One Year With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Always a Good Choice?


The Galaxy Note 8 was launched in late summer 2017 at a price of 999 euros, making it one of the most expensive smartphones of the period. However, this long-term test shows that it is possible to obtain an excellent device at significantly lower costs. In fact, those who are not used to buying one flagship per year can save a lot of money.

The price of the Galaxy Note 8 will be enough to convince you

For now, the lowest price ever achieved by the Galaxy Note 8 is 399 euros, really great for a smartphone like this one. I never thought I’d see him fall so hard after only a year and a half. But why buy a smartphone launched in 2017 in 2019? Meanwhile, we’ve seen smartphones of the calibre of the F1 Pocophone that, at the same price, are able to offer a more powerful alternative.

However, even after all this time, I can assure you that Note 8 can do much more and is able to outperform many of its younger competitors.

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One Year With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Always a Good Choice?

The F1 Pocophone is undoubtedly a successful smartphone, but it wouldn’t stand up to the same test. © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

So my reasoning is this: better old high-end smartphones than mediocre new ones. The Galaxy Note 8 was designed without compromise from the start. In fact, the idea behind these schemes is that those who invest EUR 1 000 have no reason to do so again the following year.

The Galaxy Note 8 is suitable for families

My daughter recently turned one and is at the stage where she is…

  • four-legged ramp everywhere
  • opens cupboards and drawers
  • put anything in your mouth
  • object destruction
  • throw things on the table

One Year With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Always a Good Choice?

Thanks to Gorilla Glass 5, the Galaxy Note 8 survives a pleasant rubbing on the tiled floor. © AndroidPIT

As you can imagine, my Galaxy Note 8 immediately became her favourite toy. One morning, I found her leaning against her smartphone with all her weight on it. Poor Note was standing with the screen facing the tiled floor. When I finally managed to intervene, I inspected the screen protected by the Gorilla Glass 5 and… not even a scratch!

Combined with the IP68 certification that protects it from water and dust, the Galaxy Note 8 managed to survive all my daughter’s torture and I could often wash it with fresh water.

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One Year With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Always a Good Choice?

Note 8 can be rinsed with fresh water thanks to the IP68 certification. © AndroidPIT

Updates to Galaxy Note 8 are still current

The toughest survival test has been passed, but what should make me think about recommending the purchase of this smartphone? That’s why it’s time to take a look at the software. After all, what is the point of having such powerful hardware with obsolete software?

As a fan of Android action, I’ve always been skeptical about Samsung software, especially when it comes to system updates or monthly security patches. The manufacturer equips its smartphones with its customized version of the Android operating system, which includes several changes both aesthetically and functionally. This is usually one of the causes of delays in the distribution of major updates. However, I was positively surprised by how often Samsung still manages to update this smartphone today.

Long-term support with software updates also looks promising for the best smartphones from the South Korean manufacturer, even if in the past it behaved differently.

One Year With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Always a Good Choice?

Samsung’s high-end smartphones do not receive security patches until a few days after their release. Some even up to four years after release. © AndroidPIT

The biggest update like Android 9 Pie arrived in March, about six months after its official release by Google. However, this delay is justified by the fact that Samsung has almost completely redesigned its user interface, renamed One UI. One of the features I really appreciated was the dark mode, which allowed me to get a little more battery life by taking full advantage of the beautiful Super AMOLED screen.

  • These features will allow you to take full advantage of One UI

One Year With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Always a Good Choice?

Smartphones should not be placed on the edge of the table. Especially when there are children lurking around… © AndroidPIT

What I liked about the Galaxy Note 8

The official LED case

The official LED case is highly recommended for all Note 8 owners. Not only does it protect your smartphone on all sides from bumps and scratches, the LEDs also display various quick information, such as missed calls or music playback status.

One Year With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Always a Good Choice?

The LED case not only protects the Note 8. It also offers useful additional features. © AndroidPIT

Edge screen really helps me

Among the myriad of features that Note 8 can offer at the software level, only the panel on the Edge side really fascinated me. Whichever application is open in the foreground, scroll from the screen on the right and you’ll see a small list of your favourite applications or contacts.

One Year With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Always a Good Choice?

The side panel of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 can be extensively customized. © AndroidPIT

A good photophone

Although Samsung has improved its sensors on its flagship smartphones year after year, the Galaxy Note 8 is still a great camera for taking pictures in all situations. This makes this smartphone significantly better than many competing products. When you open the camera application, you’ll never feel frustrated: it opens instantly and you’re immediately ready to take pictures. On the video side, Note 8 also gives complete satisfaction!

  • This is what the dual camera of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is capable of.

What I don’t like about the Galaxy Note 8

After spending all this time with the Galaxy Note 8, I also noticed some weaknesses in this device. Samsung could correct some aspects, but for others it’s very unlikely since they were intentionally intended. All this tarnishes the praise I wanted to give the South Korean manufacturer…

One Year With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Always a Good Choice?

