Galaxy Note 8 Pros and Cons
The Galaxy Note 8 is more than just a do-over for the recalled Note 7. It’s a leap forward for big-screen phones, offering a number of firsts for Samsung and a world’s first for any camera phone. Add in a number of S Pen improvements and other enhancements and you have what could be the ultimate phablet for power users. But there are a couple of reasons to think twice, too.
The Note 8, which starts at about $930, is available for pre-order now, and carriers are offering deals on Samsung’s big-screen handset. Here are seven reasons to buy the Note 8 and two reasons to skip it.
Dual Cameras beat the competition
The Galaxy Note 8 packs two rear 12-megapixel cameras, giving you a true 2x optical zoom, just like the iPhone 7 Plus. But unlike the current iPhone, both lenses on the Note 8 offer optical- image stabilization, which means you should see steadier-looking images and video. This is a first for any smartphone.
With the new Live Focus feature, you can adjust the blur effect on the background of portraits you take both before and after the shot, which makes this one versatile camera phone. We also like the dual capture feature, which lets you choose from a close-up or wide-angle shot after you’ve snapped the shutter, though the phone could be more responsive in toggling between the two options.
Big and beautiful screen
Samsung made the gorgeous Infinity Display on the Galaxy S8 even bigger, stretching it to 6.3 inches on the Note 8. You still get quad-HD resolution and Super AMOLED for eye-popping colors and perfect blacks, but Samsung made the curve on the edge-to-edge screen less severe, which makes for a more natural writing experience with the S Pen.
New S Pen powers
The stylus returns on the Note 8, and this time around you can take notes on the fly pretty much as long as you like. That’s because the Screen-Off memo feature lets you store up to 100 pages of notes, and it’s easy to pin them to the Always-on display and go back and edit them later.
If you’re looking to spice up your messaging, the Note 8 can turn your scribbles into an animated GIF that’s easily sharable. The effect is especially cool when you choose a photo in your gallery as the background. Just keep in mind that your carrier may have limitations on the size of GIFs that can be sent.
Very good battery life
Although the Note 8’s 3,300 mAh battery is on the small side compared to some other flagship phones, including the Galaxy S8+, it lasted a pretty long time on the Tom’s Guide Battery Test. The phone was able to surf the web over 4G (on 150 nits of screen brightness) for 11 hours and 11 minutes. That’s slightly better than the S8+ and is also longer than the iPhone 7 Plus (10:38).
Some handsets, like the OnePlus 5 (13:06), last even longer on a charge, but the Note 8 holds its own.
Faster than Galaxy S8
Although the Galaxy Note 8 has the sameSnapdragon 835 chip as the Galaxy S8, Samsung added 2GB more of RAM to bring its total to 6GB. That extra memory helped the Note 8 turn in better benchmark scores. You should also be able to get smoother multitasking performance and experience less lag when you have two apps open side by side.
A better way to multitask
Speaking of multitasking, the Note 8 offers a new App Pair feature that launches two applications at the same time, with one taking up the left side of the screen and the other the right side. It’s easy to create your own pairs in the Apps Edge menu.
For example, you can launch the browser and YouTube at once, so you can surf the web while you watch the latest viral video. Or you could pull up the phone app and your calendar at the same time, so you can double-check that conference call info as you dial.
It can double as a desktop
With the optional DeX Station, you can transform the Galaxy Note 8 into a mini PC and run multiple apps at once with a much bigger view on a HD monitor. The DeX supports a keyboard and mouse, too. There are several apps optimized for this dock, including Zoom. You can start a video call on the Note 8, plug it in, and keep chatting away. You can even do screen sharing.
It’s very pricey
At $929 unlocked and as much as $960 through carriers, the Galaxy Note 8 is one of the most expensive phones ever. Even when you break it down into installments, such as the $40 per month plan through Verizon, it’s still pretty steep.
Fortunately, carriers, Best Buy and others are offering all sorts of Note 8 deals.
Fingerprint sensor in awkward location
Yes, you can unlock the Note 8 with your face or even your peepers with its iris scanning capability, but it’s still a bummer than the fingerprint sensor is located right next to the camera. It would be much easier to find by feel and use if the sensor were located underneath the camera.