Samsung have included (as on the S8) an on-screen home button that can be used at any time, in any app. Of course, the square icon vanishes when an app has been opened, but the utility remains. Just press that area of the screen with a little more pressure than usual, and voilà! you’re back home. It’s a nice compromise seeing as you lose a physical home button as on the S7, and with having the fingerprint scanner thrown around the back of the device. I use the squeezable home button all the time.
Speaking of the home button, it can be double-tapped when the phone is locked to wake the phone. While not as handy as previous incarnations of double-tap-to-wake, (first seen on the 2011 Nokia N9, and more recently on the LG G5, G6, V30, and newer BlackBerry phones), it’s a welcome inclusion. Being able to wake your phone to check notifications without having to lift it off the table is very handy, and should not be dismissed. Incidentally, you can also double-tap a notification icon on the Always-On Display and once you swipe in, you’re taken straight to that app. Another useful little shortcut.
IT IS PRICEY
The other point reviewers make about the Note8 in the negative column is the price. Yes, I agree with all of them, the price is horrendous, and we are seeing $1000+ phones in the marketplace now, almost as if $1000 was the normal, everyday price for new phones. But let’s not forget, the iPhone has been in sniffing distance of $1000 for quite some time now. Just because the iPhone X 64GB (the cheaper version) sets you back $1088 including sales tax, it doesn’t dismiss the fact that earlier this year an iPhone 7 Plus with a decent amount of storage would be $1000 anyway. And the Note8 coming in at $950 is expensive; I’m not defending Samsung. Thanks to Jeff Holmes from SDK and AT&T for this trial device, as without Jeff’s helping hand, we wouldn’t have these phones to test out. Would I have paid $950 (plus tax) for a Note8? I have to say probably not because I think that’s the price at which my nerves would shred. I used to think $500 for a phone was close to madness (Nokia N9, Nokia 808, LG G6, but to name a few). But $1000? That’s gotta hurt. My own Note8 was just $650, thanks to a trade-in deal Samsung were doing, discounting $300 off the list price when an LG G4 (or similar) was sent in. Not a bad deal at all, really.
So that’s basically it when it comes to the negatives because try as you might, it is very hard to fault this device. The Note8 comes along during the time (reign?) of the iPhone X. So why haven’t I chucked my Note8 on eBay and dived head first into an Apple store (jumping the ever-bemusing queue of weirdos outside) to grab a shiny new X instead? Well, once you’ve used a Note8 for a decent period of time, the radar screen is simply empty.
IT SURE IS A LOOKER
Firstly, the thing is gorgeous. Samsung have improved upon the already-knockout design of the S8 and produced something that just oozes professionalism and class. The subtler curves from the edge of the screen give it a more mature feel, and the larger, taller footprint of the phone says, I’m a proper piece of mobile tech: take me seriously, please. I opted for the glossy black version, and I have to say, the moniker of “black slab” does apply to this device, but in a way, unlike any other phone. The LG K3 is a black slab, but it’s a $100 phone that could almost be put in the hands of six-year-olds. You can’t beat giving a noisy child some technology to keep them quiet these days! The Note8 is not something you’d want to give to your young nephew to play with, however. Is it aimed at the business community? Perhaps, although I’m not sure we’re still in a world where phones “belong” to a certain group of professionals anymore. But if you wanted to look like you mean the part, then the Note8 would suit you. It doesn’t exactly scream, hey look at me, please play Candy Crush with me all day. It says I will last all day while you text, tweet, and capture photos, and while doing so, I will not look like the second prize in a pub raffle.