There are plenty of big phones on the market, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is one of the best. The 6.3-inch screen is vivid and bright. The dual camera system takes sharp photos. And the high end processor means the phone is super quick. Everything about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 conveys that it is a premium phone, including its big price tag.
Verizon loaned me a Galaxy Note 8 to try out, and I took it along on a business trip to Florida. The first thing I noticed was the modern design of the phone. I was using an iPhone 6S at the time, and Samsung’s all glass design made my iPhone look like a decade old piece of tech. I liked the Orchid Gray color of the glass back, and on the front, the curved edges of the screen took the display beyond edge to edge. Similar to the Samsung Edge, you can pull up quick menus by running your finger over the edge of the display, which is a nice feature for quick access to apps and info. Even though the phone had a modern, premium look, it still had the essentials that people want (like a headphone jack).
Google Assistant is one of my favorite features of an Android phone, and I use it a ton when I travel. The assistant knows when you are away from home and offers helpful tips about your surrounding area. I used it to find a restaurant, to navigate to a copy store for a last minute print job, and to check in for my flight. The challenge with the Note 8 is that Samsung also installed its Bixby digital assistant, and it often gets in the way. You launch Bixby using a dedicated button on the side of the phone, which I accidentally pushed countless times during my trip. I couldn’t find a way to disable Bixby or to reprogram the button to do something else, which was my biggest frustration with the phone.
I like to take new phones along for trips because it is an opportunity to not only test the phone, but also to test the network. Verizon’s 4G LTE network was speedy, even in the congested airports. I was able to reliably stay in contact with my coworkers, to get an Uber, and to talk with my family at home without any signal loss. I mention this because convention centers with thousands of people are among the worst places to get a cell phone signal. I was happy to find that I had reliable service throughout the trip.
I found the Galaxy Note 8 was a great travel companion that made it easy to stay productive on the go. One of the signature features of the Note 8 is the S Pen stylus, which conveniently fits into a slot at the bottom of the phone. When you press to release the S Pen, it automatically starts the notes app, which lets you jot things down even when the phone was locked. My business trip was for a conference, and I used this feature a few times to write down quick notes and reminders. The stylus is also handy for navigating the phone more precisely (big fingers, big problems) or for writing live messages (animated writing that you can text to friends). I used the S Pen more than I expected.
The Note 8 has a dual 12-megapixel camera which can create photo effects, like a blurred background, that mimics what you can do with a DSLR. I spent a little time at Disney World during this trip (it was a work thing, I swear) and my photos were more than Instagram worthy. The camera took great photos in daylight and indoors. Overall, I had a hard time finding fault with the camera. It was one of the best features of the phone.
Next to the camera is a fingerprint reader, which you can use to unlock the phone. I didn’t realize this was here, and used facial recognition to unlock my phone, which was really handy. I only encountered an issue when trying to unlock the phone while wearing sunglasses.
This is the time of year when all of the big companies release high end phones, which can make it difficult to decide which to buy. I like to have the latest tech, which usually means a high end phone with a fast processor. The camera is also important to me because I take a lot of photos. But most importantly, I want a phone that helps me be more productive, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 meets all of those criteria. It is a premium phone through and through.