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First look review: Samsung’s massive new Galaxy Note 8

Impressive sounding features include dual rear cameras and an upgraded stylus, but what does this really mean, and is it a phone worthy of note?

Samsung has unveiled the new Galaxy Note 8 smartphone to the world, a huge handset designed for productivity.

It’s fair to say that Samsung has a lot to prove with the Note 8 smartphone, as last year’s Samsung Galaxy Note 7 had a tumultuous and short-lived existence. Faulty battery cells caused some models to explode, which ultimately led to the Galaxy Note 7 being pulled from shelves.

In an attempt to address people’s concerns, Samsung is keen to emphasise its new system of battery checks, to help ensure history does not repeat itself with the Note 8.

The new smartphone has an astonishingly large 6.3-inch screen, dual rear cameras, an upgraded stylus, and a range of other features to make you want to part with your cash.

But is it worth it? We’ve got our hands on it, to bring you our full first impressions – head to our Samsung Galaxy Note 8 first look review to find out whether it’s a phone truly worth considering. Below, we give you a taster of what to expect. Short on time? Watch our short first look video:

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 costs a whopping £869 to buy outright. You can pre-order it now, and it should arrive on shelves on Friday 15 September.

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The Galaxy Note 8’s massive display

There’s no escaping it – the Note 8’s 6.3-inch display is absolutely huge. You might want a larger screen if you like to watch a lot of videos and play games, but some will find it just a little too palm-stretching for comfortable everyday use.

To try to bat away this inevitable criticism, Samsung has made the Note 8’s aspect ratio 18.5:9. This means it’s slightly more than twice as long as it is wide, to make using it with one hand more feasible.

Many pre-launch rumours alluded to a 4K display, but it’s actually quad HD+. This amounts to 2,960×1,440 pixels, which means that on-screen colours and graphics should be brought to life beautifully.

The first Samsung phone with dual rear cameras

We’re seeing more and more phones with two rear cameras, and the Note 8 jumps on this trend.

Each of the Note 8’s rear snappers are 12Mp, but one is a telephoto lens while the other is wide-angle. The point of this is to let you use ‘optical zoom’, to zoom in on an object without losing detail or clarity. Both lenses also have optical image stabilisation, so you shouldn’t notice too much blur even when taking a snap on the move.

For those looking for a smartphone that lets them take more artistic shots, the Note 8 could be a good choice. The cameras have something called Live Focus, which means you can play around with background blur while you’re taking a photo.

What’s an S-Pen and why should I care?

The Note 8 is marketed towards those who want their smartphone to allow them to be productive, and who like to work on the go. One of the ways that Samsung has tried to appeal to these people is with the Note 8’s S-Pen.

This is a stylus with which you write directly on the screen, for quickly making notes, drawing pictures, and more. You might find this handy if you want to jot down your tasks for the day, or a shopping list.

It’s designed to work as similarly as possible to a normal pen. For instance, your writing or drawing should look bolder if you press harder on the screen, or thinner if you adopt a lighter touch.

One of the S-Pen’s features we really like is that you can write on the display even when it’s off, and your notes will be saved for later – useful if you’re quickly noting someone’s contact details.

You can even use the Note 8’s S-Pen for translating whole sentences. For instance, you can take a photo of a foreign newspaper’s front page while you’re on holiday, and use the stylus to translate the headline.

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