The Galaxy note 8. It has been around for about half a year now and hasn’t exploded yet. So, what is it like living with the newest edition to the Note lineup? That’s what we’re looking at today.
I will admit, I haven’t used any of the other Note devices. As a matter of fact, I have only been using Android for less than a year now. That being said, the Note 8 is an amazing phone and has helped me through my conversion to Google’s OS. My first Android device was the Galaxy S8 plus. This phone was very similar to the Note, yet it wasn’t the whole package. The Note 8 was released and has been my daily driver ever since. I was using a Windows 10 mobile device (Idol 4s) prior to the switch. As many people know that OS is now dead and left me with Android to fill the gap. I was pleasantly surprised by the Note 8. The hardware, the features and even the OS all felt very well put together. I know countless reviews have been written about Samsung’s newest flagship but let’s take a quick look at the hardware.
The Galaxy Note 8 has a beautiful 6.3″ Quad HD+ 2960 x 1440 Super AMOLED, with 532ppi. This is the Samsung infinity display, which curves at the edges and is near bezel-less. This display looks great, and I am adjusting the 18:9 aspect ratio of these newer devices. It’s running the Snapdragon 835 octo-core processor along with 6gb of RAM. The phone comes stock with 64 GB of internal storage but is expandable via a MicroSD slot in the sim tray. On the back it has the fingerprint sensor, Samsung Health sensors and the dual rear 12mp cameras, both with OIS. One is a wide angle and other is a telephoto lens. An 8mp front camera rounds out the package. On the bottom of the device you will find the USB-C charging/data port with quick charge capability and the always appreciated 3.5mm headphone jack. Of course, you will also find the S-pen there as well.
So, how is it 6 months in? Well. The display is gorgeous. It is a pleasure viewing pictures or other media on it. Games and videos look crisp and vibrant. It also supports HDR so those supported on Netflix look amazing. The enjoyable display notwithstanding, I have detected the beginning of some screen burn-in from the navigation bar. It is slightly visible if you know what you are looking for against a white background. I know this is probably unavoidable on any AMOLED screen, but 6 months in is a bit disappointing.
The hardware is quick. I have experienced zero slow down and it runs apps, multi-tasking and video recording without skipping a beat. The phone will run any game you throw at it and is a productivity workhorse. I find myself using the multitasking function, along with heavy web browsing, note taking and even video conferencing without a problem. I have not had a chance to review the Dex dock function.
A lot has been said about the camera. The camera on the Note is very good. It probably isn’t the best, but casual users probably will not notice a difference between the Note and maybe the Pixel lineup. The camera is quick to launch, snaps photos fast and the diverse functionality found in the app is impressive. Naturally, you can use the two cameras for the portrait or “bokeh” effect that is all the rage today. Beyond that you can use the pro mode, which allows you to adjust everything from the white balance to the shutter speed. Video recording is solid on the Note 8. There are plenty of options and resolutions to choose from. The Note can shoot 4k video, although it is at 30 frames-per-second not the 60 that the iPhone X produces. Where the camera here really shines is the optical image stabilization. Both cameras have it and it is probably the best out there. It can eliminate that video shake from almost any shooting condition you find yourself in.
Yes, this is probably the Note’s most distinctive feature and it can be a love-hate relationship. Some people love the stylus, others hate even the idea of it. I have to say I am a stylus fan. I love the Surface brand of 2 in 1’s and I now love the S-pen. The S-pen feels great to write with. The feel of writing on screen is what I wish the Surface pen felt like to write with. The pen can be hard to work with if you have large hands, but the added functionality is great. When you remove the S-pen from its home in the bottom of your phone, it opens the air command menu. This menu has a ton of different functions such as translate, smart select and screen-write. If you remove the pen while your display is off, it will active the screen-off memo function which allows you to take up to 100 pages of notes on the display while it is off. I thought after the first few weeks the novelty of having a built-in stylus would wear off, but it hasn’t. I find myself using the S-pen for highlighting text, jotting down quick notes or ideas, and even for annotating on screen. My only gripe with the pen is the Samsung notes app. Writing down quick notes is great, but not being able to sync those notes with other devices to view later can ruin the experience.
We all know the battery is smaller than the note 7. It’s even smaller than the S8 plus. So how does it hold up? I can honestly say I have not noticed any difference in battery life today from when I got the phone months ago. Samsung seems to manage power in the phone very well. There are days where I use the high-performance mode and days where I don’t. The difference is negligible. The power saving modes are also fantastic. They can be a real life-saver. The battery life here though is not great. I am a heavy user and it is not common to make it through a work day without a charge. I have used other phones and would have to say that the battery life is a few hours from where I would expect it to be. I suppose this is understandable given the fiasco that was the Note 7. I am hoping next time around we see a larger battery.
Finally, there is the software. The phone is running Android Nougat 7.1.1. I don’t mind Nougat, it works for what I need it to and it is pretty responsive. This is probably my main issue with the phone though. The Note 8 world is still waiting for the upgrade to Oreo. Being a year behind other devices as far as the OS goes is very frustrating. From what I am hearing, we should be seeing this update within the next few weeks. I believe it is out to the carriers now for testing. I have seen updates rolling out to former beta testers in Europe and such, who have unlocked models of the Note. As for the rest of us relying on carriers, we are still waiting.
Overall the Galaxy Note 8 is a very good phone. Yes, it is expensive, but you are getting what you pay for here. The phone is fast, the cameras are excellent, the productivity is through the roof and the functionality is amazing. This phone can really get things done. No, it cannot replace a computer, but in a pinch or on the go this phone can perform. It is easier to get things done with the Galaxy Note 8. If you are a student or professional who needs great note taking functionality, a great camera, a large screen or the best hardware, the new Galaxy Note 8 is where it’s at. I can attest that after months of heavy usage this phone is just as great as the day I bought it. Feel free to leave comments or questions below and I will do my best to answer them. You can expect a YouTube video of my experience to be up soon and I will link it when available.
Side note: For those of you who are Microsoft power users, I am heavily invested in the Microsoft ecosystem. The Galaxy Note 8 has worked extremely well within this ecosystem and I will make a separate post detailing how Microsoft lovers will be at home on Android.