Nearly 6 months on and with an S9 on pre-order, how has the Note8 held up?

D13H4RD2L1V3

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The Note8 would be 6 months old soon (would have already passed that if you counted in the launch event). With the Galaxy S9 family now official and now on pre-order, some may be asking on how the Note8 would fare, either from owners (like me) or people who are deciding between both.

Note that this is based on a global unlocked-unbranded SM-N950F unit that runs on Samsung's Exynos 8895 SoC. US models running on a Snapdragon 835 may run a bit differently over time, so pay that in mind.
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Let's start with what's held up. The hardware pretty much hasn't aged in terms of aesthetics. The Note8 shares the same design language as its cousin, the Galaxy S8, just with less curved corners. Up against a Galaxy S9, the Note8 doesn't really look dated at all mostly due to design similarities between the 2, although the placement of the fingerprint scanner on the S9 will be better to quite a number of people. In short, it's a looker, and I'm reminded of that every time I remove it from its case. Even in 2018, it still looks mighty fresh for the most part.
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The display may not be the best DPMate has ever tested anymore (beaten by the more-accurate iPhone X and the brighter S9) but in daily use, it is still a top-notch performer. Colors by default are very oversaturated when viewing content made for sRGB (which consumers seem to enjoy but other don't seem to want), although the "Basic" setting makes it one of the more accurate panels out there, though not iPhone X-level accurate. And it is still superbly bright, meaning that outdoors use won't be an issue, and on my unit, no burn-in has been sighted as of yet.

Performance on this Exynos unit has also held up for the most part. It largely maintained the same performance as it had after the first unboxing although constant use has also given it the occasional hiccups every now and then. Do note that some Snapdragon units have aged very poorly, with some exhibiting copious amounts of bad lag after just a few months.

The software on the Note8 is mostly similar to the S8, which is also mostly similar to the S9, barring Android Oreo and the other features like S Pen stuff and S9 features. So I'll just say that if you like Samsung's flavor of Android, you'll feel right at home here but if you still don't, then you should look elsewhere.

The S Pen hasn't changed much in overall feel although the finer tip (debuted on the ill-fated Note7) does help with precise input. While there are lots of features the S Pen can do, I mostly use it for photo touchups in Photoshop Fix and as a precision input device among others. It's a tool I use everyday and it's the main draw to a Note for me.
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And while the camera out-of-the-box doesn't have the same intelligent computational post-processing the Pixel 2 has, it is mostly still a solid performer in almost all conditions. Samsung's noise-reduction and sharpening can still be pretty aggressive at times, along with a tendency to overexpose quite a bit, but with some adjustments on the exposure slider, it is a solid performer and should do the job fine for casual shooting.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/6OQ7BeS1b9ZaQM1o2

However, it's worth noting that using HDR+ on the Note8 significantly improves its output, putting it closer (but not exactly) to the level a Pixel 2 would produce. While indoor shots can sometimes look worse than off the main camera, and some conditions would produce a lot of chroma and luminance noise, the HDR+ performance is usually better than the stock camera 9 times out of 10, with improvements in detail, exposure, color and especially dynamic range.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/JfDKjm5U3EQw1x7x2

Battery life has also held up. I got 5-6 hours of on-screen time over 18 hours of normal use during the first few weeks, and nearly 6 months later, that still holds true. Sometimes it's longer, while sometimes it's shorter, but it rarely dies on me before bedtime.
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Now here's what's not held up over all this while. Updates are especially slow when it comes to Samsung phones. The Oreo update has only recently arrived to the S8 but the Note8 hasn't got it yet. And while Samsung can be prompt with security patches, they've been more inconsistent than I would have liked and tends to release security patches from the month before when Google rolls out a new one, and as of writing, my Note8 is still on January. It goes without much saying, but if updates are a prime priority, you should be buying a Pixel, period.

I also haven't got much use out of the secondary camera. It's useful at times and can be great for macro shots, but it's also very sensitive to changes in light and even with minor changes, it will often switch to the main camera, probably due to the weaker light-sensing abilities of the secondary camera. Live Focus, eh, isn't used much by me, nor any of the "fake blur" modes on other phones.

The rest of these are nitpicks, but still worth mentioning.
  • It's a real fingerprint magnet, like most glass phones, and feels really slippery as well.
  • While others have had success with Bixby, I have not, especially with speech recognition. When Bixby recognizes what I say, it does a good job but most often, it would get what I say wrong, to the point where I just forgot all about it.
  • The fingerprint sensor location has been covered to death, but my main issue with it is that it's slower than some other phones I've used. This is supposed addressed with the S9 but it also scratches easily. I've now had a couple of lines on the scanner itself. It still works but not something I'd like to see on such an expensive phone.
  • Samsung, isn't it time we started to improve on quick wired charging?
  • And can we natively remap the additional key to do what the Active key used to do?
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I think it goes without saying much that the Note8 has aged far more gracefully than other Samsung phones I have used. The old GS3 would lag dramatically after the same period and my ill-fated Note7 also experienced some performance issues after just a short while. It's still chock full of features and it still looks mighty fresh even with the S9 coming into stores.

