It was all eyes on Samsung yesterday when it unveiled the Note 8 in New York City to a packed audience at Park Avenue Armory, with queues going all the way around the block. I attended the event as a guest of Samsung South Africa, along with other tech media and influencers. 

Samsung president of mobile communications DJ Koh started off by acknowledging the downfall of the Note 7, highlighing users tweets and messages about it and their brand loyalty, also that they will ‘never forget’ what happened. The company listened to feedback, and the result is the new Note 8, codenamed “great”. Samsung also put a new eight-point battery safety check in place now, for components that are manufactured by third parties. The Note is not like other smartphones because it comes with a stylus, the S-Pen, which slots at the bottom of the device. There isn’t any other device on the market that matches it, and while we’re at it, let’s get the price out of the way – it will cost R18499. Yikes!

I’m sure by now you’ve seen that the new Note 8 is a 6.3-inch phablet that has the same infinity screen as the S8, which in my opinion is the best screen I’ve seen on a mobile device because it’s different and looks great. Interestingly, Samsung chose not to go the traditional route of highlighting technical specs. It reminds me of cars these days; most people who ask me for advice don’t necessarily care about the numbers as much as what I think or what are the key features that would work in every day situations.

So, in line with that, the device has a bunch of cool features and I’m going to highlight my standout ones for you:

It’s a multi-tasking machine. You can launch two apps at once; yes that’s right, simultaneously. This is preselected by apps of your choice, with third-party apps like Whatapp are supported. It can be launched from Apps Edge via an inward swipe, which brings up the menu. So you can have YouTube and Whatsapp launch together and watch videos while messaging friends; or even use the music app while using navigation – if you’re a passenger 😉 Here’s what YouTube and gallery look like on split-screen mode. The light blue line is what lets you adjust the size of the apps that works best for you:

If you’re using the S-Pen, you can highlight text and do live translations by hovering the stylus over the screen from any page. You would need to predefine a language of your choice; same with currency and units of measurement. If you’re reading an article on the web and you want to quickly see rates in your home currency; or measurements like recipes from an American site, it’s instantaneous. You’d need to have an internet connection of course, as the translations are live, using the internet.

The camera now has a “Live Focus” mode on the rear camera, which delivers a bokeh effect, like the Portrait mode on iPhone 7 Plus. It allows you to choose your depth of field before taking the photo. The 12MP camera has a dual lens, it’s the first Samsung handset to sport it; one is a wide angle, and the other is a telephoto. The front-facing camera is 8MP. Samsung says its dual cameras on the Note 8 is the first handset to feature OIS (optical image stabilisation) on both cameras.

You can now create your own GIFS with the S-Pen, using a blank canvas, or an image from your library. The result is an animated gif that you can share anywhere – not limited to Samsung only devices or apps. It can be shared on the web, messaging and social media! I love this because normally you would need a separate app to create a gif, which is a schlep. 

And for those who are interested in the specs:

Display: 6.3” Quad HD+ (2960×1440) 521ppi
Cameras: 12MP rear dual lens (wide angle + telephoto), 2x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom. 8MP front-cam.
Dimensions: 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6mm; 195g. S Pen: 5.8 x 4.2 x 108.3mm, 2.8 g.
Durability: water and dustproof IP68 rating (both handset and stylus)
Processor: Exynos Octa-core, 64bit, 10nm processor
Memory: 6GB of RAM; 64GB on board storage (expandable by micro SD – 256GB)
SIM: Single nano SIM.
Battery: 3300mAh; wireless charging; fast charging
OS: Android 7.1.1
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0; WiFi; NFC; USB-C; GPS
Authentication: Biometric lock – iris scanner, fingerprint, facial recognition

As mentioned above, it will cost R18499 from Samsung stores, and mobile operators who will offer it on contract too, of course. Preorders from Samsung and the networks open on 1 September, and the device goes on sale on 22 September. Takealot has it on preorder, with a free DeX bundle.

Look out for my articles on the Note 8 in the Financial Mail next week; and the City Press this weekend.

Thank you Samsung South Africa for a wonderful trip! Pic taken during our farewell dinner cruise that started on the Hudson River:

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