On 20 July 2017, Samsung tweeted a teaser video showing a darkened device with a stylus, stating the date of its next “Unpacked” event as 23 August 2017. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 was unveiled at that event, with a release date on 15 September 2017.
The Note 8 is powered by an Exynos 8895 or Snapdragon 835 processor, depending on geographic region, along with 6 GB of RAM. It has a 6.3-inch 1440p Super AMOLED display with curved edges similar to the Galaxy S8, but with a slightly more flat surface area. It is Samsung’s first phone to feature a dual-lens camera system, which comes with a 12 MP wide-angle lens with f/1.7 aperture and a 12 MP telephoto lens with f/2.4 aperture, both equipped with optical image stabilization. In the United States, it is sold with 64 GB of internal storage, along with microSD card support, but increases storage to 128 GB and 256 GB internationally. The handset features a fingerprint scanner next to the rear camera, and retains facial recognition and iris recognition similar to the S8.
The Note 8 comes bundled with high-end AKG-tuned earbuds as well as the Note series’ proprietary S Pen. Compared to the Note 5, the S Pen in the Note 8 has enhanced levels of pressure sensitivity (4,096 distinct levels of pressure), though The Verge noted that those enhancements were featured in the defunct Note 7. Ports include a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a USB-C port for charging and data transfer. It has support for Samsung DeX as well, letting Note 8 users connect their device to a dock and monitor to enable a PC-like computing environment with mouse and keyboard input.
Both the Note 8 and its S Pen are certified with IP68 rating for water and dust resistance, and it is available in five color variants: “Midnight Black,” “Orchid Gray,” “Maple Gold,” “Deepsea Blue,” and “Blossom Pink” – which is often dubbed “Star Pink.” However, the Maple Gold, Deep-Sea Blue, and Blossom Pink variants are not available worldwide, and are limited to certain regions and/or countries. Similar to the Galaxy S8, the Note 8 has a dedicated physical key for launching the Bixby virtual assistant.
The Note 8 comes with Android 7.1.1 “Nougat” with Samsung’s own custom user interface pre-installed. The S Pen offers expanded software features, including “Live Message” for the creation of handwritten notes combined with emojis resulting in short animated GIFs. Users can remove the S Pen from the device and immediately write notes on the display through “Screen Off Memo,” which works due to the screen’s always-on capabilities. The screen can collect up to 100 notes and allows the user to easily go back to notes pinned directly on the always-on screen. A “Translate” feature now recognizes punctuation marks, letting users highlight entire sentences rather than single words, and supports 71 different languages. The edges of the screen on the Note 8 allow the user to open two apps at once in a multi-window view, dubbed “App Pair.” In the Camera application, a new “Live Focus” effect lets users adjust the intensity of background blur both before and after capturing photos, while “Dual Capture” makes both rear cameras take individual photos of the same subject, with one acting as a close-up shot and the other from a distance capturing the whole scene.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 received an Android 8.0 “Oreo” update on March 30, 2018 with Samsung’s custom skin overlaid. The software update brought enhancements and changes in the user interface with the menu options in the home screen and settings streamlined. The Edge lighting has also been improved with introductions to new lighting options. The Oreo update also brought enhanced stability to the Samsung DEX (UI/UE) docking system as well as introduced improvements to the DEX interface, where the Apps screen displays in full screen instead of in a pop-up window. A update to Android 9.0 “Pie” is planned for the Spring of 2019.
DxOMark, a camera testing company, gave the Note 8 a rating of 94, being the joint-highest score of any phone, shared with the iPhone 8 Plus. Just a few days after the report of the Note 8 published was, the Pixel 2 tested was and given a 98 score, besting them both. It was noted that the Note 8 had better Optical Image Stabilization than the iPhone X.
Just like the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, the Note 8 was heavily criticized for its placement of the fingerprint scanner, which unlike most other Android phones that have the fingerprint scanner placed underneath the rear camera, the S8, S8+ and Note 8 instead had it placed next to the camera, making it uncomfortable and forces many users to shift their hands upwards in order to reach it.
Due to the battery incident with the Note 7, Samsung was more cautious with the Note 8, by implementing a slightly smaller battery than the Note 7 – which had a 3500 mAh battery – a non-removable 3300mAh lithium-ion battery was used in the Note 8. As a result, the Note 8 did not have the best battery life, and many Note 8 users did not hold back from complaining about it.
The Note 8 was praised by both consumers and critics for the “Infinity Display” – meaning the display has much smaller bezels than the traditional smartphone (such as the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus) making it much more immersive – for its “punchy colors,” and how bright it gets, which is approximately 1200 nits.
Multiple tech reviewers pointed out that the Note 8 had a weak mono speaker. However, the Note 8 was also praised for being one of the few 2017 flagships left that still included a headphone jack, unlike most flagships that followed Apple’s controversial decision in 2016 to remove the headphone jack entirely from the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, which required users to use the included 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter, or use wireless ear buds instead.