Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 is nearing its official launch as it's set to go on sale this week on September 15th, though it has already made it into the hands of plenty of consumers who pre-ordered the device. We've also spent some time with it over the past week or two and have been able to check out more of its features and how the device stacks up. There are lots of good points about the Galaxy Note 8, but let's break down whether or not there are any bad or ugly things about the device that Samsung could have avoided by changing them.
First and foremost, the Galaxy Note 8's battery is safer than the one that was in last year's Galaxy Note 7. This isn't a point that we want to focus on too much, but it's worth mentioning as Samsung now puts its devices through a new multi-point safety check to make sure that the batteries are safe to use, so this is an important detail as customers will no doubt still remember the issues with last year's model. Moving beyond the battery, the Galaxy Note 8 is Samsung's very first smartphone to come with a dual camera setup, allowing the user to have some extra features when taking pictures. The camera on the Galaxy Note 8 is full of features, though this is really nothing new as Samsung is very well-known for adding a lot of features into its camera app software. It does build on it every year either by adding something new or refining the app from previous versions and devices, and the Galaxy Note 8 is entirely ready to make full use of the app and all it has to offer. The dual rear camera is also really good in low-light situations which can be hard to find, and as smartphones are increasingly becoming the main camera for most consumers, good low-light images are a must.
The device also now supports HDR video as long as the app itself supports it as well, and has HDR videos on offer, such as Netflix. These types of videos look excellent on the Galaxy Note 8's display, which is a big 6.3-inch Quad HD+ display that delivers crisp image quality and vivid colors. Just like Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, the Galaxy Note 8 display has edges on both sides of the screen and can be used to bring up shortcuts. The size and quality of the display is also a good thing for those interested in virtual reality as the Galaxy Note 8 does support Gear VR, and content already looks great on the display that comes with Samsung's latest Galaxy S flagships, so it was bound to look great on the Galaxy Note 8 as well.
One can't talk about the good things of the Galaxy Note 8 without mentioning the build quality and design. Samsung's devices tend to be very stylish and there is no difference here with the Galaxy Note 8, as it's a sleek phone with the metal and glass, and slightly more squared off corners compared to the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. The design is further enhanced with the offering of a few different colors too, giving consumers choice on which one suits them best, which is another good thing about the phone. As far as build quality goes, the Galaxy Note 8 feels extremely solid and well-built, and when holding it you would think the size would probably be a little too big as it is a big device, but thanks to the use of the Infinity Display, Samsung was able to cut down on the overall size of the phone and still offer a big screen. This makes it a little easier to hold in one hand. There are tons of other great things about this device as well, such as the fact that it supports Samsung Pay right out of the box, which is accepted more places than other mobile payment solutions, and it features the 3.5mm audio port which means you can actually plug in a regular pair of headphones. The list goes on, as Samsung has really outdone themselves with the Galaxy Note 8 and there are really too many things to point out in regards to the best parts of the phone. With that said, the Galaxy Note 8 isn't perfect and there are some things which could have been executed a little better.
Yes, there are lots of great things about the Galaxy Note 8, but there are some bad things too and it's hard to overlook that price tag. Samsung has never been one to offer an inexpensive cost on its best phones, and it certainly didn't do so with the Galaxy Note 8 as this is one expensive device. It comes in at a price tag of about $929 in the U.S., which is by no means cheap and will probably turn some people off from getting one. Those that are devout Samsung loyalists and fans of the Note series may look past the price and pick one up anyway, but the cost is rather high even for all of the stuff that Samsung is offering with this phone.
The silver lining here might be that you can break the device up into payments if you're buying it at a carrier, or if you use a service that offers a contract still you might be able to get it at a discount, but the cost will still be high.
Samsung is also still using bottom-facing speakers on its flagships, or rather all of its phones, and this is one issue with the Galaxy Note 8 that some will wish was different. A lot of phones still use bottom-facing speakers, so it wasn't too much of a surprise to see the Galaxy Note 8 coming with one. The sound isn't bad by any means, in fact the audio is somewhat decent here, but the location of the speaker can make it easy to cover up with your hand depending on the size of your hands and how you hold the device. If you appreciate good audio then this might very well bother you. Sure you could just plug in headphones, or connect the device to a pair of Bluetooth headphones or a Bluetooth speaker, but sometimes it's nice to just use the audio the device comes with so you don't have to put anything in your ears, and because the speakers aren't on the front, due to the nature of the display, this can lead to some potentially muffled audio from time to time. It's not the end of the world, but definitely something that can be a bit annoying. At the very least, Samsung could have given the phone a second speaker on the bottom.
There's really not too much wrong with the Galaxy Note 8 that could be categorized as being an ugly feature, as most everything about the device is top-notch, but during the past week or so it's been noticed that image quality during the day can be a little bit inconsistent, and while the camera is full of features and overall the camera puts out a really good image, that inconsistency can make for some potentially bad photos, as you won't know when the image may come out worse than before. A big part of this is the lack of detail within images that can be seen when you try to enlarge a photo beyond 100 percent on your phone's display. So if you zoom into the image or crop it, you'll notice a good portion of the detail gets lost. The good bit is that not everyone is going to zoom into photos or try to enlarge them for viewing on larger screens, and for those people the loss of detail will be hardly noticeable, if noticeable at all.
Overall the Galaxy Note 8 is a pretty great device with loads of awesome features, a great design, and a great build quality that Samsung has come to be known for with its more premium phones. Though it does have a high price tag and some inconsistency with the detail in images when you try to zoom in on them or make them larger by cropping them, these few points are drowned out and overshadowed by all of the other things that Samsung got right. The S Pen has been improved once again, the Samsung Experience software UI is the best that Samsung has ever put out, and that display is absolutely gorgeous for viewing content and playing games. If you can stomach the cost, then you really can't go wrong here. Samsung certainly has a winner on its hands.