Review: 5 Features That Convinced Me To Keep My Samsung Galaxy Note8
Alas, the Samsung Galaxy Note8 is finally here.
As a gadget lover and Samsung electronics liker (see the newly purchased television screen sitting in my comfy living room), I was pretty excited to get my hands on the new cellular phone from the Korean brand’s mobile device family. I must admit, like many stylus lovers, I was pretty bummed about having to send back the Note7 during last year's massive and unfortunate recall.
Although I only experienced the Note7's dopeness for a short span of 19 days, I missed using one of my many useful tools of productivity. I wanted to go back to the time when I could whip out my faux pen and doodle endlessly on my phone. But when I heard Samsung had plans to come back with a new Note device, I was ecstatic. My short-lived happy moment that was shipped back to the manufacturer over a year ago finally returned in the form of the black and metallic blue-inscribed box.
While watching the Samsung Unpacked unveiling event back in August 2017 and seeing what the new device had to offer, I felt as though I ran into a long-lost acquaintance. Although our first interaction was brief, I knew I still had a lot to learn about this former friend.
As I opened the rectangular package and moved closer to the device, I couldn't help but feel a little hesitant and nervous. What if it's not what it holds up to be? What if I don’t like the new and improved Note? What if it gets recalled again? I pushed all of my doubt aside, ditched my Galaxy S6 (yes, I've been ballin' on a budget for the last 2 years) and slipped my nano SIM card into a new Midnight Black Galaxy Note8. I went on to test and tinker with the phablet for two weeks.
From its ability to handle my everyday use to the S-Pen’s new and improved performance, below are 5 features that may help you decide if the Galaxy Note8 is for you.
At 6.3-inches tall, the slim Samsung Note8, made with front & back glass and a metal frame, feels sleek and smooth as its Super AMOLED Infinity Display comes to life when activated with the right power button.
With its 83.2% screen-to-body and 18.5:9 aspect ratio, the screen's 521ppi and 2960 x 1440 resolution makes for a crisp display for gaming and 4K HDR streaming on Netflix. The screen, which supports 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, offers more space to read, write, scroll and draw to my heart's content which is an added plus.
Unlike my previous Galaxy model, which has rounded corners, this phablet stays true to its square "notebook" shape making it less comfortable when storing all 195 grams (6.87 ounces) of its glory in my back pocket or right jacket pocket. Initially, the angular and square feel took a moment to get adjusted to. Though more prone to slipping out of your grip, the curved frames and tapered off screens (like that of the Samsung S8+) feel more intuitive to me. Maybe it's my long fingers. Who knows.
Nonetheless, the Note8 offers water resistance perfect for those with "butterfingers" in wet conditions. Granted it is resistant in 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes, my heart drops at the thought of the device getting caught in the rain and falling into a pool of water(Sidebar: I toughed it out and ran my phone under a water faucet. I still can't believe I can do so without experiencing emotional distress and financial consequences).
As for it connectivity options, ports, and speakers, they can all be found at the bottom of the device. I was very happy to see the 3.5mm headphone jack still intact a much-needed option for my music listening needs. To the right of that, lies the USB -C charging port, which was introduced with the Galaxy 8 and 8+, the Note's microphone, and, of course, the S-Pen stylus' home dock.
Who Should Take These Aspects Into Consideration: Lovers of sleek, smooth and durable devices, the video gamer who needs screen space to play, the movie/TV show watcher who won't watch anything with less than a sharp, HD motion picture.
What I Like Most: The resolution and the screen space for handling all of what ends up being fifty opened tabs and productivity apps. The Multi-Window view allows me to work on 2 apps at once.
Let’s face it. We live in a day of Dropbox uploading, Google Keep note updating, photo capturing and syncing, email inbox opening, file downloading and high-quality video streaming. Thanks to its 6 gigabytes of RAM and 2.3 GHz processor, I was able to re-install 115 apps, stay logged into 8 Gmail accounts, keep my Facebook Messenger and Instagram apps open while toggling in between streaming apps like Spotify and Netflix without the Note8 freezing on me.
