Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 series is finally launching in the Indian market. And this is a big one for the South-Korean firm — not only because the Note series now has a 6.3-inch display or a price tag of Rs 67,900, but also because this marks the return of the Note series in India after nearly two years. After all, Galaxy Note 5 launched in 2015 and, while the Note 7 was technically announced for India, it never actually hit the store shelves.
Sadly, Galaxy Note 7 was taken off production even before Indian consumers could officially get their hands on it. With the Galaxy Note 8, Samsung is hoping to woo back its dedicated Note fanbase that loves the phone for its big display, the efficient Stylus, and, yes, powerful battery life. But does the Note 8 deliver this time and is it worth the price tag? Here’s our first impressions of the device.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Design, Display
When the first Galaxy Note launched with 5.3-inch display, Stylus, it faced some mockery. A big smartphone display with a Stylus seemed something that consumers wouldn’t buy, and those were the days when a 3.5-inch to 4-inch display was standard. Cut to 2017, and a 5.99-inch display is the new norm. Samsung’s own Galaxy Note 8 now sports a 6.3-inch display, which might sound outrageous. However, the bezel-less Infinity Display means the phone has a more compact factor compared to most other 6-inch-plus displays.
The Galaxy Note 8 continues with the metal and glass design we’ve seen on the Samsung flagships for sometime now. Except with the full frontal display, this one is way different from the older Note series. The design is stunning, and yes this does feel like a premium flagship, no matter what the angle. Personally, I don’t mind the maple gold version, though not everyone is a fan.
But like all other flagships with a bezel-less display, I do worry for the Galaxy Note 8’s safety. I’ve seen quite a few cracked S8 displays and would highly recommend a sturdy front cover. Of course, that will cover the beauty that is this phone, but it is a sacrifice worth making. Do note that at 195 grams, this is a bulky premium smartphone.
There’s also a dedicated Bixby button and the home button on the front is gone. The volume rocker and Bixby button are on the right, while the power button is on the left. Samsung has placed the fingerprint sensor next to the dual-rear camera, which is another new addition to the smartphone. The headphone jack is still alive on this phone, and there is also a slot at the bottom for the S-Pen, another crucial feature of the Note series.
The Always-On Quad HD+ display from Samsung is stunning. If you like watching videos on your phone, you are sorted with this device. Most other AMOLED displays will pale in comparison to this phone.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Processor, Storage, Battery
Galaxy Note 8 in India comes with the company’s own Exynos 8895 processor with its 10nm FinFET design and this is supposed to be more battery efficient. Note 8 also has 6GB RAM on board coupled with 64GB storage, which is expandable to 256GB. The phone is water-and dust-resistant with IP68 rating. While taking the Note 8 for a swim is not advisable, the phone should be safe from most splashes and spills.
On the performance side, so far we’ve not had an issue with the Galaxy Note 8. The camera is super responsive and fast, and installing apps, watching videos on YouTube, etc works out fine. The display is responsive to touch, there’s no noticeable lag. We’re yet to run benchmark tests on this, but it will likely be on top. Also so far no heating issues with the device, which, let’s face it, everyone will be watching out for closely.
The battery on the Note 8 is 3300 mAh, which is smaller than the previous Note generations. Will this smartphone provide that 24 hour battery life that was legendary to the Note series? We’ll have details on this in our full review.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 S-Pen, Software
Galaxy Note 8 is not just about the camera or the big display. The S-Pen and its host of software features are a major part of the Note experience. The Note 8 sees some new additions to this. There’s the option of writing notes with the S-Pen and sticking them to the Always-On Display so that you don’t forget your errands.
Users can now take Notes up to 100 pages with the S-Pen. As someone who has taken several pages worth of notes on the Note 5 smartphone during press events, I think this would be useful. The S-Pen can now be used to magnify a part of the image or screen as well. It can also translate whole paragraphs, words, and supports a host of Indian languages as well.
There’s also the Live Message option, where you can write the message out and send it as a GIF, Animation to anyone. The S-Pen is still the highlight of this phone and I like how well it captures my handwriting. There’s a lot to learn about the S-Pen and for most users, who are fan of doodling on their phones, this is the way to go about it.
Galaxy Note 8 also comes with the Bixby assistant from Samsung. Setting this up requires a user to sign into their Samsung account. The phone also comes with Iris scanner and face scanner for logging in.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Camera
Galaxy Note 8 is the first Samsung flagship to sport a dual rear camera. Samsung has added a 12MP + 12MP rear camera and both sensors have OIS. There’s a telephoto and wide-angle lens combination for ‘bokeh’ photos, which is listed as Live Photos in the Samsung camera app. The Live Photos will let you adjust the background blur even after you have taken the photo. You can also choose the normal photo option for a picture taken in this style. This shows it in a more wide-angle frame.
The results with the Live Photo are impressive, and the photos look crisp and clear. Given that you’ll be viewing these on the brilliant Note 8 display, the colours obviously look very vivid. Like with most dual-rear cameras, you’ll have to make sure there is ample lighting and space between you and the object you are clicking. Check out the results we got below.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Final Thoughts
There’s no doubt the Galaxy Note series is back with a bang. This is a stunning device by all means and ticks the right boxes. The main and only negative would be the extra large display and the device’s bulkiness as compared to the S8. The camera and the S-Pen features seem all top notch. But with premium specifications, comes premium pricing. The Galaxy Note 8 this time crosses the Rs 65,000 price mark, which is might seem too high for many consumers.
For die-hard Note fans who have been waiting to upgrade, there is finally an option. But the question over making upgrade remains? If you can pay the premium, still have faith in the brand and can’t live without the S-Pen, then Note 8 is a no-brainer. But for those who can live without these and don’t want to pay such a high price, the S8 is also an option.