Thursday, 24 August 2017 01:00

Samsung Note8 launches: $1499, one free screen repair, 2x optical zoom and more Featured

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Available for pre-order from 25 August, and on sale from 22 September, the 6.3-inch Infinity Display Note8 with a stylus throws every feature it can into the mix to fight off tghe iPhone, Pixel and everyone else for smartphone supremacy.

Seeking a definitive shot to getting atop the iron phone throne, Samsung’s Galaxy Note8 (which Samsung insists on calling the Note8) offers virtually every feature possible to satisfy everyone save diehard iOS users and those wanting a physical kitchen sink.

UPDATE: You can read my thoughts on the Note8 launch event here, as well as the must-see full launch presentation itself. Original article continues below: 

Billing it as “the next level Note”, Samsung says it is “for people who want to do bigger things”. Samsung talks up its “bigger Infinity Display that fits comfortably in one hand, S Pen to communicate in more personal ways, and Samsung’s best-ever smartphone camera1 to capture stunning photos".

D.J. Koh, Samsung’s president of Mobile Communications Business, said: “We appreciate the relentless passion of the Note community. They’ve been a constant inspiration to us and we designed the new Note for them. From the Infinity Display to the smarter S Pen and the most powerful Dual Camera, the Galaxy Note8 lets people do things they never thought were possible.”

Now, unlike with previous Samsung launches over the past few years, Samsung isn’t giving away a Gear VR headset this time to those who pre-order between 25 August and 21 September, but will instead give away “a free Samsung Convertible Fast Wireless Charger (RRP $119), redeemable through Samsung".

Samsung will also “provide peace of mind to Australian customers who order the Galaxy Note8 between 25 August and 31 October and register by 14 November, by offering free access to Samsung’s Screen Assure programme. This will provide one free screen repair should the screen be damaged within the first 12 months of receiving the device".

Naturally, you are strongly advised to buy a case, because if you dropped your Note8 once and smashed the screen, and still don’t put on a case, chances are very high you’ll do it again. To avoid disappointment, buy a case!

Garry McGregor, Samsung Australia’s director of IT and Mobile, said: “The Galaxy Note8 builds on features that Samsung has pioneered across our flagship Galaxy devices including, infinity display, fast and wireless charging capabilities, biometric security, as well as the much-loved Note S Pen which provides a beautiful handwriting experience.”

“We believe innovation only becomes meaningful when it can create a purposeful outcome for our customers, which is why we always focus on improving the features that our customer love most while at the same time pioneering experiences that breaks new ground for our smartphone offering.”

So, what else is Samsung stating about the features and benefits of the new Note8?

Well, despite the Note8 offering “the biggest screen ever on a Note device”, Samsung states its “narrow body makes it comfortable to hold in one hand”. The 6.3-inch screen is a “Quad HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity Display” that lets you “see more and scroll less”, with “more room to watch, read and draw – making it the ultimate multitasking smartphone".

It does make me wonder whether Apple might finally allow its 2017 iPhones to work with Apple Pencil to fight back against the Note’s stylus, but perhaps we’ll just have to wait until a future year for that one to come true and through.

There’s also the issue of multitasking, something iOS only allows on iPads and not iPhones, whereas it is available on the Note 8, and has been for years as “Multi Window”. Samsung takes this one step further this year with the new “App Pair feature” that lets you “create a custom pair of apps on the Edge panel and simultaneously launch two apps with ease".

The example given is of “watching a video while messaging your friends or dialling into a conference call with the number and agenda in front of you".

Then there’s the 'new way to communicate with the S Pen'.

If you thought the S Pen was all about writing, and communicating through writing, then you’ll be pleased to know Samsung says its “enhanced S Pen unlocks entirely new ways to write, draw, and interact with the phone and communicate with friends”. We’re told that it has “a finer tip, improved pressure sensitivity (compared to the Note 5 stylus), and features that enable users to express themselves in ways that no other stylus or smartphone ever has".

You see, when communicating with text just isn’t enough, Samsung says “Live Message allows you to reveal your unique personality and tell expressive stories. With the Galaxy Note8, you can now share animated texts or drawings across platforms that support animated GIFs (AGIF). It’s a whole new way to communicate with the S Pen—adding lively and emotional connections that bring your messages to life".

