Samsung Galaxy Note8 review

GSMArena team, 16 September 2017.

Telephony and loudspeaker

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 is available in single SIM and dual SIM versions. We have for review the dual SIM flavor, for a change, and the second slot is of the hybrid variety.

The call log and phonebook are still in the same combined interface. The dialer itself can be summoned from any tab by tapping on the green button in the bottom right corner.

Dialer - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Call log - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review In a call - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Contacts - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Call settings - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review
Dialer Call log In a call Contacts Call settings

The Do Not Disturb mode can work on an automated schedule. When it's on, only priority notifications can get through, and you decide what counts as "priority" - it can be anything from calls by select contacts to reminders from key apps.

Do not disturb - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Do not disturb - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review
Do not disturb

The Samsung Galaxy Galaxy Note8 has a single, bottom-firing speaker - that setup hasn't changed for a while on Samsung flagships, and we wish we'd see stereo speakers some day. Single it may be, but it managed to pump out enough decibels for a 'Good' rating in our testing.

Speakerphone testVoice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
BlackBerry Priv 62.1 61.7 66.5 Below Average
BlackBerry KEYone 62.2 66.0 67.7 Below Average
Sony Xperia XZ Premium 62.9 65.2 71.6 Below Average
Sony Xperia XZ1 65.4 68.0 69.1 Average
Samsung Galaxy Note5 66.9 67.1 71.8 Average
Samsung Galaxy Note8 67.8 69.5 71.5 Good
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 68.5 69.4 71.6 Good
Samsung Galaxy Note7 69.7 69.9 72.3 Good
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 68.3 72.2 72.9 Good
Huawei P10 Plus 64.8 69.8 82.5 Good
HTC U11 (Theater) 69.2 72.7 78.4 Very Good
HTC U11 (Music) 68.7 73.0 79.1 Very Good
LG V30 66.9 72.3 84.5 Very Good
Google Pixel XL 73.4 72.1 84.1 Excellent
Huawei Mate 9 83.1 74.5 85.0 Excellent

Text input

The Galaxy Note8 uses the Samsung Keyboard, which long-time Samsung users swear by. It's quite feature-packed, with a dedicated numbers row, a row above that for word suggestions and additional characters on each key (accessible via long-press).

Keyboard - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Keyboard - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Keyboard - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Keyboard - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Keyboard - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review
Keyboard

If that seems too tall, you can scale the keyboard down (or up, if you want bigger keys). We don't like that the Space key is quite short, though.

Keyboard size: Largest - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Keyboard size: Smallest - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Keyboard size: Largest in landscape - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review
Keyboard size: Default Smallest Largest in landscape

Additional typing tools include swipe input, My Hot Keys (predefined phrases that can be typed by long-pressing a number key) and voice dictation.

Other apps

Samsung continues to bundle the Microsoft app package that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive and Skype.

Microsoft app package - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Microsoft app package - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Microsoft app package - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Microsoft app package - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review
Microsoft app package

The Samsung-customized web browser makes use of the Samsung Pass service and features Web sign in - a password manager secured by your iris or fingerprint. This makes logins as simple as unlocking the phone and people can't peek over your shoulder to see your password.

That's good to have, as using a third-party password manager may not work with anything other than fingerprint (Last Pass doesn't), and the fingerprint reader isn't super conveniently placed. That said, you'd be losing the syncing across non-Samsung devices if you opt for Samsung's solution.

Samsung browser - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Samsung browser - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Samsung browser - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Samsung browser - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review
Samsung browser

Samsung Health is the company's health tracking app that makes full use of the heart rate and blood oxygen sensors. It also tracks walking/running/cycling and you can manually input water and coffee intake and so on.

Samsung Health - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Samsung Health - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Samsung Health - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review
Samsung Health

Device maintenance can be accessed from Settings, not just from the Edge panel. It still offers the same features and takes care of battery, RAM, Storage and Device security. This gives you tools to clean-up unnecessary files or track down apps which drain the battery or use too much RAM. There are buttons to do this one by one, but also one big Optimize now button to do it all.

Device maintenance - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review One-tap optimization - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Storage - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Performance modes - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Performance modes - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review
Device maintenance One-tap optimization Storage Performance modes

Battery management has two power saving modes - Medium and Maximum. Medium limits display resolution and CPU speed decreases brightness and turns off the AOD and the background network usage. Maximum is even more severe, setting a black background and disabling most of the smartphone's functionality, to help you squeeze a few hours of usage on even very low charge.

Battery management - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Medium power saving - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Maximum power saving - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Maximum power saving - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Maximum power saving - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review
Battery management Medium power saving Maximum power saving

The My Files app is the default file browser. It features Google Drive and Samsung Cloud integration. You can ZIP folders to make them easier to share as a single file, and you can do batch actions.

My Files - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review My Files - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review My Files - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review My Files - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review
My Files

Finally, there's Galaxy Apps, Samsung's own app store. Galaxy Essentials is a good place to find great tools (like Kids Mode), but for general app shopping, you would probably be better off with Google Play.

Galaxy Apps - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Galaxy Apps - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Galaxy Apps - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Galaxy Apps - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review Galaxy Apps - Samsung Galaxy Note8 review
Galaxy Apps