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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review

Samsung Galaxy Note 8
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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review

Introduction


Just a little bit over a year ago, Samsung must have felt on top of the world, having just launched the Galaxy Note 7. It had decided to skip the Note 6 in order to finally put its flagship branding all on the same page, and there was plenty of reason to be excited about this hot new hardware. Maybe “hot” is a little too on the nose, because it wasn't long before reports of particularly exothermic battery failures started making the rounds, sending a current of panic through Note owners. Samsung pivoted and tried delivering a fix, but even that effort proved insufficient, and in a matter of weeks the Note 7 went from utterly overflowing with potential to being an officially doomed smartphone.

Failures in this industry don't get much more public or embarrassing than that, and for months you couldn't get on a flight without being reminded that you and your fellow passengers were one exploding Galaxy Note 7 away from plummeting out of the sky.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review
That could have easily been the end of the Galaxy Note family, right there.

But 2017 is a year of reinvention for Samsung, and we've already seen the shocking effect a new design can have on modernizing the company's Galaxy S flagship. Armed with that success, Samsung's taking the same approach to its stylus-equipped phablet, introducing a new Galaxy Note 8 that manages to both bring the series back from the grave, and celebrate a daring new design in the process.

In the box:

  • Galaxy Note 8
  • AKG earbuds w/ alternate tips
  • Samsung Adaptive Fast Charger
  • USB Type-C to standard-A cable
  • Micro-USB to USB Type-C adapter
  • USB Type-C to standard-A adapter
  • Quick-start guide
  • SIM tool
  • S Pen tweezer w/ alternate tips

Design

More than just a giant GS8 with a stylus, but the Note 8 still struggles with its own size

It hasn't happened to every phone overnight, and there are still more holdouts than not, but 2017 is the year that the shape of phones changed. With models like the Galaxy S8 and LG G6, designers looked at existing 16:9 widescreen displays and announced, “Nope! Not wide enough!” Instead, they crafted phones with the widest screens we've ever seen – and changed the shape of phones themselves in the process.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review

This new look is arguably no more pronounced anywhere than it is on the Galaxy Note 8. While the basic layout of the handset gets its cues from the Galaxy S8, the much more squared-off corners make the Note 8 feel less like a phone and more like some sort of futuristic half-tablet – just an exceptionally tall one.

That's at once the phone's greatest blessing as well as its biggest curse. Right now, at least, there's nothing out there that looks quite like the Note 8. If you're just being different for the sake of being different, that's not necessarily a good thing, but here the Note 8 takes shape as the obvious extension of Samsung's recent design language: the child of the Note 7 and Galaxy S8 that we all knew was coming. It's unusual, and it stands out, but it's also so functional and intentional that its design largely avoids feeling like a cry for attention.

But while we very much understand the thought process that brought this phone to life, we also can't ignore that certain limitations start cropping up when you're dealing with a handset of this size and shape. Probably the most pronounced issue there concerns all the stretching and phone-shifting you'll be doing just to accomplish day-to-day tasks.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review
If you're anything like a lot of smartphone users, you like to perch your handset' bottom corner against the muscles at the base of your thumb; that posture gives you easy access to Android navigation buttons, and lets you swivel to reach higher areas of the screen. But the Note 8 is just so fantastically tall that it becomes problematic to do things like hitting the phone's volume buttons without shifting the phablet around in your hand.

And while last year the front-mounted fingerprint scanner was still in a convenient location, its repositioning to high up on the phone's back makes reaching it a chore. You'll get used to it eventually, but the lack of familiar tactile cues as you feel around doesn't help any with that period of adjustment.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this is a heavy phone. While basically a scaled-up Galaxy S8 (or slightly lesser-scaled-up S8+), the Note 8 comes in just shy of 200g. That's heavier than either of those GS8 brothers, as well as heavier than the Note 7, and though that could be a problem, our impressions haven't been that negative, and instead this contributes to the Note 8 feeling like a really dense, powerful, sturdy device.

Much-appreciated elements of the phone's construction like IP 68 waterproofing are back this year, and that only further helps us feel confident about the Note 8's durability.

