Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 is promising a bigger and better smartphone experience for Android fans.
When does the Galaxy Note 8 come out? Announcement launch on 23 August with likely availability in Australia in September.
What’s new about the Galaxy Note 8? Large AMOLED "Infinity" Display, improved S-Pen, dual cameras
How much will the Galaxy Note 8 cost? High premium pricing above $1,200
What is the Samsung Galaxy Note 8?
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will continue Samsung's typical pattern of releasing one set of smaller premium phones in the first half of a given year, followed by the larger "Note" variant in the latter half of the year.
Last year, that led to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, a phone that was superb in absolutely every respect save one. Unfortunately that one flaw was that Samsung couldn't stop them catching fire or exploding, and that was enough to see the entire production line recalled worldwide. It was a catastrophe for Samsung, and while it has invested heavily in safety checks to ensure that fires should be a thing of the past, it still leaves the Note line with something of a charred reputation.
That makes the upcoming launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 particularly important for Samsung, because it wants to wipe the slate clean and remind smartphone buyers that it not only invented the phablet category, but that it can also make exceptionally good smartphones.
So what will we see when Samsung officially drops the curtain on 23 August 2017?
It's likely that the Note 8 will feature either a 6.3 or 6.4 inch screen with the same "infinity display" edge found on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8+. What that means in practical terms is that nearly all of the front of the phone is taken up with screen display, with virtually no bezels to speak of.
That allows phone makers to produce units with larger screens that still don't overly impact the hand, although there's little doubt that the Note 8 will be a large phone. Indeed, if you wanted a decent stab at the Note 8's form factor, the Galaxy S8+ would be an excellent starting point, as, save for the S-Pen stylus, it's got the Note form factor down pat.
In terms of screen quality, 4K is being heavily rumoured, as is the possibility for a fingerprint sensor embedded directly into the front screen glass. That would certainly be a welcome step; in our review of the Galaxy S8, we noted that the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, which sits just next to the camera lens was particularly poorly placed.
The S-Pen stylus has been part of the Note story all along, and it certainly won't be missing from the Note 8 if Samsung's own launch invite is any indication. While Samsung has never opted for a powered S-Pen stylus, it may need to this year with one rumour, based around a Samsung patent, suggesting that Samsung may be building a tiny speaker into the S-Pen device. Whether that's just research for a future Note device, or something we'll see this year remains to be seen, however.
Will the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 be powerful?
While relatively little has leaked around the Note 8's internal configuration, it's no stretch at all to say that the Note 8 should compete at the very highest premium smartphone level when it comes to raw processing power. At the very least it should be a refinement of the approach used for the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, where Samsung opted for either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or its own Exynos 8995 processor. That's the likely duo for the Note 8 at this stage, alongside a rumoured 6GB of RAM for the Note 8 that should give it an edge over the Galaxy S8 and the many fine premium handsets available in 2017.
On the software front, expect Android 7.1.1 at launch with the promise of Android 8.0 ("Android O") at some point in the future. Samsung has historically been quite good at keeping its flagship phones updated with both Google's security updates for Android as well as full releases for a reasonable length of time, and the short span between the Note 8's arrival and expected launch of the Google Pixel XL 2 and the introduction of Android O, it's virtually assured.
We'd also expect to see Samsung make some fuss about the inclusion of Bixby, the AI assistant that it launched with the Galaxy S8 range. While Bixby is yet to start actually talking to Australians, having only just launched in the US some months after general phone availability, Samsung has made no secret of the fact that it intends Bixby to be the centrepiece of its AI ambitions moving forward for all of its technology lines.
Will the Galaxy Note 8 have a good camera?
Samsung has been a strong competitor in the smartphone camera space over the past couple of years, but this year with the Galaxy S8 and S8+, it rather rested on its laurels, with only the slightest of improvements over last year's Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge cameras. They were (and are) fine cameras for general smartphone use, but against competitors such as the Huawei P10 Plus or Sony Xperia XZ Premium, Samsung wasn't pushing the edge.
Will that change with the Note 8? The early rumours suggest that it will be Samsung's first phone to feature dual rear cameras, with one 12MP wide-angle lens and one 13MP telephoto lens. Combined, that should bring 3x optical zoom to the Note 8. Expect Samsung to make much of that number against Apple's iPhone 7 Plus, which offers a 2x optical zoom feature.
How will I charge the Galaxy Note 8?
We're very tempted to say "cautiously", given what happened with the Note 7, but the reality here is that it will come with USB C based charging, just like the Note 7, Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ do. We'd also expect to see wireless charging as standard on the Note 8.
The battery is clearly going to be a touchy subject for Samsung, and on that basis we don't particularly see it shooting for the moon in terms of battery capacity, lest it invite even more Note 7 fire jokes. As such, rumours have suggested a 3,300 mAh battery capacity as likely.
Will the Galaxy Note 8 be water resistant?
The Galaxy Note 8 will undoubtedly feature a water resistance rating that at least matches that of the Galaxy S8/Galaxy S8+, both of which featured IP68 water resistance.
As a reminder, water resistance ratings are tested in clean lab water conditions, so they're not a recommendation to throw your phone through a washing machine or down a sewer and expect it to survive. Still, the Note 8 should be a hardy device, as most premium handsets these days tend to be. Rumours have also suggested that Samsung may offer a single free screen replacement in Australia for Note 8 devices sold locally, although that's yet to be confirmed.
When will the Galaxy Note 8 be available in Australia?
Samsung has indicated that the Galaxy Note 8 will be announced in New York on 23 August 2017, which becomes early in the morning on 24 August here in Australia. That's just the official reveal, however, not the actual launch date for the device.
Current rumours suggest that Samsung may stagger the global launch of the Note 8, with the first wave being made available in September. Samsung has a decent track record when it comes to fast-tracking handsets for Australia, so we may be amongst that first wave of countries (which will almost certainly also include South Korea) at that time, or possibly in the second wave, expected to be in October.
Later rumours have pinpointed a pre-sale date of 25 August 2017 in Australia for the Note 8, which would suggest actual retail availability in early to mid-September for the Galaxy Note 8.
How much will the Galaxy Note 8 cost?
Samsung has always priced the Note family at the absolute pinnacle of its pricing strategy, mostly because it becomes its default flagship once it's launched. While Samsung hasn't announced Note 8 pricing to speak of, we'd expect it to launch around the $1,400 price point locally.
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Galaxy Note 8 Specifications
- Product Name
- Galaxy Note 8
- Display Size
- 6.3-6.4 inches.
- Expected 4K.
- TBC, expected Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8995
- TBC, 6GB expected
- TBC, expected 64GB/128GB or higher
- Operating System
- Android 7.1.1
- Front camera
- TBC, 5-8MP expected
- Rear camera
- TBC, expected dual lens with 3x optical zoom
- TBC, expected 3,300-3,500mAh
- TBC, expected above $1,300
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