Unlike my previous Galaxy S6 phone which came with a disappointing 32 GB and 2.1 GHz processor, I can now expand my device's storage and space up to 256 GB with a micro SD card. I doubt I'll need that much space unless I plan on saving apps, large, HD quality photo and video files on my device, but it's nice to know that I have that option just in case the included 64 gigabytes of storage becomes insufficient.
As for keeping my phone in tip-top, functioning shape, the Device Maintenance feature comes in very handy and is quite frankly much appreciated. It can keep track of the apps that are slowing down or making my phablet work hard to keep up with my super active, app-addicted fingers. From here, I'm able to close any and all unnecessary apps, delete some far from vital files and optimize the Note8 the best way possible.
Who Should Take These Features Into Consideration: The multi-tasking professional who relies on their phone at all times of the day, the businessman or businesswoman who can work from anywhere.
What I Like Most: I appreciate the fact that I can expand the intern space on my Note8. At the moment, 256 GB sounds insane, but with the lure of downloading apps and device backups, 256 GB may soon become the internal storage norm.
Ah, yes. Samsung's famous stylus, the S-Pen. There's no denying that it's the main attraction to the Samsung Galaxy Note8 and honestly, I completely understand why. To keep the stylus lovers happy, Samsung added to the device's premium experience by introducing a more precise tool for jotting down "Off-Screen" notes while on the go or sketching an artistic drawing to relieve day-to-day stress.
With increased pressure sensitivity (4,096 pressure points to be exact), the S-Pen fits comfortably between my thumb and middle fingers, allowing for more concise doodling. With the tip measured at 0.7 mm, the stylus delivers precision, much like the ink pens or sharpened pencils I use in the office and in my younger days.
After releasing the clickable "pen" from its dock, a wheel of shortcuts is activated featuring various apps like "Screen Write," "Smart Select" or any app I wish to have quick access to. Another cool thing kicked off by the ejection of the stylus is the "Off-Screen" notes feature, which saves up to 100 pages of hand-written notes on the pitch-black screen without unlocking the device.
Another fun feature on the Note8 comes in the form of "Live Messages," which allows me to write responses and send them in the form of a flashy GIF. To call this aspect addicting would be an understatement. I definitely find myself sending penned animations to my family, friends, and colleagues in group texts and social media messaging apps. I'm probably annoying, but it's okay. They'll live.
I noticed that when I hovered my stylus over the text response section of a message, I was able to write out the words of my text message which was converted into actual text. (Sidebar: Outside of I really wanted to be able to draw another glitter-accented GIF and share the Live Message without leaving my app. Hopefully, this gets added to the next Note model.)
But my all-time favorite part about having a stylus is my ability to color pictures on my device. I do admit that at one point I joined the adult coloring book movement, but, sadly, never found myself actually...coloring. But with Samsung Note8's inclusion and integration of the PenUp app's "Coloring" tab, I often find myself utilizing my daily 50-minute commute from work to wind down and de-stress with a favorite, childhood past time.
The Note8 also makes sure to notify me when my stylus is a little too far from the device for comfort. I noticed that whenever I left it in one part of my apartment for an extended period, my phone would vibrate before a pop-up notification appears, saying, "Your S Pen’s a little too far away. Don’t forget to reinsert it when you’re done using it." Pretty clutch.
Who Should Take This Feature Into Consideration: Executives with a meeting heavy schedule, the professional doodler.
What I Like Most: I appreciate being able to hover over and translate foreign text (The Note8 has 71 languages in its library). This came in handy when helping a co-worker translate an article written in Spanish. I also enjoyed being able to highlight text on a file or e-book without doing so over unintended text.
