The new Galaxy Note8 is part tablet, part phone and all business. Packed with functionality and designed with users' needs in mind, the Galaxy Note8 may be the most feature-rich phone meets notetaking device out there.
Like the Galaxy S8 and S8+, the Galaxy Note8 boasts a borderless Infinity Display and slim design. In fact, the design is so similar that when I saw the S8+ and Note8 side by side, I couldn't tell the difference until I got up close. The Note8 is slightly larger than the Galaxy S8+, but while the spec sheet for the Note8 often lists the display size as 6.3 inches (compared to the S8+ at 6.2 inches) the display on the Note8 is not meaningfully larger. The major design difference between the S8+ and Note8 is the Note8's inclusion of the S Pen, which fits seamlessly into the device and can be easily released, and the unique dual-camera design.
The S Pen received some upgrades with the release of the latest Note8, including a finer tip and improved pressure sensitivity. Samsung also increased the translation capabilities of the S Pen, allowing users to hover over individual words or complete sentences and translate them into 71 languages. The translation tool automatically converts units of measure and currencies into the preferred language or unit of the user as well, which may be of use to frequent international business travelers. Of course, the Note8 isn't the only smartphone with translation capabilities – there are dozens of translation apps available for iOS and Android, such as iTranslate and Google Translate – but only the Note8 allows users to translate using a stylus.
The most exciting thing about the Note8 is the camera design and functionality. The front camera is a typical 8MP setup, which is perfectly fine for chatting and taking selfies, but the back of the phone has not one but two 12MP cameras, with optical image stabilization – one wide-angle lens and one telephoto lens. When the user takes a photo with the rear-facing cameras, the Note8 automatically captures two images, one with each lens, so with each shot taken, the user can choose between a highly detailed wide-angle shot with a clear view of the entire background and a focused image of the item in the foreground. The wide-angle lens also has a Dual Pixel sensor with rapid autofocus, which makes it possible to grab clear images even in low-light situations.
The Note8 also has a Live Focus feature, which allows users to mimic the functionality of an SLR by manually adjusting a blurring bokeh-type effect either in preview mode (using a slider on the screen) or after the image has been taken. For business users who rely heavily on social media and want to take professional-looking photos directly on their mobile devices, the Note8 may be a worthwhile purchase for the cameras alone.
The new Samsung Galaxy Note8 includes a feature that allows users to pair apps that are commonly used in tandem on the Edge panel. For example, a user might pair their Yelp app with their Grubhub app, reasoning that when they look up restaurants on Grubhub, they usually also look up reviews and photos on Yelp. Once the two apps are paired, anytime they are accessed through the Edge panel, both will launch at the same time in side-by-side multiwindow view. For business users, the ability to customize app pairings on an individual basis could save time and improve mobile multitasking. Pairing commonly used business apps such as QuickBooks and OneNote could make on-the-go record keeping significantly easier, while pairing various social media apps could make it easier to keep an eye on digital marketing efforts and overall online presence.
The Samsung Galaxy Note8 has all the security features a business user could want. In addition to the now-standard biometric fingerprint scanner, the Note8 offers iris scanning for hands-free authentication. Samsung Knox, Samsung's mobile security solution, offers additional protection from information theft by maintaining personal data and professional data in separate secured folders.
There's no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy Note8 is a fine machine. It has an impressive 6GB RAM, an expandable memory on top of that (up to 256GB), a 10nm processor and loads of additional business features. Devotees of Samsung's Note line are sure to appreciate the improvements it has made to the Note8, because they are considerable, but the high price tag ($929.99) may be a barrier to entry for newcomers to the line. That said, if you're in the market for a mobile device equipped with a stylus, you'd be hard-pressed to find something superior to the new Note8.