There are definitely a few elements here that we wish Samsung would have reconsidered, but by and large the look of the Note 8 comes together as a successful, attractive design that manages to remind us that smartphones still have plenty of room left to experiment and play with our expectations.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8
6.4 x 2.94 x 0.34 inches
162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm
6.88 oz (195 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
6.04 x 2.91 x 0.31 inches
153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9 mm
5.96 oz (169 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Samsung Galaxy S8+
6.28 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches
159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm
6.10 oz (173 g)

Samsung Galaxy S8+

Apple iPhone 7 Plus
6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches
158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
6.63 oz (188 g)

Apple iPhone 7 Plus


To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.


Display

An expansive, colorful panel that we only wish pushed brightness to loftier heights

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review

A Note phone's always going to have a big screen, but this year really takes the cake, as Samsung pushes past the Note 7's 5.7-inch display, and even inches past (or rather, millimeters past) the 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+ to give us a curved-edge, rounded-corner, ultra-widescreen 6.3-inch screen. Like we saw on those S8 models, Samsung calls this its Infinity Display, and with good reason, as it feels like this phone is just one big display, stretching to nearly all corners of the hardware. Only a conservative little bezel strip at the top and bottom of the phone's face keep that screen constrained.

As far as the image quality itself goes, Samsung's done this enough times before to know how not to disappoint. We get another of its renowned AMOLED panels, and through a little software magic Samsung manages to give us a best-of-both-worlds situation: you can choose from a number of display calibration preset that offer classic AMOLED-style oversaturation (where colors really “pop” and look boldly unreal), or stick with a basic mode that give us some of the most accurate (while almost ironically, looking a little a less lifelike than those over-the-top modes) color reproduction we've tested on a smartphone screen in months. Those presets are just the start of things, and you can tweak display output to your heart's content, including dialing-in the balance of individual colors.

The Note 8 doesn't ship in a way that's set up to take full advantage of its screen resolution. In order to conserve battery life and rendering time, the phone defaults to 1080 x 2220 pixels, instead of its native 1440 x 2960 px. You're absolutely free to change that, but keep in mind that for all our tests in this review, we did use that out-of-the-box resolution setting.

We don't love how Samsung limits screen brightness in manual mode, and if you prefer really intentional control over display output, you're never going to be able to set the Note 8's brightness to anywhere near the hardware's limits. Toggle auto-brightness on and that ceiling raises considerably, though we've still seen plenty of phones with brighter screens than the Note 8.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 518
(Excellent)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6471
(Excellent)
2.03
3.39
(Good)
2.29
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 570
(Excellent)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7038
(Good)
2.05
1.82
(Excellent)
6.29
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 565
(Excellent)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6936
(Excellent)
2.14
5.06
(Average)
4.91
(Average)
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 672
(Excellent)
2
(Excellent)
1:1431
(Excellent)
6981
(Excellent)
2.2
3.11
(Good)
2.63
(Good)
View all


210 Comments
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posted on 05 Sep 2017, 10:04 19

1. mikehunta727 (Posts: 1398; Member since: 12 Sep 2014)


*sips on coffee*

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 10:09 11

5. hazard1 (Posts: 108; Member since: 11 Feb 2017)


Yeah, this is going to get ugly.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 10:15 6

12. trojan_horse (Posts: 5325; Member since: 06 May 2016)


"Yeah, this is going to get ugly.

Just as it usually is, in review articles of high-profile handsets.

Note8 all they way!

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 13:33 4

92. Flash (banned) (Posts: 1972; Member since: 19 May 2017)


Darkkmite is definitely going to be crabby.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 13:47 27

102. You_Dont_Say (Posts: 374; Member since: 26 Jan 2015)


Quick review of the Note 8

- Battery life isn't great
- Phone is far too large
- Phone is way too expensive
- S-pen isn't important to most
- S8+ battery life > Note 8 battery life

Samsung, the Note 8 is a great phone, but you ultimately failed with pricing and battery life. Even paid trolls can't help you this time.