When it comes to multi-tasking, battery life is very important. When I have to toggle between social media apps, news apps, emails, and documents, it's important that I don't have to charge up every hour at the top of the hour.
To combat this, the Note8 comes equipped with a non-removable, 3,300 mAh, fast-charging battery. Although it comes in a larger size and with more power than my previous Galaxy S6 model, it takes a little more time to charge fully, especially when I compared it to my co-worker's Galaxy S8+ built with a 3500 mAh battery. On the positive side, I am able to make it through the day with just one full charge and 17 hours of music playback. It's clear Samsung is playing it safe when it comes to the Note8's juice factor.
Honestly, I'm glad Samsung decided to run the Note8 through "a rigorous series of device and battery safety compatibility test protocols." Like anyone looking to get the most of their investment, I would rather not worry or fear that my device will overheat and jeopardize my safety. In fact, while charging the Note8 for 30 minutes, my device remained cool, cooler than my Galaxy S6 has ever been.
To keep battery charging in check, Samsung also makes sure to send a notification that asking me to "Use the charger that came with device" when using an off-brand charger, even when done through the Micro USB Connector included with the phablet.
What I Liked Most: I like being able to keep track and add more hours of use through the "Mid" and "Max" level Power Saving Modes available. Performance Mode lets me keep the balance between the Note8's battery life and screen resolution via 3 other options: "Game," (for gamers looking to play smoothly) "Entertainment" (for high-quality music and video lovers) and "High Performance" (for those who want all high-quality everything.)
Who Should Take This Feature Into Consideration: The heavy multi-tasker, the user who needs to stay connected at all times
If I had one pride and joy from my Samsung S6, it was definitely my camera. I always enjoyed the envy of my iPhone-using friends whenever I utilized my camera to capture, crisp moments. To add more insult to injury, Samsung stepped up its photo and video shooting capabilities with two cameras: one 12-megapixel wide-angle and 12-megapixel telephoto.
With Optical Image Stabilization, images and video footage are sharply captured and played back in high quality. To take full advantage of the camera pair, the Note8 offers "Live Focus" to add depth to the object out of the main focus. To utilize both cameras and this feature, I had to stand more than four feet away from the object. Otherwise, I get a notification telling me just that. To capture a close-up shot without missing the surrounding objects outside of the frame, the "Wide Angle" comes in handy. When looking to capture the perfect portrait for my next Instagram Story or Snapchat post, the "Full View" and 2x optical zoom helped me get this done.
Much like my expensive DSLR camera, I am able to take photographs like a professional, altering the aperture, autofocus (AF) and ISO by simply swiping to the left and selecting the "Pro" mode. When I want to get a full horizontal shot or wide landscape, the "Panorama" feature is clutch. When recording video, I can either have it playback at a snail pace with the "Slow Motion" mode or super fast with the "Hyperlapse" mode.
To make the Note8 even more useful, I can customize the quality of each shot or high-quality video whether shot with the rear cameras or the front camera when taking the perfect selfie.
Who Should Take This Feature Into Consideration: The low-key, self-claimed photographer, the journalist or social media addict who strives for clear photos and video footage.
What I Liked Most: Thanks to the 8-megapixel front camera, I am happy to say my selfie and video conferencing game has been stepped up. The 5-megapixel camera on my Galaxy S6 was definitely a frustratingstruggle.com. Glory hallelujah.
One year after touching a Note device, Samsung has done well with satisfying diehard, stylus-wielding phablet fans. Multi-tasking on a screen that gives me room to work is definitely a plus for me as someone who values productivity. With the camera, memory, storage and more, the Note8's functionality is appreciated. As a creative, who has to stay connected through messaging, emails and more, the S-Pen and camera serve as the strongest selling points for me.
Despite the retail price of $929.99, I don't mind investing in the Note8 for the next 2 years or more. But that is just me. Maybe all of the highlighted features will make you feel the same.
For more information on the Galaxy Note 8, visit Samsung.com/note8.