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The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY - StevenDou­glas

The Sam­sung Gal­axy Note 8, €950

Con­sider this re­view a pre­lim­i­nary one. The Sam­sung Gal­axy Note 8 is of­fi­cially on sale to­mor­row and there are very few hand­sets do­ing the rounds in Ire­land. So my time with this one was fleet­ing: days rather than weeks, enough to dis­cover that I like the con­cept and to show up some nig­gles, but not enough time for se­ri­ous prob­lems to make them­selves ob­vi­ous.

A cau­tion­ary tale is last year’s Note 7. Although the re­views were great, bat­tery prob­lems soon emerged with over­heat­ing lead­ing to re­calls. Sam­sung has taken steps to make sure the same is­sues don’t arise with the Note 8 – it has a smaller bat­tery, and there are more strin­gent bat­tery checks. That should go some way to al­lay­ing any fears, as should the suc­cess­ful launch of the Gal­axy S8 and S8+.

The Note 8 is a re­turn to bril­liance for Sam­sung. It is beau­ti­fully de­signed, with a fan­tas­tic 6.3 ins AMOLED screen. It has 6GB of RAM and 64GB of stor­age space, which can be ex­panded with a mem­ory card up to 256GB in size. And it has the S Pen sty­lus, which seems even more ac­cu­rate than be­fore.

First up: the dis­play. It’s quad HD+ res­o­lu­tion, which means crisp text, great movies and amaz­ing colour re­pro­duc­tion. The “in­fin­ity dis­play” Sam­sung has been push­ing is in ev­i­dence, with the Note 8 get­ting those slightly an­gled edges. That 6.3 ins screen means it looks long, although in re­al­ity it isn’t a huge leap, mainly due to the smaller bezel.

Where you will feel it is with the fin­ger­print reader, which is a lit­tle awk­ward to reach com­fort­ably on the rear of the de­vice.

The Note used to have the big phone mar­ket al­most to it­self. But that has changed as more com­pa­nies cot­ton on to big screens. How­ever, the big­gest com­pe­ti­tion Sam­sung may have could come from an un­ex­pected source: it­self. The Sam­sung Note 8 fol­lows the launch of the Gal­axy S8 and S8+, with the lat­ter cer­tain to eat up some of the Note’s pre­vi­ous mar­ket.

The Note used to stand out from the rest of Sam­sung’s range, mainly due to its larger size. But, with the launch of the Gal­axy S8+, that has blurred some­what. Sure, the Note 8 is less rounded than its S8 sib­lings, but the de­sign is fa­mil­iar.

An­other dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­tween the hand­sets is, of course, the S Pen. Sam­sung’s sty­lus is back, and it’s still use­ful. You can use it to scrib­ble notes on the screen – in­clud­ing when the phone is in standby – cre­ate GIFs, an­no­tate screenshots, and ac­cess short­cuts. It’s com­pact, but if you move the phone too far away from the S Pen, it will trig­ger an alert, mean­ing you are less likely to leave it be­hind. When us­ing the Note 8 as a work tool, the S Pen came in handy more of­ten than I thought.

The Note 8 also gets a dual cam­era on the rear, with 12 megapixel res­o­lu­tion and an aper­ture of f1.7. That means good low-light images. And when you team it with the op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion, the re­sults are im­pres­sive. The sec­ond sen­sor gives you flex­i­bil­ity, mainly with dis­tance from your sub­ject.

There are some is­sues to note. The smaller bat­tery has an im­pact. It won’t last as long as other phones, but it did make it through the day with some heavy use. As men­tioned, this was a time-lim­ited re­view and it would be in­ter­est­ing to see if the Note 8 kept up the per­for­mance on a day-to-day ba­sis. Turn off the al­ways-on dis­play and you’ll see a dif­fer­ence; ditto with mess­ing around with the screen res­o­lu­tion.

The good

The dis­play. I could look at it all all day – at least un­til the bat­tery gave out. The S Pen is use­ful, the cam­eras im­pres­sive.

The not so good

Cau­tion has ruled that the Note 8 run on a smaller bat­tery. No one wants a re­peat of the Note 7 de­ba­cle, but that de­ci­sion is still go­ing to have an im­pact on users. Also, the Note 8 comes with a se­ri­ous price tag – about €950. Dig deep, Note fans.

The rest

Inside the box you get the usual: head­phones, USB ca­ble, USB plug. But the Note 8 is USB C, so Sam­sung has in­cluded two adapters in the box: one for turn­ing your old mi­cro USB ca­bles into USB C, and a full-size USB to USB C adapter.

The ver­dict

The Note 8 could be a great come­back for the brand, but the cost may turn off some po­ten­tial buy­ers – es­pe­cially when the S8+ is wait­ing in the wings.

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