A year after a series of exploding Galaxy Note7 smartphones ripped a hole in Samsung's reputation and bottom line, the company today responded with a new Note, the Galaxy Note8, at a raucous presentation at New York's cavernous Park Avenue Armory.
Samsung Mobile president DJ Koh immediately acknowledged the literal explosive events of last fall. Koh noted that he and Samsung were "deeply humbled" by Samsung customer and partner loyalty, and "inspired" by the positive response from the Note users. Koh stressed that this next-gen product introduction should be treated as a celebration.
"We appreciate the relentless passion of the Note community," Koh said. "They've been a constant inspiration to us, and we designed the new Note for them."
Spec and feature-wise, the Note8's most obvious upgrade is its 6.3-inch (160.5mm) Quad HD+ (2960 x 1440) 521ppi Infinity Display, similar to the edge-to-edge super widescreen unveiled on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus last March.
The Note8's most prominent feature improvement is its new dual rear 12MP lens camera. Similar to the iPhone 7 Plus dual lens arrangement, the Note8 is equipped with both a wide-angle f1.7 and a 2x f2.4 telephoto eyes. Unlike iPhone 7 Plus, both lenses include optical image stabilization. Photos from both an iPhone 7 Plus and the Note8 were shown on the giant screens, with the Apple result far blurrier than the Samsung snap.
With two lenses, the Note8 allows "Live Focus," a bokeh effect similar to iPhone's "Portrait" mode. Background focus can be adjusted via a slider both before and after a picture is taken, and "Dual Capture" actually snaps two photos, one with everything in focus, another with just the foreground in focus.
The Note8 also is more powerful than its predecessors and competitors thanks to its 10nm Octa core (2.3GHz Quad + 1.7GHz Quad) 64-bit Exynos 8895 processor. For storage, the Note8 includes 64GB of on-board memory as well as a microSD slot.
Samsung's S Pen also gets an upgrade, with finer tips and more pressure sensitivity. Functionally, the S Pen can now annotate text messages with drawings or text, enables up to 100 pages of notes to be scrawled on the phone's lock screen via Screen-Off Memo, and, when hovered over text, can handle 71 language translation, foreign currency and measurement conversions.
Additionally, the Note8 includes:
*6 security options: iris, face, fingerprint, pattern, password and PIN
*Bixby Voice with macro creation
*a 3300mAh battery
*IP68 water resistant
*standard headphone jack (which induced a round of applause)
*included Harman AKG headphones
*optional DeX, which enables the phone to be connected to a desktop PC for seamless transfers
Note8 will go on pre-sale tomorrow (August 24) and will be in stores September 15; no price was announced, but observers speculate around $1,000. Note7 owners will receive an instant trade-in value of up to $425 when they upgrade their current phone for a Galaxy Note8. BestBuy will offer a $150 discount on the Note8, with 24-month financing on the unlocked version.