This year is undoubtedly one of the most exciting in terms of smartphone releases for the industry and the users as well. It has already started off strong with the release of the critically acclaimed LG G6 and the revolutionary Samsung Galaxy S8. This month we also witnessed the release of the much-hyped OnePlus 5, perhaps the best value for money flagship device you can buy today. And, there is still a lot more to come, including the Google Pixel 2 and the Apple iPhone 8, which is perhaps the most eagerly awaited smartphone of the year.
However, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KRX:005930) has another ace up their sleeve with the expected upcoming launch of the Galaxy Note 8. One of the most anticipated smartphones of the year, the Galaxy Note 8 could pose a very real and tangible threat to the iPhone 8 if Samsung manages to fire on all cylinders. However, there are a number of factors at play here, not the least of which is the looming shadow of the Note 7 fiasco.
So, what do we really know about the Galaxy Note 8 thus far? Can it wipe the unpleasant memories of the Note 7 from the minds of its users? Last, but perhaps most importantly, Could the Note 8 put a damper on Apple’s plans for the upcoming iPhone 8?
How Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Could Shape Up
Now that the hype surrounding the Galaxy S8 has calmed down, the industry is turning its attention to Samsung’s next expected flagship offering – the Galaxy Note 8. The rumour mill is in full swing, and we are getting reports of new leaks every day. Lets us look at what specs the Note 8 could have and how it could shape up against the competition.
The Galaxy Note 8 is expected to sport a Snapdragon 835 (US) and the Exynos 8895 (Global) SoC, and both are the popular choices for flagship models this year. RAM is bumped up to 6 GB from the 4GB available in most Galaxy S8 models. In terms of pure power, the Note 8 is basically a slightly upgraded version of the Galaxy S8.
As expected, there is a considerable focus on display, as is the case with most smartphones launched this year. The Note 8 will reportedly sport a 6.3 inch Super AMOLED 2K Infinity display with an unusually tall 18.5:9 aspect ratio, similar to the Galaxy S8. This time around, Samsung is apparently trying to reduce the bezel even more by using curved edges. This would further increase the already incredible screen-to-body ratio. There are also some reports suggesting that the Note 8 could feature a crazy sharp 4K display. This decision by Samsung could make sense for one very key reason. While such a high resolution is not very useful for general smartphone use, it can be incredibly helpful in improving the mobile VR experience with Samsung’s own Gear VR headsets.
An area where Samsung is playing safe is the battery; Samsung includes a modest 3,300 mAh battery in an effort to avoid mistakes they made with the Note 7. This is a complete opposite from Samsung’s previous approach, which backfired badly. The exploding battery issue on the Note 7 leads to massive monetary losses for Samsung, as well as a loss in market share.
A New Camera Experience
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Note 8 is its complete camera overhaul. The camera on the Galaxy S8, while quite good, was largely unremarkable and par for the course. However, now it seems like Samsung is ready to jump on the dual camera bandwagon in a big way. At Mobile World Congress Shanghai, Samsung unveiled four new camera sensors. Using Samsung’s ISOCELL technology, these new sensors fulfil different photography and ergonomic needs. Bright sensors provide excellent low-light performance; fast sensors are good for capturing moving objects; slim sensors have a very small footprint. However, the most intriguing was the dual sensors. These sensors allow the mixing and matching of various other sensors to provide the desired features.
Based on what was shown at MWC Shanghai, the Note 8 could sport twin 13 Megapixel sensors. Both sensors feature 1.12-micron pixels and an f/2.0 aperture lens. One sensor captures RGB colours, while the other captures monochrome. This would theoretically allow for much better low-light performance, image quality and depth of field effects. Such a camera solution could blow the iPhone 7’s camera out of the water, which merely uses two similar sensors with different lenses on them.
Of course, the Note 8 is expected to also feature the trademark S Pen stylus, along with many usual flagship staples like the iris scanner, USB Type-C port and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
Possible Pitfalls And Troubling Issues
Of course, not all the leaks and rumours about the Note 8 are positive. Reports suggest that Samsung has been unsuccessful in integrating the fingerprint sensor with the display itself. This is due to an inability to colour match the sensor area with the rest of the display. This is an issue that Apple themselves have been struggling with as well. Ultimately, this could result in an awkwardly placed fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone, once again. This was one of the biggest drawbacks of the Galaxy S8, one which Samsung must avoid at any cost.
There is also the issue of pricing. Some leaks suggest that the Note 8 could be priced at around $1100, making it Samsung’s most expensive smartphone ever. In fact, this price is possibly even higher than what the iPhone 8 is expected to cost. Such extravagant pricing could definitely impact sales, and consumers might turn to cheaper alternatives.
However, the fact remains that, if done right, the Note 8 could end up a thumping success. With reports of supply issues surrounding the launch of the iPhone 8 and the sheer amount of innovation Samsung is pushing, the Note 8 could accomplish the dual role of beating the iPhone 8 and wiping the unpleasant memories of the Note 7 from consumer minds.