Samsung also boasts its “Always On Display allows Galaxy users to stay on top of their notifications without unlocking their phone”, and that with the “screen off memo” feature, you can “take up to one-hundred pages of notes as soon as you remove the S Pen, pin notes to the Always On Display and make edits directly from the Always On Display".

And, "for overseas travels or when you come across a website in a foreign language, the improved S Pen Translate feature lets you hover over text to quickly translate not only individual words, but entire sentences in up to 71 languages, and instantly convert units and foreign currencies".

Then there’s one of the most important features of a modern smartphone today – its camera, with Samsung proudly boasting of 'better pictures with Galaxy Note8’s best-in-class camera'.

Naturally, Samsung states the Note8 camera is its most powerful yet.

We’re told the “Galaxy Note8 is equipped with two 12MP rear cameras with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) on both the wide-angle lens and the telephoto lens”, with OIS letting you capture “sharper images".

But that’s not all. For “more advanced photo-taking, the Note8’s Live Focus feature lets you control the depth of field by allowing you to adjust the bokeh effect in preview mode and after you take the photo”, in what is clearly a response to the feature Apple launched in its 2016 iPhone 7 Plus.

There’s still more – with the new “Dual Capture mode, both rear cameras take two pictures simultaneously and allow you to save both images; one close-up shot from the telephoto lens and one wide-angle shot that shows the entire background".

The wide-angle lens has a “Dual Pixel sensor with rapid Auto Focus, so you can capture sharper, clearer shots even in low-light environments. The Galaxy Note8 is also equipped with an industry-leading 8MP Smart Auto Focus front-facing camera for sharp selfies and video chats".

There’s also a range of other features and benefits Samsung is talking up:

Water and dust resistance:

"Four years ago, Samsung introduced the first Galaxy device with water resistance. And today, you can take your Note almost anywhere you want with water and dust resistance (IP68) on the device and the S Pen. You can write even when the display is wet."

Fast wireless charging:

Two years ago, Samsung says it "introduced the first Galaxy device with wireless charging. The Galaxy Note 8 supports the most advanced wireless charging capabilities yet, so you can get a quick, convenient charge without having to mess around with ports or wires".

Security:

"The Galaxy Note8 offers a choice of biometric authentication options – including iris and fingerprint scanning. Samsung Knox provides defence-grade security at the hardware and software layers and with Secure Folder, keeps your personal and professional data separate."

Powerful performance:

"With 6GB RAM, a 10nm processor, and expandable memory (up to 256GB), you have the power you need to browse, stream, play games, and multitask."

Innovative mobile experiences:

"Samsung DeX enables a desktop experience, powered by your phone. You can keep your files on your device, conduct work on the go, and use Samsung DeX when you need an even bigger screen. The Galaxy Note8 includes Bixby, a smarter way to use your phone; it learns from you, improves over time, and helps you get more done."

Still need more convincing to drop $1499 on a Note8 or sign up to a phone contract to buy one?

Samsung also talks up these features:

Enhanced S Pen for business:

The S Pen lets professionals do what other smartphones can’t, like discreetly taking notes in Screen off memo or quickly annotating documents and photos.

Non-contact authentication:

The Galaxy Note8 offers iris scanning for professionals – for example, professionals in the health care, construction, or public safety sectors who may find themselves in a position where they need to unlock their phones without having to swipe or scan a fingerprint.

Enhanced DeX capabilities:

The Galaxy Note 8 powers Samsung DeX for those who need to extend their simple mobile experience seamlessly to the desktop — whether they’re in the field, at the office or at home.

Samsung’s continued commitment to Safety:

Samsung says it “continues to uphold its commitment to lead the industry in battery safety. The Galaxy Note8’s battery has undergone Samsung’s 8-Point Battery Safety Check — the most rigorous in the industry.”

We expect the Note9 will feature a nine-point battery safety check to make it match numerically and to go one better next year – we’ll have to see what happens in 12 months’ time.

