Samsung is ready to follow up its disastrous Galaxy Note 7 jumbo smartphone with what it ultimately chose to simply call the Galaxy Note 8, after some speculation about a badge change. The new phone's "infinity" display measures 6.3" across, or a tenth of an inch larger than the one in the Galaxy S8 Plus. The biggest difference versus that handset is the inclusion of the S Pen stylus.
US-bound Note 8 models pack an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, a chip found in most Android flagship phones. Handsets built for some other markets will pack Samsung's in-house Exynos SoC instead. The Note 8 has 6 GB of memory flanking the processor, a 50% increase compared to the Galaxy S8 phones and last year's troublesome Galaxy Note 7.
Buyers in the US only get a 64 GB model, but shoppers in other markets can choose whether they want 64 GB, 128 GB, or a whopping 256 GB of onboard storage. Either way, the phone's storage can be augmented with a microSD card. The previously-mentioned 18.5:9 screen is a Super AMOLED unit with a resolution of 2960×1440, working out to 522 PPI. The phone and its stylus are IP68-rated for water and dust ingress.
The Note 8 has just about every kind of connectivity on hand, including LTE Cat. 16 capability and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and MST for Samsung Pay. The handset likewise supports wireless charging. If you prefer physical connections, there's also a USB Type-C connector and a headphone jack.
The Galaxy Note 8's 3300 mAh battery is is actually down a couple hundred mAh compared to the unit packed inside last year's stylus-equipped flagship. Samsung promises that the new phone's battery has been subjected to the same more stringent eight-point testing methods it first used during the development of the Galaxy S8 models.
Other than the promised decrease in flammability, the Note 8's camera setup is probably the biggest step forward from the previous model. The phone's front sports an eight-megapixel snapper with an f/1.7 lens. The back has a pair of 12-MP picture-takers. One of those cameras has an f/1.6 lens, while the other is topped with an f/2.4 telephoto lens. Samsung says the Note 8 is the first phone on the market with optical image stabilization on both of its rear-facing cameras. The phone's imaging software can use the two lenses together to take portrait-mode photos with bokeh-blurred backgrounds, and it can add or remove the blur after the fact.
The phone's fingerprint reader is mounted somewhat-inconveniently just next to the pair of cameras on the back of the phone. Buyers dreaming of a phone with the biometric sensor behind the touchscreen will have to keep waiting. The Note 8 also retains the previous model's iris-scanning and facial-recognition features.
The Galaxy Note 8 will ship with Android 7.1.1 coupled with the company's TouchWiz interface. One of the buttons on the phone is dedicated to Samsung's Bixby AI assistant. The phone supports the DeX cradle-dock that converts the phone into a facsimile of a desktop computer.
Samsung expects the Galaxy Note 8 to hit American stores on September 15. The phone will be available with Midnight Black, Deepsea Blue, Orchid Gray, and Maple Gold finishes. The price depends on the carrier, with tags for the 64 GB model ranging from $930 at T-Mobile to $960 at Verizon.