Samsung‘s Galaxy Note8 is finally here. The phone that has the world riding on its shoulders, after its disastrous predecessor, has a lot to prove and not just when it comes to reliability. When a launch this big happens, it’s easy for the layperson to get lost in the technical and marketing fluff so we thought we’d help you out a little.
If you’re upgrading from an existing Galaxy Note, here are the 8 biggest new features on the Galaxy Note8.
1. A brand new dual-camera system with OIS
Many were quite disappointed with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ when it launched without a significant upgrade in the camera hardware department. Well, to those people, the Samsung Galaxy Note8 might be just the smartphone for you.
Instead of just one 12MP primary camera, the Samsung Galaxy Note8 features two 12MP sensors, each with a specific purpose. The first is your main shooter that takes photos in your typical focal length. It has a 12MP Dual Pixel sensor that has a super fast f/1.7 aperture lens in front of it. You might recognise this sensor because it’s the same one that you’d find on the Galaxy S8/S8+ and we all know just how well that camera performs.
In addition to that, the Galaxy Note8 also comes with a secondary 12-megapixel sensor that has an f/2.4 aperture short telephoto lens that’s capable of giving the smartphone 2X optical zoom and up to 10X digital zoom. This sensor does not have the ultra-fast Dual Pixel autofocus, however.
What does make this dual-camera setup special, though, is the fact that it has optical image stabilisation (OIS) on both the lenses. This should lead to better low-light performance, improved stability and reduced handshake blur even when zoomed in.
2. Live Focus
Thanks to that new secondary camera get access to new features like Live Focus — which lets you adjust the depth of field and bokeh effects during and after capturing a photo — and Dual Capture, which takes two pictures using both sensors simultaneously so you have a wide and telephoto photo of the same scene.
Live Focus’ bokeh effects only work if there’s an identified object at 1.2m from the camera. However, even if there’s no bokeh effect enabled, you can still utilise Dual Capture to snap a photo without bokeh.
3. Translate entire sentences with the S Pen
In the past, you could only utilise the S Pen’s hover-translate feature on individual words. While that was useful, it often misses out on important contextual information. With the new S Pen on the Note8, you can now hover-translate entire sentences. Just hover your S Pen over foreign text and it can translate it into 71 different languages.
What’s more, it can also instantly convert units and currency with this feature too.
4. Improved screen-off memo and Always-on Display
The screen-off memo is probably one of my favourite features on the Galaxy Note smartphones so it’s nice to see Samsung improving this feature further. Now, you can take up to 100 pages of notes through the screen-off memo. In addition, you can also pin and edit notes right on the Galaxy Note8’s Always-on Display.
5. App Pair
Samsung’s also improving the Note8’s edge functionality. This new feature takes advantage of the Note8’s tall screen to give users an easier multitasking experience. Essentially, App Pair allows users to create a custom pair of applications to launch simultaneously. This means, at a touch of the button, both apps will launch into multitasking mode so you get immediately get to the task at hand.
6. Dual Messenger
This function made its first appearance on the Samsung Galaxy J (2017) series which basically works like App Twin. In essence, it lets users log into two different accounts on apps that usually don’t allow this function. The phone will install two separate copies of your desired application which you can then log into and use like they were installed on different devices.
Dual Messenger works with a variety of applications that don’t support multiple account logins on the same app including Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messanger, and Skype. You can even use both Dual Messenger apps simultaneously in multi-window mode.
Bixby on the Galaxy S8+
Much like Dual Messenger, Bixby isn’t a new Galaxy Note8 feature since it made its first appearance on the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+. However, it is a new feature to the Note series and we think you should know a little about it. Bixby is Samsung’s idea of a virtual assistant so it can do a lot of the things you would be able to do with something like Siri or the Google Assistant.
That said, Bixby is much more integrated into the Samsung device so its strengths lie in deep application functions that often require multiple touches through different menus to access. Samsung also rolled out Bixby Voice globally this week so you can learn more about Bixby in our announcement post or in our Samsung Galaxy S8 software review.
8. That gorgeous Infinity Display
Tall. Slim. Vibrant. Super AMOLED. Quad HD+. 18.5:9 aspect ratio. And 6.3 glorious inches of it. Yep, the Samsung Galaxy Note8 will, of course, feature the company’s gorgeous dual-curved, near-bezel-less Infinity Display and it looks absolutely amazing.
It’s large but it’s also tall which means that this smartphone is slim for its size — in fact, it’s only 1mm wider than the Note7 which had a far smaller 5.7-inch panel. Samsung says it’ll be “comfortable to hold in one hand” but that height will probably be a problem for many. I personally prefer a tall phone to a wide one so this has my stamp of approval.
Besides the jaw-dropping display, Samsung’s Note8 also gets an upgrade in specs, featuring an Exynos 8890 octa-core processor, 6GB of RAM and up to 256GB of internal storage. This hardware also allows it to push Samsung’s desktop experience through the DeX Station.
Perhaps the biggest downgrade is the battery capacity which only tops out at 3,300 mAh. This is a fairly conservative amount, though, the company is prioritising safety over pushing the limits of their battery performance. Samsung says this battery has undergone their 8-point battery safety test which they say is the most rigorous one in the industry. For all our sakes, we hope there won’t be another explosive incident.