We have given the devices to @Kalak and @DrQ and look forward to seeing what they think
Watch this space for imminent un-boxing and excitement.
Please post below if you'd like the reviewer to keep anything particular in mind when they're writing about their first impressions.
You can find out more about the Samsung Galaxy Note8 on our website.
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I should of course start by pointing out that I have been given a Samsung Note 8 by Telstra free of charge to review. That being said, any comments are based entirely on my own experience and are my personal opinion. They do not reflect any official position of Telstra, and they are in no way 'vetted' by Telstra. Just me, and what I think.
Now with that out of the way, my initial impressions.
I was very excited when the Note 8 box arrived. Having been a Note 7 tragic in the past, through both recalls, I was very much looking forward to getting my hands on the Note 8.
I was pleasantly surprised as I unpacked the box to see a clear case included. It's rubbery, but not that sticky sort that is a pain to slide in and out of pockets. So far in the time I've been using the phone it's the only case I've used on the device. It seems to provide reasonable protection, while not getting in the way of the slightly rounded edge display.
It also included the AKG headphones, charger, USB-C cable, smart switch adaptor, a micro-USB to USB-C adaptor for those times you don't have a USB-C charger around, and some spare tips for the S-Pen.
Out of the box, the phone had 55% charge. On the fast charger, 55 minutes later it was at 100%. The initial climb to around 80% is the fastest (only 20 minutes), and from there it slows down a bit. Good to know that it's quick to do 'top-up' charges through-out the day if required.
Coming from an iPhone 7+ I was interested to see the size of the phone was very similar, even though it looked and felt like a larger phone. I think this is due to it being almost all screen vs the large bezels around the iPhone 7+ screen.
As soon as you turn it on, you see how the default settings on the Samsung screens really 'pop'. Colours are bright and vivid, in an almost surreal way.
The standard setup steps are pretty straight forward. Though the redundancy of having a Google and a Samsung account might confuse some people. This extends throughout the device with Google Assistant and Bixby existing on the device at the same time, but I'll compare them to each other - and Siri - in more depth at a later date.
It has the ability to unlock via passcode, fingerprint, facial recognition or iris scanning. However you can only enable either facial or iris, you can't make use of both at the same time. It does however support 'safe locations' which means when you set, for example your home, as a safe location it only asks for the unlock code/fingerprint after the phone has been idle for an extended period.
Having used an iPhone 7+ and a Pixel I am not a fan of the fingerprint reader location. It's almost natural if you are right handed, however is a bit awkward to use left-handed. I am also not a fan of rear mounted readers as someone who likes to use my phone while it's sitting on my desk. However, the safe location system means it's not such an issue at home/work as it will auto unlock in these locations.
I used Smart Switch to 'suck' all my contacts, apps, photos etc from my iPhone. It required a ~25MB update before it could be used. It was surprisingly quick with the included adaptor and my lightning cable. All my photos, contacts, apps, sms history were transferred over.
The only bugbear I faced was that every contact it added from the old phone came up as a 'recently added contact' at the top of my contacts listing, and the only way to get them out of there that I could find was to open each contact card up, one at a time. It was tedious to say the least.
All up from the time I put it on the charger, to all my apps (many pages) downloading from the Google Play store, to being ready to actually use was about 6 hours. So not something you want to start late at night or try and unbox before you run out the door.
The 'soft' home/back/switcher buttons are easy to access with a swipe up from the bottom and the home button operates from the lock screen with a 'hard' push. I am still getting used to back being the right hand icon, but that's pretty minor in reality.
Out of the box, it's a great looking phone. The user interface is very smooth, so far I haven't noticed any stuttering or lag when switching between screens or apps/games. The screen is vivid, colours are great, blacks are very black.
Up next: Tomorrow I'll delve into the S-Pen, included Samsung apps and/or Google apps, as well as the screen size.
I have a DeX station on order which should arrive shortly (personal purchase) which will allow me to see how the Note 8 performs as a 'desktop PC' with a keyboard and mouse as well.
I plan to spend a day on each of the following, please let me know if there is something that you'd like to see/hear/read about.
S-Pen, Samsung/Google Apps, Screen
Photos (including the 'portrait mode')
Sound (including the included AKG headphones)
Google Assistant vs Bixby (and Siri)
DeX Station - Desktop Experience
Android Auto (including navigation, Google play music, spotify, calls and messaging)
Blue Tick - Living in central QLD I want to see does this make a difference real world against my iPhone 7+
Very interested in Bixby and what features it has compared to Google Assistant.
