The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the biggest comeback story in phones following all of the disastrous Galaxy Note 7 battery failures last autumn.
It’s fascinating: The Note 7 will go down in smartphone history for all the wrong reasons, yet when it wasn’t causing property damage or injuries, it was among the best phones you could buy.
Where does Samsung go from here? We now have a better idea of the Galaxy Note 8 features thanks to the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus launch. They look and feel like Note phones without that all-important S Pen.
Samsung will build on top of its new all-screen technology, and the Note series will continue to be Samsung’s high-end, at times experiment smartphone.
Ready for the future? It’s time to dive into all of the promising Note 8 rumors, as new leaks begin to emerge ahead of a possible August release date.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Samsung’s next flagship phablet
- When is it out? Autumn of 2017 is very likely
- What will it cost? A lot, the Note 7 cost $850/£749/AU$1,349
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 release date
Samsung has already confirmed that the Galaxy Note 8 release date will happen in 2017. That’s a fact.
And while the company didn’t go into more detail about the launch date, we expect to see this S Pen compatible Android phone in the autumn.
The Note 7 launched in September, the Note 5 arrived in August, and the Note 4 landed in October. Expect the Note 8 to by October or November at the latest.
Could it come earlier? Sure. Samsung may want to fill the void of the Note – the UK hasn’t had a Note phone permanently available since the Note 4. Ouch.
But Samsung may also wants to take its time for the sake of battery safety. Plus, the S8 and S8 Plus launched later than normal. October would put the Note 8 six months from the S8 launch date.
Here’s what we’re going to look out for over the next several months: The phone with the model number SM-N950, as revealed by leaker Evan Blass.
We’re also digging up information on Baikal, the supposed codename for the Note 8 that refers to a Siberian lake – the lake deepest in the world.
TechRadar’s take: Note 8 may launch in late September, with a late October release date. That’s six months after the S8 and S8 Plus. It would give Samsung more time to run extra safety tests. There’s a chance that the company will want it out sooner to fill the void of new Note phones on sale, but we’re unlikely to see anything sooner than autumn.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 screen
- A 4K resolution
- No home button
- A pressure-sensitive display
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 may once again make the Note series known for its groundbreaking screen, but not just because of its size this time around.
We’re predicting that the Note 8 will be one of the first smartphones with a pixel-dense 4K screen, with convincing rumors back up that theory.
Why do you need a 4K resolution on a phone? You don’t when it’s in your hand, but it’s important when your phone doubles as a VR headset screen. Otherwise, you’ll see individual pixels when it’s just two inches from your face.
What about the Note 8 screen size? The phone series has stuck to a 5.7-inch screen ever since the Note 3, but it’ll almost certainly break from tradition.
A 6.2-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is more likely, because the Galaxy S8 Plus has reached that tipping point. It’s really hard to see it being any smaller than that.
We expect the Note 8 to nearly eliminate the top and bottom bezel, just like the S8 and S8 Plus do, and tout a wraparound edge-to-edge screen left to right.
Samsung’s ‘Infinity Display’ doesn’t seem like a one-off marketing term. It’s here to stay. But it means there may be no psychical home button on the Note 8.
Instead, the Note 8 is to have a pressure-sensitive screen that brings up different menus and options depending on how hard you press the display.
More than cloning Apple’s 3D Touch screen technique, however, we’re hoping that Samsung figures out a way to embed a fingerprint sensor in the screen.
The S8 and S8 Plus shift the fingerprint scanner to the back, awkwardly next to the camera lens. Cue the smudges. But returning it to the front, under the display would be ideal when such technology is ready.
Here’s another advancement we could see from the Galaxy Note 8: it could act as the first smartphone with a foldable screen. It’s unlikely, but a fun thought.
Samsung is rumored to be readying two foldable phones for 2017. But we don’t feel like it’s due for a flagship phone just yet – not this year at least.
The company could always test the waters with a foldable Note 8 variant, much like it tested curved screens with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge.
But we’ve been hearing word of a new phone called the Samsung Galaxy X, and that’s a more likely approach sometime after 2017.
TechRadar’s take: The Galaxy Note 8 will almost certainly continue Samsung’s streak of debuting trying new technology in its second half of the year phone. At first it was bigger screens and S Pens, then the curved Galaxy Note Edge variant, and most recently the debut of Mobile HDR. What’s next? A 4K resolution at or around the 6.2-inch display size should give it a boost over the Galaxy S8 Plus along with expanded S Pen functionality. Less likely features include a fingerprint sensor embedded in the front glass and a foldable variant.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 design
Nothing is yet known about the design of the Note 8. For now, our best guess is that it won’t stray too far from the metal and glass sandwich that’s proved so popular for the company, but refinements are sure to be made.
For an idea, we can look at the Samsung Galaxy S8, which has no home button, tiny bezels above and below the screen, and the fingerprint scanner moved to the back, but an otherwise similar design to the S7 and Note 7.
TechRadar’s take: A similar look to the Note 7, but perhaps slightly slimmer and with less bezel.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera
As with so many things, we can look at the Galaxy S8 for clues at what to expect from the Note 8’s camera. It has a 12MP single-lens camera, but given the current trend for dual-lens cameras, and the fact that there seems to be an unspoken agreement among phone manufacturers that more pixels does not equal better, a dual-lens camera is our best guess right now.
