Galaxy Note8: Everything we know about Samsung’s next flagship phablet

Subtle changes and a big camera upgrade will separate Samsung's upcoming phone from the Galaxy S8+.

The late-summer launch of the Galaxy Note phablet is always a big event for Samsung, but there’s even more attention on this year’s release. In case you’ve forgotten, the Galaxy Note7 was an epic fail for Samsung, resulting in a massive recall after devices began exploding around the world. Since then, however, Samsung has been on a roll, launching the highly acclaimed Galaxy S8 and posting record profits along the way.

With the upcoming Note8 launch, Samsung is hoping to put the Note7 debacle behind it once and for all. Building on the success of the S8, the new flagship phablet is shaping up to be a beast, with a bigger screen, better camera, and, of course, the all-important S Pen. So stay tuned to this post as we keep feeding it with all the latest info we can find.

Galaxy Note8 design and display

As with previous Notes, rumors peg the design of the Note8 closely resembling the Galaxy S8. Not that that’s a bad thing. You can expect the screen to be a slightly bigger (6.3 inches versus 6.2 inches on the S8+) 3840x2160 Quad HD Infinity Display that stretches to the edges of the device, with a barely-there bezel all around. The new 2:1 ratio will remain, making the device taller and  much easier to hold than last year’s model, despite a much bigger screen.

galaxy note 8 leak Tung Ha

This image posted by Vietnamese blogger Tung Ha seemingly shows the Galaxy Note8 in all its glory.

Around the back, similarities with the S8 continue, with a horizontal camera setup in the center and, unfortunately, a fingerprint sensor to the right of the flash. We had our share of issues with the placement of the fingerprint sensor on the S8, and we were hoping Samsung would rectify it on the Note8. Apparently that won’t be the case.

galaxy note front panel leak comparison @mmddj_china

This image comparing the Galaxy S8 (left) to the Note8 shows some slight differences in shape.

Along the bottom edge will be a speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C charging port, and S-Pen slot. Leaked images also show a dedicated Bixby button on the left side, and the digital assistant should be fully functional by the time the Note8 launches. The edges appear to be slightly more angular than on the S8, as seen in the image above, but overall the Note8's aesthetic will be virtually indistinguishable from the S8. It will reportedly be available in three similar color options—black, silver, blue, and gold—all likely with black fronts like the S8.

Galaxy Note8 specs and features

While the Note8 might look a lot like the S8, there will be some notable changes on the inside. While it will likely stick with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 in the U.S., overseas users will reportedly get an updated Exynos 8995 chipset. But the real gains will come from a bump to 6GB of RAM (up from 4GB on the S8). We already saw what the extra RAM can do with the OnePlus 5, so the Note8 will likely feel quite a bit faster than the S8 despite a comparable processor.

There are also reports of a 128GB model in addition to the 64GB base model. (Samsung offered a limited 128GB variant of the S8 with 6GB of RAM in South Korea and Hong Kong, so perhaps that was a test run for the Note8.) Elsewhere, the SD slot will remain, as will IP68 water resistance, wireless charging, and an iris scanner.

samsung s pen speaker patent Patently Mobile

Will Samsung integrate a speaker into its next S Pen?

As far as the S Pen, there haven’t been any rumors about new Note8 features for Samsung’s stylus, but last year brought new Air Command shortcuts like magnify and translate,  and added off-screen memos for quick note-taking. So we’re hoping to see some new tricks that make using the S Pen even better—although we're not holding our breath for the wild patent above that shows an integrated speaker built into the stylus.

Galaxy Note8 camera

galaxt note8 camera leak image Tung Ha

The Note8 will likely sport a dual-camera setup, as seen in this leaked case image.

If there’s one thing to get excited about with the Note8, it’s the camera. While the Galaxy S8’s shooter is nothing to scoff at, the Note8 will reportedly bring the biggest camera advancement on a Samsung phone in years.

Super accurate KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo tipped the news back in April that the upcoming phablet would be the first Samsung flagship to bring a dual-camera setup, and we can’t wait to get our hands on it. According to Kuo, the system will pair a 12MP wide-angle sensor with a 13MP telephoto one, dual optical image stabilization, and 3x optical zoom. If true, it would be a massive improvement over the S8's shooter, and that’s before we factor in Samsung’s usual processing enhancements. In short, the Note 8 could have the best camera ever in a smartphone.

While we have no way of verifying the specs just yet, case and render leaks clearly show a pair of cameras mounted on the back of the phone. However, all that power will reportedly bring back a feature no one wants: the camera bump. Renders show the camera sticking out ever so slightly on the Note8, but if that’s the price we have to pay for all that photography goodness, we’ll deal.

Galaxy Note8 battery

galaxy note7 fire CNN

Samsung will hopefully avoid any exploding batteries with this year's Note.

Above all else, the Note8’s battery is sure to command lots of attention, and not just for its specs. After last year’s calamity, Samsung has implemented an 8-point battery safety check for all new devices, and everyone will be watching to see if the Note8 passes the test.

As far as the battery itself, rumors suggest that Samsung will be playing it very safe with the Note8. According to reports, the new phablet will have a slightly smaller battery than the S8+, 3,300mAh versus 3,500mAh. However, the extra RAM will help keep overall power consumption down, so it should still get the same stellar battery life as the S8+.

Galaxy Note8 pricing and release date

The Galaxy Note always commands a premium over its Galaxy counterpart, and some reports say that it could land at around $900, only $50 higher than the S8+. As far as the launch goes, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S8 a few weeks later than usual this year, and it appears as though the Note8 will follow suit. Most rumors peg its introduction for late August, with Wed., August 23, most recently emerging as the likely date with a sale date slotted for the second week of September.

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Michael Simon

Michael Simon

PC World (US online)
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