Samsung launches Galaxy Note8 phablet with dual rear cameras and largest screen size to date

Samsung hopes the new phablet will extinguish the memories of its fire-prone predecessor, which was withdrawn months after its debut.
The Note8 features a 6.3-inch quad HD+ Super Amoled infinity display.
The Note8 features a 6.3-inch quad HD+ Super Amoled infinity display.ST PHOTO: LESTER HIO
The Note8 features a 6.3-inch quad HD+ Super Amoled infinity display.
The Note8 features a 6.3-inch quad HD+ Super Amoled infinity display.ST PHOTO: LESTER HIO

NEW YORK CITY - Samsung looks ready to regain top spot in the premium phablet market with the launch of its latest smartphone, the Galaxy Note8, a year after the Korean company was forced to recall its previous Note7 devices due to battery issues.

The latest phablet in Samsung's Note line features a 6.3-inch display, Samsung's largest to date, and is the first Samsung smartphone to come with two rear cameras.

The Note8, which was unveiled on Wednesday (Aug 23) at a global launch event in New York City, is due to be available globally and in Singapore in mid-September.

Samsung did not provide the Note8's local price during the electronics company's Unpacked launch event in New York City, with a local spokesman saying that more details will be revealed at a later date. The Note8's predecessor, the Note7, retailed for $1,168 when it was launched in Singapore last August.

The Note8 sports the same bezel-less infinity design that made its debut on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones released earlier in 2017, but with squarer corners than the S8's rounded edges.

Its 6.3-inch display is a quad HD+ Super Amoled screen, and is just a hair larger than the 6.2-inch display size of the Galaxy S8+.

But while it shares a lot in common wiht the looks like the Galaxy S8, the Note8 comes with its own set of software and hardware tricks.

To maximise its large screen, the Note8 comes with a new feature called App Pair, which lets users link two different apps together in the phone's Edge panel. When the paired app icon is pressed, both apps will launch simultaneously, with each app taking up half the screen.

 

The Note8 is also the first Samsung smartphone to sport two rear cameras, both of 12-megapixel sensors. One is a wide angle lens and the other a telephoto lens, with optical image stablisation on both lenses.

The dual-camera setup lets users adjust how blurry they want the background to be through a new feature called Live Focus. They can do so while taking the photo and even after the shot has been taken.

Users can also take photos in Dual Capture mode, where both cameras capture the scene simultaneously and save two photos: one close-up shot from the telephoto lens and one wide-angle shot that shows the entire background.

The Note8 is also equipped with a 8-megapixel front-facing camera with smart auto-focus that can detect faces while taking selfies.

To ensure that the Note8 multitasks smoothly and processes images quickly, the phone comes default with 6GB of RAM and the latest Snapdragon 835 processor chip.

The phone will come with 64GB of internal storage and supports expandable memory up to 256GB.

Good news for fans of the headphone jack: the Note8 continues Samsung's trend of sticking with the 3.5mm port at a time when many other phone makers are ditching it.

It also comes with USB-C charging port, downward-facing speakers on the bottom of the phone, along a slot for Samsung's S Pen stylus.

The S Pen has been a defining accessory of the Note series since 2011, and its latest incarnation offers a smoother writing experience. The Note8's stylus has a finer tip and improved pressure sensitivity, which gives users finer control over the notes they jot down or sketches they make.

Users can also select a translation option and translate words by hovering over text with the S Pen. Doing so will also automatically convert foreign currency and measurement units into default options that users can customise.

The dedicated Bixby button, which made its debut on the S8 and S8+, makes a return on the Note8, giving users a quick way to launch Samsung's virtual assistant software.

And like the S8 and S8+, the Note8 comes with a suite of biometric security options to unlock the phone, which include fingerprint sensors, iris detection and facial recognition.

The Note8 comes with a 3,300mAh battery, a smaller one compared to the 3,500mAh battery in last year's Note7. Samsung said the phone's battery has undergone a "rigorous" 8-Point Battery Safety Check system to ensure they are safe for use.

"We have been closely working with Samsung to make meaningful advancements in the science of smartphone quality and safety evaluation," said Sajeev Jesudas, president of safety testing firm UL International, which Samsung partnered to ensure the safety of its smartphone batteries. "As a result, the Galaxy Note8 has successfully completed a rigorous series of device and battery safety compatibility test protocols."