Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

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Here we have the Galaxy Note 8.0. The newest member of the Galaxy Note line. Right now you have the Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, and Galaxy Note 10.1. With the addition of the Galaxy Note 8.0 you have plenty of sizes to choose from if you want a device with a S Pen. The Galaxy Note 8.0 was announced back at Mobile World Congress in February and features a 8-inch 1280×800 resolution display, Android 4.1.2, 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos 4412 processor, 2GB of RAM available in 16GB and 32GB configurations with a microSD card slot. It also has a 4600mAh battery, which boasts 14 hours of usage. We'll be the judge of that. The Galaxy Note 8.0 also has the popular S Pen and all the features you'd expect from a Galaxy Note. Including multi-window, which seems to be improved a bit when comparing it to the Galaxy Note 10.1 or Galaxy Note 2.

The Galaxy Note 8.0 costs about $399 for the 16GB version. Our guess is Samsung was aiming straight for Apple's iPad mini with this device, which is priced at $329 for the 16GB version. So is the Galaxy Note 8.0 worth the $399 price tag? Well that's what we are here to find out.


Galaxy Note 8.0 Hardware


As we noted before, the Galaxy Note 8.0 has a 8-inch display which is 1280×800. It is also the same resolution that is used on the Galaxy Note 2. It's an alright display, not the best one out there, but its certainly not the worst. It is a TFT display, so no AMOLED here. It is still pretty bright, and it's a little bit easier to see outdoors when comparing it to the Galaxy S4. Below the display you've got your physical home button and back/menu capacitive keys. I'm still not completely sold on the physical keys on a tablet. I think I'd still prefer the softkeys like on every other tablet out there. But I understand that many people love the physical buttons, and if you're one of those people then you'll love it.



You also have the front-facing camera, which is a 1.3MP camera and we'll be going over more in-depth in the camera portion. The Galaxy Note 8.0 also has an IR Blaster which can control just about everything. It's located on the right-side with the power, and volume rocker. On the bottom of the right-side you'll find your S Pen. Over on the left, all we've got is the microSD card slot, since the back cover does not come off. Which means no extended battery for this Galaxy Note. The top houses your headphone jack and the bottom has your microUSB port and two speaker grills. On the back you'll find the 5MP camera which does have a bit of a hump to it. Which you'll notice in the gallery further down in the review.


Overall the hardware is top notch. I haven't experienced any hiccups when playing games, browsing the interwebs or even Google+. But as usual with Samsung devices, it is a fingerprint magnet. It is also plastic, but it does not feel as "cheap" as the Galaxy S3 did. It's pretty light as well, I might even say it's lighter than the Nexus 7. Comparing the specs, the Galaxy Note 8.0 is 338g and the Nexus 7 is 340g. So it's just a tad lighter.




As I said above, the performance on the Galaxy Note 8.0 is not bad at all. Afterall it is running the Exynos 4412 clocked at 1.6GHz. Which is a quad-core chip. So I wouldn't expect any lag from it. In fact it's the same chip from the Galaxy Note 2. The Galaxy Note 8.0 has 2GB of RAM as well, which is plenty for multi-tasking on any Android device. Although you only get about 1.79GB of usable RAM, and the lowest I've seen it using is about 650MB after clearing the memory. Which means Touchwiz' processes take up that much of your RAM. Good thing we have 2GB of RAM now, right?

My usage on the Galaxy Note 8.0 includes playing games like Beach Buggy Blitz and Riptide GP, along with browsing the web and browsing Google+, Twitter, etc. Along with some Netflix from time to time. I found that the battery was able to last all day. We'll talk more on the battery in the Battery Life section.


S Pen


The almighty S Pen. Not much has changed with the S Pen. Although for me it's changed colors, since I had the Gray Galaxy Note 2 when I reviewed it back in December of last year. The S Pen continues to work just as it should. Those that love to draw will really love the Galaxy Note 8.0. I've found the S Pen to be useful with some tasks and apps, but not with everything. Of course, using the S Pen is entirely up to the user. I know many people with the Galaxy Note 2 that have never used it.




As far as software goes, there's nothing out of the ordinary here. It's Android 4.1.2 with Touchwiz on top. It's not the same version of Touchwiz you know from the Galaxy S4, it's the same version as you've seen on the Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 10.1. It comes with around 50 apps pre-installed. Just imagine if it were on a carrier, it would have around 60+ pre-installed. I have the 16GB Galaxy Note 8.0 here and it has around 9.7GB free out-of-the box. So it's not as bad as the Galaxy S4, but not as much space as say the Nexus 4 16GB which has a little over 12GB free. You shouldn't expect to get the full 16GB of space anyways, since the system has to use some of that space to run.

