If you've looked into buying a new phone, or upgrading your current one this summer, you know that almost everyone advises against it. This has nothing to do with the quality of the phones on the market — the iPhone 7 Plus and Galaxy S8 are both worthy of your money — and everything to do with promising rumors of new models coming soon.
Today marks the first official look at one of these: Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note8, a phone with an impressive screen, powerful camera, and useful messaging tools.
The most noticeable difference between the Galaxy Note8 and the Galaxy S8 and S8+ is the size. The Note8 is slightly larger with a bigger infinity display (the screen curves at the phone's edges) that looks ideal for streaming Game of Thrones when you can't watch on a widescreen TV. The Note8's 6.3-inch display is significantly bigger than the iPhone 7 Plus's 5.5-inch HD display.
The smart phone also has one thing many iPhone users have long requested: multi-window mode. The means you can read a text while watching a YouTube video. If there are two apps you tend to use together, you can pair them so that they'll launch at the same time. It's multitasking at your fingertips.
Wider screen and multi-window mode aside, there are a couple of key features Samsung touted in today's announcement:
A camera that anticipates you'll change your mind.
Apple changed the smartphone camera game with the iPhone 7 Plus's two, 12-megapixel wide-angle and telephoto lenses. The Note8 makes a similar play for best in show with two 12-megapixel rear cameras that both have optical image stabilization to correct your shaky hand, ensuring clearer photos. There's also an eight-megapixel front-facing camera, so you can take sharper selfies.
Two useful camera features on the Note8 are the Live Focus and Dual Capture tools. Live Focus creates an effect similar to the iPhone 7 Plus's portrait mode, focusing on a foreground subject and blurring the background. But unlike the iPhone 7 Plus, the Note8 lets you add this effect or take it away after taking a photo. So if you change your mind, you're not stuck with the photo you took. In Dual Capture mode the camera takes two photos at once, one from each lens. This means you can have a close-up shot and a shot that shows the background landscape in its entirety.
More personalized messaging.
Tucked away in the bottom of the Note8 is the S Pen, a stylus that easily pops out and is a trademark of Samsung's Galaxy Note line (the S Pen is not part of the S8 or S8+). If you're someone who likes to do elaborate drawings on your Snaps, markup emails, or edit photos on your phone, the S Pen is especially useful for that.
Note8 also has a new Live Messages tool that is similar to Apple's digital touch feature, which lets you send a text in your own handwriting. At a glance, the benefit of using the S Pen over your finger is that you have more control over what you draw or write (unless you're especially adept with your fingertip). Then again, you might not care if that hand drawn heart is less than perfect.
The most promising S Pen feature is the Always On display, which lets you leave a to-do list or any reminders on your lock screen without unlocking your phone. (Like the S8 and S8+, the Note8 has both fingerprint and iris scanning when you're ready to unlock the phone.)
Other additions to the Note8 that aren't new to Samsung phones, but are useful to know about, include fast wireless charging capabilities and water and dust resistance.
Samsung hasn't announced the price of the Galaxy Note8 yet, but you can pre-order the phone in two colors, midnight black and orchid gray, starting tomorrow, August 24, at Samsung.com. The phone will hit stores on September 15, 2017.
However, if you've waited all summer to get a new phone, you might as well wait a little longer: Apple is expected to announce the next iPhone in early September. After that reveal is done and reviews of both phones start rolling in, you'll be able to truly decide which phone is lucky enough to take your selfies.