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Hands-on review: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

By James Fraser, 12 Dec 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a beautiful and powerful phone but comes with a hefty price tag.

The first thing you’re likely to notice about the Note 8 is the Infinity Display, which goes edge-to-edge and has rounded corners. It complements the slim style of the Note 8 well.

The Note 8 also ran incredibly smoothly.

I didn’t have much on it, but it would be interesting to see if the smoothness holds up even when loaded up with dozens of apps.

I expect it would still be a fair amount smoother than most phones thanks to the extra 2GB RAM for a total of 6GB.

The one thing I wanted to try for myself was Bixby.

I wanted to see exactly how useful it was compared to Google Assistant, which is also available out-of-the-box.

What I found was that, while Bixby has limited use outside of the things Google Assistant already does, it would likely be useful for someone who is a little less tech-savvy, as Bixby interacts with the interface itself.

For example, if you ask Bixby to send a text message, it will open the SMS app, and then ask you who you want to send a text to.

If you give it a valid name, it will navigate the interface of the SMS app to find the contact and open a conversation with them.

The same goes for settings, Bixby will actively navigate the phone’s interface to change the setting you asked it to.

You could think of Bixby as almost like a voice-controlled guide.

This differs from Google Assistant in that when you ask Google Assistant to send a text message, for example, it will guide you through the steps within Assistant itself, but you don’t get to see the interface of the SMS app itself, so you may not get as much visual feedback to guide you.

I also really liked the inclusion of an Iris scanner, as an Iris has a similar level of security to a fingerprint, but can be fit in up the top by the front camera, allowing more room for the Infinity Display down the bottom.

I think this is good because moving the fingerprint scanner to the back of the phone just doesn’t sit well with me.

I could never position my finger on it properly and often pressed my finger on the rear camera by mistake.

The inclusion of the Iris scanner meant I could forego using my fingerprint and just use my Irises instead, whilst maintaining a similar level of security.

In conclusion, with a price tag of $1,600, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a beautiful and powerful phone, if you can afford it.

Phone overview:
  • Infinity Display looks amazing
  • Runs smoothly
  • Bixby has limited use that Google Assistant (also available out-of-the-box) doesn’t already do, but I can see how it might be useful for someone who’s a little less tech-savvy, as it essentially guides you step-by-step through the interface with voice
  • For example, if you ask it to send a text message, it will open the SMS app and then ask who you want to send a text to.
  • 6GB RAM is a nice boost above the standard 4GB
  • Iris scanner allows for easy unlock despite the Infinity Display reducing space for a well-placed fingerprint scanner
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