Samsung Galaxy Note 8 First Impressions: The Return of the Phablet King

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Samsung has just launched the newest member of the Galaxy Note lineup, the Galaxy Note 8 with an enhanced S-Pen and a new dual camera system.

Hands-on Video

Design and Build Quality

The Galaxy Note 8 sports the same form factor and overall design as the S8 and S8+, and I think that’s a good thing. The phone feels very solid and well-built, and the Infinity display just looks gorgeous with very minimal bezels and curved edges.

The display responds well to the s pen, and buttons on both sides are tactile. There’s a dedicated button for Dixby, Samsung’s own voice and visual assistant. It’s a unique and refreshing take, but I don’t really see the need for it.

The Note 8 keeps the headphone jack and has the same speakers as the Galaxy S8+.

Display

The Note 8 sports a 6.3-inch WQHD+ SuperAMOLED Infinity Display, which I think is just proper for such a device that would probably be used in media consumption. Icons seem more detailed, and animation and effects are silky smooth.

Camera

The Note 8’s dual rear cameras certainly does a good job of capturing details and color even in less than ideal conditions, as can be seen in these sample shots.

Adjusting the strength of the depth of field effect using Live Focus, I was able to achieve a fairly good result.

It’s the same case with selfies. Details are more than sufficient, and colors accuracy is on point. I would’ve preferred a bit more sharpness though.

We’ll be testing the Note 8’s cameras in even more challenging conditions in our full review.

Software

As far as animations, effects, and smoothness are concerned, I’d say Samsung’s Grace UI on top of Android 7.1.1 is quite well-optimized, and has improved a lot since TouchWiz. Icons and menus are more straightforward, but aren’t boring to look at either.

I do like the amount of customization that you can do, such as adjusting the color balance to your liking, along with a number of display presets to choose from. The setting menu can get a bit overwhelming at first glance, but you’ll find that it’s very organized, and only shows you settings that you’ll most probably use.

Bixby vision is quite an interesting feature, as it scans images and words, and gives you topics which are particularly related or are similar. We’ll be doing more tests in our full review.

Initial Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is quite a device in so many ways, it looks and feels good, the display is eye-candy, the software seems well optimized, and the dual camera system does a great job. We’ll be doing more performance, software and camera tests to see what this device can really do. But for now, so far, so good.

Availability

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 comes in two colors: Midnight Black, and Maple Gold, and will have an SRP of PhP49,990. Pre-order period is from September 8 to 17, 2017. Those who pre-order will also get a FREE AKG Speaker worth PhP7,990.

Smart will also make the Galaxy Note 8 available on Postpaid.

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