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Samsung Pushes Smartphone Threshold with Galaxy Note8

Samsung unveiled its widely anticipated new Galaxy Note8, a smartphone that will continue to tip the scale at providing PC power in a smartphone. It may also test the practical size limit of a phone with its 6.3-inch Quad HD+ AMOLED "Infinity Edge" display. The new Note8 will be available Sept. 15 and is among several major smartphone upgrades anticipated over the next month, including a new iPhone and Google's new Pixel 2.

The Galaxy Note is Samsung's premium (and most expensive, smartphone) that is aiming to appeal to "the ultimate multitaskers and power users," said D.J. Koh, president of Samsung's Mobile Communications Business, at the launch event held in New York City. Besides its large, high-resolution display (2960x1440 and 521ppi), the Note8's most prominent features include the new S Pen, aimed at broadening the usage of drawing, annotating and notetaking, the ability to multitask on a split screen and  two rear 12MP cameras with image stabilization on both lenses. The Note8 is configured with an octa-core 64-bit processor with 6GB of RAM, 64GB of flash storage with a microSD slot that supports up to 256GB of additional external storage and support for Bluetooth 5 and USB-C.

Given its name, the Note's hallmark feature is the S Pen, designed to let users draw and take handwritten notes on the device. The Note8's new S Pen appears more practical for mainstream use with this release and may even appeal to those that have had little interest in that capability in the past. "I think for the first time the pen is actually usable for more people. There's no excuse not to use the pen -- you can use it with the screen off," said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy.

Improvements to the S Pen includes a much finer tip and the ability to respond more naturally do to refined pressure sensors on the display. A new Live Messages feature lets you add GIFs in popular messaging apps. The S Pen supports Samsung's "Always On" capability, letting users draw or take handwritten notes within apps as well as on a notepad app that is now easier to use when the phone is locked. The S Pen offers better precision and, based on my brief test of it, works quite intuitively. The offscreen notepad supports up to 100 pages of notes.

The new App Pair feature now lets users simultaneously launch and use on the same screen two apps. App Pair will let users link most apps to the device's "Edge" panel, allowing any two to simultaneously launch in the new Multi window mode. One could look at a document while exchanging e-mails or participating in a videoconference.

Samsung officials gave significant emphasis to the Note8's two rear 12MP cameras that have Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) on both lenses, including the 2x telephoto lens. The camera's dual-capture mode lets users take two pictures simultaneously and keep both images, enabling the bokeh effect or allowing a background to have the same level of detail and focus as the foreground. A dual-pixel sensor on the wide-angle lens aims to compensate for low-light situations, the company said. It has an 8MP camera in front for selfies and conferencing.

With the launch of the Note8, the company is also looking to put to rest the embarrassing and costly hit its reputation took following the release of the device's predecessor, the Galaxy Note7, last year. Samsung had to pull the Note7 from the market shortly after its release when a flaw in the battery caused them to catch fire. Besides the billions of dollars in losses the company incurred, it briefly tarnished the reputation of one of the top brands among consumers and business users. "None of us will ever forget what happened last year," Koh said. "I know I won't. I will never forget how millions of dedicated Note users stayed with us."

Samsung appears to have already recovered from last year's debacle with this spring's release of the Galaxy S8, S8+ and the new DeX Station, the new dock that allows home and business users to connect the phones to a full-size display, mouse and keyboard as well as run it on a network and run virtual Windows desktops with Amazon Work Spaces, Citrix Receiver and the VMware desktops, as we reported this month. The Galaxy Note8 will also work with the DeX Station.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 08/25/2017 at 11:12 AM


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