Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Tested and Reviewed!

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – a bright, giant screen and a huge improvement on the explosive Note 7.

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Hey everyone, it’s Jimmy with JimsReviewRoom.  With the iPhone X available, LG V30 as an underdog, and the existing Samsung S8+, we’re very close in competition since most are pretty similar, but yet, all so different.  Today, we’re looking at the Samsung Note 8.  The Note 8 retails between $930 to $950 depending on which carrier you get.  Comparing to the competition, I know the iPhone X is very expensive at $1000, but Samsung is right behind, with less than a $100 dollar difference, to be fair.  They’re expensive phones and it’s something we might have to come to terms with these flagships.  As always, I’ll place my at the top of the page.  Click on my links and they’ll give you the most updated prices in real-time.  You never know when these things might go on sale.

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Going over the physical features, no question the Note 8 is a big phone.  The technical specifications are just above, to give you some physical comparison between the Note 8 and it’s competitors.  But what I want to detail is how it is in real-life, and if it’s TOO big.  The width is perfect for my medium-sized hands.  The button placements from power on the right to the volume rocker buttons and Bibxy on the left are all ergonomic and within reach.  My biggest concern was how tall this phone was.  On paper, it’s a minimal increase from the S8+; thankfully it also feels minimal in real-world everyday use.  If you’re coming from a small phone, it’s going to feel huge for a short period of time. If you’re familiar with big “phablet” phones, I didn’t sense the dramatic increase to be a nuisance – kinda surprising as this is the biggest phone I’ve tested to date.  The phone is slippery as heck, but the feeling of glass and metal in the palm feels crazy satisfying and ultra-premium.

Now, for those who are unfamiliar, the Samsung Note 8 is also IP68 certified: dust and water resistant.  With the IP68 rating, it’s claiming to have up to 30 minutes of protection at up to three feet of water.  With my test, leaving the Note 8 in the bucket for 30 minutes myself as proof for you guys, it still works and it’s been functioning fine ever since.

Last up, although the entire body is made of glass – Gorilla Glass 5 to be exact – on both the front and the rear, the time I’ve had this phone, at least for now, there haven’t been any micro-scratches.  Same with the S8+ and I’ve had since it was released.

On the bottom is USB Type-C – Bluetooth speakers and wireless headphones need to get with the program and offer the same.  Testing the speed of the connection and transferring 2.8 gigabytes of data took 19 seconds.  Comparing this with my external hard drive transfer speeds, we’re moving between 140 to 150 megabytes per second.

Since we’re still on USB-Type C,  I’ve noticed battery performance on the Note 8 takes a slight pullback. Smaller battery indeed, but I’m still able to achieve all-day battery life.  What was more noticeable was the recharge time; fast charging is still here, but from a dead battery to full, it takes a little bit longer than an hour and a half, which is what I normally get with the S8+ and previous Samsung phones.

Also on the bottom and worth mentioning, the 3.5 mm audio port is still there. The speakerphone is okay – thankfully there’s no raspiness. At maximum volume, it’s comfortable listening in quiet environments, but in louder areas, it does sound weak.

Rotating to the rear and talking about log-in and security features, I have no idea why some are still saying it’s not in a good location.  Holding the phone naturally, the fingerprint scanner is right there and I use this more often than the other available options – and that’s me coming from the LG and Google Pixel phones, which have a rear fingerprint scanner as well.  Other options are the iris scanner which was great when I first tried it on the Note 7, but with the S8+ and now using it on the Note 8, after the novelty dies down, I found the phone asking me to open my eyes wider from time to time…   Odd coming from an Asian company, and it’s simply not as fast.  It’s not a bust, some will have better luck than I have, but it should be more streamlined than this by now.

Face recognition is also available, I haven’t tested Face ID on Apple phones just yet, be on the lookout for that.  But face recognition works very well to unlock your phone, nearly instant.  Yet I would be cautious, for those who don’t know, there have been videos shown where you can trick Facial Recognition with a photo of your face.  I, of course, attempted here at the office and was unable to do so.  Last, you, of course, have the pattern and pin unlock.

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Going back to the rear, Samsung for the first time offers dual cameras, not new as we’ve seen this on other phones in the past, but I do love this feature. You have the wide-angle lens available, and then clicking on 2X allows you to optically zoom in, instead of utilizing digital zoom.