Remember all the idiots stating NOTE 8 BATTERY LIFE OPTIMIZATIONS ROFL LOLOLOL

It's worse than the S8+, you idiots. Samsung can do better, and 8.9 rating is appropriate.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 13:50 9

103. Flash (banned) (Posts: 1972; Member since: 19 May 2017)


Ultimately, the Note 8 and even the S8 are good phones, but they're not worth what Samsung is asking and those reasons listed are part of the reason why.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 15:25 12

115. tedkord (Posts: 14718; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Nearly every battery test so far has shown it to be as good or better than the S8+.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 16:56 7

133. darkkjedii (Posts: 25621; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


I watched it smoke the 7 Plus on YouTube.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 18:09 3

145. bucky (Posts: 3182; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


Come on now. It's one thing to like the phone but to think it's faster than an iPhone 6s let alone a 7 is silly even by your standards.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 18:45 6

146. darkkjedii (Posts: 25621; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


I was talking about battery life dumb ass b!tch. Refer to post 115, then 133.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 20:35 2

151. sissy246 (Posts: 4221; Member since: 04 Mar 2015)


Yep
https://youtu.be/0BcpLU-3j3w

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 22:36 7

160. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3127; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


I got mine from fedex before work today. Installed most my apps, customized my phone and was doing some heavy ass usage. Before I went to work it was at 60 percent, got home 9 hours later with heavy usage at work and it still has 35 percent battery life remaining. Battery problems? None with the Note 8, these trolls are just talking out of their @$$es.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 15:32 3

119. SupermanayrB (Posts: 1185; Member since: 20 Mar 2012)


"Remember all the idiots stating NOTE 8 BATTERY LIFE OPTIMIZATIONS ROFL LOLOLOL

It's worse than the S8+..."

Based on what & according to whom? Phone Arenas' opinion is s**t to me so what other sources are you talking about?

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 15:52 3

126. TechieXP1969 (banned) (Posts: 14967; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


Do you own one?

Reviews online show the Note 8 beat the S8 in actually real usage tests.

Phone to large? Then take tiny hands somewhere else. This phone is way smaller than a tablet. I fail to see how its too big.

Phone is way to expensive as oppose to, paying $1200+ for the next iPhone?

Considering the following, even if they kept the price at $850. You get an extra camera, you get a bigger display with higher resolution vs last model, upgraded cameras vs last model, premium headphones that retail for $100, plus you get a microsd card with a fast wireless charger or you can choose a Gear 360 w/remote, which all have a retail value of moe than $200 no matter which gift you choose.

So when you add all of that, you still think $100 is to much to pay?

The extra camera, the bigger display that is more expensive, BT5.0 hardware and the Gigabit modem and all the free stuff and you say it isn't worth $1000?

I say its not worth $1000 for difference reasons.

But I can say thought is, the upgrade in this phone vs the Note 7 and the free gifts, bring it's value to $1000 to sure.

But I don't need to make lame excuses like you did as to why it's not worth $1000.

It's not worth $1000 simply because I won't be buying it...at least not yet. Once the wife gets hers and I play with it for a day or two, I will decide.

I feel the Note 8 with its upgrades, premium headphones and free gifts brings it value to $1000+. I feel Samsung could have cut us a break after the Note 7 fiasco and could have just kept the S8 and Note 8 at last years retail price.

I paid $850 for the Note 7. The S8 should have maybe increase to $699 and the plus at $799.

I think the Note 8 should be $850 or $899 tops.

But $930 plus the tax put this over $1000 and just because I have an AMEX doesn't mean I have money to just waste.

I always buy something I don't need and just want.

But even though I most certainly miss having my Note after having the 7,5,4,3, and 2; I don't have to have this one and I can wait another year.

I can jump from one phone to another at any time I want on T-Mobile, all I have to do is bring my older phone. I didn't get that for the wife, because she doesn't like jumping as much.

I feel the 8.9 rating is fine. 9.0 to be even would have been nice too.

But I think 8.9 is dead on. But I certainly don't; agree with all of PA's reasoning.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 16:00 1

130. TechieXP1969 (banned) (Posts: 14967; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BcpLU-3j3w

In this actually real test and not PA's made up test, the Note 8 lasted longer than the S8.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 20:25 5

149. NoToFanboys (Posts: 3144; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


"I'll just list the cons and ignore the pros because I'm a blind Apple fanboy trolling in a Samsung phone review, but I will cry when blind Samsung fanboys troll in an Apple iPhone review"

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 22:20

159. lightyears (Posts: 52; Member since: 24 Aug 2015)


I understand your frustration.

posted on 12 Sep 2017, 16:22

207. ShaikhJGI (Posts: 258; Member since: 10 Jan 2014)


This phone is not for to whom S-Pen is not important. Its a niche device for many they will buy. Why even mention it?

