Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is everything you’d expect in a premium handset, but the stylus doesn’t appear to add huge value.
My immediate impression was that there’s now very little distinction between a Phablet and a plus-size handset, because the device is scarcely larger than the Galaxy S8 Plus.
Both devices also pack an 8MP front camera, 12MP rear snapper, Exynos 9 Octa 8895 chipset, Android Nougat, IP68 rating and a Super AMOLED screen. The Note gets 6GB of RAM, two more than the S8+, but its 3300 mAh battery is 200mAh down on the S8+’s power source.
Between those specs and the fact there’s just a millimetre or two between the devices, clearly the distinction between the Galaxy S and the Note is now trivial.
Except for one thing: the Note includes a stylus and apps that let you put it to work. I gave a couple a whirl and they did a perfectly good job of rendering my handwriting, perhaps making it a little less illegible than is usually the case. Samsung reckons it’s possible to dial phone numbers you hand-write in notes, but how to do so was not immediately apparent. Spokespeople also enthused about bringing the nostalgic experience of using a pencil into the digital world, but I could find no immediately obvious value-add from the stylus. Having said that, my handwriting was always terrible, is getting worse, and I am an utterly inept artist. Others may find the stylus gives them welcome options and opportunities.
Overall, this is a fine handset that will probably delight you. Samsung’s Launcher is now clean and consistent. The company’s own apps let you know they’re around without getting in your face. It’s a little hefty, but not clunky. Android Nougat is fast, responsive and stable.