First Looks – Samsung Note 8 – Notable Improvements


This week’s launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 represents not only an improvement in its flagship phone, but it was also the moment for the Korean electronics giant to finally put the disaster of the exploding Note 7 behind it.

Samsung has taken its beautiful Quad HD AMOLED Infinity Display, which is on the Galaxy S8 and extended it to the new Note.  It’s a 6.3″ display, which is actually only 1/10″ larger than the display on the S8 Plus.  The biggest difference between the two is the S-Pen capability which has always distinguished the Note,  and the new dual lens, dual 12MP Optical Image Stabilization rear facing cameras.  Samsung bravely showed off some A to B comparisons with stills and video from both the Note 8 and the iPhone 7 Plus, and yes, the differences, at least in their demo, were quite discernible.  But again, that’s Samsung’s demo.

In Dual Capture mode, both rear cameras take pictures simultaneously—and you can keep both images: One close-up shot from the telephoto lens and one wide-angle shot that shows the entire background.

The wide-angle lens has a Dual Pixel sensor with rapid auto focus, so you can capture sharp and clear shots even in low-light environments. The Galaxy Note8 is also equipped with an 8MP Smart Auto Focus front-facing camera for sharp selfies and video chats.

The new cameras will also enable the user to sharpen or soften the background, either at the time you take a picture, or afterward.  The ability to change depth of field is a nice addition to a smartphone camera. And it gives you the flexibility of simultaneous close and wide images.

The Galaxy Note8 has the biggest screen ever on a Note device, yet its narrow body makes it comfortable to hold in one hand. The 6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity Display lets you see more and scroll less. The screen size makes both video viewing and multitasking enjoyable.  There’s a new App Pair feature, which lets users create a custom pairing of most apps on the Edge panel that will simultaneously launch two apps in Multi Window mode. Watch a video while messaging your friends or dial into a conference call with the number and agenda in front of you

The S-Pen Improved

The S Pen has been one of the Note’s defining features. With the new Note, the enhanced S Pen includes a finer tip and improved pressure sensitivity, unlocking new ways to write, draw and interact with the phone and communicate with others.

Live Messages allows you to reflect your unique personality and creative vision. You can now handwrite a message, add special effects and share it as an animated GIF on several popular messaging and social apps.

The Always On Display allows you to stay on top of your notifications without unlocking your phone. Screen off memo allows you to take notes as soon as you take out the S Pen. From there, you can pin a note to the Always On Display, edit them right there and write as many pages as you need—up to 100 pages.

Never Get Lost In Translation.

One of my favorite features is the ability to highlight other language text with the pen. You hover over text to quickly translate not only individual words but entire sentences, into 71 languages and instantly convert units and foreign currencies. Using Bixby, Samsung’s personal assistant, you can also point at a street sign and it will automatically translate it as well. That way you’ll know if you’re looking at a sign for a restaurant or a shoe store.

Other Note 8 Features: 

  • Water and Dust Resistance:  Water resistant in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes—including the S Pen.
  • Fast Wireless Charging: The Galaxy Note8 supports advanced wireless charge, so you can get a quick, convenient charge without having to mess around with ports or wires.
  • Security: Galaxy Note8 offers the choice of biometric authentication options—including iris and fingerprint scanning.
  • Performance: With 6GB RAM, a 10 nm processor, 64GB of storage and expandable memory (up to 256GB), there’s plenty of room to browse, stream, play games and multitask.
  • Bixby Voice Assistant  This s Samsung’s answer to Siri, Google Voice Assist, and Cortana. It’s been a little slow coming to market but has learning functions its competitors don’t have. The more you use it, the more it anticipates what you want.

Price and Availability

The Note8 will be available for pre-order starting today (August 24th) at, and Best Buy.  There are a variety of deals for accessories available for early purchasers from the major carriers.  But this is one pricey flagship.  Verizon’s pre-order price for full retail is $960.  You might want to consider insurance on this one.

We’ll have a complete review in coming weeks.  In the meantime, here’s Samsung’s introduction video, which does a really nice job of showing off some of the key features.

Samsung Galaxy Note8 (US Version)

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Gary is an award-winning journalist who has been covering technology since IBM introduced its first personal computer in 1981. Beginning at NBC News, then at ABC News, Ziff Davis, CNN, and Fox Business Network. Kaye has a history of “firsts”. He was the first to bring a network television crew to the Comdex Computer Show, the first technology producer on ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, the first to produce live coverage of the Solar Power International Conference, and the creator of the Fox Business Network signature series, “Three Days In The Valley”. Along the way he created the History Channel Multimedia Classroom. He has been a contributor to both AARP’s website and to AARP radio, as well as to a handful of other print and web-based publications where he specializes in issues involving boomers/seniors and technology. He has been a featured speaker and moderator at industry events such as the Silvers Summit and Lifelong Tech Conferences at CES, the M-Enabling Health Summit, and the What’s Next Baby Boomer Business Summit. His column, “Technology Through Our Eyes” appears in half a dozen newspapers and websites across the country.


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