Phone is way too large? I mean Seriously?? Just 4mm taller to iPhone 7 Plus & it compensates for that with being 3mm narrower & it also only 7grams hevier than 7 plus (S-Pen itself is justifiable for that extraaa 7 grams weight).
From where you are getting all this stupidity huh.. S**t manh..

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 16:55 3

132. darkkjedii (Posts: 25621; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Hey, it's my little b!tch. At 11:22 AT&T emailed me, that mine shipped, and I can't wait to get it. Why would I be crabby, when I'm about to receive the best of 2017?

Stay tuned...

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 15:31 8

117. bobby84 (Posts: 546; Member since: 13 May 2016)


You gotta love how iPhone arena gets samsung screen brightness wrong when displaymate got note7 s8 both over 1000 nits and the note8 broke a record having 1245 nits. So iphonearena always lose creditablity in there reviews

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 15:38 3

123. trojan_horse (Posts: 5325; Member since: 06 May 2016)


It isn't a surprise anymore. At this point, we've come to expect that in almost every review, man.

What's up, bobby84! You pre-ordered a Note8 yet?

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 15:55 1

128. bobby84 (Posts: 546; Member since: 13 May 2016)


No, I will on payday though. Have to pay off my s8 first.

posted on 14 Sep 2017, 15:46

209. osterrich21 (Posts: 14; Member since: 14 Apr 2017)


Why in this site everything of Apple is better?Only here you find these kind of reviews.

posted on 08 Sep 2017, 16:48

200. deleon629 (Posts: 91; Member since: 04 Oct 2014)


When I saw just how much better those numbers were for the Note 7 in spite of the fact that this was a featured article for the Note 8, my eyebrows raised so high you'd think my eyeball was gonna fall out.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 10:27 6

21. umaru-chan (Posts: 60; Member since: 27 Apr 2017)


Way overprice for the features they provide. Samsung is lucky to get 8.9 rating. Verge rate it 8.5. Nevertheless I'm going to enjoying reading salty samsung fanboys crying over not getting 9 or higher points in PA.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 10:41 11

26. iamdoctorluv (Posts: 20; Member since: 14 Jan 2017)


And tbh its more than worth a 10.. But I wasn't expecting Phonearena to give it any more than a 8.. We all should know the answer to this by now..

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 11:26 4

56. umaru-chan (Posts: 60; Member since: 27 Apr 2017)


LOL, NO. It's not worth even 9. Phonearena is just too generous that's why they give it 8.9. It's not even worth 8. Maybe 7.5 for the price

Worse battery life than predecessor.
Worse charging time despite having lower battery capacity.
Secondary camera is total #hit.
Large body with ugly proportion.
Worst place for the FPS.
The new Note features are worthless and above all
Worst price point for a 64GB internal storage phone.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 13:09 10

80. SupermanayrB (Posts: 1185; Member since: 20 Mar 2012)


Dude, you have 49 posts. Your opinion is pointless.

"Worse battery life than predecessor.
Worse charging time despite having lower battery capacity."

Link to where these have been tested please.

"Secondary camera is total #hit."

Based on...?

"Large body with ugly proportion.
Worst place for the FPS.
The new Note features are worthless and above all
Worst price point for a 64GB internal storage phone."

The rest is just your dumbass opinion.

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 13:36

95. L0n3n1nja (Posts: 677; Member since: 12 Jul 2016)


Battery life was tested and compared in this review....you don't need a link to where it was tested. Lmao

posted on 05 Sep 2017, 15:13 1

110. Leo_MC (Posts: 3015; Member since: 02 Dec 2011)


It doesn't matter how many posts one has.

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PhoneArena rating:
8.9Excellent
Display6.3 inches, 1440 x 2960 pixels (522 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera12 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2350 MHz, Kryo 280 processor
6 GB RAM
Size6.40 x 2.94 x 0.34 inches
(162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm)
6.88 oz  (195 g)
Battery3300 mAh, 22 hours talk time

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