Several publications got a chance to test out the Galaxy Note 8 before its official Sept. 15 launch, and the results are in: Samsung’s latest flagship giant is one of the best there is.
That said, there are still plenty of things people already don’t like about the device—but that’s to be expected.
Let’s look at what reviewers loved about the Korean giant’s latest high-end device.
1) CNET: Battery life
CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt said the Note 8 is “without a doubt Samsung’s best, most feature-packed phone.” She was particularly impressed with its battery life.
“Despite having a smaller capacity than the Note 7, battery life was great. The Note 8 lasted a little over 17 hours in our looping video drain tests. (Compare that to 16 hours for the S8 and 18 for the S8 Plus). It also kept enough charge to get through a busy day, even when used for navigation and endless photos at back-to-back wedding weekends.”
2) The Verge and Tom’s Guide: Display
The Verge gave the Note 8 a very good 8.5 score. A lot of its praise comes down to how excellent the display is.
“This HDR-capable display is everything you’d expect from a high-end Samsung panel: it’s crisp, vibrant, and super bright, so it’s visible outdoors in direct sunlight. The sheer size of it sucks you in when watching video, and the 18.5:9 aspect ratio lets it display lots of content at once or easily run two apps at the same time in split-screen multitasking mode.”
Mark Spoonauer at Tom’s Guide also spoke strongly of the device’s beautiful 6.3-inch infinity display.
“For starters, the Note 8’s screen is deliciously colorful. I was mesmerized by the multifaceted silver armor of Cyborg in the Justice League trailer, as well as his piercing red eye. When playing Mortal Kombat X, I marveled at how grotesquely awesome the gooey brains of my splayed enemy looked when they spilled out of his head.”
3) New York Times, Wired, and Gizmodo: Dual-lens camera
Brian Chen dedicated an entire section of his review to how Samsung expertly dealt with the battery life issues of the Note 7, but he was really smitten with its new dual-lens camera setup.
“The Note 8 also has an exceptional camera. Similar to Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus, the Note 8 has a dual-lens system. The two lenses work together to produce a so-called bokeh effect: You can show the photo’s main subject clearly while gently blurring the background.”
Samsung put a lot of weight behind its new dual-lens camera setup, and its claims seem to check out. Here’s what David Pierce at Wired had to say:
“I’m blown away by how good the Note 8’s camera can be. For instance: On a hike, I picked up my tiny, perpetually moving dog, and stuck him on top of a huge tree stump. He did not enjoy this maneuver. I had a few seconds to get a shot, and no chance of stillness, but the Note 8’s camera captured the moment perfectly.”
Sam Rutherford at Gizmodo praised the Note 8’s excellent 12 MP rear camera, even when photos were taken in low light.
“But when you put a little effort in, the Note 8 can still absolutely dazzle. I was blown away by a shot I took of the nighttime New York skyline with Samsung’s new camera module. I’ve taken this exact shot with a budget DSLR and not gotten something this good. Not only did it let me get everything out of that zoom lens, its photo is sharper, less noisy, and way more colorful than the best I could get from the iPhone 7 Plus.”
4) Mashable: Software
It’s always concerning when a company puts its own skin on top of Android, but Raymond Wong at Mashable is a fan of Samsung’s new software.
“The fact is, the Note 8 is really smooth with virtually no lag, apps open and load quickly, and Samsung’s trademark Android skin, TouchWiz, is the least offensive it’s been in years. It’s the same as on the S8 and it’s Samsung’s finest tuning yet. I could complain about TouchWiz not being stock Android like on the Google Pixel or the Essential Phone, or how there are duplicate Samsung apps like the Internet browser or Gallery, but I honestly don’t hate them.”
5) Quartz: Extra features
Samsung threw a bunch of features into its flagship phone, and many of them hit the mark, according to Mike Murphy at Quartz.
“The 8 also has wireless charging, splitscreen apps, water resistance, expandable memory, an always-on display, and the ability to take quick notes from the lock screen.”
6) Engadget: Look and feel
The Galaxy Note 8 looks and feels a lot like the S8, but Engadget editor Chris Velazco thinks the subtle design changes make the Note feel a bit more substantial.
“Still, Samsung’s new Note feels denser, and a little more… masculine. It’s slightly heavier, and the Note 8’s curved glass front and back come together in a way that makes the metal frame separating them feel more prominent. They’re subtle changes, to be sure, but they’re enough to make the Note 8 feel a little sturdier.”
7) BGR: S Pen
Zach Epstein called the Note “fantastic” and said it was probably “the best Android phone money can buy right now.” He spoke highly of one of few differentiators between the Note 8 and S8: the S Pen.
“Well, that brings us to the other key difference between the Galaxy Note 8 and the Galaxy S8+: Samsung’s S Pen stylus, and all of the great software features that come along with it. … The Galaxy Note 8 features the most advanced S Pen yet, with a number of enhancements to Samsung’s software as well as a writing experience that comes even closer to replicating a real pen.”