Note8 review: super premium Android


It’s the time of the year that all the iPhone and Note reviews are taking the world by storm. I’m a Nexus user but this year I have used iPhones, cheap Nokias and now, my most expensive phone ever a Galaxy Note8. Time for a recap.

Samsung revamped their flagship lineup with the longer Infinity Display that makes everything else look outdated. The curved bezel-less display is the one to beat at the moment. Samsung has also stepped up their game with the build quality since they last visited my daily driver treatment. Starting from the Galaxy S6, Samsung has been crushing the build quality game with glass and metal sandwich that allows features like wireless charging in an absolutely beautiful body. The Note8 is the first Samsung to rock a dual camera setup. Also onboard, is the S-Pen, an iconic Note feature for precise control over the huge screen. This should be the ultimate smartphone of 2017.

Starting from the packaging, Samsung really wants this to be a Premium device. Included in the box are USB on-the-go adapter, type-C to micro-USB adapter, S-Pen replacement tips, premiumish AKG earbuds and a surprisingly low-amp charger. I would personally appreciate a case of some sort as at least now, the 3rd party cases are very poorly available in Europe, and even the Samsung’s own high-priced cases are out of stock everywhere. The rear glass needs protection for sure. The Gorilla Glass 5 is a tiny bit softer than the Gorilla Glass 4 and at least the 4 is very easy to get scratched by just laying it down to a wrong place with any kind of stone or sand nearby.

Physical features are brilliant. We have the 3.5mm headphone jack down at the bottom next to the USB type-C charging port, a mono speaker and the S-Pen silo. On the top, is the dual nano-SIM or one nano-SIM and a microSD slot. Buttons are great but there’s one too much of them. Luckily the single press feature of the Bixby button can now easily be disabled. The home button is now virtual but thanks to the pressure sensitive display, it’s available even when the screen is off or the navigation bar is hidden.

At this point, I decided to keep this review a bit shorter, and get to the critic part of the review. Continuing with the navigation bar. Why would anyone want to hide it on this long display? Samsung hasn’t made the navigation bar transparent or even match the color to the content. There are only a few lame options. Continuing with the software, the device maintenance is, to be honest, annoying. The darn thing wants to shut down apps I use. One day I took almost 900 photos and in the evening, I uploaded them to my Google Photos and OneDrive. Samsung software just shut them down for consuming too much power. Thanks. Also, the device maintenance always reminds me in the notification bar because it wants to disable my Freedome VPN. There is always an orange number on the settings button to show the number of the so-called problems.

The weirdest thing is the amount of Samsung bloatware. If Google already provides apps for everything, why does Samsung waste resources to thing like browser, calendar, calculator, clock, app store, SMS-app, phone, email app and so on and so on. A Nexus user just didn’t settle. I tried to setup my Action Launcher and disabling a bunch of Samsung bloat but no, I’m going back to the Nexus once again.

I’m not saying the Note8 is a bad phone, I just didn’t get used to it. This is a $1000 phone, I shouldn’t get used to it, it should be perfect. The display for example, is stunning. Of course, I turned on the maximum resolution and upped the brightness to a reasonable level and what can I say, can display be better? Blacks are black, colors are either oversaturated or accurate depending on your choice. The max brightness is so high that some would even consider throwing in a Note7 joke here.

The camera is great. I wouldn’t take 900 photos one day, if the camera wasn’t great. Shutter lag is minimal, portrait mode works fine, videos are brilliant. There’s just something missing. The images are a bit soft to my liking but very comparable to the iPhone 7 I have in my other pocket. In low light, at least with the current software, the Note8 seems to make everything washed out. While my Nexus 6P and the iPhone can find black from a very dark scene, the Note produces quite grey result. The front facing camera is decent, nothing groundbreaking here.

Not able to add iPhone’s photo here because of the file type. You can check the low light comparison at my Instagram or Twitter.

