Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has certainly managed to draw attention during its official announcement. This is due to its capabilities as well as its price. The model has the difficult task to erase the bad reputation of its predecessor and make users believe that the Note series is safe and of high quality.
We received a prototype of Galaxy Note 8 and this is one of the reasons why there are no battery tests so far as the results wouldn’t correspond to reality. However, this didn’t prevent us from taking a thorough look at the design and all available features including the renewed camera that indeed takes amazing photos. We will complete the review with the missing information as soon as possible.
If you happen to show interest in Samsung Note 8, you can check its current price and availability HERE.
Design and construction
Galaxy Note 8 is a 6.3-inch smartphone which means that you should also expect large overall dimensions. However, the truth is that for such a big screen the dimensions of the devices are completely acceptable. The grip with one hand is comfortable as the width of the model is as much as the classic 5.2-inch smartphone. Note 8, however, is visibly taller so the upper half of the display cannot be reached by the thumb of the hand with which you hold the device. Below, you can see how Galaxy Note 8 looks compared to the 5.2-inch Moto G5 Plus and 4.7-inch Galaxy A3 (2017).
The thickness and weight have slightly increased compared to Galaxy S8 but they are again within the normal. And so, the profile has a thickness of 8.6 mm while the weight is 195 grams. Similarly to the previous top devices of the company, Galaxy Note 8 offers a glass back which just like the screen has slight curves at the edges. However, the truth is that these curves are more discreet compared to those in Galaxy S8. In this way the design looks a bit more angular but this is not necessarily a minus. Between the two glass parts that are protected by Gorilla Glass 5 there is a metal frame which in contact clearly differs from the glass. As you might have expected, the glass back of the model is again a fingerprint magnet which is one of the cons. However, we can add to the pros the IP68 certificate that ensures water resistance allowing for up to 1.5 m dips for up to 30 minutes.
In the front part, the smartphone looks very attractive mostly due to the two curved sides that make the side bezels almost invisible. The space below and above the screen is also optimally small. For instance, there is no room for a hardware Home button but as in Galaxy S8 here the three sensor buttons are again part of the screen as the Home button registers pressure accompanied by a light vibration. The idea of this innovation lies in the fact that even though the sensor buttons are hidden while you are playing a game, for example, when pressing the Home button area it momentarily leads you to home screen. Pressing it can be used for quick unlocking of your smartphone. The small area above the screen holds the front camera, earpiece, LED notifications indicator, proximity and ambient light sensors, as well as the iris scanner to which we will pay attention below in the review.
In the rear part, the dual camera leaves the biggest impression and right next to it you can also see the LED flash and heart rate sensor. Of course, there is again a fingerprint scanner which is also located in the dual camera area. Below them, you will find a Samsung inscription and several product labels and inscriptions at the bottom.
Just like in Galaxy S8, we are again presented with a Bixby button located right below the volume controls. You can initially confuse it with the Power button which is on the other side as it looks similar to it. Additionally, placed at the bottom are the headphone jack, USB-Type C port, main mic, loudspeaker and S Pen which with a gentle click easily comes out and goes in its appointed place without the danger of it happening involuntarily. And the top holds the nanoSIM and microSD card slots. Here, you will also find a secondary built-in mic.
Here’s how the device coped with several extreme durability tests.
Galaxy Note 8’s display offers a resolution of 1440 х 2960 pixels again just like the one of Galaxy S8 which was announced earlier this year. However, here we have a 6.3-inch display making the pixel density 521ppi. This, of course, equals an extremely great image detail. Also, the Super AMOLED matrix is still here so the colors will be vivid and contrasting. In the settings menu, you have the option of setting a lower resolution which should have a favorable effect on the battery life. We can’t but notice the feature-rich display menu, and we shall take a look at the most interesting among them below.
Super AMOLED displays have wide color gamut. While many displays can’t cover sRGB, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 offers display modes allowing you to choose from several color gamuts with accurate coverage. The latter takes matters to a whole new level.
Blue light emissions
After sunset, when our biological clock prepares our organism for sleep it is namely the blue component with 440 nm wavelength that unlocks hormonal imbalance, leading to a number of negative effects. You can read more about the Blue light impact in our dedicated article.
In the display menu, you can also find a blue light filter which will reduce eye strain, especially at night. You have the option of controlling the filter’s opacity and determine a schedule. If you turn your GPS on, the device will know when the sun rises or sets and activate the filter appropriately.