If you own a Note8, you can definitely be understood if you decide to keep it. It's still relevant and the S9 isn't that big of an upgrade. But if you're deciding which to buy, you have to think whether the S Pen is really what you need. If not, you can just get the S9+.
 

j_hansen

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personally I don't think the Note 8 should be compared to either the S8 or S9 as it is a different product line.
Maybe the S9 have a few things higher spec such as camera and processor but that doesn't make it an upgrade if you have a Note 8 only if you have an S8.
IF.. you REALLY want to compare then you should wait and compare to the Note 9 and then you know the answer already.
just my opinion
 

Deke218

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The only reason I purchased the S line was because of the Note 7 fiasco. S7 and then S8+. As soon as the Note 8 hit, I was back to my beloved Note. No matter the upgrade in specs, the S line will always feel "lesser" to me.
 

D13H4RD2L1V3

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Should compare the s9 with the s8. Note9 with the note8. Just my opinion tho.
Not entirely.

The Note used to be the envelope pusher that packed the very best of anything.

These days, the Note is a slightly improved version of the S-line device with an S Pen and other minor upgrades.

They may cater to different audiences, but they're the same basic device underneath
 

cwbcpa

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My note 8 runs absolutely perfectly and does everything I need. Looking forward to some of the S9 features on the Note 9 though.
 

mgbosshogg

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Had zero issues work my N8, performance, battery or otherwise. Occasionally it takes a picture that can be made out.
Should last me until the N9
 

D13H4RD2L1V3

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Or the S line is a sightly dumbed down version of the note without an SPen
Eh, considering that the Note arrives later in the year, I’m betting the former

Especially since the S9’s hardware is predictably enhanced. Note9 should get the same
 

o4liberty

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The note 8 is the best device to date no issues at all no need to upgrade to the 9. Keeping the note for at least 2 or more years tired of spending money on small improvements I put my money in a second device like the iphone x or blackberry keyone and I have the best of all platforms.
 

trucksmoveamerica#AC

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Not getting the S9, have no desire to get it. Note 8 works great. I'll wait for the note 9, which will have everything the s9 has and more, plus the s pen.

The note is not a S series phone with a S pen. The notes have always had more under the hood then the same year S series. The S series play catch up the following year. Which phone does Samsung release around IPhone release date, you got it, the note.

Now with that said, both phones are good phone, get what you feel fir your needs, but I'm not going to get into this new phone every six months, once a year is plenty, and at the costs of these phones, every other year might become my Norm, they are getting to expensive to trade up every year. Look at the iPhone X, wonder if Apple found the it's to much price tag, just a thought.
 

D13H4RD2L1V3

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The note is not a S series phone with a S pen. The notes have always had more under the hood then the same year S series. The S series play catch up the following year. Which phone does Samsung release around IPhone release date, you got it, the note.
Not always.

The Note5 was largely similar to the S6 edge+ in terms of internal specs, and the Note7's internals were similar for the most part to the S7 edge.

Don't really get why people think me saying the Note at its basic core as of late is an enhanced S-line device with less edges and more features is a bad thing. It's building on the foundation of an already great device while adding more. I don't think that's bad.
 

h2ofun

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Love the N8. Best phone I have ever had!! Love the battery life and huge display.

In some ways I am hoping the N9 has just small upgrades like the S9, so I can keep my N8 for at least 2 years.
 

trucksmoveamerica#AC

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I'll agree that with the S8, the S series have gotten better. I won't agree that the S6 and S7 were the same caliber. The S7 was better, the S6 just plain sucked, I returned mine and waited for the note 5. I have activated my S8 plus to use for a day, I was glad to get back to my note 8. I was one that said the 2 extra gigs if RAM wouldn't matter, I now say I was wrong. Samsung has always made the note series just a tad bit better then the S series, whether it's building off the S series or not doesn't matter, the note isn't a S series phone with a S pen IMO.
 

Tsepz_GP

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I wouldn't bother going to a S9+ when the Note9 is coming. For me personally the SPen is a huge part of why I buy the Galaxy Note, so a Galaxy S phone no matter how powerful won't be able to fully replace my Galaxy Note.

I would rather go back to my Note4 than have to go without a SPen with a S9+.
 

D13H4RD2L1V3

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I wouldn't bother going to a S9+ when the Note9 is coming. For me personally the SPen is a huge part of why I buy the Galaxy Note, so a Galaxy S phone no matter how powerful won't be able to fully replace my Galaxy Note.

I would rather go back to my Note4 than have to go without a SPen with a S9+.
S Pen has always been a main draw to the Note for me.

It's how it got its name
 

OJsakila

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I wouldn't bother going to a S9+ when the Note9 is coming. For me personally the SPen is a huge part of why I buy the Galaxy Note, so a Galaxy S phone no matter how powerful won't be able to fully replace my Galaxy Note.

I would rather go back to my Note4 than have to go without a SPen with a S9+.

^^^This.

And then when the n9 arrives, it's tiny incremental upgrades shouldn't justify a purchase. I would assume the n10 would be the "complete over haul" upgrade.
But I dunno.. I do know my n8 is the best phone I've ever had. I'm 100% pleased with it. I think I love it.
 

D13H4RD2L1V3

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^^^This.

And then when the n9 arrives, it's tiny incremental upgrades shouldn't justify a purchase. I would assume the n10 would be the "complete over haul" upgrade.
But I dunno.. I do know my n8 is the best phone I've ever had. I'm 100% pleased with it. I think I love it.
I don't think the Note9 would be a compelling upgrade if it sticks to the same mantra.

Just IMO
 

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