The Galaxy Note 8 will be Samsung’s large-screen phone aimed at power users, and it’s going to be big.
By “big,” I don’t just mean its size, though I’m guessing it’ll have about the same dimensions as the Galaxy S8 Plus with its 6.2-inch screen. I mean that it’ll be more important than any other Note phone ever made, for three main reasons. (By the way, we know that the Note 8 is a sure thing because Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh told CNET so.) It will:
1.) Be the first Note model released after Samsung recalled 3 million Note 7 units due to battery fires. In that sense, it’ll be the real test of the Note line’s recovery even more so than the so far incident-free Galaxy S8.
2.) Give Samsung the chance to fix the S8’s biggest problem, the awkward placement of the fingerprint reader to the right of the camera lens.
That could now go on the center back (like on the Google Pixel, LG G6 and Huawei P10) or — if Samsung really gets its tech together — under the glass. It could also jump on the dual-camera trend that the S8 passed up.
3.) Battle Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone, possibly called the iPhone 8, which we expect to arrive in September. Apple is expected to pull out all the stops for this one, so the competition could be fiercer than usual.
I also expect this next Note to give its digital stylus, which Samsung calls the S Pen, more tricks than last year’s short-lived Note 7 (like a speaker in the pen top — more below!).
What we ‘know’ about the Note 8
The Note 8 will use Samsung’s new eight-point battery test
Samsung instituted this enhanced safety checklist as part of a revised testing measure after discovering holes in its battery testing that led to the Note 7 failures. The Galaxy S8 phone uses it too, along with every other Samsung phone going forward.
It will have something more than the Galaxy S8 “I will bring back a better, safer and very innovative Note 8,” Koh said. Whatever that innovation is, it’s something Samsung is clearly reserving for the Note 8.
The Bixby AI assistant will work straight out of the box
Samsung hasn’t confirmed this, but it has said that its Bixby digital assistant is a priority on Samsung phones and other devices, too. The electronics giant is hoping to turn Bixby into a full-blown ecosystem robust enough to rival Amazon’s Alexa, Google Now, and Apple’s Siri (oh, and you too, Microsoft Cortana!)
I strongly assume that the Note 8 will feature a standalone Bixby button like the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. Unlike those two phones, Bixby Voice (which is a little like Apple’s Siri) should be developed enough to launch right with the phone (we’re still waiting to try Bixby Voice on the S8).
It’ll arrive in August or September
We’re expecting the Note 8 to come in August if it continues to follow Samsung’s typical release cycle. Last year’s Note 7 came a little earlier than usual (early August rather than late August), but the phone has been announced before Apple’s yearly iPhone (early September) ever since the Note series began. In recent years it’s shown up in stores before the iPhone, too.
But. There’s also a good chance that Samsung will want to hold off on an early August release this time around, both to triple-check that Note 8 battery safety and to strategically time the Note 8 to the iPhone 8 launch. At this point, I’d still put my money on a September arrival.
It’ll cost a lot
The Note 7 came in at about $850/£750/AU$1,349, so expect the cost to start there. More expensive parts, like a second camera, could hike up the price.
The speculation is just beginning, but expect the rumors and leaks to mount by the week as we approach August. Until then, here are the most likely rumors right now.
The Note 8 could curve on all sides
Samsung could one-up its own Galaxy S8, which has extremely slim bezels and curves on both sides. The company is reportedly working on a phone whose glass also curves on the top and bottom. The S8 (and Note 7 before it) curved equally on the front and back, making it symmetrical whichever side you held. The Note 8 might do the same.
How about a 6.4-inch screen?
The Note 8 could top the Galaxy S8 Plus’ 6.2-inch display with a 6.4-inch screen on a body not much larger than the S8 Plus. The figure comes from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple Insider reported.
Samsung will most likely keep the screen resolution high. We’ve heard whispers of a 4K screen resolution, which makes sense if the screen is inches from your face in a VR headset. Otherwise, your eyes probably won’t register too much of a difference between the S8’s 2,560×1,440-pixel resolution and the much higher 4K resolution. (Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium from 2015 had a 4K resolution, which translated into a 3,840×2,160-pixel resolution.)
Make that screen pressure-sensitive
The Galaxy S8 was widely rumored to have a pressure sensitive display like Apple’s 3D Touch on its latest iPhones. The rumor also extended to the Note 8, according to “sources” cited by Korean outlet The Investor.
It could have two rear cameras
I’ve said this before, and I’m not the only one to think that Samsung’s saving the best of its camera upgrades for the Note 8. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who’s also known for iPhone coverage, agrees, stating that the dual-camera mount may be the biggest significant design change from the S8 family to the Note 8, stylus notwithstanding.
As with the LG V20, one of the twin lenses could handle wide angles. (We’re hearing a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 13-megapixel telephoto lens.)
The S Pen could have a built-in speaker
I’ve been waiting for ages for the S Pen’s cap to do something really cool, like erase when you flip it over. The rumor that it will contain a speaker might be even better. A speaker within the S Pen top could shoot audio out of the pen, making it replace the speaker grille.
Does that mean it could also talk to you, or that you could talk to it? We’ll find out!