This submenu features several different options such as selecting whether you want to have an app drawer or you would like to have all available icons on the home screen. You can also set the number of rows and columns for the icons and whether you want to have a dedicated Apps button or just use a swipe to open the app drawer. And finally you can choose to hide certain apps.
We have encountered this mode in other Samsung models but this time it has been moved to the display menu. By activating “Easy mode” you’ll increase the size of the text and icons. This way you’ll have less stuff on your home screen. Moreover, you can select which apps you want to see on your home screen and get quick access to your favorite contacts since they’re all located your home screen.
It is from here that you can determine the color of the navigation bar and change the button placement or allow a hard press on the Home button to unlock your device. What’s more, you can even control the home button’s sensitivity.
It is here that we find two options that can be disabled. The first one is about the information you want to see on the display’s edge when swiping to the left. You can put frequently used apps, favorite contacts, weather information, sports results and much more. Another feature of the so-called Edge screen is its ability to function as an indicator for various notifications. Of course, you can choose which notifications to be included.
The display menu features a couple of other options such as protection against unwilling presses while the phone is in your pocket, change of icons layout, brightness and font adjustments as well as others. You can even choose the resolution of your screen and what apps can be spread along the entire screen.
|OS||Android 7.1 Nougat|
|CPU||Exynos 8895 (4-core, 2.30GHz & 4-core, 1.70GHz)|
|Display||6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED capacitive multitouch display with resolution of 2960×1440 pixels|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth v5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, GPS|
|Cameras||dual 12MP, autofocus, dual LED flash (rear); 8MP (front)|
|Dimensions||74.8 x 162.5 x 8.6 mm|
We will update this section of the review with results of the battery tests as soon as possible because our prototype version of the model doesn’t represent the real endurance that the smartphone will offer when purchased from the store.
Battery settings and modes
In the battery menu, you will find two modes that limit its consumption. The first one makes some minor restrictions that could slightly increase the life between charges but the second one called Maximum power saving mode is more intriguing. It limits the maximum screen brightness to 80%, the mobile chip performance as well as the mobile data. Only basic applications and settings are available. Once again, you get information about the approximate durability of the charge under the given mode. The menu also includes information about the consumption of the various applications and the different time periods.
In terms of software, Galaxy Note 8 works with Android 7.1 Nougat operating system and you can be sure that it will also be one of the first models equipped with the next version of the mobile platform when it is available. Of course, we are also presented with the latest issue of Samsung’s UI which we also saw in Galaxy S8. One of the novelties that made an impression on us then was the way in which you can access the internal menu. This is possible via a swipe up or down in any part of the screen. In the same way, you can directly go back to the home screen. Additionally, the menu’s and icon’s layout, and there are some additional applications accompanying the traditional ones. An example is a Microsoft Apps folder which contains Word, Excel and PowerPoint. We are also presented with a Samsung folder, containing apps such as Health, Samsung Gear, file manager and others. You will also find Samsung Note for notetaking and several other apps for drawing with the pen.
Here’s what the settings menu looks like.
Similar to previous Galaxy models, we are again presented with a “Themes” section. Each theme changes completely the UI layout starting with wallpapers, menus and icons. You also have a shortcut to the Samsung store where you can find a great number of themes.
In the settings menu, you will find a submenu called “Device maintenance” which offers useful information about battery, storage, memory and device security.
The front camera can detect your face and keep the screen on until your eyes look somewhere else.
Game Launcher will arrange all of your games in one place. Apart from this, it will offer additional options such as disabling notifications when playing a game and a battery saving mode. The latter includes two options – both decrease the resolution and frames per second in a game. You will find various offers for games which can be of potential interest.
One-handed is a mode that can be activated by a diagonal swipe upwards or by pressing the Home button three times. This will reduce the screen and allow you to reach any point with the thumb of the hand you are holding the device with.
By quickly double pressing the Power button you can directly launch the camera app.
Multi window allows you to open two apps simultaneously on the screen, and you can choose how much space they can occupy.
Smart capture allows you to take a screenshot by sliding your hand along the screen’s surface, and you have the option of cropping certain parts of the picture.
By covering the proximity and ambient light sensors you can mute an alert or an incoming call.
The features menu also has a video enhancer which makes colors brighter and more vivid.
Creating a note – when you select this option a white screen appears in which you can write whatever you want. You can also add a photo, audio or draw something.
