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Samsung Electronics

First impressions of Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – a formidable phablet with giant memory and fun camera features

New handset is a confident statement by Korean electronics giant after exploding-battery fiasco that sank Galaxy Note 7, brimming with useful and fun features

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 September, 2017, 7:25pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 September, 2017, 7:40pm

Samsung’s latest flagship phablet, the Galaxy Note 8, whose launch almost coincided with that of arch-rival Apple’s iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, is a bold statement of confidence on the part of the Korean electronics giant. It wants you to know that not only has it moved on from last year’s fiasco over exploding batteries in the Galaxy Note 7 (its flashy promotional video admits the company disappointed customers) but is bouncing back with a formidable device through which to restore its reputation.

Design and hardware

It is not straying too far from the truth to call the Note 8 a Galaxy SS8+ handset with a stylus pen (the S Pen). Measuring 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6mm, the handset’s 6.3-inch screen is only slightly bigger than its sibling’s 6.2-inch screen, and both share the same design language.

While it weighs 195g, the phablet feels light in the hand. Its aesthetics are pleasing, but its curved edges just might cut into one’s hand a little if held for a long time (say, while gaming).

Software and features

Needless to say, specs wise the waterproof Note 8 is quite a beast. It uses a 10nm processor, comes with 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of built-in memory, and supports dual SIMs and USB Type-C port connection.

By far the most fun (and gimmicky) feature is its dual camera with what Samsung calls “Live Focus”. When taking a portrait shot, you can either sharpen or blur the background using a virtual slider – an effect that you can readjust after the image is taken. Like the Galaxy S8, the camera features a “Stickers” function that allows you to superimpose (silly) things like cat ears and whiskers onto your subjects; now, though, you can also create short messages in GIF format using the S Pen and its “Live Messages” feature.

The S Pen, with a 0.7mm tip, moves freely on the phone surface, but you do need to press hard to avoid disconnection.

Battery life and performance

The Note 8 packs a 3,300mAh battery that support wireless charging and fast charging. During our 30-minute hands on with the handset – testing its camera features and S Pen capabilities, watching YouTube videos and using its Bixby voice assistant/search engine – everything worked smoothly and speedily, with the back of the handset getting only slightly warm.

Conclusion

Samsung’s Note series has come a long way since it was introduced six years ago, and it is undoubtedly one of the most powerful phablets on the market. It is highly functional and full of fun gimmicks – all of which you have to pay for. The Note 8, available from September 29, comes in three colours: black, grey and blue. It is priced at HK$6,998 for the version with 64GB of internal memory, HK$7,598 for the 128GB model and HK$8,198 for the 256GB version.