Samsung Note8 launch: 8 things to note about Samsung's upcoming Unpacked event in New York

The Samsung logo at the company's showroom in Seoul.
The Samsung logo at the company's showroom in Seoul.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK - Samsung's super-sized smartphone of 2017, the Galaxy Note8, will be officially announced on Wednesday (Aug 23) at the company's Unpacked event in New York City.

This might very well be the phone of the year to look out for, particularly for fans of the Note series, who had to give up on one of the best smartphones released last year when the Galaxy Note7 had to be globally recalled due to battery issues leading to phones catching fire.

Most expect the Note8 to follow the design philosophy laid down by the Galaxy S8 and S8+ released earlier in the year, with a long, bezel-less look and a curved infinity display - but surprises cannot be ruled out.

The Straits Times Digital is on-location in New York City to deliver first looks and impressions of Samsung's flagship the moment the new smartphone is unveiled on Wednesday, 11pm Singapore time.

Meanwhile, the rumour mill has been working overtime on what features the Note 8 might have. Here are eight things to take note of from the announcement.

1. Display

Will a giant screen make the phone too big?If rumours are true and the Note8's comes with a massive 6.3-inch display, it will be Samsung's biggest phone to date. In comparison, last year's Note7 checked in at 5.7 inches, while the S8 and S8+ have a 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch screen respectively. All that screen real estate is likely to be squeezed in a reasonable body size, due to Samsung's bezel-less design, but it will still be interesting to see what sort of form factor it will have and whether one-handed use will still be possible.

2. Battery life

Samsung may play it safe after last year's Note7 recall which saw more than 2.5 million handsets recalled globally. Investigations showed that a large battery squeezed into the phone was at fault for causing them to catch fire, and so the Note8 might come with a 3,300mAh battery instead of a bigger 3,500mAh one.Given the expected super-sized screen is likely to be power hungry, many will be looking to see how Samsung manages battery life.

3. Cameras

Is it going to be one or two? The dual-camera trend is rumoured to finally catch up with the Note8, making it the first Samsung phone to have two rear cameras. If there are in fact two cameras, users can expect even better picture quality, improved low-light performance, and impressive bokeh effects - where the background is blurred but the subject in focus. But Samsung is known to have a bunch of camera tricks and it remains to be seen what they might do with two cameras.

4. Processor

The Note8 will most likely sport the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 chip for US phones, with a similarly-specced Exynos 8895 for Singapore models. These are the top-tier chips of this year until the Snapdragon 836 makes its debut later in the year, most likely on Google's own line of Pixel phoes.

5. Memory

As smartphones become faster and more demanding apps get pushed on the app store, more juice is needed. Rumours from tech news sites suggest the Note8 will come with 6GB of RAM, compared to the 4GB currently on the S8 and S8+. This will ensure smooth and lag-free multi-window use, for example, where two apps are open simultaneously in order to take advantage of the phone's large screen.

6. S Pen

The S Pen stylus has been a mainstay of the Note series since the first Note phone in 2011, and it will almost certainly be back with the Note8. There has been little chatter about whether the S-Pen will receive any upgrades or new features so that is something to look out for tonight.

7.  Bixby button

You didn't think Samsung would give up its own take on artificial intelligence software so easily, did you, despite competing with Google's own Assistant software on Android phones? Leaked images of the Note8 show the same button layout on the phone's side as the S8 phones, with a power button on the right and volume controls on the left, above a dedicated Bixby button that launches the software.

8. Availability and pricing

With all these high-end specs, the Note8 is also shaping up to be Samsung's most expensive smartphone to date, with rumours of it retailing it close to the USD$1,000 mark (S$1,360). Given that the earlier Galaxy S8 and S8+ retailed for $1,148 and $1,298 respectively here, it is likely that the Note8 will be even more expensive than them. Pre-orders in the United States might open the day after the phone's announcement, and users might be able to get their phones in Singapore sometime in September.

Stay tuned for the Note8's official specs, as well as first impressions and a hands-on video, after Samsung's Unpacked launch event on Aug 23, 11pm Singapore time.