Hands-On with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8

You knew it would have to happen eventually. Phones got up to 5” and beyond with the original note. Samsung’s now taken the next step – an 8” phone. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is coming.

To be fair, we should still probably call it a tablet first. The 8” device will run on a 1.6 GHz A9 quad-core processor with Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. That 8” screen will feature a WXGA 1280 x 800 TFT display, at 189 ppi, which isn’t too shabby considering the other tablets competing in that size class. There will be a 5 MP rear-facing camera and a 1.3 MP front-facing camera. And, we can’t forget about the phone part – HSPA+ 21 Mbps 850/900/1900/2100 connectivity. That said, Samsung has cautioned that not all regional versions of the Note 8 will be able to make phone calls – and the early word is that the United States is one of the places that will not see that feature. Physically – well, it looks a whole lot like a Note, just a few inches bigger. Samsung seems to be focusing on a single design aesthetic these days.

On the software side, you have Jelly Bean with the TouchWiz UI, as well as the full host of S Pen-friendly apps that you would find on Samsung’s other offerings. You’ll be able to use split-screen functionality using those note-taking and memo apps while doing other things on your Note, like Web browsing. S Planner and S Note are the old hands in the productivity world for Note users, but there are few new apps you’ll be able to use that come loaded onto the Note 8. Awesome Note, a third-party planner/contact book/calendar app is there, along with Flipboard, which puts your news and social media feeds into a kind of interactive flipbook. Smart Remote will make sure that television remote functionality is baked into the Note 8.

The Note 8 has recently developed S Pen features like hovering over the screen to preview apps and windows, and emails and events in S Planner. Hovering over tabs while using Flipboard will preview the headlines of those tabs, too. More importantly, for the first time you’ll be able to use the S Pen to activate those capacitive menu buttons, like home and back. That’s pretty important, considering Samsung wants the Note 8 to be thought of as a one-handed device. Removing the S Pen from the Note 8 will activate a couple features automatically – Pen Detection, which creates adapted menus based on your usual behavior, and Page Buddy, which will bring up the last thing you were modifying using the S Pen.

The biggest mobile phone since the ’80s doesn’t have an announced release date or a price yet, but Samsung has indicated a global rollout will take place sometime during Q2 of this year.