Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Full, in-depth review

Samsung Galaxy Note 8
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5


  • S-Pen
  • QHD+ Display


  • Battery life burns down fast
  • Exynos can't keep pace with Snapdragon

Bottom Line

With the arrival of the Note 8, the brand has finally - and maybe inevitably - risen from the ashes to reclaim its past glory.

Would you buy this?

A cutting contrast to the usual rigamarole of flagship products, it’s fair to say Samsung‘s Galaxy Note 8 exists in a very “unique” context.

Last year’s explosive Note 7 left Samsung vulnerable to rivals and without a new entry in its most premium series of devices. Fortunately for Samsung, nobody really dared make a play for the crown during the long wait for the Note 8.

Sure, the absence of a new Note might have indirectly helped propel Google’s Pixel to a strong holiday season debut. And it probably didn't hurt HTC efforts to redefine their brand with their U11. However, looking at the big picture, the last twelve months haven't seen any sort of Note-killer emerge from the depths.

Quite the opposite, in fact. It seems like nobody wants that fight on their hands and it feels like everyone - Samsung’s competition and fans alike - have been counting down the days until the return of the Note brand. Now, their watch has ended, with Samsung delivering what might as well be called “The Phablet That Was Promised.” Jokes aside, the (increasingly-obscure) Game of Thrones references practically write themselves here.

The Note 7 blew up in Samsung’s face, throwing the status quo of the smartphone world into chaos. However, with the arrival of the Note 8, the brand has finally - and maybe inevitably - risen from the ashes to reclaim its past glory.

Long may it reign.

Credit: Samsung

The Pitch

It’d sell the Galaxy Note 8 short to say it's everything the Note 7 was meant to be. To tap Samsung’s marketing for a moment - the Note 8 is being pitched as ‘Bigger' product than just that. Build around three core features, the Galaxy Note 8 is envisioned as the phone that’s all things to all people.

The Note 8’s AMOLED Infinity Display promises to make it the sharpest screen available when it comes to watching things on a phone. It’s the world’s first 3K QHD+ display, with 521 ppi and a peak brightness of 1240 nits. There’s naught out there that can match it in the mobile space. Not even Apple’s newly announced iPhone X.

Credit: Samsung

Then, there’s the new-and-improved S-Pen. Featuring a finer tip, improved pressure sensitivity and a new Live Message feature that allows you to send and/or bother friends with animated drawings and messages.

Finally, there’s the camera. Incorporating Samsung’s first dual-lens configuration, it's the first smartphone with two 12-megapixel rear cameras with optical image stabilization (OIS) on both the wide-angle and telephoto lenses. Though similarities between the Note 8’s Live Focus mode and the numerous other Portrait or ‘Bokeh’ effect modes on rival flagships are inevitable, the sell here comes in the form of the way Samsung take the inclusion further through features like Dual Capture.

The big picture here isn’t that the Note 8 isn’t just everything the Note 7 would have been, sans battery faults. Whether you’re in it for the display, dual-lens camera or revamped S-Pen - Samsung are promising a second to none experience. What's more, tThe effective absence of the Note 8’s predecessor means that we’re  practically leapfrogging a year of iteration and jumping straight to the most polished version of the everything on the menu.

This is the smartphone that has it all and, with an Australian RRP of $1499, you’d damn-well hope it delivers.

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