10 reasons to love (and hate) the Samsung Galaxy Note 8

As you may or may not have heard, I had the pleasure of attending Samsung’s Unpacked 2017 event for the launch of the Galaxy Note 8. Leading up to the announcement, we were hoping for Samsung to really steal the show as we head into the latter portion of the year.

As is the case just about every year, Samsung launched it’s 2nd half flagship ahead of the competition. This means that we’re still waiting to see what LG, Google, and most notably, Apple have planned.

However, from my limited time with the device I have already deduced that those other OEMs may have a tough time competing. As for the reasons behind my thought process, here’s a list of 8 things that I love and hate about the Galaxy Note 8.

LOVE: Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke

When Samsung launched the Galaxy S8 lineup earlier this year, the company deviated from its traditional, boring, design. Instead, we were introduced with an all-new sleek and svelte design which includes the infinity display, slimmer body, and a more enjoyable experience in the hands.

This design has somewhat returned with the Galaxy Note 8. However, as some may expect, it’s a bit boxier than it’s smaller brethren but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

HATE: Who put a robot on my phone?

I’ll get into why I love what Samsung is doing with its new dual-camera setup a bit later, but the rear of the device is a bit odd. Instead of doing the sensible thing and moving the fingerprint reader to the middle, Samsung kept with its god-awful positioning alongside the aforementioned camera module.

The dual camera placement is an obvious choice, and the included heart rate monitor has become a mainstay for Galaxy decides. But the fingerprint scanner should have been moved.

It’s likely Samsung is gearing up for another design change with the Galaxy S9 and I’m hoping the company decides to change this positioning up. Luckily, the iris scanner returns with the Note 8, so you can use that as an option if you don’t feel like playing finger gymnastics to unlock your phone.

LOVE: Samsung finally doubled up

As I’ve already mentioned, Samsung included a dual-camera module with the Note 8. This is a first for Samsung and is something that I was hoping to see with the Galaxy S8.

Better late than never, and it seems that the delay was for good reason. Samsung packed dual 12MP sensors onto the rear of the Note 8, with the first offering a wide-angle lens while the other offers a 2X telephoto lens.

This is akin to adding the 2X lens from the iPhone 7 Plus and the awesome wide-angle lens from the LG G6. But wait, there’s more. Both of these camera sensors offer Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), which is a first for a smartphone with a dual camera system.

From everything that we were able to tinker with at the event, it seems that the Note 7 may be the device to overtake the Pixel as the #1 camera smartphone.

HATE: Keep a cleaning cloth nearby

This is more of a personal issue than an actual problem with the Note 8, but it’s a fingerprint magnet. Like, if you didn’t wash your hands 5 seconds before touching it, the Note 8 will look terrible.

Of course, many of us will opt for skins from the likes of dbrand, but it’s still something that stuck out to me during my time with the device.

LOVE: Return of the Jack

Alright. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really care either way about whether a new device has a 3.5mm headphone jack. But something that I’ve come to realize recently is just how convenient they really are.

Sure, I may have 10 pairs of Bluetooth headphones, but I don’t carry them all with me at the same time. And the ones I do carry, I tend to forget to recharge and end up not being able to listen to some tunes or catch up on some of my favorite YouTube channels. (hint, hint. wink, wink)

So as I made the switch from my iPhone 7 Plus to the Galaxy S8 Plus as my daily driver, I realized how convenient that little jack really is. If an OEM claims that it was removed to make the phone smaller or thinner, I get it. But you don’t have to be “brave” to make such a move.

Thankfully, Samsung stuck with the headphone jack on the Note 8, and are also packing a pair of AKG-tuned headphones in every box. Definitely, no courage needed there.

HATE: The unmappable button

Yup, that’s right. The Bixby button returns on the Galaxy Note 8 and don’t expect to be able to remap it anytime soon.

Samsung took a fair bit of time to focus on some more useful changes and features coming to Bixby, but those don’t change how I feel about the button. I mean, if I want to use Google Assistant, which comes on every phone, as my personal assistant, why can’t I remap one of my hardware buttons to access the app I really want?

Oh well, I guess. I’m just hoping that app developers can still give me the workaround I want.

LOVE: I need MOAR POWER

Over the course of 2017, we’ve seen quite a few devices launched with 6GB (or even 8GB) of RAM. There was definitely some concern that Samsung would continue to take the conservative route, but luckily it didn’t.

Instead, Samsung upped the ante and joined the 6GB club, which should help boost performance on a device that is already going to be snappy. Coupled with the Snapdragon 835, the Note 8 could really be the powerhouse we’ve been looking for, considering the other inclusions and additions.

Time will tell whether the RAM management found within “Samsung Experience” will let users take advantage of the additional RAM. Or we could end up with another OnePlus 3 debacle again.

HATE: Uhhhh where’s the battery?

This is another nit-picking opinion, but when Samsung announced the Note 8 to be packed with a 3,300mAh battery, I was a bit surprised. The reason for my surprise is that the Galaxy S8 Plus is packed with a 3,500mAh battery.

I can understand the hesitation of Samsung trying to overdo things considering what happened with the Note 7. I can also understand the aspect of the bigger camera module and inclusion of the S Pen, but it was just a surprising move.

With the Galaxy S8 Plus measuring in at just 0.1-inches smaller than the Note 8 (6.2 vs 6.3), it’s left me scratching my head a bit. Here’s to hoping that battery life holds up after time and doesn’t end up as a disappointment.

LOVE: Refined and improved

Since so many device feature larger screens, it’s important for Samsung to deviate it’s Note lineup from the rest of the crowd. Enter: the S Pen.

The S Pen is something that used to look like a cool toy that you got for free but has transformed into a real tool for multitaskers. With the Note 8, not only does the S Pen return, but there have been some rather impressive refinements.

The new S Pen features a finer tip, giving the user a more natural flow when writing, while also being water proof. But the fun really comes into play on the software side.

Samsung has implemented a few new features into the S Pen software, most notably, the ability to translate words in a breeze. If you’re in a foreign country and need to translate something from a nearby restaurant menu, you can do so with ease using just the S Pen.

Sure, Bixby vision can now do the same things, but where’s the fun in that when you have a built-in stylus. There are more awesome features packed into the S Pen, but my favorite? The bottom still acts as a ballpoint to serve as my fidget spinner.

HATE: This one goes to $1K

We all knew it was coming. We knew the day would arrive when a smartphone would budge up against the $1,000 price point, and it seems Samsung is willing to take the risk.

While Samsung has not directly announced pricing, a few carriers let the cat out of the bag a bit early. The Galaxy Note 8 is currently priced as high as $960 (from Verizon) and as low as $930 (from T-Mobile).

We’re likely to hear what Samsung is pricing its latest flagship at soon, but this price is outrageous. Sure, many folks will be getting the Note 8 through lease payments but I don’t know if I could justify paying almost $1K on a smartphone.

VERDICT

The Galaxy Note 8 is a solid choice, but may not be the best of 2017.

While we await the launch of such devices as the LG V30, Pixel 2, and Pixel XL 2, Samsung may not have done enough to convince me that it’s the best phone of 2017. While it’s a great improvement over the Galaxy Note 7, the Note 8 feels like a slightly larger Galaxy S8 Plus.

This obviously won’t matter to those “power users” who NEED the S Pen to get through their day-to-day lives, but outside of that, you’re looking at $1,000 for some fancy cameras. If I had a choice today, I’d still stick with the Galaxy S8 Plus as it gives me a serviceable camera and feels more comfortable in the hands.

However, this is just my opinion, so let us know what you think about the Galaxy Note 8 and what your favorite features of the device are.

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