Not all aspects of Samsung software are pleasant / © AndroidPIT

I want to manage applications to keep them running…

Like many other manufacturers today, Samsung has equipped its Android version with several power-saving features that unfortunately always come at the expense of ease of use.

After doing a little configuration, I found that it is impossible to use applications that have to do with geofencing and Smart Home, such as the Tado° thermostats or the Athom Homey. They should have automatically turned off the heat or the lights when I left my apartment, but… it never worked.

This is because Note 8 aggressively closes applications in the background and, as a result, they are unable to perform their task. Heating and other gadgets must therefore be operated by hand. I wonder if the problem also occurs when using Samsung’s SmartThings platform.

…and those that are not.

I haven’t had a Facebook account since last year and not being able to uninstall the application is a pain in the ass. You can only remove it by using a command line string. However, even in this way, the application still remains in the system, so any software updates could bring it back to the forefront. Is it too much to ask to completely uninstall applications I don’t need? This wish will probably never come true!

  • Why I don’t use Facebook (or its alternatives) on Android

One Year With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Always a Good Choice?

Facebook and Microsoft applications can only be disabled by experienced users. © AndroidPIT

The same applies to applications owned by Microsoft. Since I’ve been using Google’s cloud services, but I’m trying to gradually move to NextCloud, I’ll probably never touch the Redmond giant’s applications. These applications, like Facebook, are pre-installed on all Samsung devices but cannot be uninstalled.

The only solution would be to unlock the bootloader and install a custom ROM. Lineage OS 16 based on Android 9 Pie is not yet officially available for Galaxy Note 8 and has some bugs that affect the fingerprint sensor and the S-Pen.

1000 functions from Note 8 that I have never used before

Like many other Samsung device owners, I found myself immersed in a myriad of features I had never used before. However, those that are considered useless cannot be uninstalled and it takes up memory for no reason.

Samsung DeX

One of the most interesting innovations, first on the Galaxy S8 and then on Note 8, was DeX. Besides not having the right accessory to take advantage of this feature, I’ve never been particularly interested in trying it out. On the other hand, the Linux feature on DeX (available only on Note 9) makes sense, but in my case I couldn’t have tried it anyway.

The office experience that Samsung claims is not at all what one would expect. Almost no application available on the Play Store has ever been optimized to run on a larger screen.

Furthermore, I don’t understand why Samsung thought of offering the desktop mode only in combination with the expensive accessory. Huawei’s solution is undoubtedly better: Easy Projection is integrated into the smartphone itself and can be used completely wirelessly.

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One Year With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Always a Good Choice?

DeX must replace the PC in an emergency. But Android is not the right operating system for this task. © AndroidPIT

Iris recognition

I wear glasses, and as such, I should have removed them every time I tried to unlock them by scanning the iris. And then you have to wait, because this biometric system is incredibly slow when it works. After several unsuccessful attempts to register my eyes, I switched to simple facial recognition or, alternatively, fingerprint scanning.

  • How does facial recognition on our smartphones work?

One Year With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Always a Good Choice?

After this test, I removed Note 8 from my daughter’s claws / © AndroidPIT

S-Pen

I barely used it, mostly because I wanted to hide it from my daughter. I’ll be honest, I’ve only used it a few times while I was immersed in my bathtub, because it’s the only way to make the best use of Note 8 when you have wet fingers.

On other occasions, however, I’ve never had to use it before, let alone its countless software features. The Screen-Off-Memo could be useful to many, but personally I had trouble deciphering my problematic handwriting.

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10: the S-Pen will have its own camera

One Year With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Always a Good Choice?

I’m sure the S-Pen is useful to a lot of people. © AndroidPIT

Always On

Because of the coverage, I was never able to use the permanent Alwyas On display of Note 8. To be honest, by the way, I don’t understand why such a feature is allowed when LED notification is not!

Bixby

Samsung would like Bixby to become a real alternative to Google Assistant and Alexa, but at the moment I don’t think it can compete with Siri either. After updating the phonebook to the new software version, the Samsung wizard also speaks Italian, but the problem is that the support came too late and Google and Amazon have now taken over.

Of course, Bixby could be very useful for users who use home automation via Samsung Smart Things, but the high prices of compatible products discourage many.

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One Year With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Always a Good Choice?

Bixby can also recognize and translate text live with Bixby Vision. © AndroidPIT

Is it still worth buying a Galaxy Note 8 in 2019?

Absolutely, yes, I highly recommend it, but if you’re not interested in the S-Pen like me, you can opt for cheaper, like the Galaxy S9 or S9+, devices younger than the 2017 Note. The quality of the hardware, materials and construction is virtually identical, as is the software aspect.

In any case, in general, I absolutely recommend buying the previous year’s top-of-the-line products online, especially since it will be almost impossible to find bargains in consumer electronics stores.