Samsung Officially Launched Galaxy Note 8

Samsung officially launched its highly anticipated Galaxy Note 8 smartphone today. Samsung is offering Note7 owners who lost their devices to the global recall up to $425 off the Note 8 when they trade in their current device. Many buyers may take Samsung up on its offer.

Samsung has stuffed the device with class-leading components and a 6.3-inch AMOLED screen (2,960 pixels by 1,440 pixels) that closely resembles the near-bezel-less look that gave the Galaxy S8 and S8+ their distinctive look when they were released earlier this year. A dual-camera setup on the device’s back features optical image stabilization on both the wide-angle and telephoto shooters, an industry first.

The included S Pen style is thinner this time around and supports more levels of pressure (4,096 levels), allowing users to add more details to their sketches. Inside, it contains up to 256GB of internal storage, 6GB of RAM and an eight-core, 10nm chip that provides processing speeds of up to 2.35GHz.

Other than its exclusive S Pen features, the one truly unique story that Samsung can tell with the Galaxy Note 8 is the camera experience. The Note 8 marks the company's first foray into dual camera sensors, putting a pair of 12MP cameras on the back of the phone — one with a standard lens, and another with a longer telephoto-like lens.

We've seen that done plenty of times before, especially as the iPhone 7 Plus popularized the concept, but where the Note 8 differentiates is in adding OIS (optical image stabilization) to the secondary camera to match the primary. That lets the secondary camera, with its roughly doubled focal length of the main camera, continue to shoot clear photos in poor lighting conditions similarly to the main camera. An f/2.4 aperture on that long lens isn't going to be as bright as the f/1.7 on the main camera, but OIS is going to make a huge difference.

The main camera isn't as exciting, mainly because it's the same as what we've already been shooting with in the Galaxy S8 and S8+. A great 12MP sensor with "Dual Pixel" auto focus, an f/1.7 lens and OIS that takes consistently awesome shots. Samsung may have made some tweaks to its software processing, but if so they aren't large enough for it to make any point to say so.

The real fun comes from combining the two cameras, which happens with a switch to the "Live Focus" mode. Leveraging the pair, Samsung's software can do the now-popular function of adding artificial DSLR-like background blurring, based on the point you select in the viewfinder. You see the blur simulated in real-time, and importantly you can also adjust the blur intensity after the fact in the Gallery. One better, the Note 8 also saves a standard picture from the main camera, so you don't have to choose between the two and potentially miss an important shot.

Buyers can further expand the device's storage capacity by an additional 256GB with a microSD card. Travelers and those who want to use both a personal and business number on a single smartphone may appreciate the dual-SIM version of the new Note 8.

Taken altogether, Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 offers consumers and business users a compelling reason to register their preorders starting Aug. 24 or pick one up when it hits store shelves on Sept. 15, according to Gold.

"It's an upgrade for the many consumers who are Note fans, and it has business features with connection to DeX that makes it more attractive to enterprise, particularly those verticals where data capture via forms is used," said Gold. The DeX dock, introduced alongside the Galaxy S8 earlier this year, turns the Note 8 into a desktop with keyboard, mouse and monitor support.

"The screen is slightly bigger but without making the device too big itself due to the bezel-less design," continued Gold. "And the pen not only adds some very nice capability in marking up texts (should be very popular with the SMS crowd), but the taking notes on the dark screen is also a nice feature that is highly useful."

All of the specs, features and hardware that make the Galaxy Note 8 great can be found on the Galaxy S8+ (and much of the competition). There's nothing new, revelatory or novel about the Galaxy Note anymore — it's just another great high-end phone, plus a stylus. Losing some of that "special" feeling in the Note 8 isn't going to hurt sales, but it sure does feel like it marks a changing of the times.

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