It's time for a PhoneDog Snapshot Review, where we take our typical two-part review and condense it down into a tiny little video that's loaded with information! Today, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0.
Is this new model better than the last?
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 brings a new tablet form factor into the Note family of devices. Featuring a 1.6 GHz quad-core Exynos processor, 2 GB of RAM, an 8-inch WXGA display, 5-megapixel camera, 4,600 mAh battery, and Android 4.1.2 with TouchWiz, the Note 8.0 is a nice little addition to the tablet space. It lands in retail stores on April 11th for $399.
What changes were made?
Note 8.0 isn't so much of a change as it is a new device for the company. First there was the Galaxy Note, followed by the Galaxy Note II, and the Galaxy Note 10.1. Both the Note 10.1 and Note 8.0 offer significant features over the traditional Galaxy Tab line of tablets - mostly due to the S Pen functionality.
How's the hardware?
In today's tech world, enthusiasts and consumers alike are beginning to cry for more metal and glass, and for those users, the Note 8.0 won't please. The Note 8.0 is made of similar materials as every other Samsung tablet and smartphone. If you believe the hardware to be sub-par, perhaps you'll enjoy the software goodies that are packed into the tablet.
Size-wise, it's smaller than the Note 10.1, and fits right in between it and the Galaxy Note II smartphone, bringing Note functionalities to a new crowd. The quad-core Exynos CPU and 2 GB of RAM enable the Note 8.0 to chug along without any hiccups. The 4,600 mAh battery, combined with the Wi-Fi-only connectivity (in the US), makes battery life impressive. I'm still working on final numbers, but I haven't charged the device yet, and with moderate use, it sits at around 70 percent.
How's the software?
Powered by Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the Note 8.0 features a similar (but tablet-centric) version of TouchWiz as the Galaxy Note II. It brings some of the best features, including Blocking Mode, Home Screen Mode, Reading Mode, Smart Stay (which analyzes when you're looking at the display and remains on accordingly), and more.
I really can't underscore how useful the S Pen functionality is once you become accustomed to the various features. The Note series has some features which I find particularly handy for both personal and professional uses, including instant cropping for emails, text messages, and the like; not to mention the S Memo functionality for jotting down quick notes.
What makes it different?
Like their smartphones, Samsung strives - and succeeds - in creating a software experience that goes above and beyond what stock Android offers. Samsung offers a ton of value-added software benefits on the tablet as I mentioned earlier, and with software features like WatchON, they continue to bring together elements of Samsung's other businesses. Much like Apple, part of Samsung's success is driven by their ecosystem as an organization.
What's great about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0?
I find the 7-8-inch size to be perfect for day-to-day use. It slips into my briefcase with ease and is small enough to hold in one hand. The S Pen is fantastic, and it offers great benefits for both work and pleasure. I use the S Pen functionality regularly to sign contracts and quickly grab screenshots, and the 4,600 mAh battery appears to be enough to make it through several days without charging (more on that in the full review).
What should be changed?
Personally, I find no issues with the build quality of the tablet - I find the Note 8.0 to be very sturdy, easy to hold, and relatively lightweight. That said, there's a demand for the metal and glass that is found on the iPad, iPhone, and HTC One - and it's an area that Samsung hasn't fleshed out to date. The screen could be slightly better as well; at 8-inches, I'd love to see a 1080p display on the tablet.
What's the real verdict?
Samsung has brought the software and S Pen features to a smaller (or bigger, if you're coming from the Note II) form factor, and it both fills a hole in the company's product lineup and continues to spread the Note message from the smartphone to the tablet space. Samsung is arguably the Android champion in the smartphone realm, and they're attempting to expand that success out to the tablet market. At $399, the Galaxy Note 8.0 going to be competing with both the $329 iPad mini and $499 iPad. It's one of the best Android tablets in the sub-$400 space and does an excellent job with bridging the gap for both consumer and business use.