamic focus and basically the smartphone takes two photographs at the same time: one with the portrait mode and the other with the main camera angle.
We will only see the blur but if it has gone wrong or we do not like the result directly, there is no problem: in the gallery you have the dual capture button and there you can go back to the original photo made with the main camera and in detail .
Video recording with the Note 8
At the level of video recording it is already common to find the possibility of capturing images in 4K at 30fps and we have it in Note 8, although in recent weeks it has been said that Samsung could update the software to allow 4K at 60fps (which is present in the new iPhone). Next to that mode of maximum resolution we find 1080p recording at 30 and 60fps, as well as 720p video with slow motion mode up to 240 fps.
In any of the modes the focus is really fast, includes options to track objects and faces (to keep them always focused) and the possibility of taking 9MP photos while recording 4K video.
Samsung Experience loaded with extras
The basis of Note 8 software is similar to the one we have in the Galaxy S8. At the time of writing we have the Android version 7.1.1 with the deep layer of customization Samsung Experience in its version 8.5. Obviously, being a star terminal in the Samsung catalog, it will have an assured update to Android Oreo, although there is still no official date.
In this analysis we will focus on what makes Note 8 different and unique, to see all the details and features highlighted in Samsung Experience we invite you to go through the analysis of the Galaxy S8 +, there you can see the applications that are included by default, the options of multitasking (which are even more appreciated on the Note 8 screen, such as the possibility of opening two apps to the same screen) or the Smart Select shortcut panel that is always present in the screen frame for quick actions.
We are still waiting for Bixby
Bixby was presented in style with the S8, is the great intelligent virtual assistant of Samsung, or so say the South Koreans. The truth is that the months have passed and at the moment the usefulness of Bixby is rather scarce, if not null. A few weeks ago the availability was announced in 200 more countries, but Bixby still does not understand Spanish, so you have to give the orders with command in English.
Remember that Bixby has a dedicated physical button, by keeping it pressed the voice recognition is activated for the commands, and by pressing it only once it takes us to that infinite feed in which it gathers information such as our calendar appointments, details of social networks , news, etcetera. The reality is that practically 100% of the times I have ended up there has been wrongly pressedwhen trying to lower the volume. Luckily, if you do not find it useful, Samsung has decided to add an option to deactivate the Bixby button. The bad new? That you can not reassign another function, so you have a nice dead button on your 1,000-euro smartphone.
The utilities to squeeze the S-Pen
Note and S-Pen go hand in hand. Note family does not make sense if it is not accompanied by the stylus, that is its main differentiation and, according to Samsung, millions of users are decided by this terminal and not another.
The S-Pen is housed in the bottom left of the Note 8. No, there is no drama to put it backwards, it is impossible. This edition of the S-Pen, together with the screen technology of the smartphone, supports up to 4096 levels of pressure and its tip is 0.7 millimeters. Obviously, it is never necessary to charge it and we should not worry if it gets wet, it has IP68 resistance to water and dust, just like the telephone.
One of the things we can do with the S-Pen is to write notes by hand with the screen off, a function (called Screen off memo) that inherits from previous Note. Simply take the S-Pen at any time from your compartment so that we can automatically start writing on the black screen. Being an AMOLED panel, the pixels will remain off except for our strokes.
It is useful to take very quick notes, without having to worry about unlocking the smartphone, looking for the apps of notes … An improvement of this function is that now it allows us to create notes of up to 100 pages and, in addition, to fix that note in the screen of blocking. Thanks to the Always On Display (by which the screen can display information or notifications while it is off), we will see the note with the Note off. A usefulness of this? Bring the shopping list in sight or an important note that will always be present when we look at the screen.
On the other hand, if we remove the S-Pen when we are using the Note, Air Command will automatically appear . It is a floating bubble that groups the different options of the stylus. From there we can:
- Create a quick note
- See the list of those already created
- Smart Select: create screen selections, such as clippings or create GIFs of a specific area in a matter of seconds.
- ‘Writing on screen‘: it automatically makes a screen capture and the drawing tools appear to make indications in it.
- Animated message: we can create a drawing or text that will then be saved as an animation and we can share it.
- Translate: when activating this option, it will be enough to place the tip of the S-Pen over words in texts to translate them.
In addition, in that floating menu of Air Command we can put a direct access to any application that we have installed in the phone. For example, I have placed PENUP, an integrated drawing application that includes sketches that we can color and share with the community.
Air View is another of the functions that complement the utility of the S-Pen in the day to day. By placing the pointer over some elements it will show a preview of the content. For example, if we put it on a day of the calendar, the agenda of that day will appear, or the photos that are inside an album, or it allows to scroll in applications by just putting the S-Pen in the lower or upper part (this it’s my favorite), all without touching the screen. For its part, the Direct Pen function allows you to write by hand in any text field (although I confirm that with the traditional keyboard you will write faster).
Is the S-Pen really useful? That will depend on you, your needs and abilities. Personally I am a negate for the drawing, nevertheless I have been surprised the amount of times I have finished using the S-Pen for the normal use of the phone, browsing applications, consulting social networks … it is very comfortable. I am also surprised that I have not lost it (in the menu we can activate an alarm when the S-Pen and Note 8 are separated too).
Note 8 battery, up?
Here we have 3,300mAh, for the 3,500mAh that we find in the S8 +. Yes, Samsung has increased the screen by 0.1 inches, but it has reduced the capacity of the battery by 200mAh (the S-Pen needs to be made space, of course).
The real experience does not differ too much. In all likelihood there will be users who can endure a whole day with a single load, but this is not my case. On a business day, where you consult a lot of news, you browse the Web, social networks, photographs, messaging… the usual thing is to arrive at 7 or 8 pm with the Note battery asking for a charger. Not to mention days of very intensive use, using GPS and demanding a lot of the camera (for example on weekends). There most likely you need to carry an external battery or go through the charger.
In addition, I have ended up deactivating Always On Display , its consumption translates to about 2 hours of battery less at the end of the day (the own system of saving of Samsung deactivates it when we resorted to it).
Luckily, we have fast charging technology with the charger that comes from the factory (charges 100% of the battery in about 1 hour and 40 minutes) and also fast wireless charging .
Conclusion, is it worth the Note 8?
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a superb smartphone. There is no doubt about it. It is powerful, it is beautiful, it has one of the best cameras on the market and its performance is beyond doubt. Now, it is impossible to talk about the Note without referring to its price.
The official figure is $ 949.99 (although it can already be found for about $ 749). The Samsung Galaxy S8 +, with a tenth of an inch less, is already around € 700 and the Galaxy S8 can be seen for about € 560. Is it worth that big price increase for the Note? It will depend on the user.
If you think the S-Pen makes a difference in your daily workflow, go for it. The double camera? Yes, it is another factor to consider, the results of portrait mode (aka Dynamic Focus) is great in many situations, but is your photography based on portraits? Do not forget that we will use this mode on specific occasions and if we talk about the main camera the S8 / S8 + will give you the same result.
If you end up with it, you will not regret it, but if you do not need the stylus your dance partners – S8 +, LG V30, the imminent Pixel 2, iPhone X… – have a lot to say.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 analysis
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 on sale at less than 750 euros