The Galaxy Note 8 is here at long last and it was everything we heard it would be and then some. There is quite a bit of fuss being made over its $1,000 price tag, at least before the iPhone 8 hits that price point as well next month. That said, there might be some things going for Samsung’s latest phablet that could make that four-digit price worth its salt. Here are eight of them.
The S Pen
Aside from the dual cameras, which we’ll get to later, the S Pen is really the only reason you’ll even consider shelling out $1,000 for a smartphone. Naturally, this is also where Samsung has devoted much, though not all, of its attention. If you’ve experienced the Galaxy Note 7 first hand, you’ll be familiar with many of the features you’ll meet in the Galaxy Note 8, albeit with some added perks. For example, it has the same 4,096 levels of pressure, but now matches the color of the phone it comes with. Translation has leveled up to process whole sentences and there’s a new Live Message feature that turns your scribbles into animated shorts. And that’s on top of the general productivity and creativity that a built-in stylus offers.
All in all, the S Pen makes a significant improvement over the Galaxy Note 5 even if it’s only an incremental step forward from the Galaxy Note 7. We don’t speak of that phone anymore, anyway.
IP68 even without the S Pen
Another example of an incremental improvement is waterproofing. The Galaxy Note 7 was already IP68 rated and its S Pen was similarly waterproof. The problem was that the phone alone wasn’t completely protected without the stylus tucked inside. Samsung has finally fixed that seemingly ridiculous limitation which, in truth, is a bit harder to pull off. It’s hard to keep the water out if you intentionally leave a gaping hole.
So the Galaxy Note 8 is now IP68 water proof, even without the S Pen inside. More than just bragging rights, this means that users can have more confidence and peace of mind to use the Galaxy Note 8, S Pen and all, in whatever condition they find themselves in. Inspiration sometime comes at the most unexpected moments and places, and your Galaxy Note 8 will always be ready to capture it.
Screen Off Memo
Productivity gurus often advise against using phones for jotting down ideas or information quickly because of the time it takes for you to take out your phone, unlock it, launch the right app, and begin typing. The improved Screen Off Memo flies in the face of such conventional wisdom.
You basically have the digital equivalent of a 100-page notepad at your fingertips with the Galaxy Note 8, completely editable and reusable. It takes the same amount of time to start scribbling on the screen as taking out a notepad and pulling out a pen. It might actually be faster since you don’t have to flip to the next blank page. And unlike a physical notebook, you can always keep a memo on top. This is a productivity junkie’s must have device.
Two apps are better than one
Samsung has been doing split screen multitasking for years now but, thanks to Android 7.0 Nougat, that features has been brought into the limelight. While stock Android tries to catch up with what Galaxy Note owners have been enjoying for quite a while now, Samsung has added another feature to spice things up: App Pairs.
Truth be told, you can survive even without this feature, but productivity is about being efficient and spending less time on mundane tasks. If you find yourself often launching apps only to split them in specific pairs, then App Pairs is going to be a huge timesaver.
Large Infinity Display
It’s almost too easy to dismiss the Galaxy Note 8’s screen since we’ve seen it before. It is practically a slightly larger and flatter Galaxy S8+ screen. But those two differences, even if subtle, have significant implications for the Galaxy Note 8 beyond its entertainment value.
A larger screen means you also have more room to draw and write. That’s the same reason why Samsung made the edge’s curve sharper than that on the Galaxy S8+. The curve drops further towards the edge, which not only leaves more room but also helps prevent the S Pen from sliding over the edge too easily.
OIS on both lenses
Samsung is admittedly late to the dual camera party but it arrived with guns blazing. Putting optical image stabilization on both telephoto and wide-angle cameras, while keeping the entire structure as compacts as it can be, is no small feat. And yet it is also one of the most desired feature among smartphones with high quality dual cameras. Even better, the OIS works for both stills and videos. No users no longer have to make an upfront decision, which could take time and cause stress, which camera to use or to worry that their video will turn out to be rather shaky.
Telephoto *and* wide-angle simultaneously
Part of not having to make users choose when they just want to capture the moment is not having to decide which of the two cameras to use in the first place. Sometimes you want to capture the whole surrounding but also want to focus on a specific subject. Sometimes you also want to change your mind. For once in a lifetime moment, you don’t get a second chance. Fortunately, the Galaxy Note 8 save you from having to make that choice in the moment. Sure, it’s limited to the certain camera modes, but, that’s the mode most will use anyway.
Plenty of RAM
Although Samsung has long boasted of its capability of producing RAM modules that could amount to 6 GB in total, it never actually used that much in any of its smartphones. Until now that is. There’s still some debate on whether smartphones really need 6 GB, much less 8 GB, of RAM and, truth be told, mobile platforms should be optimized enough that they should run flawlessly with just 4 GB.
But 6 GB of RAM plays a special role in the Galaxy Note 8 specifically. It will be useful for making DeX work as if it were really a desktop computer. DeX gives the illusion of running a regular desktop and users are more likely to tax their smartphones beyond their usual capacities. Having enough wiggle room with 6 GB RAM is definitely a s must and it’s a bit disappointing that the Galaxy S8 or even the Galaxy S8+ didn’t have as much.
Samsung is, as always, billing the Galaxy Note 8 as a phone for those who want to do more, be it watching more videos, creating more art, or being more productive. In that respect, the Galaxy Note 8 does seem fit for the job. It’s far from perfect, of course. There are still a few kinks that Samsung needs to iron out, like Bixby and DeX. And the price tag, is going to loom over it like a ghost. But if you are looking for a productivity beast and have the cash to spare, or are able to get a sweet deal, the Galaxy Note 8 is definitely the smartphone to beat.