Smart select allows you to select and crop a specific part of what’s shown on the screen and edit, share or send it in Bixby in order to get more information.
Screen write – when selecting this function the device automatically takes a screenshot and allows you to write or draw something on it.
Live message allows you to create an impressive GIF, which you can send to a friend.
Translate – here, you only have to select a certain word from a photo with the pen and it is automatically recognized and translated with the help of Google Translate in a pre-selected language.
Bixby Vision allows you to select a certain part or area of the photo with the pen and automatically finds information about it on the Internet.
Bixby is another novelty that Samsung unveiled during the Galaxy S8 announcement. It is a new virtual assistant that even boasts a dedicated hardware button. It can be used with voice commands (when the button is pressed), text or touch. You can even capture a given object with your camera and Bixby can search info about it after that. Bixby checks prices and shops where you could buy a given product, gives info about various sights and restaurants that you could visit, recognizes QR codes and more.
Apart from using the hardware button, you can launch Bixby by swiping to the right while you are on your home screen. In it, you will find personalized info about everything of interest to you – up to date news, upcoming tasks, weather forecast, daily activity and everything else. Apart from this, Bixby self-teaches itself according to your interests and usage.
Lock screen and safety
In the “Lock screen and safety” submenu, you will find the fingerprint options which allow you to not only unlock your device but also confirm your identity in certain apps. We can say that the scanner is fast and accurate.
Samsung’s Always on option was first encountered in Galaxy S7 but it is also present here. Once activated, it lets you see the time, date, missed notifications and even a small calendar on your screen at all times. It doesn’t drain too much battery since it only activates the necessary pixels on the Super AMOLED panel instead of you having to turn on the whole display. At first, it may seem strange seeing information on your screen at all times, but you’ll get used to it and you’ll probably find it to be a very useful and neat feature since you won’t have to turn on your screen so many times a day. Anyway, you can turn it off at any time if you don’t like it, but keep in mind that it might actually be saving some battery since you won’t be turning on the screen that often, as Samsung likes to remind us.
One of the novelties that caused a lot of hype before the announcement of Galaxy S8, was the iris scanner, which is also present in Galaxy Note 8. It is relatively quick to detect your eyes but there seem to be far too many requirements which make the fingerprint scanner more convenient. If you want to have your eyes scanned, you should keep your phone at a particular distance from your face. Also, unlocking won’t be possible if you are wearing glasses or lens. It’s a fact, though, that this is a really fancy way to unlock your phone and show off.
When it comes to the SoC, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is offered in two versions. Within the United States the model comes with a Snapdragon 835, while in Europe you get the version with an Exynos 8895, which we used in our tests. Exynos 8895 has eight cores, the first four of which are Exynos M1 and tick at up to 2.3 GHz, while the second group uses Cortex-A53 architecture and operates at up to 1.7GHz. Samsung has improved the architecture design of its Exynos M1 cores which has lead to an increase in performance and a decrease in energy consumption.
Exynos 8895 is the first chip manufactured through a 10nm FinFET technological process, making Galaxy S8’s operation even faster, reducing energy consumption by 40% and increasing performance with up to 27% in comparison to its 14nm counterpart. Additionally, the chip supports LTE Cat 16 connectivity which will ensure download speeds of up to 1024Mbps and upload speeds of up to 150Mbps. The SoC also supports up to 28MP front and rear cameras, 4K screens and 4K video recording at 120 fps. Thanks to the two mini processors for image processing, Exynos 8892 can work with dual cameras as well.
The mobile chip comes with the new Mali-G71 GPU which has 20 cores, ensuring with up to 60% higher performance when compared to its predecessor. Samsung also claims that the chip will maintain low temperatures even after a continuous load, and that energy consumption will be significantly lowered. More information about Exynos 8895 can be found on the official page: http://www.samsung.com/semiconductor/minisite/Exynos/w/solution/mod_ap/8895/
Galaxy Note 8 comes with 6GB RAM.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to put Galaxy Note 8 to any benchmarks because our prototype version didn’t allow that. However, as it became evident, the smartphone works with the same Exynos mobile chip as this in Galaxy S8 so we used the results of the latter in order to give you insight into the performance power of Galaxy Note 8.
