Last year, Samsung released the Galaxy Note 7, which I called the best large phone on the market. Many other reviewers liked it, too. But not too long after it went on sale, reports came in that the devices had been catching fire, and within months, Samsung issued a global recall of the over 4 million phones it had sold so far.
Samsung recovered quickly from the Note debacle—even as the company’s head was accused and later convicted of corruption—producing the fine Galaxy S8 and S8+ phones in April. But many have been fans of the Note line of devices, with their larger screens and S Pen styluses, that have long set them apart in the market, and so would likely have been waiting on tenterhooks for a new Note that would live up to past models—and hopefully not explode.
Quartz spent a few weeks with the Note 8, to find out whether it was worth the wait:
It didn’t blow up. In the few weeks I’ve been testing this phone, I can safely say that at no point did the phone explode. It did get rather warm when charging a few times, but the phone is still in one piece. Then again, so was the Note 7 that I tested.
Beautiful screen. The Note 8’s 6.3-inch screen is massive, bright, and crisp. The curved edges, while not as dramatic as the ones on the Galaxy S8, give the impression that there are no bezels on the sides of the phone, and the ones at the top and bottom are minimal. In a pinch, you could tape this phone to a wall and feel like you own a Samsung flatscreen TV.
Great camera. A year ago, Apple popularized the dual-camera setup with its iPhone 7 Plus, where one of the cameras on the rear is used to perceive depth, while the other takes the photo, allowing for sharp focus on objects, as well as optical zooming. Now every phone manufacturer has adopted this, including Samsung. Much like the iPhone, the Note 8 can take photos where the foreground is in focus and the background is blurred (what’s called the bokeh effect), in a new mode called Live Focus. The phone’s software also lets photographers change the depth of focus after the photo has been taken.