Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review
Author: Craig Jones
The rumour mill has once again proved its worth! Samsung finally announced the Galaxy Note 8 at this years Mobile World Congress. But can the it really take on the success of the wildly popular iPad Mini?
With design features that don’t stray too far away from that of its Smartphone equivalent, the Note 8 is a looker. Its polycarbonate chassis is very welcome, similar to what you would find on its larger sibling the Note 10.1, save for the addition of extra metal bits for the sake of durability. The 8 inch form factor aims at one handed use, while not being able to completely wrap your hand around the device, you would feel more comfortable holding it at the bezel. Weighing in at a respectable 338g, there is no danger of a visit to your GP with complaints of a repetitive strain injury.
Size and Screen
With an unobtrusive footprint the Note 8 could be easily stowed away into jacket pockets and handbags, making it a travel friendly companion. The 1280×800 display offers a pixel density of 189ppi, which is a marginal upgrade to that of the iPad Mini. It really is a joy to behold, in a bid to compete with the Nexus 7, Samsung has opted for a TFT panel instead of an OLED display, this mean the screen pumps out bright vibrant colours while not skimping on deep,rich blacks.
However, something that is quite strange is that it seems to have been up-scaled from a smaller screen. In terms of on screen icons, while most still look tack sharp, however some (like the email icon) look a little grainy. A small gripe like this only make the Note 8.0 feel less of a quality device, something that could easily be rectified by a future update perhaps.
Out of the box the Note 8 is running on the Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 platform. You wouldn’t be far wrong in thinking that the Note 8 a hybrid of the GS III, Note II and Note 10.1’s software innovations.
Brimming with the familiar suite of S Pen apps, Samsung’s new tab also includes support for Smart Stay, Multi-Window and Air View functionality, Popup video and note, as well as AllShare Play and Cast.
Samsung has also pre-loaded some third party app: Flipboard (which has been customized to take advantage of the S Pen’s hover and preview capabilities for headlines) and Awesome Note, which is debuting as a one-year exclusive. And, in a major first for the Note line, users will finally have the ability to control those Android navigation keys located at the bottom of the device (back and menu) with the S Pen. Finally the inclusion of an IR Transmitter will allow you turn it into a universal remote control with Smart Remote, to seamlessly manage TVs, set-top boxes, DVD & Blu-Ray players.
Beneath that love it or hate it sealed plastic chassis, lies the company’s Exynos 4 Quad Core processor clocked at 1.6GHz and paired with 2GB RAM. All of this means you’ll rarely run out of puff when opening and closing apps or browsing the web. While this equates to smooth, friendly scrolling and almost instant app start-ups, the most important benefit initially is that the S Pen works better on the Galaxy Note 8 than we’ve found on any of its ‘Note’ counterparts.
Incorporating radios for both 3G and WiFi a/b/g/n, making this a fantastic for ‘on the go’ people. If for some reason you misplace your Galaxy Note II or whatever incarnation of Smartphone you may have, don’t fret, as the Note 8 can also double as a phone. With the addition of a micro SIM card slot allowing you to make phone calls. Though I would highly suggest a set of earphones or a Bluetooth earpiece, to ensure you maintain your dignity.
Other specs include; Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS, GLONASS and HSPA+ 21 (850/900/1900/2100MHz), up to 32GB of internal storage with the option of a further 32GB via a microSD expansion slot.
A 5MP camera takes pride of place on the back of the device, save for the Samsung logo and other text at the bottom. This brings with it all the functionality we’ve come to expect from Samsung’s Galaxy devices, panoramic shooting for example. Don’t expect to be able to take great photos in a dark environment though, as an LED flash hasn’t found its way onto the Note 8.
However, we should be more focused on the 1.3MP snapper on the front, which offers the chance to make HD quality video calls through the likes of Google Hangouts and Skype. After all – who takes pictures with a tablet anyway?
Packing a hefty punch in the battery department, sporting a whopping 4,100MmAh life span, the Note 8 looks to be an excellent runner for everyday use. However, if you take advantage of it, the ability to multi-task may begin to take its toll. Nifty little features like lighting optimisation for reading will dim the screens brightness to allow for a less eye-straining experience, and help conserve that all important battery power.
Who is it for?
The Note 8 certainly speaks of being an all rounder. Covering all basis, both in the home and on the road. Definitely a device for someone looking for excellent multitasking capabilities and portability.
Value for Money?
World wide release is set for Q2, so expect the Note 8 to hit the shelves around the Easter period. Samsung is yet to announce any detail of pricing however if the target market is that of the Nexus 7 and the iPad Mini, you can expect it to be somewhere in the £500 ($750) mark.
There’s no doubting that the Galaxy Note 8 is a great device that will finally give the Korean giant a punt at the 8-inch market. However, the success of the Note 8 will boil down to the price, and as long as Samsung remains tight lipped in this regard it will be very difficult to make an early decision.
Some points to consider; LTE is a possibility in the future, (though it hasn’t been confirmed) this could change things considerably, including price. The dual function of a phone and tablet makes it unlikely that the price will be in the sub-£500 market, given the Galaxy Note II is still a pricey handset. That being said, if it does manage to make its way into the £300 – £400 category, this will certainly be stiff competition for the budget boys like the Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire HD and iPad mini.