Sajeev Jesudas, president of UL International, said: “We have been closely working with Samsung to make meaningful advancements in the science of smartphone quality and safety evaluation. As a result, the Galaxy Note8 has successfully completed a rigorous series of device and battery safety compatibility test protocols. We look forward to maintaining our strategic relationship with Samsung and helping ensure device safety for all consumers.

All you need to know from Samsung on the new Note8 is here. Specs are listed below.

McGregor had more to say, specifically:

“The Note8 builds on generations of innovation, refinement and improvement that has come to define how Samsung delivers the ultimate smartphone experience for our customers. The Note8 is the most powerful and refined device we have ever launched. It has been designed to help our customers do more to support their lifestyle – across work and everyday life.

“Through a combination of features synonymous with a Samsung Note device, like the S Pen and infinity display, the Note8 will give Australians the ability to do far more with their device. The Note8 has been designed to support the demands of our busy lifestyles, whether we’re coordinating work during the week, or managing our home life in between and over the weekend.

“Samsung Note customers are among the most loyal we have, so we’re incredibly excited to introduce them to the most advanced smartphone Samsung has ever produced. By listening to our customers, rather than telling them what they want, we’ve created a device that refines much-loved features like the S Pen, IP68 water resistance, curved design, Infinity Display, but also introduces a range new features that will support the best Note experience we have ever offered.

“We understand that the smartphone has become perhaps the most important piece of technology to support our lifestyles. That is why we have made such an immense investment in delivering a smartphone that combines a beautiful design and user experience, with the power and tools to help our customers do more throughout their day.”

At time of publication, there's no word yet on when the new Note8 will get Android 8. Perhaps for next year, Samsung can work more closely with Google to ensure that the Note9 launches with Android 9, rather than being an OS version behind, out-of-the-box, on day one. That said, Samsung does have to work with the OS that's in production and ready to go, but it would be nice to see Google and Samsung work together to try and make this happen.

Samsung Galaxy Note8 product specs

Display
6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED, 2960x1440 (521ppi)
Screen measured diagonally as a full rectangle without accounting for the rounded corners
Default resolution is Full HD+ and can be changed to Quad HD+ (WQHD+) in Settings

Camera
Rear: Dual Camera with Dual OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation)
Wide-angle: 12MP Dual Pixel AF, F1.7, OIS
Telephoto: 12MP AF, F2.4, OIS
2X optical zoom, 10X digital zoom
Front: 8MP AF, F1.7

Body
162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6mm, 195g, IP68
(S Pen: 5.8 x 4.2 x 108.3mm, 2.8 g, IP68)
Carrying an IP68 dust and water resistance rating. Based on test conditions of submersion in up to 1.5 meters of fresh water for up to 30 minutes

AP (Application Processor)
Octa core (2.3GHz Quad + 1.7GHz Quad), 64bit, 10nm processor
Octa core (2.35GHz Quad + 1.9GHz Quad), 64bit, 10nm processor
May differ by market and mobile operator

Memory
6GB RAM (LPDDR4), 64GB/128GB/256GB
May differ by market and mobile operator
User memory is less than the total memory due to storage of the operating system and software used to operate the device features. Actual user memory will vary depending on the operator and may change after software upgrades are performed.

SIM Card
Single: one Nano SIM and one MicroSD slot (up to 256GB)
Hybrid: one Nano SIM and one Nano SIM or one MicroSD slot (up to 256GB)
May differ by market and mobile operator

Battery
3300mAh
Wireless Charging compatible with WPC and PMA
Fast Charging compatible with QC 2.0

OS
Android 7.1.1

Network
LTE Cat. 16
May differ by market and mobile operator

Connectivity
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), VHT80 MU-MIMO, 1024QAM,
Bluetooth v 5.0 (LE up to 2Mbps), ANT+, USB Type-C, NFC, Location (GPS, Galileo, Glonass, BeiDou)
Galileo and BeiDou coverage may be limited.

Payment
NFC, MST

Sensors
Accelerometer, Barometer, Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, Heart Rate Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB Light Sensor, Iris Sensor, Pressure Sensor

Authentication
Lock Type: Pattern, Pin, Password
Biometric Lock Types: Iris Scanner, Fingerprint Scanner, Facial Recognition

Audio
MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA, DSF, DFF, APE

Video
MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM

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