Leaving the Note 7 fiasco behind, Samsung is back with another smartphone in the productivity focused Galaxy Note series. It is called the Note 8 and will be available in US at a starting price of $1,000 (approximately Rs64,065) from September 2017. There is no update on when it is arriving in India, yet.

The edge-to-edge screen and the stylus are some of its elements which make the Note 8 stand out in a segment dominated by heavyweights such as HTC U11 (Rs51,990), Sony Xperia XZ Premium (Rs59,990), Apple iPhone 7 Plus (Rs60,999 onwards) and the Pixel XL (Rs47,920). The real test is going to be against the upcoming Apple iPhone 8 (launching next month) and the Google Pixel 2 devices (to be announced sometime in October).

A quick rundown of the specs of the Note 8 suggests Samsung hasn’t made any compromises on this one and has gone with the best in class hardware available.

The US version of Note 8 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor, while the global variant will be driven by Samsung’s proprietary Exynos 8895 octa-core processor, which has also been used in the Galaxy S8 and S8 +. This processor is in the same league as the Snapdragon 835, which powers the likes of HTC U 11, OnePlus 5, Nokia 8 ($599) and Sony Xperia XZ Premium.

For the sake of future proofing, Samsung has clubbed the processor with 6GB RAM, making it one of the handful of smartphones, besides the OnePlus 5 (Rs32,999 onwards), Asus ZenFone AR (Rs49,990), HTC U11 and Honor 8 Pro (Rs29,999), with that sort of memory.

The Note 8 will have three storage variants— 64GB( US only), 128GB and 256 GB. It will accept microSD cards of up to 256GB, making it one of the few smartphones in the premium segment that give users the option to expand storage. Most flagships such as Apple iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel or One Plus don’t have this feature any more.

It runs Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) with TouchWiz UI.

The key talking point of the Note 8 is going to be the 6.3-inch Infinity display, which like the Galaxy S8 and S8+ offers an almost bezel-less screen. There are no vertical bezels and the horizontal ones look amazingly thin. Its topped by an impressive resolution of 2,9601,440p and pixel density of 521ppi and aspect ratio of 18:9.

Most flagships such as HTC U11 and Google Pixel XL have wide bezels and smaller screens, but offer the same resolution, with the exception of Sony Xperia XZ, which offers a 4k (3,840x21,60p) display. The only other flagship with a 6-inch screen is the Galaxy S8+, which offers a 6.2-inch screen.

The 18:9 aspect ratio of the Note 8 is a rarity and found on smartphones such as the Galaxy S8, S8+, LG G6, LG Q6 and Micromax Canvas Infinity. It offers a wider-than-wide display resulting in a more immersive video playback.

For protection against scratches, it uses Gorilla Glass 5, which is also believed to be shatter-resistant when dropped from a lower height.

One of the advantages of having an edge-to-edge screen is the amazing effect it has on the phone’s size and weight. The Note 8 is 162.5mm long, 74.8mm wide, 8.6mm thick and weighs just 195g. The Galaxy S8+ screen is almost as big yet it weighs just 173g, is 159.5mm tall, 73.4mm wide and 8.1mm thick. Samsung has changed the design a little in the Note 8. The edges look sharper in comparison to S8+.

Note 8 is also dust and water proof (IP68 certified) and can survive a depth of up to 1.5 metres for 30 minutes. The Xperia XZ Premium, Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ also have IP68 certification. The HTC U11 is IP67 certified which makes it water proof but not dust proof.

The S-Pen makes the Note 8 a powerful productivity device with few equals. It can be used to write notes, annotate documents, draw, edit images, create GIFs faster than touch controls. The improved S-Pen has a 0.7mm tip and over 4096 pressure level for more accurate results.

The Note 8 offers two 12-megapixel cameras, with 2x optical zoom, aperture of f/1.7 and OIS. The camera uses Samsung’s ISOCELL sensors which as per Samsung minimizes colour crosstalk, reduces noise and offers better colour fidelity than rivals.

How the camera fares against rivals can be said only after we have actually tested it, but on paper the Note 8 is at par with dual camera phones such as OnePlus 5, Apple iPhone 7 Plus, LG G6 and Honor 8 Pro.

The various biometric security options to unlock the smartphone such as fingerprint scanner, iris scanner and facial recognition are a bonus. While fingerprint sensor is available on almost all smartphones these days, iris scanner is still rare and found only on the Galaxy S8 and S8+.

Overall, the Galaxy Note 8 has everything one can expect from a premium smartphone. But where it really stands will be clear once Apple’s next iPhone and Google’s Pixel 2 smartphones are out in the market.

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