The Galaxy Note 8.0 comes with the standard suite of Samsung apps like Chaton, Paper Artist, aNote HD, Game Hub, Music Hub, S Note, S Voice and many others. You also have Peel installed to work the IR Blaster that's built in. Which we talked about in the Hardware section. Peel works just like it did on other Samsung tablets and the Galaxy S4.

Battery life

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The battery life on the Galaxy Note 8.0 has been pretty good. Nothing too bad, but nothing to amazing either. It's right where I expected it to be actually. As you can tell from the screenshot above, the Galaxy Note 8.0 lasted me around a full day on average. Now this is with me playing games, watching Netflix, browsing Twitter/Google+, etc. On standby it can actually last about 5-6 days, at least that's what Battery Widget Reborn wants you to think. It lasted about as long as my Nexus 7 would normally last. The Galaxy Note 8 has a 4600mAh battery which is just a bit bigger than the Nexus 7, and the Nexus 7 has a bit smaller display than the Galaxy Note 8.0. So it's expected that the two would be similar in battery life.


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 Benchmarks are always important. I tested the Galaxy Note 8.0 with Basemark X 1.0 and Vellamo, as you can see in the images above and below. Basemark X 1.0 measures the graphics of the device. Which, since this is basically spec'd the same as the powerhouse, Galaxy Note 2, it should do fairly well. So it's no surprise looking at the results above. Now Vellamo measures the HTML5 and javascript of the device, and once again, the Galaxy Note 8.0 did pretty well, as well.


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 The camera on the Galaxy Note 8.0 is a 5MP shooter. So it's not the best camera out there, but it certainly isn't the worst. While I still don't think it's a good idea to take pictures with a tablet, some people like to have one for a "just in case" scenario. And there's nothing wrong with that. In the image above you'll see the Camera's interface, and down below you'll see a picture indoors of the back of the Optimus G Pro and the second one is a picture outdoors. The third one is outdoors, but zoomed in. So you can tell the difference. I'm not surprised by the camera on the Galaxy Note 8.0, which can be seen as a good thing and a bad thing. Samsung devices normally have good camera's anyways. So I wasn't expecting bad pictures from it. But it didn't surprise me by taking great pictures, they are just adequate in my opinion.

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The Good

  •  Form Factor: It's going to be very familiar to most users. Given it's just a Galaxy S3 or Note 2 stretched out to 8-inches. Those that have used the Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2 or even the Galaxy S4 are going to feel at home with this device.
  • Display: Frankly, it's not as bad as I thought it would be. It is basically the same resolution as the Galaxy Note 2, which I thought might be pretty bad. But it's not too bad. It's still quite manageable. It's a 1280×800 8-inch TFT display. The same type of display on the Galaxy Note 10.1 as well. It's still pretty difficult to see outside though.
  • Price: This has had mixed reactions. The Galaxy Note 8.0 currently sells for $399. That's for the Wi-Fi version here in the US as the HSPA+ version hasn't launched yet. It's a decent price, but I would have liked to see it a bit lower as it has basically the same specs as the Nexus 7 (except the Exynos 4412 is a bit more powerful than the Tegra 3). Nonetheless, I think Samsung priced it perfectly for what this device is.
  • IR Blaster: I may sound a bit geeky, but I find it awesome that my tablet can control every TV in the house. I know this isn't the first tablet with an IR Blaster (or phone for that matter), but it's still freaking cool.

The Bad

  •  Android 4.1.2: I know, it's still Android 4.1. But I still feel like it should be on Android 4.2 by now. Seeing Android 4.2 has been out for about 7 months now.
  • Battery life: Nothing spectacular here, as we mentioned above. It does last a full day under moderate to heavy use, which is good for a slim device like this.
  • Non-removable battery: The major reason why everyone loves Samsung devices. But how many of you actually remove the battery on a tablet? It would still be nice to buy a bigger battery to throw in the Galaxy Note 8.0, right? You can never have enough battery power.

The Verdict

The Galaxy Note 8.0 is a great device, but would I recommend you picking it up? That's a tough question. There are many tablets coming out. In fact, around 5-7 new ones were announced this week at Computex, not to mention the Nexus 7 should be getting a refresh soon. So, I'd recommend the Galaxy Note 8.0 based on your needs, or wants. If you're looking for a tablet with a stylus, well S Pen, then you're choices are slim. You're stuck with the Galaxy Note 8.0 or 10.1. If you like the size of  the Nexus 7, then you're going to want to pick up the Galaxy Note 8.0. But if you're looking for something that's cheap and is sold purely on specs, you'll want to wait for the Nexus 7 coming this summer (hopefully).

Don't get me wrong the Galaxy Note 8.0 is a great device, and I've enjoyed it greatly. But this type of tablet isn't for everyone. The best thing to do, is to stop by a store (like BestBuy) that has the Galaxy Note 8.0 on display and check it out, see if you like the size. The performance is great, and the best out there in a tablet right now. It's no slacker at all.