I have the Samsung S7, and I can put Bixby on it via a sideload, but I'm sticking with Google atm.
I've gone down the path of preferencing the Google apps over the Samsung apps, even though the Samsung apps have some features google doesn't have (Calendar and Contacts for instance)
So can you give feedback on adding calendar entries using Bixby, and also adding tasks with due dates. Do they appear on the calendar (especially the widget). They don't in Google Assistant
Anything on Bixby interests me.
I always use Android Auto in the car
The Samsung S7 heats up if I use both Auto and play music, and it's pretty much imperative to keep the thing connected to the charger in the car. So I'll be interested in how it stack up heat wise and battery life.
Ok folks, onto "S-Pen, Samsung/Google Apps, Screen"
As I stated in my initial impressions post a few days ago, the screen on the Note 8 is fantastic. The blacks are deep, the colours really pop.
The default screen resolution is 2220x1080 (FHD+) with an option to set it to 1480x720 (HD+) to save battery, or punch it all the way up to 2960x1440 (WQHD+). I have personally left it on the FHD+ setting. The quality is fantastic I can't really see any benefit from increasing it to a larger resolutions that uses more battery.
There are many options in the 'screen mode' section. It defaults to Adaptive display, which allows the phone to manage the display for you. However you have some basic auto settings such as cinema and photo, and you can also manually change the colour balance - both in cool/warm and also for each RGB channel.
Because of the tall screen resolution, some apps have black bars at the top and bottom as they are optimised for default resolutions you'd find in other smaller handsets. This doesn't seem to be as much of an issue with portrait mode apps which seem to adapt/stretch to the screen size a lot better. Example shown on the right.
As with most modern Samsung Galaxy-S series phones it has Always On Display (AOD) as an option. In my experience over the past week operating the AOD seems to cause the battery to drain around 1% per hour on top of normal usage. The battery capacity is such that I haven't reached the end of a day where I've thought maybe I should have had AOD turned off.
I find the phone always showing the time, date, battery and notifications very useful and as such I think it's a good trade-off of battery cost vs usefulness. There are a number of different options for how you want AOD to be formatted, and what you'd like shown on the screen - including things like your calendar. You can also set the times of day you'd like it to show and when to turn off.
On the S-Pen, it seems a little bit more responsive than on the Note 7 I had for a short period of time. It fits snugly in the bottom right hand corner of the phone, sliding inside meaning it's harder to lose than an external stylus.
Being able to take hand-written notes and make drawings can be quite useful, especially when it comes to marking up photos and screenshots. I've already used it a number of times at work when sending through information to clients. It's much more accurate on the large screen with the S-Pen than on smaller devices using your finger.
That being said, by far the greatest use for it within my family is with the included Samsung 'PENUP' app. It's essentially a digital drawing app, and colouring book. My kids are loving it, and it's become a bit of an issue over who is using my phone to do colouring in. An example of a finished colouring book page is to the right.
You do have to sign up to be able to save your work on the device, and you can see some of the amazing work done people much more talented than I.
Samsung installs a number of apps on the device, which duplicate some of the normal Android functions.
PENUP is discussed above. A great drawing/colouring app.
Email - Duplicates the included Gmail app. I prefer the default app as it automatically includes your Google account email service.
Internet - This is a reduced functionality browser. Again, I prefer the Android default app - Chrome.
Samsung Health - This app is a reasonable health tracking app. You are able to use the sensor on the back of the phone between the camera and fingerprint sensor to do things like heart rate monitoring. It can be combined with a Samsung smart watch for additional automatic information importing into it. If you don't use a third-party app already it's a great app to have out of the box.
Galaxy Apps - This is a Samsung specific app-store. As there are many apps and services that operate through the Galaxy Apps system, it means you need to check both this app and the Play app to keep all the apps and services up-to-date on your device. I find this frustrating. I understand from a revenue point of view, Samsung want to try and sell apps etc and take in more money but from a customer experience point of view it's a pain. For example I had to update 46 apps via this system after setup, on top of all the other apps via Play.
All in all, I'd much prefer if Samsung just had their apps with device restrictions in the Google Play store that comes with every Android phone rather than creating their own separate system.
Previously worked with a Telstra Partner however I am not a Telstra Employee, just a fellow customer helping when I can.
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