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Hands-on with the Galaxy Note 8

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Last updated: August 23rd, 2017 at 17:00 UTC+02:00

Samsung has today announced the latest iteration in the Galaxy Note range, the Galaxy Note 8. We’ve already had a chance to play around with the handset—and we weren’t disappointed—so we thought we’d bring you a brief overview of what’s new and improved.

In line with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, the Galaxy Note 8 features an aluminum frame, a glass back and an Infinity Display. To make the larger screen more manageable, however, the firm has developed a square-shaped chassis that feels fantastic in the hand.

The traditional front-facing branding has been replaced with a simple ‘Samsung’ logo on the rear in an attempt to highlight the thinness of the horizontal bezels, achieved by opting for a set of on-screen navigation buttons instead of its traditional physical-capacitive setup.

Related: Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ hands-on

The Galaxy Note 8 will hit the shelves in the United States in four stunning colors—Deepsea Blue, Maple Gold, Midnight Black and Orchid Grey—all of which feature a black front, making for an immersive viewing experience when playing games and watching movies.

Samsung hasn’t changed a great deal when it comes to the screen. The unit sports an identical Quad HD+ Infinity Display (18.5:9) to the Galaxy S8, although it’s a little larger, measuring in at 6.3-inches. Best of all, the panel supports Mobile HDR Premium playback.

The pièce de résistance is the Galaxy Note 8’s incredible dual-camera configuration, which comprises of a 12MP wide-angle (f/1.7) and a 12MP telephoto (f/2.4) lens. They’re both equipped with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)—and it works perfectly.

During our testing, we found that the OIS engine was able to continuously stabilize the sensors in even the shakiest of environments. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take any sample shots, though we’ll be sure to upload a detailed camera shootout in the coming weeks.

Camera comparison: Galaxy S8 vs the Galaxy S7

We could blab on for hours about the new camera setup, but we think we’ll save that for our comprehensive review, so we can do some additional testing. For now, we’ll touch on one more new feature we were particularly impressed with; it’s called Live Focus.

The tool, as its name suggests, allows you to adjust the level of focus while snapping a picture—or in post production—to create the perfect bokeh effect. We toyed around with it for around ten minutes and found it to be far superior to other options on the market.

A new Galaxy Note deserves a new S Pen—and that’s exactly what Samsung has equipped the Galaxy Note 8 with. The stylus can be used on any part of the edge-to-edge Infinity Display, even when it’s soaking wet, and supports a maximum pressure sensitivity of 4,096.

What’s even more impressive is the company’s new Live Message feature. It works in a similar way to Apple’s Digital Touch handwriting tool, but isn’t restricted to one application—so you can share personalized messages using any platform, including WeChat and WhatsApp.

Continuing on the topic of software, the Galaxy Note 8 ships running Android 7.1.1 Nougat skinned with the latest build of Samsung Experience (formerly known as TouchWiz). Rest assured, though: it will be among the first devices to receive the much-anticipated Android 8.0 Oreo update.

Read more: These Galaxy devices will be updated to Android 8.0 Oreo

Moving on… We’re guessing you already know what Bixby is. If you don’t, this piece will bring you up to speed. Anyway, as a result of an update Samsung released on Tuesday, you’ll be able to take advantage of the physical Bixby button to toggle Bixby Voice as soon as your handset arrives.

When we attended our briefing, the voice assistant functionality wasn’t live in the United Kingdom. We have since had a chance to play around with it on a Galaxy S8 and we were blown away by how responsive it is. Here’s a list of all the different commands you can throw its way.

Before we wrap up, we’d like to note that like the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, the Galaxy Note 8 has facial recognition and an iris scanner. We didn’t have as much time as we’d have liked to play around with them, but from what we can tell they’re a lot quicker and more reliable.

That’s about all there is to say at present. Stay tuned for our comprehensive review, where we’ll be describing all of the new features in a lot more detail, providing our honest opinion and ultimately answering the question of whether the Galaxy Note 8 is worth your hard-earned cash.

Phone Samsung Galaxy Note 8
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