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The soft­ware change we love the most is one of those tiny fea­tures that can turn out to be the most use­ful soft­ware en­hance­ments for day-to-day use: while pre­vi­ous Notes have been able to use apps in a multi-win­dow setup (and this re­mains), you can now cre­ate a short­cut to ‘App Pairs’ on the home screen, to launch spe­cific apps to­gether. Nat­u­rally you can pin them to the Edge panel for easy ac­cess, too. This can be su­per-use­ful if you, say, al­ways use your mail and to-do app to­gether. And in true Galaxy Notestyle, you can drag and drop be­tween the win­dows – say an im­age from the My Files app across to the Sam­sung Email app.

So, the soft­ware’s good, which means it’s time to see what ef­fect that smaller bat­tery has. We used the PCMark for An­droid Work 2.0 bench­mark for a hard test, which gives ABOVE The du­al­lens cam­era is ex­cel­lent, but the fin­ger­print sen­sor po­si­tion is a bit less so us just over eight hours of bat­tery on the S8; nine hours 40 min­utes on the S8+; and an amaz­ing ten hours 21 min­utes on the Note8. Run­ning the al­ter­na­tive An­tutu bench­mark un­til the phones ran out of power showed less of a dif­fer­ence, with just a few min­utes be­tween the S8+ and Note8. Once again, the Note8 won, though. Which all means there’s no rea­son to be put off by that smaller bat­tery!


The Note8 cam­era setup is very in­ter­est­ing – as well as the 8MP f/1.7 unit on the front, there are dual 12MP cam­eras on the rear, one tele­photo, the sec­ond wide an­gle – a nice boost over the sin­gle-lens on the S8 se­ries. It’s the same setup we love on the iPhone 8 Plus, but cru­cially it steals a march on that hand­set be­cause both sen­sors have op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion, though the much pricier iPhone X gets this as well.

There’s an ac­com­pa­ny­ing new fea­ture called Live Fo­cus which en­ables you to have fine con­trol over the depth of field at any point. You can ad­just bokeh ei­ther be­fore you take the shot or after in the gallery; it’s all very clever and works re­ally well. We loved ex­per­i­ment­ing with it, and if you’re in dual cap­ture mode, two pho­tos are taken so you can al­ways go back to the non-Live Fo­cus im­age should you wish.

Speak­ing of the cam­era area, our one big prob­lem with the Galaxy S8 was the fin­ger­print reader next to the lens – it was too easy to smudge the cam­era when try­ing to place your fin­ger on it. Sam­sung has at­tempted to fix this with a new ‘frame’ for the scan­ner in the Note , but it still doesn’t work that well.

Note-tak­ing on the al­wayson dis­play is bril­liant

The S Pen is wa­ter­proof, like the main Note body

Iris recog­ni­tion still isn’t per­fect

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