Nothing groundbreaking under the hood either. The Note8 packs the same SoC the S8/+ had. There’s 2 gigs more RAM thought, making it to a total of 6 gigabytes. In some scenarios this is noticeable. For example, I have never had to reload my Chrome tabs. Even after a lot of cameraing, photo editing, Twitter, Instagram and so on, when I get back to Chrome, all my ten tabs are still there, ready to go. Being Samsung though, that’s not consistent. For example, leaving Instagram to send a message in Messenger, the Instagram sometimes randomly reloads and loses the place I was. Optimization issue probably.

The Note lineup used to be great for power users, content creators and consumers, and road warriors. However, after last year’s catastrophe, the Note8’s battery is relatively small in capacity. The 3300 mAh package didn’t make it through the day too often. The display is very power hungry, and all the Samsung features use power in the background. Those days I made I to the bed time with one charge, there were 10-20% left and 2.5 hours of screen-on-time. Keep in mind that I’m in Finland and no phone has ever lasted more than 3,5 hours SoT in my testing. Could have something to do with the cellular thingies.

LTE speeds here in Finland are quite decent

 

One more interesting note, I have all three phones on my desk at home connected to my WiFi. When I get a notification, email, YouTube, whatever, the iPhone wakes like 10 seconds before the Nexus. Samsung is probably trying to save some juice with the update frequency as the Note8 gets the same notifications another 10 seconds later.

In the Android smartphone market, manufacturers do different things to differentiate themselves from the mass. Lately, the newest trend is super premium class of smartphones on top of the normal flagship lineup. Note8 is Samsung’s super premium phone coming in at $1000. Note lineup used to be something else. For some reason, Samsung thinks it can charge a $1000 for a phone that really only has the best display on the market. Everything else is just a little bit of meh. But I bought one, now Samsung thinks it’s okay to price a phone at $1000. Personally, I think that Samsung had a better change to outsell Apple by lowering their prices, not by following iPhone pricing.

Nokia 6 goes official

nokia-6

The Nokia name is back with the new Nokia 6, built by HMD Global. The phone will be available in early 2017 but apparently only in China. 

The Nokia 6 will be available exclusively through JD.com in China. No word on global availability yet. The price is around $245 or 233€ (1699 CNY).

The Nokia 6 features an all aluminium unibody design, 2.5D Gorilla Glass and a 5.5″ Full HD IPS display. Powering the pixels, the Nokia 6 has a Snapdragon 430 with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and a 3000mAh battery. The Android Nougat operating system seems to have a skin on top of it.

Cameras are 16 and 8 megapixels, the main one featuring F/2.0 aperture and phase detection auto focus. The Nokia 6 also has Dolby Atmos support and dual amplifiers. The home button also acts as a fingerprint scanner.

Source: HMD Global, Nokia 6 product page

LG V20 goes official with Android Nougat

v20-colors

LG has released the new V20 smartphone, the first device to ship with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box.

Last year’s V10 was one of the best phones of the year but got almost no attention from the big audience. The V20 aims to change that but uses quite similar feature set. The V20 is targeted for power users, audiophiles and spec monsters. It certainly isn’t for everyone with its bulky size and drastically customized Android experience.

The LG V20 packs a 5.7″ 1440p IPS LCD display and an additional 1040 x 160 display on top of the main one. The additional display can show shortcuts, options, memos and more. The SoC package is typical for a 2016 flagship with Snapdragon 820 CPU, Adreno 530 GPU and 4 GB of LPDDR4 RAM. The 64 GB internal storage is expendable via a microSD card. Android 7.0 Nougat has been heavily customized by LG.

The body of the V20 is made out of aluminium but still has a user replaceable 3200 mAh battery. The rear panel opens like a door when pushing the side button that looks like a camera shooter button. The V20 also has MIL-STD-810 shock certification. Charging is done via a USB Type-C and the fingerprint scanner is placed on the back.

The V20 has three cameras. Two rear cameras and a front facer with two modes, normal and wide angle. The rear cameras are a 16 megapixel normal camera and an 8 megapixel wide angle shooter. On the video side, LG is the first to adopt Qualcomm’s new video stabilization.

