Countless leaks spoiled Wednesday’s Galaxy Note 8 announcement, so the unveiling was more about the ceremony of a grandiose event. But don’t think for a second we’re not excited for Samsung’s newest—and, quite frankly, best—smartphone.
Building on the sterling design and technology introduced with the Galaxy S8, the Note 8 is arguably the most complete device ever conceived. It’s also Samsung’s final attempt to scrub last year’s Note 7 recall from our collective memories Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-style.
The Note 8 looks strikingly similar to the Galaxy S8 Plus, featuring the same rear-facing fingerprint sensor that’s unfortunately placed next to the camera. So far as we could tell in our brief hands on, that’s the only knock against the design and the device as a whole. So, why would you get the Note 8 over something like the Galaxy S8? Simple.
Fans of the Note line get the benefit of Samsung’s S Pen, an accessory the company says features 4,096 levels of sensitivity, which is crucial for using Samsung’s increasingly long list of Note-specific features, including a new one that allows users to share live hand written notes (think Apple’s Digital Touch feature).
Samsung is also introducing enhancements to its “screen off memo” feature, which allows users to jot down notes once the S Pen is ejected from its slot. Notes can be pinned to the Always On Display for later reference, too, and Samsung is giving users the ability to scroll through up to 100 pages of notes without ever unlocking the device.
Additionally, Samsung is emphasizing multitasking with App Pair, which makes launching two apps at once super easy. From the Edge panel you can create a custom pairing of any two apps you want—YouTube and Twitter, for example—and quickly launch them in multi-window mode.
Specs for the Note 8 include a 6.3-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED display, Snapdragon 835 processor, 64GB of expandable storage, IP68 water and dust resistance, support for DeX, the same biometric options found in the Galaxy S8, and a 3,300mAh battery. The handset also comes equipped with 6GB of RAM and a dual camera setup, the latter of which is becoming an increasingly popular feature in major flagship devices.
The dual-camera arrangement features a single 12-megapixel telephoto lens with an f/2.4 aperture and by a 12-megapixel wide angle lens with an f/1.7 aperture—both of which feature optical image stabilization. As expected, the Note 8’s dual-camera setup will feature a mode designed for portrait photography, allowing users to capture pictures that rival DSLR depth of field effects. What’s different, however, is that Samsung’s Live Focus feature lets users adjust bokeh in preview mode and after a photo is taken. There’s also a Dual Capture mode, which snaps two pictures with both the telephoto and wide angle lenses at the same time.
While this year’s Note release is similar in style and execution to the Galaxy S8 Plus, it’s very much a makeup for the Note 7, which company executives admitted still weighs heavy. During a briefing with Samsung ahead of the Note 8’s release, the company’s executives were very candid about the Note 7 recall, assuring us that it’s more committed than ever to the Note line, while any issues are well and truly in the rearview.
A big reason Samsung decided to stick with the Note series is because of how much people love it. After all, it took several trade-in offers and software updates before owners reluctantly turned in the Note 7 following the recall.
According to the company’s findings, Note owners are more productive, consume more video, and are more creative when using the device. Much of that, Samsung said, is thanks to the S Pen, which continues to be an integral part of the Note’s DNA. More importantly, the accessory is a major differentiator as more and more devices become the same.
Like the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, the Note 8 will feature Samsung’s more elegant Android experience (Android 7.1.1) when it launches, with an anticipated upgrade to Android Oreo in the coming months. When the update will be available is anyone’s guess. Hopefully, Samsung pushes something out before the end of the year.
Following last year’s Note 7 recall, Samsung rebounded swiftly with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. Now, the company is trying to do one better by introducing a device that is arguably more beautiful and more powerful than anything else on the market.
In the U.S., the Note 8 will be available on September 15 in black and gray either unlocked or through a host of carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint. You can also find the device through Samsung’s website, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. Pre-orders begin August 24.
Overseas markets will get the Note 8 in gold and blue, which are much prettier and more elegant than the black and gray options available in the U.S. It’s unclear if Samsung will unveil other colors down the road.
Finally, Samsung said customers who purchase the Note 8 between August 24 and September 24 will get their choice of a Gear 360 or Galaxy Foundation kit with Samsung 128GB EVO+ memory card and Fast Wireless Charging Convertible.