I attended Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 launch event in New York City which was great but even better was using the Note 8 for the past week. While you will likely see hundreds of Note 8 consumer reviews, I thought I would do something a bit different and review the phone on the merits of a business phone, or a phone that you would use to conduct business with. I am pleased to share my experiences with the Note 8 as a business user which, was quite positive.
The Note 8 was built from the grounds up to get things done and to do many things at the same time. It all starts out with it large, 6.3” Super AMOLED Infinity Display with a resolution of 2960×1440 equating to 521 PPI. You will not find a better display anywhere. If you want to read all the gory test details on the Note 8 display, which is the same as the S8+, read DisplayMate’s analysis here. Big, high quality displays simply let you get more done because you can see more in finite detail. You can review that PowerPoint, edit that report in Word and even review Excel spreadsheets. No, I am not kidding, it is possible, I do it all the time, and it is better on the Note 8 display.
The Note 8 improves multitasking with App Pairs, an easy way of pairing two apps you want to see on the display at the same time and therefore getting more done. Case in point before the Note 8 event at the airport when I was trying to find my Uber discount code, figure out what hotel I needed to go to and summon Uber. I clumsily went back and forth from Mail to Calendar to Uber, copying and pasting the information. After a brief time, even Uber resets itself. With pairing, I could have the Calendar or Mail and Uber open at the same time and complete that same task more quickly and accurately. I can also see email or message and calendar App Pairs as useful. Nearly anything with a browser is a candidate for App Pair or multi-screen.
This one should be a no-brainer by now given everyone has jumped into “pen” this century including Apple and Microsoft. Many business people take their notes on the PC, but more take them on paper. With the Note 8’s Screen Off memo, I did not have to open the phone to take pages of notes. With 4,096 samples a second, I felt zero lag. This could even make me a believer in the pen.
Screen Off Memo with S Pen
Samsung really nailed it here and led the new pen revolution of this century. Once I found myself taking many notes with S Pen, I longed for a Windows app to view and share these notes on my PC. I thought the S Notes app would work, but it did not. I would like to see a Windows app and a way to sync OneNote.
Without Samsung’s Knox, I will admit, I do have had my questions about Android security. While Android is improving its security with features like Play Protect and accelerated security updates, Knox still adds the security X-factor that makes Android more secure. The fact is that Samsung devices with Knox are deployed by militaries, governments, financial institutions, and health care agencies, so it will likely be secure enough for your business. There are no foolproof security solutions, and everything can be hacked over time, so staying ahead of security is important.
In addition to the typical password and PIN, the Note 8 has an iris scanner, face scanner and a fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone. The iris scanner cannot be “stacked” at the initial login, but it can be serially stacked on top of specific corporate apps. For instance, to get into that enterprise data app, the user could be required to enter their iris identification on top of the PIN or password to get into the phone. The same is true for the fingerprint reader, but based on where it is inconveniently located, on the back, I do not see it getting used a lot. Neither Samsung or I recommend using the current Note 8 facial recognition capabilities in any high-security areas as it can be spoofed with a photo.
First off, the Note 8 has a very large 3,300mAh battery to drive the entire system. The Note 7 had a 3,500mAh battery, but the Note 8 now has a power-sipping, 10nm application processor. That is a good base to start and the Note 8 does even more with two different power saving modes:
- “Medium power savings mode” which appears to double battery life by decreasing brightness, screen resolution to FHD+, limits CPU frequency and shuts off background networking and the Always On Display
- “Maximum power savings mode” which appears to increase battery life by 5-6X by decreasing screen brightness 10%, decreasing screen resolution to HD+, limits CPU frequency and eliminates background network usage.
As I said after the Note 8 launch event, cameras are not just for selfies or for eclipses. Insurance adjusters, real estate agents, architects, and builders all need better cameras. These verticals rely on communicating with their clients based on the quality of photos, so quality matters. The addition of S Pen opens new doors, too. With S Pen, a builder can take many photos of a construction site and point out with S Pen where potential problem areas are that need to be fixed and immediately sent to sub-contractors.
Also consider how visual AI works, demanding a better camera. New business visual AI apps are popping up all over the place which does things like automatically determine how much money you should get back from insurance after a car wreck, determine what skin condition you have by taking photos of it. If you have heard of the team “GIGO,” Garbage In, Garbage Out- this law applies to visual AI. The better the camera, the better the visual AI and the better-automated result.
A good camera will come into play with AR (augmented reality), and I am interested to see what Samsung and Google can do with the new ARCore. Without a depth sensor, you need two lenses to do many of the AR tricks well.
Businesses should care because employees can have “line speeds” they have at work, removing any excuse for not getting work done. CAT.16 is a blessing for VDI, too, and makes the mobile VDI and app streaming case even stronger. Better connectivity via Gigabit LTE also usually translates to better battery life and fewer dropped calls.
The next Galaxy Note
I would be remiss to not list a wish list for what I would like to see support for businesses for the next Note. I would like to see a Note that is easier to handle with one hand without needing a case. Most premium phones are designed to look sexy, placed in a case for protection, and that sexiness makes them hard to hold. How about a rubberized material? This would make one-hand, case-less operation so much easier.
In the next note, I’d also like to see an under-glass, ultrasonic finger print reader. The Note 8 rear fingerprint reader, while placed in a better place than the S8+, is still hard to operate and impossible to use with DeX. With DeX, I’m forced to use PIN or put my face close to the display and use retina,
I’d also like to see a WiGig 802.11ad version of DeX, which would enable wireless docking. All I would need to do is put my Note into its wireless charger, open DeX and call it a day. Samsung could also super-charge a DeX experience by increasing its CPU performance and a higher dynamic range, enabling it to safely “overclock”. Integer performance is important with business productivity apps and DeX could use more “juice”.