Galaxy Note 8 redux: In the shadow of Note 10…

With the Galaxy Note 10 being leaked and shared all over the internet, we thought it’s best to look back at one of the most important devices in the series. I spent two weeks using the Galaxy Note 8 and I’d like to present my thoughts on the viability of the device in 2019 in this article.

Let’s first address the elephant in the room. This was the first phone in the Note series after the infamous Note 7 with its exploding battery. The Note 8 thankfully carried a lot more reliability and didn’t repeat on the previous year’s disaster.

This was among the first couple of phones with the “Infinity” display, translating to a design that hasn’t aged badly at all. Its top and bottom bezels are relatively low profile and, thankfully, there isn’t a display distraction like a notch or punch hole. The curved glass sandwich resembles what we see in 2019, so the Note 8 doesn’t look too out of place.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 display

The Note 8’s display is easily its best feature. In almost all of its metrics, it easily compares to what’s found in the latest Samsung smartphones. It gets unbelievably bright outdoors and is pin sharp, somewhat to its detriment, which we’ll talk about a bit later.

For context, here are the specs of the Note 8’s display vs. the current flagship Galaxy S10+:

 Note 8S10+
Size6.3 inches6.4 inches
Resolution2,960 x 1,4403,040 x 1,440
Panel typeSuper AMOLEDDynamic AMOLED
Pixel density521ppi522ppi
Refresh rate60Hz60Hz
Screen to body ratio83.2 percent88.9 percent
Aspect ratio18.5:919:9

Performance isn’t amazing with my Exynos model. It’s not bad, but when compared to similarly priced handsets in 2019 such as the Pocophone F1, it’s underwhelming. Under Android 9.0 Pie with Samsung’s One UI, it did tend to chug when really piling stuff into RAM while heavily multitasking. One of the main fixes for this is switching to the FHD+ option (something that’s on by default) to allow some more performance headroom for the SoC. That said, I’d still steer clear of the Note 8 if you want a device with great performance in 2019.

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Samsung’s One UI update has really transformed the phone in my opinion. I used a Note 8 back in 2018 with Samsung Experience and I was kind of turned off by its aged-looking interface. One UI remedies this and makes the phone feel new again, with its bubbly aesthetic and clean animations.

The battery life is pretty poor on the Galaxy Note 8 in 2019. The Note 8 was never known for its great battery performance, mainly due to the smaller battery used here. Samsung likely opted for a sub-par 3,300mAh cell due to its issues with the Note 7’s battery the year before. The Note 8 just pales in comparison to the Note 9 in terms of battery life, thanks to the latter’s much larger 4,000mAh cell and newer internals.

Wireless and fast charging are offered, but neither make up for the truly damning battery life.

Camera systems make up a big part of a smartphone’s longevity and this setup certainly succeeds here. Dual cameras on the rear is still a common thing to this day, even if the Note 8 picks a telephoto camera, instead of the wide lens found on the far newer dual camera S10e.

Image quality is okay. I was pleasantly surprised with low light too, since we don’t have a discrete night mode here. Dynamic range is an area of concern, as colors seem washed out in HDR mode compared to newer models. I’d call the Note 8’s camera decent in 2019. About on par with most mid-rangers. Don’t get me wrong, the Pixel 3a still beats it, but the Note 8 has held up pretty well, all things considered.

Features we’re glad to see still here:

  • S Pen
  • MicroSD expansion
  • Dual cameras
  • Headphone port

Features that are missing:

  • Stereo speakers
  • Wide angle camera
  • UHD 4K 60fps recording
  • In-display fingerprint reader

Some notable alternatives to the Note 8 include a used OnePlus 6, with far better specs and battery life for around the same price, as well as a new Pocophone F1. I’d personally recommend saving a bit and getting the Note 9 instead of the Note 8 for its far better battery life, performance, and cameras.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 rear fingerprint sensor gold color

In conclusion, the Note 8 looks and feels like a decent phone in 2019. Unfortunately, it’s let down by poor battery life and sub-par performance, which are two things that can’t be overlooked when making a purchasing decision. I wouldn’t recommend buying one, even if the price seems right.

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What do you think about the Note 8 in 2019? And what would you like to see in this year’s model? Let us know!

Buy the Galaxy Note 8

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