Taking Note of the 8

IN AN event streamed live around the world last week (above, centre), Samsung Electronics officially introduced the Galaxy Note8 (above, left and right), its highly-anticipated stylus-centric Android smartphone.

Here's a closer look at the specifications and what this smartphone has to offer.

The Galaxy Note8 is touted to have the biggest screen on a Note device at 6.3in across. This is about 0.1in larger than the screen on the Samsung Galaxy S8+.

The panel is said to be a Quad HD+ Super Amoled Infinity Display, with an 18.5:9 ratio identical to the screen on the Galaxy S8 series. However, the curves at the side of the Note8 are steeper to give the user more space.

The phone is made to be able to multitask, and its large screen will certainly come in handy when it comes to the Multi Window Feature.

The ability to have multiple apps running on a single screen has become a staple feature with Android smartphones running the Android 7.0 Nougat operating system.

But because of the sheer screen size of the Note8, this feature will certainly be more practical on this device.

One of the more speculative features on the Note8 is the new App Pair. This lets you create a custom pair of apps on the Edge Panel, and launch two apps at the same time.

How would this be useful? While driving, a single tap could launch both a music app and a map app, providing both entertainment and navigation.

Of course, the Samsung Galaxy Note8 comes equipped with its signature S Pen. The stylus now has a finer tip, improved pressure sensitivity, and more features for users to express themselves even more creatively.

With the S Pen, you can send animated handwritten photo messages, take notes, sketch, and edit pictures easily and intuitively.

In practice, the S Pen is a useful tool, but may not be something everyone uses every day.

Samsung's Always On Display allows Galaxy users to monitor notifications without unlocking their phone.

With the Galaxy Note8, the addition of Screen Off Memo allows you to take up to 100 pages of notes as soon as you remove the S Pen.

You can also pin notes to the Always On Display, and make edits directly from the Always On Display – all without unlocking your phone.

The improved S Pen Translate feature now lets you hover over text to quickly translate not only individual words, but entire sentences in up to 71 languages, and instantly convert units and foreign currencies.

Anyone with the Google Translate app could also do quick translations via the camera, but they are limited to only 37 languages and no currency conversion.

The Galaxy Note8 is the first smartphone with two 12MP rear cameras with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) on both its wide-angle and telephoto lenses.

This is the most exciting feature on the Note8, as the ability to shoot sharp and clear pictures and videos without a gimbal is an attractive prospect.

The Live Focus feature lets you control the depth-of-field by allowing you to adjust the bokeh effect both in preview mode, and after you take the photo.

This is nothing new and is a feature seen in other phones with dual cameras.

But what is unique to the Note8 is that, in Dual Capture mode, both rear cameras take two pictures simultaneously, and allow you to save one close-up shot from the telephoto lens and one wide-angle shot at the same time.

The wide-angle lens has a Dual Pixel sensor with rapid Auto Focus so that you can capture sharper, clearer shots in low-light environments.

However, the front camera is an 8MP shooter with Smart Auto Focus.

Still, we won't know the effectiveness of the cameras until we get our hands on the Note8 and try the cameras out ourselves.

Other notable features of the Samsung Galaxy Note8 include a water- and dust-resistance rating of IP68, fast wireless charging, Samsung Knox for security, Samsung DeX for a desktop experience, and of course, Bixby, Samsung's own AI Assistant.

Samsung also announced new features for Bixby alongside the Note8, including its ability to create what is essentially voice- or button-activated macros (below), a single instruction that expands automatically into a set of instructions to perform a particular task.

Most tech enthusiasts are already using services like FTTT to achieve the same effect, so it would be interesting to see how Samsung's implementation differs.

For its brains, the Samsung Galaxy Note8 comes with a few options.

Its processor could either be an Octa core (2.3GHz Quad + 1.7GHz Quad), 64bit, 10nm processor; or an Octa core (2.35GHz Quad + 1.9GHz Quad), 64bit, 10nm processor.

All models will come with 6GB of memory but with a choice of 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB of expandable storage.

Also, there is an option between one Nano SIM and one MicroSD slot, or one Nano SIM and either a Nano SIM or MicroSD slot.

These configurations differ based on market and mobile operator, but powering it all is a 3,300mAh battery.

At a glance, the Note8's specs are more than enough to place this smartphone on top.

The Galaxy Note8 is priced at RM3,999, and will be available starting mid-September, in midnight black, orchid grey and maple gold.

The Galaxy Note8 is also available for pre-order from Sept 5 to 10, with savings and rewards worth RM888, including a RM321 cash rebate, a 5,100mAh battery pack (worth RM269), and a Samsung Protection Plus programme (worth RM298).

For more, visit the Samsung Electronics Malaysia website.