• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has a lot riding on it after the disastrously flammable Galaxy Note 7. Samsung really needs a win with this one, so it’s no surprise to see that the company has gone all out in most areas, while also playing it safe when it comes to the battery.

There’s a lot to like here, from the stunning screen to the powerful dual-lens camera, but it’s a phone that’s also curiously similar to the already-massive Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus.

So has Samsung done enough to tempt buyers who passed the S8 Plus by? Read on to find out.

Screen

Galaxy Note 8 review display

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a phablet through and through, with a massive 6.3-inch 1440 x 2960 Super AMOLED screen.

It’s very sharp at 521 pixels per inch and both edges are curved, while the bezels at the top and bottom have been kept as small as possible, so the front of the phone really is almost all screen.

As with the Samsung Galaxy S8 it’s also got a super-widescreen 18.5:9 aspect ratio and supports HDR.

It’s as bright and vibrant as we’ve come to expect from Samsung and is easily one of the best screens ever to grace a smartphone, but it’s also almost identical to the 6.2-inch display on the Galaxy S8 Plus.

Design

Galaxy Note 8 review group

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is familiar yet different. It has a curvy glass front and back with a metal frame, just like other recent Samsung phones, but it’s more rectangular than the Galaxy S range.

Whether that’s good or bad is a matter of preference, but it’s a great looking phone either way and it’s IP68 certified water and dust resistant, so you can get it wet.

Being a phablet it’s a bit of a handful, but Samsung has kept the dimensions as manageable as possible, making the phone 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6mm and 195g.

It’s done that through almost eliminating the bezel on the front of the phone, but that’s had a less desirable side-effect: the fingerprint scanner has been moved to the back, beside the new dual-lens camera, where it’s a lot less accessible.

Rear-facing scanners always have the problem of being unreachable when a phone is face-up on a surface, but here it’s also a stretch to reach given the size of the Note 8, while having it below the screen would have made it less of a stretch.

It’s a shame, but a minor issue, and worth it for the bezel-less design it’s allowed for.

Power

There’s nothing to complain about here. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is one of the most powerful handsets of the year, combining 6GB of RAM (up from 4G in the Samsung Galaxy S8), with the same Exynos 8895 octa-core processor as that phone.

That has four cores clocked at 2.3GHz and four running at 1.7GHz and along with the Snapdragon 835 is the fastest mobile chipset at the time of writing.

Camera

One of the highlights of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is its dual-lens camera – a first from Samsung.

There’s two 12MP lenses, one wide-angle and one telephoto, allowing you to zoom in 2x without any loss of quality.

You can also use the two lenses for depth of field effects, letting you blur the background of a shot before or after taking it.

The Note 8’s camera’s main lens also has an f/1.7 aperture, which means the lens opening is larger than on most smartphones, so it can capture more light.

There’s a dual-LED flash to brighten up dark scenes and it can record video in up to 2160p at 30fps. All of which is very impressive on paper, but the important thing is that this is a great camera in practice too, rivalling the brilliance of the S8’s then adding an extra lens (and the new features that allows) on top.

Around the front things aren’t quite so impressive, but you still get a decent 8MP snapper with an f/1.7 aperture.

Features

The Galaxy Note 8 has a lot of features, but one we have to mention is its S Pen stylus. That’s a standard Note feature, but along with the dual-lens camera it’s one of the main reasons to choose this phone over the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus.

You can use the S Pen to write or sketch, imitating a pen and paper, but it’s packed full of clever features too, like the ability to draw your own emojis and write straight onto the screen without having to wake the phone up first. It’s a great addition to the phone, particularly if you plan to use it for work.

Note 8 review iris scanner

The Note 8 also has an iris scanner (see above), giving you an even more high-tech alternative to the fingerprint scanner, and this is surprisingly fast and accurate.

Of course, you also get Samsung’s AI assistant Bixby. And it’s finally fully-featured, offering the voice interaction that wasn’t available at the S8’s launch.

It’s still generally less useful than Google Assistant – but you have the option to use that instead, and Samsung has big ambitions for Bixby, so it’s likely to improve over time.

Battery life, memory and connectivity

The biggest weak point of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is arguably its battery, as at 3,300mAh it’s smaller than even the juice pack in the S8 Plus.

That’s understandable, given that the battery was to blame for the Galaxy Note 7’s flammable flaws, but we can’t help but feel that Samsung is perhaps being over cautious.

Still, it should at least last you a day of moderate use, making it competitive with many phones, and it supports fast charging whether you plug it in or go wireless.

For memory, you get a choice of 64GB, 128GB or 256GB. At least, in theory you do. In practice only the 64GB model appears to be available in the UK currently.

But that’s still a decent amount of storage, and it’s aided by a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 256GB.

Connectivity options include 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 really is the phablet to beat this year. It’s big, powerful and beautiful, with more features than you’ll know what to do with, plus a great screen, one of the best smartphone cameras yet and the extra productivity potential that the S Pen stylus unlocks.

That said, it’s not perfect. The battery could be bigger and it’s surprisingly similar to the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus – which has been out a while and will cost you less.

But right now it’s the best phablet you can buy, and only the iPhone 8 looks like it might have much chance of beating it.

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Specifications

Specifications

Dimensions (mm): 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6

Weight (g): 195

Battery capacity (mAh): 3300

Colours: Midnight Black, Maple Gold, Orchid Grey, Deep Sea Blue

Screen size (inches): 6.3

Resolution: 1440 x 2960

Pixels per inch (PPI): 521

Processor: Octa-core 2.3GHz

Processor make: Exynos 8895

RAM: 6GB

Internal storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB

Expandable storage up to (GB): 256

Camera: Dual 12MP (8MP front-facing)

Operating System: Android 7.1.1 Nougat

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