We’d also imagine that whatever camera it gets will have optical image stabilization, given that the Note 7 does.
The front-facing camera meanwhile could be upgraded from 5MP to 8MP, as that is exactly what Samsung has done for the Galaxy S8.
TechRadar’s take: A dual-lens camera of around 12MP is our best guess.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 battery
The battery is likely to be big, and support fast charging. The juice pack in the Note 7 is 3500mAh and we’d expect at least that much from the Galaxy Note 8.
Samsung has now revealed its findings from the Galaxy Note 7 battery fire investigation and confirmed it plans to ensure future phones won’t suffer from the same fault.
To make sure it doesn’t happen again, Samsung is implementing an “8 point battery safety check” on all future devices. If the Galaxy Note 8 does happen, we can expect Samsung to put a big focus on the battery.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 OS and power
- A powerful 3GHz+ octa-core processor
- Android Nougat or Android O
Samsung tends to either use its own Exynos chips, or Snapdragon chips, or a combination of the two, with different regions getting different processors.
But in the Note range it always uses one of the best available chips, which by the Note 8 is likely to mean at least the Snapdragon 835, or the Exynos 8895, which is supposedly a 3GHz octa-core chip.
But the Note 8 may have something even faster. It’s also sure to have a lot of RAM – 4GB is the absolute minimum, since that would be a match for current flagships, but 6GB or even 8GB isn’t out of the question.
The operating system will of course be Android, either Nougat or Android O, and it’s sure to be overlaid with the latest version of Samsung’s Experience interface.
TechRadar’s take: The fastest mobile chip around and 6GB of RAM are our best guesses, but whatever the Note 8 uses it’s sure to be a real powerhouse.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 other features
- A stylus with a speaker
- An iris scanner
- An AI assistant
The S Pen is one of the standout features of the Note range, and it’s sure to return for the next model, but it’s likely to get better, and a patent points to a stylus with a built-in speaker.
What the speaker would do isn’t clear, but it could potentially read notes back to you, or work in combination with the phone’s speakers for louder audio.
An iris scanner is a likely Note 8 inclusion, given that the Note 7 had one and the S8 and S8 Plus have it, and apparently it will be more secure this time, though the fingerprint scanner is sure to return too. The phone is also likely to be dust and water resistant, have a microSD card slot and charge via USB Type-C, given that its predecessor did.
An AI assistant, built by some of Siri’s creators, and confirmed to be called Bixby, is also an obvious addition, since Samsung has already confirmed it for the Galaxy S8.
TechRadar’s take: The S Pen will likely improve, but we’re not sold on the speaker idea. Most of the Note 7’s features will also probably return – including the iris scanner.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 price
All we have to go on for now is the price that the Galaxy Note 7 launched at, but it’s likely that the Note 8 will have a similar price tag. In which case, you can expect to pay around $850/£749/AU$1,349 for it.
TechRadar’s take: The Galaxy Note 8 is sure to be expensive, but probably won’t be much if any more than the Note 7.
Aside from distinctly fewer flames and explosions, there are a number of other things we’d like from the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and the following are our top wants.
1. A lower price
For the brief period that it was on sale, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was colossally expensive, coming in at $850/£749/AU$1,349 if you bought it off contract.
The size and specs of the phone went a long way towards justifying that price, but it still put the phone out of many people’s reach, so we’d like to see a lower price for the Note 8.
It’s unlikely, but you never know, Samsung might drop the price as a goodwill gesture to all its fans that have had to go without an upgrade in 2016.
2. 6GB of RAM
Most current smartphones have 4GB of RAM, but a few, such as the OnePlus 3, have launched with 6GB, and a Chinese variant of the Note 7 was supposed to do the same.
With the Note 8, we’d like to see all versions launch with at least that much. It might sound like overkill, but it would help power VR experiences, and besides, the Note series has always been at the cutting edge.
3. A 4K display
What would help VR even more than extra RAM is a sharper screen, and so we’d like to see a 4K display on the Galaxy Note 8.
Samsung has been peddling QHD screens for a while now, and with the extra size of the Note it’s a prime candidate for a few more pixels.
4. Less sensitive buttons
It’s a minor niggle, but the capacitive buttons on the Note 7, and indeed many Samsung handsets, are overly sensitive, leading to many an accidental press, particularly for those who are new to the handset, so we’d like to see these made slightly less sensitive for the Note 8 – but only slightly!
5. A foldable screen
There’s been talk that Samsung could start launching handsets with foldable screens in 2017. So, could the Note 8 be one of them? It’s unlikely, but it seems like a natural evolution from the curved screens we have now, and would make the phone’s sheer size more manageable.
6. No more bezels
OK, a foldable screen might be asking a bit much, but Samsung could at least ditch the bezels surrounding the display. That could allow the company to either pack a larger screen into the same space, or shrink the handset size down.
Ditching the home button could prove problematic, since it houses the fingerprint scanner, but there have been rumors that Samsung might build the scanner into the screen itself.
7. A new design
Samsung has been iterating on the current design of its phones since the Galaxy S6, so by the time the Note 8 launches it will be about time for a shakeup.
We want the curved screen to stay, unless the alternative is a foldable one, but a change to that metal and glass sandwich would be appreciated, as long as it still looks just as stylish and premium.