Saturday, April 13, 2013

What to love about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Today, April 13, 2013, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 comes to Philippine shores!

I had the chance to hold and play around with some of the features of this new phablet (phone + tablet), which looks and feels like the giant version of my Galaxy S3.

First, some general specs:

Screen size: 8" diagonally
Processor: 1.6Ghz quad core
Memory: 2GB RAM, 16GB capacity expandable to 64GB with a micro SD
Cameras: 5MP (rear), 1.3MP (front)
OS: Jellybean 4.1.2
Battery: 4,600 mAh
Weight: 340g (Wifi), 345g (3G/LTE)
Built-in accessory: S Pen

The Galaxy Note 8 appears to be Samsung's answer to the iPad Mini but Apple fans will dispute that. Critics of Samsung devices refer to the housing as "plastic" but I think that is why they could make devices that are so light (first time I held my Galaxy S3 I thought the battery was not attached because it was that light). It also makes the back cover that much easier to remove to change battery.

Here are a few photos I took of its external features.

See how my Galaxy Note 1 compares in size to the Galaxy Note 8

Bottom view showing 2 speakers and the charging port

Upper right side view (power, volume control, infrared)

Back side showing the 5MP rear cam and micro SD slot on the left side

S Pen slot found on lower right of tablet

But the secret attraction of the Galaxy Note 8 is in the many features packed into it that are not just techie but cater precisely to things that consumers like me would enjoy in their device.  Let's go through some of them.

Multi Window

Because it runs on Jellybean 4.1.2, the Galaxy Note 8 has the Multi Window option and that actually works very well for multitaskers because the screen is much bigger. I deactivated Multi Window on my Galaxy S3 though because there is no way I can do 2 tasks with the tinier screen.

Multi Window feature allows you to drag
2 apps from left. Screen splits in 2 and you can work
on both without closing apps.
How Multi Window looks (Contacts on top, iTunes below)

E-Reading Experience Enhanced

With my iPad I have always had difficulty reading e-books. In low light, the glare of the screen, even at its dimmest setting, is just too much for my eyes. Reading Mode automatically adjusts brightness, color temperature and contrast ratio settings to the most optimal settings so that even prolonged reading won't lead to eyestrain. Smart Stay detects your face and checks when your eyes are on the screen; when it senses you are reading, the screen won't turn off. And the S Pen lets you write memos or annotations on the margins. On print books, I never write on the pages because that is how much I love books and want them in pristine condition. If you are like me, you'd love this one because you can write comments, highlight, underline etc.

For someone who does not like to write on book,
this neat feature solves my dilemma

S Pen to the nth Power!

I just said that the S Pen makes notation on e-books easier. Here are a few more things that the S Pen lets you do.

Air View: Just by hovering the S Pen, you can preview contents of your S Note, email, video, photo and S Planner without opening up the app.

Easy Clip: Instantly outline, crop and edit

Quick Command: Frequently used apps or actions can be activated quickly with the S Pen

Direct scribbles on the S Planner: On my Galaxy Note (Note 1), I could open up an event and add a scribbled memo using the S Pen. On the Galaxy Note 8, aside from memos within events, I could write directly on the month view of the S Planner like this.

Scribbling directly on the planner is cool!
Unleashing Creativity with New Tools

Expressing, designing, sketching - all made easier with new features on the Galaxy Note 8.

Idea Sketch: There are 250 preloaded templates and so much more downloadable from the server to make designing and digital publishing possible. If I scribbled "Computer" on S Note, the Note 8 would then fetch the visual version of "computer". You can choose from several it may find, or download others from the Samsung server.

I scribbled "Computer" using the S Pen...

...and this is what Idea Sketch presented to me.

Photo Note: Do you remember back then when we had analog photos on film paper and we'd write a dedication at the back or jot down when/where the picture was taken? You can't do that anymore with digital pictures, right? WRONG! With Photo Note on the Galaxy Note 8, you can choose a digital picture, flip it right around, and with the S Pen, scribble anything you want down!

I chose a digital pic of the food we had on the table...

...and scribbled this on its digital back. Neat!
Paper Artist: Choose from a wide range of picture editing effects to transform one photo into one that exudes art.

Took a picture of my fruit juice and applied the Epic filter on Paint Artist
Awesome Note App

Daily diary, journal, photo album, travel diary, checklist, shopping list, to-do list and anniversary manager are all in this app. I was not able to play around with it that much but the app looked pretty organized. Now, as to whether it will ever replace Evernote or Springpad or some other similar app remains to be seen.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is retailing at P23,990 for the 16GB 3G version. The WIFI version is available from Sun at Plan 1699.

First impressions: Price-wise, it will give the iPad Mini a run for its money. While not that far from the price of the iPad Mini, the ability to extend capacity to 64GB via a micro SD is a big plus. Samsung has indeed given consumers a lot of practical and artistic features built into this phablet. I think their bells and whistles are what initially made the S3 so successful and with the Galaxy Note 8, you get even more. However, if you are heavily invested in iOS apps, especially if there are no Android equivalents, that may make you think twice about moving from iOS to Android. A phablet, with its ability to make phone calls, means you need to carry one less gadget with you. How convenient it would be to make calls from this, however, will take getting used to and will mean a switch in how one makes phone calls.

There is an ongoing "First Day Offer" over at Mall of Asia (MOA). Lucky buyers of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 can romp off with a Galaxy Note II or a Galaxy S III.


  1. Can I take the back off mii galaxy 8.0.???

    1. no, you cant take out the back or the battery... its just the way it is..

  2. what is the application you use to get the e-reading experience?

    1. Any e-reader app will do. I use Kindle, Pocket and Bluefire Reader.

    2. samsung Reader's hub app!