While using the Note 8, like the last several generations, it’s still the fastest auto-focus system I’ve personally used to date.  As you can see in the video, nearly instant, each and every time.  As for the menu options and user settings, it’s still one of the best with auto, panorama, slo-mo, and as I’ve always enjoyed, the Pro mode which lets you adjust settings like shutter speed, F-Stops and ISO.  I still favor LG’s manual mode over Samsung’s for a more intuitive layout, but Samsung comes in a very close second with all the phones I’ve tested on the channel.

As for photo quality, for a phone, Samsung does very well.  Over the recent years, I’ve noticed Samsung has been tonight down some of its saturation and contrast.  The images don’t pop as much as they used to, but if anything, they appear to be more accurate than before.  They’re still quite sharp, detailed and great to look at.

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Getting out of photos, let’s start talking about the S-Pen.  There’s going to be people who will use the pen, and those buyers who want the pen, but then seldom ever use it.  Hopefully this section gives you an idea if you want or need this feature, or not.  The S-Pen has your basics like scribbling and jotting down notes.  Where I did find it handy were moments you don’t have a pen laying around or are simply unwilling to pick up your phone, unlock it, and then start typing away, what they call the “Off-Screen memo” works great.  Pull out the S-Pen and you can jot down multiple notes immediately – to be specific, up to 100 – and pin them to the Always-On Display.  With the S-Pen, you do achieve much higher levels of precision.  It still doesn’t feel as precise as a physical pen, however comparing the stylus on the Microsoft Surface Pro – although not apples to apples, but a stylus nonetheless – the Samsung feels a few years ahead with its smoothness and once again, precision – sign documents to send, Smart Screen select to crop and edit photos, or write animated gifs to send to your friends.  Those are the few examples of what the S-Pen can do. Is it worth the extra $105 or so over the S8+? I don’t think so, I find it easier to type things out versus writing.  I’m not knocking on the phone, but that’s just me.

Moving onto the display and performance, this is the largest phone in the Note Series coming in at 6.3 inches.  The Infinity Display is a staple on the S and Note line now.  Images and video look to almost flow off the screen, and when looking back at old phones, it almost feels as though they’re ancient.  Bezels are a thing of the past.  I personally didn’t encounter any hiccups or issues, stutters or unreasonable amounts of lag.  One thing to note if you’re on the cutting edge of technology and specs, the Note 8 comes with 6 gigabytes of ram, making the Note 8 a true multi-tasking machine versus its predecessors.  More about multi-tasking shortly.  In general, the phone is a beast at normal everyday use, to the casual games involving intense 3D graphics.  Everything has been smooth.

I personally like the colors being displayed on the Note 8.  The average consumer will find it vibrant and gorgeous.  One thing I would suggest, turn up the screen resolution to maximum as from the factory, it’s on 1080 by default.  After doing so, text is certainly sharp, images in general do get a slight bump in quality for those who are nit-picky like myself.

As for features, Samsung is full of them.  Besides the Off-Screen Memo to the huge 6.3-inch screen, to the dual-cameras on the rear,  App Pairing is the newest addition.  Two apps that you frequently use, let’s say Youtube and some sort of messenger app can be opened at the same time.  With App Pairing, you can save them to your Edge drawer and tapping once will open both apps at the same time – very convenient.  On the left side and I briefly mentioned this feature earlier, is Bibxy, Samsung’s own virtual assistant.  You can activate this via voice or use the physical button on the side to have her listen.  It’s very similar to Siri and Google’s own voice assistance.  When I gave her a chance, she’s great.  Tons of options and more robust I feel like compared to the others.  You speak naturally to her and can ask her to perform system functions.  For example, tell her to “Turn on Do Not Disturb”, or “Turn on or off Bluetooth”.  You can tell Bixby to download a specific app, and she’ll open the Play store and bring that app to the forefront.  Again, very similar the competitors, but a bit more detailed and natural.  The only issue, not sure if this is just me, but there are times when her voice recognition isn’t as good.  I’ve retrained my voice several times and still had the issue.

So those are the major features and functions I feel that makes the Note 8 different this time around and different from its peers.  Keep in mind, we still have functions from S8 which still makes the phone stand out like S-health which is very robust and easy to use, Bluetooth 5.0, Samsung Pay, also Gigabit LTE speed ready for when that rolls around.  It’s pricey, but this is Swiss-Army knife, making this phone future proof for a long time to come.  Is it worth close to $1000? Let me know in the comments section below.  Or better yet, in your opinion, is the S8+ enough for you?

I’ll have the iPhone reviews coming shortly so stay tuned. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.  You guys take care, and I’ll see you on the next one.

[table id=6 hide_columns=”all” show_columns=”a,b,d,f,n” /] Specs from manufacturer. If incorrect, please contact us.