Samsung brings huge, powerful and pricey Note 8 to the UAE

Samsung makes a big statement with the impressive Note 8. Dh3,399 is a lot to pay for a phone, but that hasn't stopped GCC pre-order sales of the device reaching four times that of the ill-fated Note 7

Galaxy Note 8

Samsung has launched its most anticipated ─ and expensive ─ smartphone, the Note 8, in the UAE and wider Gulf. Buyers who had pre-ordered their Note 8 should expect to start receiving their devices from Wednesday, while others need to wait until September 22 to get their hands on the smartphone, which retails at Dh3,399.

Galaxy Note 8
The Galaxy Note 8, seen here in maple gold

The 6.3-inch phablet is the South Korean tech giant’s largest smartphone yet. It builds on the Infinity Display design we first saw in the nearly bezel-free S8 launched earlier this year. The Note 8 takes Android Nougat’s multitasking feature one step forward with App Pair, which lets users launch complementary apps side by side. For example, Gmail and Evernote.

For productive pen users

The Note 8’s Quad HD+ Super AMOLED screen was developed with multitasking in mind ─ something the line-up’s indispensable S Pen stylus is prepared to take full advantage of. “It has 4,096 sensitivity points on its tip,” Tarek Sabbagh, Head of IT and Mobiles at Samsung Gulf Electronics, tells #GNTECH on the sidelines of the event held at the newly opened Rixos Premium hotel. “The Note 7 had the same 0.7mm stylus tip, but the device didn’t really get the chance to showcase its capabilities.” One example of this is in the S Pen’s translation feature in Air Command. “With the Note 7, the S Pen could translate one word at a time. With the Note 8, it can translate a full sentence at once.” The stylus can also convert units and foreign currencies you highlight.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8
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The S Pen also comes with a new multitasking feature called Glance, which allows users to work on two apps without having to divide the screen up or switch between them proper. For example, if you have an Excel sheet and calculator app running at the same time, Glance minimises the former to the right corner of the screen. If you hover the S Pen over the small window, it will maximise the Excel sheet, though not as a full window. You can give it a quick once-over, then minimise it to go back to where you were. Just put the Excel sheet on the Glance part, in the right corner of the screen. You have your calculator on, just hover over window, see the Excel document, then move back to the calculator to key in the numbers you read from the sheet. It’s quicker than switching between full-window apps.

Camera king

The Galaxy Note 8 is the first smartphone with two 12MP rear cameras with optical image stabilisation (OIS) on both wide-angle and telephoto lenses. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 8
The first smartphone camera with a dual OIS camera. This should help reduce blur in even the shakiest photographers work

For more advanced photo-taking, the Galaxy Note 8’s Live Focus feature lets you control the depth of field by allowing you to adjust the bokeh effect ─ similar to the iPhone’s Portrait Mode ─ in preview mode and after you take the photo. The wide-angle lens has a Dual Pixel sensor with rapid auto focus, which Samsung says can capture sharper, clearer shots even in low-light environments. The new Note is also equipped with what the brand says is an industry-leading 8MP smart auto focus front-facing camera for sharp selfies and video chats.

Is the Note 8 worth it?

There’s no doubt that the Galaxy Note 8 offers an impressive array of features, from its beautifully designed Infinity Display to the genuinely useful S Pen and it associated productivity features and creative potential.

However, this is a 64GB smartphone that is retailing for Dh3,399. By comparison, the less eye-catching but still impressive Oneplus 5 packs Qualcomm’s best Snapdragon 835 processor (the Note 8 in the US has this too ─ the rest of the world gets an in-house developed Exynos 8895 processor), 128GB of storage (though there’s no microSD slot) and 8GB of RAM for about Dh2,000 ─ Dh1,400 less than the Note 8. Both devices have the same 3,300mAh battery capacity.

But the Note 8 does offer something new in the power department: fast wireless charging. Purchase one of Samsung’s wireless charging pads and you can dispense with having to worry about wires. The Note 8 also beats the OP 5 in the waterproofing department, has the S Pen as well as the option to purchase a wide range of cool, useful accessories.

People have been voting with their wallets, explains Sabbagh. He says GCC pre-orders of the phablet from August 24 until September 9 were four times higher than they were over the same period in the region for the Note 7. While Sabbagh can’t reveal GCC figures, he says that day one pre-order sales of the Note 8 in South Korea were 395,000. It’s predecessor sold 380,000 in the first 13 days of pre-order availability for that market.

The Note 8 is currently available in midnight black, orchid gray and maple gold.