Geekbench 3.0 is Primate Labs cross-platform processor benchmark which simulates real-world scenarios and gives a combined score, based on the results of integer, floating point and memory performance.
|Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Samsung Exynos 9 Series (8895) (4-core, Exynos M1, 2.3 GHz), 6GB RAM||5978||0 %||Check price|
|Sony Xperia XZ Premium Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998) (4-core, Kryo, 2.45 GHz), 4GB RAM||4996||- 16.43 %||Check price|
|HTC U11 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998) (4-core, Kryo, 2.45 GHz), 4GB RAM||6456||8 %||Check price|
|Huawei P10 Plus HiSilicon Kirin 960 (4-core, Cortex-A73, 2.4 GHz), 4 / 6GB RAM||6400||7.06 %||Check price|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890) (4-core, Exynos M1, 2.6 GHz), 4GB RAM||5391||- 9.82 %||Check price|
Metal 3 is the latest version of Vellamo’s CPU benchmark.
|Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Samsung Exynos 9 Series (8895) (4-core, Exynos M1, 2.3 GHz), 6GB RAM||3352||0 %||Check price|
|Sony Xperia XZ Premium Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998) (4-core, Kryo, 2.45 GHz), 4GB RAM||3532||5.37 %||Check price|
|HTC U11 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998) (4-core, Kryo, 2.45 GHz), 4GB RAM||2761||- 17.63 %||Check price|
|Huawei P10 Plus HiSilicon Kirin 960 (4-core, Cortex-A73, 2.4 GHz), 4 / 6GB RAM||3936||17.42 %||Check price|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890) (4-core, Exynos M1, 2.6 GHz), 4GB RAM||3472||3.58 %||Check price|
Vellamo 2 Metal measures the CPU subsystem performance of mobile processors.
|Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Samsung Exynos 9 Series (8895) (4-core, Exynos M1, 2.3 GHz), 6GB RAM||2158||0 %||Check price|
|Sony Xperia XZ Premium Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998) (4-core, Kryo, 2.45 GHz), 4GB RAM||2336||8.25 %||Check price|
|HTC U11 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998) (4-core, Kryo, 2.45 GHz), 4GB RAM||2382||10.38 %||Check price|
|Huawei P10 Plus HiSilicon Kirin 960 (4-core, Cortex-A73, 2.4 GHz), 4 / 6GB RAM||2369||9.78 %||Check price|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890) (4-core, Exynos M1, 2.6 GHz), 4GB RAM||2258||4.63 %||Check price|
The T-Rex 2.7 test is based on ES 2.0/GL 3.0 and includes highly detailed textures, materials, complex geometry, particles with animated textures and a post-process motion blur effect. The graphics pipeline also features planar reflections, specular highlights and soft-shadows.
|Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Samsung Exynos 9 Series (8895); GPU: Mali-G71 , ; 6GB RAM||121||0 %||Check price|
|Sony Xperia XZ Premium Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998); GPU: Adreno 540, ; 4GB RAM||109||- 9.92 %||Check price|
|HTC U11 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998); GPU: Adreno 540, ; 4GB RAM||98||- 19.01 %||Check price|
|Huawei P10 Plus HiSilicon Kirin 960; GPU: Mali-G71 MP8, ; 4 / 6GB RAM||55||- 54.55 %||Check price|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890); GPU: Mali-T880 MP12, ; 4GB RAM||83||- 31.4 %||Check price|
The Manhattan 3.0 test is based on ES 3.0 / GL 4.1 and uses deferred rendering and multi-render target (MRT) for the geometry pass, diffuse and specular lightning. It also features complex effects such as depth shadow map, cloaking effect, post-process effects (bloom, depth of field), occlusion query and animated volumetric light shafts.
|Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Samsung Exynos 9 Series (8895); GPU: Mali-G71 , ; 6GB RAM||63||0 %||Check price|
|Sony Xperia XZ Premium Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998); GPU: Adreno 540, ; 4GB RAM||56||- 11.11 %||Check price|
|HTC U11 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998); GPU: Adreno 540, ; 4GB RAM||52||- 17.46 %||Check price|
|Huawei P10 Plus HiSilicon Kirin 960; GPU: Mali-G71 MP8, ; 4 / 6GB RAM||29||- 53.97 %||Check price|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890); GPU: Mali-T880 MP12, ; 4GB RAM||40||- 36.51 %||Check price|
In this test, 3DMark’s Unlimited engine uses a fixed frame interval and renders exactly the same frames in every run on every device. The frames are rendered in 720p "offscreen" while the display is updated with small frame thumbnails every 100 frames to indicate progress.
|Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Samsung Exynos 9 Series (8895); GPU: Mali-G71 , ; 6GB RAM||29108||0 %||Check price|
|Sony Xperia XZ Premium Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998); GPU: Adreno 540, ; 4GB RAM||40346||38.61 %||Check price|
|HTC U11 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998); GPU: Adreno 540, ; 4GB RAM||40556||39.33 %||Check price|
|Huawei P10 Plus HiSilicon Kirin 960; GPU: Mali-G71 MP8, ; 4 / 6GB RAM||27214||- 6.51 %||Check price|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890); GPU: Mali-T880 MP12, ; 4GB RAM||29162||0.19 %||Check price|
Temperatures and comfort
Along with the performance, we always measure to what extent the tested device increases its external temperatures after a continuous load. In our case, the load is realised by a 4K video recording which is one of the toughest operations for the smartphone. The 4K videos are limited to 10 minutes so right after the end of the video we will check the maximum temperatures in three different areas at the back of the model. Judging by the performance of Galaxy S8 which features the same mobile chip the temperatures should be within the normal. In the image below you can see the exact values in degrees.
The Galaxy Note 8 camera is one of the major updates as here you are presented with the already popular among smartphones dual camera featuring a second wide-angle lens thanks to which you can take advantage of 2x optical zoom. It is present in the form of a small button and may not be available depending on the conditions. This happens when the camera software decides that the conditions determine that it’s better to take a better picture with the main sensor. Apart from optical zoom, the second sensor also offers you “bokeh” effect. In addition, the Live Focus feature allows you to adjust the background blur both before and after taking the photo.
Anyway, the two sensors are 12MP with a dual LED flash as the main one has a f/1.7 aperture while the second one features a f/2.4 aperture. Another difference is that the first sensor boasts ultra fast dual pixel autofocus. However, the two sensors feature an optical image stabilization which we see for the first time in a smartphone with two cameras. Most importantly, the photos taken with Galaxy Note 8 are truly amazing and completely suit a flagship like this model. The smartphone handles on a high level low-light shots mostly thanks to the fast autofocus and optical image stabilization.
The front camera is now 8MP and it also offers a f/1.7 aperture. Also available is intelligent autofocus that tracks faces so that everyone in the photo can be in focus. Here, you will also find several modes such as wide selfie allowing you to take a picture with more people, selective focus with which you determine which object in the photo to be in focus and a virtual image. Also available are various effects, stickers, etc.
Menu and features
Furthermore, the camera menu that can be opened by a swipe to the right includes several modes. The Pro mode will give you access to various settings such as shutter speed, exposure, ISO, white balance and others. Additionally, the selective focus allows you to choose what to be in focus – foreground, background or both. Also available is a “Food” mode which makes your images contrastier. By swiping to the left, you get access to a wide variety of filters that allow you to make your image even more attractive. Also present are different stickers and stamps.
Samsung’s Note series was in disfavor after its let’s say unsuccessful last representative. However, Galaxy Note 8 looks dazzling but for the various high-end features you will have to spend a relatively large amount of money if you want to get your hands on the device. Anyway, it will win you with its appearance including the curved glass at the edges both in the front and rear part. Available again are fingerprint, heart rate and iris scanners which we came across in Galaxy S8. The display is now 6.3-inch resembling a small tablet rather than a smartphone but thanks to the tiny side bezels the overall dimensions are within reasonable limits. Let’s not forget S Pen which brings additional amount of features that cannot be found in other smartphones.
The mobile chip is again the best by Samsung which at the moment is Exynos 8895 but the RAM is now 6GB. Apart from high performance, the processor also offers relatively low external temperatures after a continuous load. And last but not least, the camera is also renewed and it now features two 12MP sensors with optical image stabilization. The shots taken with it are truly amazing.
If you happen to show interest in Samsung Note 8, you can check its current price and availability HERE.
- Water-resistant (IP68) and heart rate, fingerprint, and iris sensors
- Better design – curved display and tiny bezels around it
- S Pen with various options for notetaking
- Super AMOLED display with QHD resolution, high brightness and contrast, accurate colors
- Android 7.1 Nougat + feature rich TouchWiz interface
- Powerful Exynos 8895 mobile chip with a Mali-G71 GPU and 6GB of RAM
- Reasonable external temperatures after a continuous load
- Dual 12MP rear camera with OIS, various modes and manual settings
- Construction which retains fingerprints
- The most expensive Galaxy Note model