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