LG has focused on audio. In some markets the V20 will ship with Bang & Olufsen headphones and sound tuning. The V20 can record better audio, although the 24-bit / 48 kHz or 192 kHz doesn’t make any difference for most people, probably for no one.

The V20 will ship in three colors, black, silver and pink. There’s no information about pricing or availability.

Source: LG

Samsung releases a voluntary recall campaign for the Note 7

note-7

Samsung has released a statement about Galaxy Note 7 and its battery issues. Current Note 7 owners can replace their phones over the upcoming weeks.

Samsung says that they have received 35 reports about faulty batteries. Reportedly those 35 batteries have exploded. Samsung has stopped shipping and selling new Note 7 units before all batteries have been checked.

As all Note 7 owners will be able to replace their device, this is probably the biggest smartphone recall ever. Samsung has expectedly sold around 500,000 Note 7 units to date.

Source: Samsung, SamMobile

Upcoming Nexus Launcher leaks

 

nexus-launcher-16

Android Police has released leaked images and animations that show upcoming changes to the home screen of Nexus devices. 

Android Police reminds that the leak is not absolutely sure but is at the same time very confident. This is the very first leak so we have no idea how correct it is.

According to the leaks, Google will remove the app drawer icon and replace it with a sliding gesture and a tiny arrow. The search bar would also be replaced by a G button on the top left and a date information widget on the right.

If the leak is correct, the new home screen design would be available for the 2016 Nexus phones first as a Nexus Launcher. There’s no information if it would became available for non-Nexus devices later.

Source and the animation: Android Police

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 goes official

Galaxy Note7

Samsung has released the highly anticipated Note 7 phablet. 

Thanks to the leaks, we already knew everything. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is not surprise for anyone. The beautiful IP68 certified metal and glass body packs a curved 5.7″ QHD Super AMOLED display, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage and a 3500 mAh battery. The CPU package is Snapdragon 820 in the States and Exynos 8890 in other markets.

Although Samsung skipped the Note 6, the Note 7 is just and incremental upgrade over the Note 5. It finally brings together the features many have wanted, curved screen, IP certification and the S-Pen. The Note 7 packs an iris scanner and the USB port has been updated to Type-C. Otherwise it is just a mix of Note 5 and Galaxy S7.

The Note 7 will be available on August 19th and preorders start tomorrow, August 3rd. The price will be higher than the S7 edge which currently costs around $800. No word on worldwide availability or exact pricing just yet.

Huawei Honor Note 8 – a 6.6″ monster

note-8

Huawei aims at the multimedia consumers with one of the biggest smartphones ever made, Honor Note 8.

A few years ago, we thought that smartphones will continue growing in physical size. However, the biggest widely known smartphones have been Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra and Samsung’s Galaxy Mega since 2013. Those phones were experiments that were proven too big.

However, Huawei has now released a new monster phone. This 6.6″ QHD giant is called Honor Note 8 and packs some serious hardware. The 2560 x 1440 display is Super AMOLED, probably Samsung made. Under the metal body is a Kirin 955 SoC and 4 GB of RAM and if the 32, 64 or 128 GB internal storage isn’t enough, the Note also has a microSD card slot. The battery is huge, 4500 mAh. All this runs Huawei’s UI on top of Android Marshmallow.

note-8-back

The phone’s design is absolutely beautiful with very Nexus 6P -like camera vizier and fingerprint scanner placement. The plastic strip on the back is also familiar as is the USB Type-C port on the bottom. The physical size of the device is massive, 178.8 x 90.9 x 7.2 mm and 219 g.

A phone of this size is not only very difficult to handle but also too large for most pockets. We are very interested to see if the Note 8 succeeds as that would mean yet another chapter to the book of new smartphone trends.

The Honor Note 8 is now available for preorders in China. Other markets will probably follow but nothing has been announced yet. Pricing in China equals something around $350 for the base model.

Source: Huawei