Like it or not, DxOMark is currently the go-to tester for smartphone camera quality. Companies will even base their marketing around its scores. As such, it’s a big deal when the outfit declares a new winner… and it just declared two. DxOMark has given Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 an overall score of 94, putting it in a tie for the lead with the iPhone 8 Plus. No, that’s not going to trigger endless fan wars, is it? Of course, diving into the scores reveals that the devices reached their scores through different means.
The Note 8’s advantages chiefly come through its secondary camera, relatively noiseless low-light photography and lightning-quick autofocus. Of the two, Samsung’s phone is the one you’d want for portraits or capturing a fast-moving scene. The iPhone, on the other hand, has exceptional high dynamic range performance, accurate face exposure and great overall video performance, particularly with stabilization. And both have their weak points, as you might imagine. The Note 8 has a fairly limited dynamic range that results in lost detail in extreme situations, and has white balance problems in bright lighting or indoors. Apple’s device occasionally struggles with autofocus, doesn’t always nail the color cast in low lighting and has visible noise in low-light video.
The question is: how much does this influence your choice of device? Frankly, it’s complicated. Some of it clearly depends on personal preference based on your photography habits: you may pick the iPhone if you prefer a more accurate color range, or the Note 8 if you enjoy low-light shooting. This also assumes you treat DxOMark’s scores as canonical — it can’t account for every situation with tests, and it may downplay factors that you consider crucial. And of course, there’s the simple matter of liking the rest of the phone. If you’re a hardcore Android or iOS fan, even the best camera in history probably wouldn’t convince you to switch sides.
With phone screens getting bigger and bigger, the Galaxy Note doesn’t quite stand out the way it used to. The Note 8’s 6.3-inch screen is only a tad larger than the 6.2 inches boasted by the Galaxy S8+, and both devices share the same Snapdragon 835 processor. Still, the Note 8 has a few things to set itself apart, including a new dual camera setup like the one on the soon-to-replaced iPhone 7 Plus. Check out the table below to see what Samsung’s latest large-screen handset is packing under the hood versus other notable flagships, and check back for our full review of the Galaxy Note 8 in a few weeks.
Samsung isn’t letting the Galaxy Note 7’s battery failure hinder the release schedule for its next pen-toting smartphone. A Reuters source understands that Samsung is planning a New York City launch event for the Galaxy Note 8 in August, or roughly around the same time as it introduced the Note 7 last year. The tipster hasn’t revealed many details of the phone itself, but does appear to corroborate earlier rumors. It’ll have a curved screen slightly larger than the 6.2-inch display on the Galaxy S8 Plus, the source says, and there should be an iPhone 7 Plus-like dual camera setup on the back.
There’s no indication that Samsung is being overly hasty in launching the Note 8 on a familiar schedule. The safety processes that emerged from the Note 7 debacle were already in place for the S8, which isn’t known to have run into any battery fires so far. In other words, there’s no reason why it can’t get back to business as usual.
All the same, it’s apparent that Samsung still feels pressured to launch the new Note sooner than later. It not only has to worry about courting skittish buyers (particularly fans who had to return their Note 7s), but preempting what could be one of the larger iPhone launches in recent memory. If it can deliver the Note 8 in August, it might steal a bit of Apple’s thunder and hold on to customers that might otherwise look for alternatives.
As Samsung was readying the Galaxy S8, everyone wondered if the company would be able to recover from the disastrous, exploding Note 7. From a pure quality of hardware perspective, the S8 appears to be a home run — as long as nothing unexpected happens. The other question is whether customers would reject Samsung after the hit it took last year, but it sounds like that hasn’t happened: Samsung says that pre-orders for the S8 and S8+ were the best it has ever seen.
Specifically, the company says that pre-sales for the two devices were up 30 percent compared to the Galaxy S7 pre-orders from 2016. Samsung said the S7 was the previous best launch it had, but now that title is held by the company’s latest smartphone. Of course, Samsung isn’t giving us any hard numbers so it’s hard to say just how well this launch went compared to how the iPhone 7 went last fall, for example. But in July, Samsung will report its quarterly financials — and we’ll get a better idea of how the S8’s launch affected the company’s bottom line then.
In the meantime, Galaxy S8 owners will have a software update to keep an eye out for. It’s a fix for the first little bug to plague the phone: a screen that looks to be more red-tinted than most would like. Samsung confirmed there’s nothing wrong with the phone’s screen and said that a software update adjusting the screen’s color calibration will be coming this week.
Reports that a Galaxy Note 7 issued as a replacement caught fire on an airplane may be too much for at least one carrier. Bloomberg cites a single unnamed source claiming that AT&T is “considering” stopping sales of the troubled phone based on that incident. Although AT&T (along with Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) have already issued statements indicating that customers can return or exchange their replacement phones, this would go a step further. The rumored deadline for the decision is Friday, which would put pressure on Samsung to figure out what’s going here.
While phones that weren’t recalled have caught fire on flights before, like this iPhone that grounded an Alaska Airlines flight in March, the spate of problems with the Galaxy Note 7 and subsequent recall have everyone, understandably, on high alert.
Tonight, Samsung issued a statement indicating it’s continuing to look into this latest incident, we’ll see what happens next.
Samsung understands the concern our carriers and consumers must be feeling after recent reports have raised questions about our newly released replacement Note7 devices.
We continue to move quickly to investigate the reported case to determine the cause and will share findings as soon as possible.
We remain in close contact with the CPSC throughout this process.
If we conclude a safety issue exists, we will work with the CPSC to take immediate steps to address the situation.
We want to reassure our customers that we take every report seriously and we appreciate their patience as we work diligently through this process.”
iFixit, famous destroyer of gadgets for the good of all humankind, has busted out its arsenal of teardown tools to take apart a Samsung Galaxy Note 7. In the team’s quest to see every single component inside the phone, they found several sealed components that make the device waterproof. If you’ll recall, the phone is rated IP68, which means it can withstand being submerged for up to 30 minutes or five feet underwater. The teardown reveals that the company achieved that rating by protecting the device’s headphone jack with a sealing gasket, the speaker with several layers of material and its S Pen chamber with copious amounts of glue, among other measures.
The teardown also confirms what people already know: the Note 7 has its cousins’ (the S7s’) main camera, flash memory and gyroscope. It even has a nearly identical chipset. The newer phone has a third camera, though, that it uses as its iris scanner. When it comes to battery, it’s not quite as good as the S7 Edge’s, but as we mentioned in our review, the difference is barely noticeable. Further, its batter is “significantly more powerful” than the one found in the iPhone 6s Plus. Besides examining the phone itself, iFixit has taken a closer look at the S Pen, as well. The phone’s stylus is apparently more sensitive than both Apple’s Pencil and the Surface Pen.
Overall, the device got a low repairability rating due to its modular components, but iFixit says it still “lives up to the hype.” You can see the whole teardown on the team’s website or watch the highlights below.