Dear Lifehacker, I've been following the launch of Samsung's Galaxy Note8 with keen interest. The Note 5 is the best smartphone I've used but after the Note7 recall, I was forced to upgrade to a Galaxy S8 instead. It's okay, but I really miss the extra screen space and stylus. So my question is: should I upgrade my Galaxy S8 now or wait for the inevitable Note9? Do you think the improvements are worth it? Thanks, Mr Big
Dear Mr Big,
For those who haven't been paying attention, Samsung officially unveiled the Galaxy Note8 smartphone yesterday. After months of swirling rumours, we finally know everything we need to know about the comeback phablet.
The Note 8 looks to make the Note 7 exploding disaster a distant memory, but Samsung only just released the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, so do you really need to upgrade?
Let's take a look at what separates the Note 8 from Samsung's other flagship series of smartphones.
It's true that the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ were only released four months ago, but the Galaxy Note 8 is in a slightly different league to those devices. Samsung has maintained the larger, stylus-utilising Note series alongside their flagship series for a few years now and the target market for both series differs ever so slightly. So what makes the Note 8 different from the Galaxy S8 and S8+?
First, here are the specs, side by side:
|Galaxy Note 8||Galaxy S8||Galaxy S8+|
|OS||Android 7.1.1 (Nougat)||Android 7.0 (Nougat)||Android 7.0 (Nougat)|
|Dimensions (mm)||162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6||148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0||159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1|
|CPU||Octa core (2.35GHz Quad + 1.9GHz Quad), 64 bit, 10nm processor||Octa core (2.3GHz Quad + 1.7GHz Quad), 64 bit, 10 nm processor||Octa core (2.35GHz Quad + 1.9GHz Quad), 64 bit, 10 nm processor|
|Memory||6GB RAM (LPDDR4)||4GB RAM (LPDDR4)||4GB RAM (LPDDR4)|
|Storage||64GB (+ MicroSD card slot)||64GB (+ MicroSD card slot)||64GB (+ MicroSD card slot)|
|Display||6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED||5.8-inch Quad HD+ AMOLED||6.2-inch Quad HD AMOLED|
|Resolution||2960 x 1440 (521ppi)||2960 x 1440 (570ppi)||2960 x 1440 (529ppi)|
|Camera||Rear: 12MP OIS Dual Lens (Wide-Angle F1.7; Telephoto F2.4), Front: 8MP AF (F1.7)||Rear: 12MP OIS (F1.7), Front: 8MP AF (F1.7)||Rear: 12MP OIS (F1.7), Front: 8MP AF (F1.7)|
|Battery||3300mAh (non-removable)||3000mAh (non-removable)||3500mAh (non-removable)|
The Note8 has been designed to look very similar to the smaller Galaxy S8, with the bezel-less design allowing the front of the phone to be almost entirely taken up by the Super AMOLED display. That display on the Note8 is 6.3-inches wide, a marked jump up from the S8's 5.8-inches (and a slight upgrade from the S8+'s 6.2-inch display) but as the resolution remains the same, there is a reduction in the pixels-per-inch (521ppi vs 570ppi.)
The major notable differences are the upgrade to the RAM - which is now 6GB LPDDR4 instead of the 4GB standard in the Galaxy S8 series - and the camera. The Note8 boasts a rear dual camera setup, which maintains the S8's Optical Image Stabilisation but comes with two distinct lenses: A wide-angle lens with an F/1.7mm and a telephoto lens with an F/2.4.
Of course, you also get the touch-sensitive S-Pen stylus with the Note8, which slides neatly into the base of the Note8 next the USB-C charging port. In Gizmodo Australia's hands-on, Campbell Simpson noted that the overall design of the Note8 is slightly more squared off than the S8 series to accommodate the use of the stylus.
Battery life of the Note8 is yet to be discussed by Samsung, but it does feature a battery that sits right in the middle of the S8 (3000mAh) and the S8+ (3500mAh) at 3300mAh. Whether or not we will see better overall battery life in the Note8 is yet to be determined.
The price difference may put you off though. At $1499, the Note8 is the most expensive phone Samsung has ever produced. Compare this with the S8's $1199 price tag and the S8+'s $1349 price tag and you begin to weigh up whether the Note's extra features are worth the higher asking price.
While we haven't actually tested the Note8 yet, we think that most S8 owners would be better off sticking with the phone they have for the time being. With that said, if you're a keen photographer and really, really miss that stylus, the upgrade won't disappoint you. You can check out the available plans here.
Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.
P plate picture from Shutterstock