I was able to spend 15 minutes with the Galaxy Note 8 today, and although I stand by my initial thoughts that the Note 8 launch is boring, the device itself isn’t bad. In fact, it’s a fantastic phone. My very first thought as I handled the Note 8 was that if felt good in my hand, and I liked how the corners are square instead of rounded like they are on the Galaxy S8.
Here are some other initial thoughts.
- Samsung still has the fingerprint reader by the camera lenses and flash. But the fact it is is slightly farther away than it is on the S8 really makes a difference.
- The Live Focus mode that is supposed to blur out the background doesn’t work in all situations. Perhaps I need more time to play with it.
- Samsung’s new camera matches the quality of the iPhone 7 Plus camera, which has been the best on the market for the past year.
- The return of the S Pen feels good. However, with the exception of a couple gimmicks, I don’t see it as any different from the S Pen on the Galaxy Note 7.
- OneNote is not pre-installed on the Note 8 — a sin! It is downloadable for free, so it’s not that big of a deal.
- The Note 8 really feels like the device Samsung always wanted to make — a large-screen phone that can take digital notes and doesn’t feel like a brick. It can easily fit in your pocket.
- Battery life seems to depreciate faster than it did on the Note 7. This is likely due to a smaller battery, which Samsung has been smart about since they don’t want devices blowing up in people’s faces.
- Facial recognition still feels like a gimmick.
- This is the first Note since 2012 that I don’t feel in a rush to buy.
All in all the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a great device if you don’t own the Galaxy S8 or S8+. Unless you want S Pen capabilities and the dual camera, there is no reason for you to upgrade to Samsung’s latest phablet if you have the S8. The Note 8 really is what many describe as a Galaxy S8 with an stylus.
Samsung has played it very safe this time; it’s something they had to do. But by playing it too safe, Samsung’s new phone will likely become an afterthought once Apple announces the iPhone 8.