The Galaxy Note 7 was the crown jewel of Samsung’s smartphone lineup last year – until it went up in flames.
Quite literally in some cases: as we now know, battery defects led to some explosive results for some owners, forcing Samsung to make a quick recall and retreat for what appeared to be its best phablet to date.
But now that the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus have been an unqualified success, and easily Samsung’s best handsets to date, the rumour mill has started rumbling about a Galaxy Note 8 on the horizon. Will the next Note be able to restore confidence in the battered brand? And can it stand out amongst an even sharper class of Android handsets?
Here are all the rumours and reports we’ve heard so far, along with whether or not we reckon the details seem legit or not.
WHEN WILL THE GALAXY NOTE 8 BE OUT?
Despite last year’s high-profile demise, Samsung doesn’t seem to be taking a longer-than-usual break to let the incident fade from more prospective buyers’ minds. Rumours suggest that we’ll see the handset debut in August.
In other words, it’ll launch around the same time as the Galaxy Note 7 did, and the Galaxy Note 5 before it. The Korea Herald cited rumours in a May report pointing to that timeframe, noting that Samsung probably wants to beat Apple’s expected iPhone 8 launch in September.
On the other hand, revered leaker Evan Blass recently reported at VentureBeat that the phone will debut in late September, which would likely follow Apple’s own news. That could be a tough unveiling to trump for Samsung.
(Unofficial render via Concept Creator)
FACT OR FICTION?
We’re more inclined to believe that Samsung will want to beat Apple to the punch with the Galaxy Note 8, with the hopes of swaying some potential customers.
On the other hand, the rumour last year was that Samsung rushed the Galaxy Note 7’s design to try and get it to stores sooner, and that’s not a story that anyone will want to hear again. Still, we’d be very surprised if we see the iPhone 8 before the Galaxy Note 8.
HOW MUCH WILL THE GALAXY NOTE 8 COST?
The Galaxy Note line has always commanded a premium thanks to the high-end specs, and addition of the S Pen stylus. This year’s edition could really break the bank though. How does €999 (which translates to about R20,000 in South Africa — and no, that’s not a direct conversion) sound?
That’s a load of cash, but given that the Galaxy S8 Plus starts at R17,500 in SA, the target for the Galaxy Note 8 as the “next step up” makes sense. That bit of info comes again from Evan Blass at VentureBeat. He has a long history of spot-on leaks, and while the figure might make you gulp, the context isn’t far-fetched.
FACT OR FICTION
It’s a lot of money, but if Samsung sees the Galaxy Note 8 as its ultimate handset, even more premium and feature-packed than the Galaxy S8 Plus, then it’s fair to expect a price that backs that vision up.
WHAT WILL THE GALAXY NOTE 8 LOOK LIKE?
Have you seen the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus? Yeah, the Galaxy Note 8 will probably look a lot like that, albeit with its curves a little flattened out (but not entirely so). Reports suggest the same kind of extra tall, 18.5:9 AMOLED Infinity Display with almost zero bezel on the sides.
In fact, the image above came from Samsung’s official Exynos Twitter account. That’s not a Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8 Plus, but it’s very similar in approach… albeit with a flatter, boxier screen. That’s the kind of approach we saw with the Galaxy Note 7, so this may be our first official look at the Galaxy Note 8
And it shouldn’t be that much larger than the Galaxy S8 Plus at all. It’s pegged to feature a 6.3in display, as opposed to 6.2in on the S8 Plus – but due to the aspect ratio, it should feel more narrow in your hand than you’d expect from the specs. We suspect the phone itself might be a little thicker, though, to accommodate the S Pen stored inside.
Reports say to expect another Quad HD (2K) display at 2,960×1,440, just like the Galaxy S8 models. A 4K resolution screen has been rumoured here and there, but that’s a pretty significant leap to make – especially without raising the price even further.
FACT OR FICTION?
All of this sounds spot-on. The 0.1-inch advantage is minuscule and may not be noticeable at all, but the Galaxy Note 8 isn’t going to battle the S8 Plus on size – it’ll battle on performance and perks. And it has some tricks up its sleeve in those areas, it seems.
We don’t know whether Samsung’s Exynos image here is actually the Galaxy Note 8, or if it’s just supposed to be a generic stand-in… albeit with the Galaxy line’s current design language. In any case, that’s pretty close to what we’re expecting from the Note 8.
HOW MUCH PERFORMANCE WILL THE NOTE 8 PACK?
Quite a bit – but not a significant boost over the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. Both of those devices pack Samsung’s Exynos 8895 chip in some territories and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 in others, and you can’t go wrong with either.
According to reports, the Galaxy Note 8 won’t mix things up in either case, as those same chips will be used in various parts of the world. The one supposed difference: 6GB RAM within instead of 4GB on the Galaxy S8 models.
FACT OR FICTION?
Again, this sounds very sensible. There aren’t any newer mega-chips to tout just months after the Snapdragon 835 started making the rounds, but adding more RAM will help with multitasking and the extra features of the S Pen. Granted, there are phones with even more RAM – like the higher-priced OnePlus 5 option – but 6GB should be plenty. After all, the Galaxy S8 felt super-quick, and that only had 4GB.
WHAT KIND OF CAMERA WILL THE NOTE 8 PACK?
The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus stuck with a single back camera and turned out to be an absolute stunner, as the 12-megapixel shooter delivers gorgeous shots. It’s still one of the best around. But Samsung will reportedly double up for the Note 8.
That’s right: Samsung is said to be following the lead of the Apple iPhone 7 Plus, LG G6, Huawei P10, and OnePlus 5 by packing in a pair of back cameras, each expected to be 12MP. They’ll be stacked vertically, one atop the other in the center, as opposed to the side-by-side approach of most dual-camera competitors.
According to VentureBeat, they’ll both offer optical image stabilisation, but there aren’t many other details on how they’ll vary, or what kinds of perks to expect from the setup.
FACT OR FICTION?
It was sort of surprising that Samsung didn’t do a dual-camera array for the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, although their awesome quality sort of shrugged off that conversation. Now that they’re trying to set the Galaxy Note 8 apart from the other flagships in the lineup – and trying to fight against other premium smartphones on the market – going for double here makes sense.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW?
Just a few things. You can expect a Bixby button like on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus models – and hopefully, Bixby Voice will be ready by the release so you can actually use it for anything meaningful.
VentureBeat suggests that it will have a 3,300mAh battery pack, which is actually smaller than the Galaxy S8 Plus, as well as the Galaxy Note 7. However, Samsung might be a bit gun-shy here, since the bulging battery pack within the Note 7’s slim frame reportedly caused the explosive incidents last year.
We should see some added S Pen functionality, such as easily converting currency or translating full sentences. VentureBeat also suggests that you’ll be able to affix your own handwritten notes and doodles onto the always-on display’s lock screen.
It should support the Samsung DeX, too, which lets you plug the phone into a dock and use it for a desktop-like experience on a secondary display.
Lastly, expect black, blue, and gold options for the handset at launch, although Samsung tends to release other colour variants for its flagships before too long.