Last night, Samsung revealed possibly their worst kept secret so far, the new Galaxy Note 8.
It's become increasingly popular these days to "leak" technical info about upcoming products ahead of their official announcement. For months now since the release of the Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8+, we've known about the Note 8 and it's potential specs. It's because of these leaks that I possibly feel rather nonplussed about the official announcement during last nights Unpacked live-stream event, or perhaps this new phone is just not that impressive...?
What we have here is essentially a Galaxy S8+ with an S-Pen, a Dual Camera setup, 6GB RAM, a smaller battery, and some squared off corners.
Is it weird that the squared off corners are it's biggest selling point to me? I'm not kidding. Something about the S8 and S8+'s more rounded corners bugs me. I had every intention of selling mine in favour of the Note 8 for the nicer shape (IMO). But, I did expect to get some nicer features to help justify the changeover cost.
Instead, what we get in Samsung's latest top of the line offering is an already available phone with some tacked on features (none of which are unique in case you were wondering). Processing power is the same. Screen resolution is the same. Storage is the same. Save for the 2nd rear camera, the photo quality will be the same (the 2nd camera allowing for some blur effects and a non-digital 2x zoom).
It's questionable whether or not 6GB of RAM is actually needed (over the 4GB that the S8/S8+ come with). It isn't, but for some reason everyone on the Internet believes they are a power user and MUST have more RAM without actually understanding why. Samsung caved and threw the extra 2GB in just so they could advertise the fact on paper.
OK the S-Pen is actually a defining feature. No one else does it apart from Samsung and it can be useful, but if you're familiar with the Note line (and that's who Samsung are targeting), then the S-Pen is nothing new to you.
Lastly, we get a smaller 3300MAh battery compared to the S8+'s 3500MAh battery. You're probably familiar with last years Note 7 debacle with it's "exploding" batteries and subsequent global recall. Samsung have decided to play it safe and put a smaller battery in this time round. Reviewers will no doubt test this over the coming weeks to see if it makes much of a difference. It probably won't. I easily get more battery life than I need out of my S8+, but it just doesn't feel good buying a newer product with an inferior spec.
I won't go into the various new software features of the Note 8 as I believe S8 and S8+ users will get them eventually via software updates. Needless to say, these are more quality of life improvements and gimmicks rather than important defining features.
Should you buy a Note 8? Well, if you need a new phone now and can afford the ridiculous asking price of $1499, then the answer is yes.
Don't get me wrong, the Samsung Galaxy S8+ is a fantastic phone. It's probably the best phone of the year so far. The Note 8 is arguably better. It's just that it's not MUCH better. The S8+ can be found online for around $1100, and the regular S8 even less. If you want to save a few dollars, those are excellent choices and you don't have to feel like you're missing out on much by not getting the "latest and greatest".
Pre-orders go live on the tomorrow (at the time of writing this) and if you do, you'll score yourself a free Wireless Fast Charger as a pre-order bonus. Release date is the 15th of September.