Samsung Galaxy Note 8

New Beast on the Block: Will the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Take a ‘Byte’ Out of Apple?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8: An Intriguing New Powerhouse of a Device

Generally speaking, I’m an Apple devotee—no, scratch that; I’m more accurately characterized as an Apple fanatic. Whether you’re talking mp3 players, tablets, laptops, workstations, or smartphones, unless I have no choice, I don’t use anything but Apple.

Every now and then, though, one of Apple’s rivals releases a product so intriguing, a product so radical in specs, functionality, beauty, and sheer, brute power, I can’t help being tempted toward the dark side of consumer electronics.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is just such a product.

The Galaxy Note 7 Exploding Battery

This successor to last year’s calamitous Galaxy Note 7 doesn’t hit U.S. retailers until Sept 15, but early reviews from around the web have been stellar—gushing even.

So what makes the Galaxy Note 8 such an early critical darling (and a foregone sales smash for Samsung)? For starters, the Note8 is virtually guaranteed not to suffer from the same combustible, explosive problems that plagued the Note7. The embarrassing 7 forced Samsung to recall it not once, but twice, amounting to a recall of a recall. After that second recall, you might remember, Samsung permanently discontinued the Note 7 (although the device has since popped up overseas as the refurbished, non-exploding Galaxy Note FE [Fan Edition]).

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Specs

Of course, assurance that your high-end, super-duper, market-leading technological wonder won’t catch fire in your pocket, or engulf your home or vehicle in a 5-alarm fire is hardly a selling point. So what makes the Note8 special? Let’s start with the raw specs:

Operating System:     Android 7.1.1 overlaid by Samsung Experience 8.5

Size:                            162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm, 195g

Display:                       6.3-inch Super AMOLED QHD+ (2960×1440, 521ppi)

Processor:                   Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 in US, Exynos elsewhere

Memory:                     6 GB

Storage:                      64 GB

Rear camera:              12-mp wide angle; 12-mp telephoto

Front camera:             8-megapixel w/auto-focus

Battery:                       3,300Ah

Connectivity:   802.11 ac Wi-Fi, NFC, MST, USB-C, Bluetooth 5.0

Colors: Black or Gray

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8: A Productivity Beast

When compared to top-tier “flagship” devices from other companies, it’s clear that the Note8 is a beast of a device. Based on early reviews, its three key features are:

Critics have praised these three Note8 features more than any others. According to more than one review, the Note 8 dual cameras enable photography that’s akin to what’s possible with DSLR cameras. And the Stylus, which has been the defining feature of the Galaxy Note line since the first model in 2011, has been gradually improved on each new generation. Reviewers agree that the Note8 stylus represents the best, most functional stylus iteration yet.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8: A New Screen Legend Emerges

Most reviewers have, by far, heaped the most praise on the Note8’s screen. Many are comparing the gargantuan, 6.3-inch, Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) screen to that of high-end TVs. What’s more, consulting firm DisplayMate, which specializes in display tech, found that the Note 8 achieves a peak brightness level of 1200 nits—an all-time high among smartphone screens. What’s more, the device also features High Dynamic Range Playback video capability, another smartphone first. To that end, video streaming giant Netflix will support HDR streaming playback for the Galaxy Note 8. Now you might be wondering:

Should I buy the Galaxy Note 8?

It almost sounds like I’m encouraging you to pre-order the Galaxy Note 8, and then be first in line when it hits retailers on Sept 15. Right?

Not so fast.

A ‘Note’ on the Galaxy Line’s King-of-the Hill History

When the Note first launched in 2011, it was a cutting-edge, breakthrough piece of tech. There had never been anything like it on the smartphone market. Certainly, this is still true of the Note 8, if to a lesser degree, and you still won’t find anything its equal on the current market—not at the moment, anyway.

Here’s where true differentiation between the market impact of original Note and that of the Note8 becomes more apparent. For several generations, the Galaxy Note created and defined a particular segment of the smartphone market: “The Phablet.” If one wanted the best phone money could buy in this segment, the Galaxy Note was the best option—the only option, really. For many, in fact, the Samsung Galaxy Note represented the best smartphone technology this side of an iPhone.

This is true of the Note8, too; however, unlike many of the previous Note generations, the Note8’s reign as the world’s most impressive smartphone won’t last for years. If the Note8 remains the finest smartphone money can buy for more than 6 months, said reign will amount to a minor accomplishment.

More, overall smartphone technology has made major strides since the first Galaxy Note. Other manufacturers have largely erased Samsung’s technological advantages. These days, consumers can buy competing phones from other companies—even earlier generations—that are nearly as impressive as the Note8 for far less than its $950 price tag. Plus, it’s inevitable at this point that, in a few generations—at most—the most cutting-edge aspects of the Note8 will trickle down the smartphone food chain to lower-end models. And don’t forget:

The iPhone 8 Release Date is Coming Soon

As of this writing, the iPhone 8 releases in just under a week. If early word of Apple’s new device is true, it will instantly surpass the Note8 as the world’s most cutting-edge smartphone (and, at $999, it’s most expensive, too).

Still, if you’re an Android devotee, the Note8 is a hard-to-resist upgrade—provided you’ve got the cash to burn. As it always does with new flagship releases, Samsung is throwing in some extra tech goodies for those who pre-order the Galaxy Note 8, too.

Otherwise, I recommend waiting for the iPhone 8. For my money, the iPhone is always the best tech money can buy, regardless of generation.