Galaxy Note 8: Rumors, specs, August release date, price

Samsung’s mobile chief has made it official: We’re a little over a month away from meeting Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 8. No, we don’t have the official invitation yet, but earlier this week DJ Koh, who heads the mobile division, told a room full of journalists in Taiwan that Samsung will unveil the Note 8 in “late August” (we still don’t have a date), for sale dates in September and October, depending on where you live.

This is a huge admission, and not the first one from Koh, who also told CNET in January that Samsung would stick with the Note 8 even after two Note 7 battery fires prompted Samsung to yank the Note 7 entirely. And it’s exactly because of the Note 7’s tumult and terror that this upcoming Note 8 will be more important than any other Note ever made.

Hang on, what’s the Galaxy Note again?

  • The Note line is Samsung’s flagship phone for power users.
  • It comes with a digital pen (or stylus, if you’d rather) called the S Pen.
  • It’s been the most advanced, and most expensive, phone that Samsung sells each year.
  • We expect it to be just a hair bigger than Galaxy S8 Plus ($709.00 at Amazon Marketplace), with a 6.3-inch screen. Yeah, big.

OK, thanks. Why’s it such a big deal?

The Note 8’s signature stylus could come with a whole set of new tricks.


Sarah Tew/CNET

1. It’ll be the real test of the Note family’s post-Note 7 recovery, even more so than the Galaxy S8 ($729.84 at Amazon Marketplace), battery of which is so far incident-free.

2. Samsung can course-correct on the S8’s biggest problem: the placement of the fingerprint reader on the back of the phone, right next to the camera lens. (Hello, awkward.)

That fingerprint scanner, which is used for unlocking the phone and waving through Samsung Pay and Android Pay, could now go under the glass as rumors suggest.

Or, if Samsung can’t get the puzzle pieces together, the center of the phone’s back is another option. That location works well on the Google Pixel, LG G6 ($459.99 at Amazon.com) and Huawei P10 ($629.00 at Amazon Marketplace).

Since we’re talking about design rumors, Samsung is also expected to jump on the dual-camera trend that the S8 passed up.

3. Each year, the Note and iPhone duke it out for preholiday sales. But this year, Apple is expected to pull out all the stops for its 10th-anniversary iPhone, possibly called the iPhone 8. Competition will likely be fiercer than ever before if the iPhone 8 throws in a killer feature surprise.

Personally, I always find a Note release exciting, as much for the technology as the phone’s history in kicking off the big-screen craze. Back when the first Galaxy Note phone arrived in 2012, the “phablet” (half phone, half tablet) had a 5.3-inch screen and was considered a monster of a device that was too unwieldy to really use (yes, I said this too). But the trend caught on, and here we are anticipating the eighth iteration of a large-screen phone-plus-digital-stylus.

What we ‘know’ about the Note 8:

The Bixby Voice app will work straight out of the box

Samsung hasn’t confirmed this, but it has said that its Bixby Voice app is a priority on Samsung phones and other devices, too. So far that’s a lot of talk, because only users in South Korea and those on the early access program in the US have had a chance to try out Bixby Voice, which is Samsung’s answer to Apple’s Siri.

The electronics giant is hoping to turn Bixby into a full-blown ecosystem robust enough to rival the rest of the field: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri, and yes, you too, Microsoft Cortana.

I strongly assume that the Note 8 will feature a standalone Bixby button like the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. Unlike those two phones, Bixby Voice should be developed enough to launch along with the phone.

The Note 8 will use Samsung’s new eight-point battery test

Samsung instituted this enhanced safety checklist as part of a revised testing measure after discovering holes in its battery testing that led to the Note 7 failures. The Galaxy S8 uses it too, as will every other Samsung phone going forward.

At least one phone maker cried foul, saying this is too little too late. Motorola said its existing battery tests would have caught Samsung’s mistake.

It will be ‘innovative’

That’s from Koh, Samsung’s mobile chief. “I will bring back a better, safer and very innovative Note 8,” Koh said. Whatever that innovation is, it’s something Samsung clearly reserved for the Note 8 and left out of the Galaxy S8.

It could launch August 23 and sell in September and October

Samsung’s Koh didn’t share the exact launch date, but rumors point to August 23 (an earlier rumor suggested August 26, which makes no sense). Koh also didn’t share a launch city, but rumors suggest it’ll be in New York, where Samsung has held the last several events, which the company calls Unpacked.

Late August is Samsung’s typical cycle (last year’s Note 7 emerged in early August), a cycle that’s important because it’s happened before Apple’s yearly iPhone (early September) ever since the Note series began. In recent years, the Note’s also shown up in stores before the iPhone, too.

Koh also promised a September sales date for some regions; the US and South Korea are usually in the first wave. Looks for sales to stagger globally into October.

Every Note phone ever made… so far.


Josh Miller/CNET

It’ll cost a lot

The Note 7 came in at about $850, £750 or AU$1,350, so expect the cost to start there. More expensive parts, like a second camera, could hike up the price, maybe even as far as $900.

Top rumors

Let’s start with the most intriguing.

It could have two rear cameras

I’ve said this before, and I’m not the only one to think that Samsung’s saving the best of its camera upgrades for the Note 8. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo agrees, stating that the dual-camera mount may be the biggest significant design change from the S8 family to the Note 8, stylus notwithstanding.

As with the LG V20, one of the twin lenses could handle wide angles. (We’re hearing a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 13-megapixel telephoto lens.)

The S Pen could have a built-in speaker

I’ve been waiting for ages for the S Pen’s cap to do something really cool, like erase when you flip it over. The rumor that it will contain a speaker might be even better. A speaker within the S Pen top could shoot audio out of the pen, making it replace the speaker grille.

Does that mean it could also talk to you, or that you could talk to it? We’ll find out!

The Note 8 could curve on all sides

Samsung could one-up its own Galaxy S8, which has extremely slim bezels and curves on both sides. The company is reportedly working on a phone with glass that also curves on the top and bottom. The S8 (and Note 7 before it) curved equally on the front and back, making it symmetrical whichever side you held. The Note 8 might do the same.

How about a 6.4-inch screen?

The Note 8 could top the Galaxy S8 Plus’ 6.2-inch display with a 6.4-inch screen on a body not much larger than the S8 Plus. The figure comes from Kuo (the analyst mentioned above), Apple Insider reported.

Samsung will most likely keep the screen resolution high. We’ve heard whispers of a 4K screen resolution, which makes sense if the screen is inches from your face in a VR headset. Otherwise, your eyes probably won’t register too much of a difference between the S8’s 2,560-by-1,440-pixel resolution and the much higher 4K resolution. (Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium from 2015 had a 4K resolution, which translated into a 3,840-by-2,160-pixel resolution.)

Make that screen pressure-sensitive

The Galaxy S8 was widely rumored to have a pressure-sensitive display like Apple’s 3D Touch feature that debuted on the iPhone 6S. The rumor also extended to the Note 8, according to “sources” cited by Korean outlet The Investor.

More to come

The rumors are trickling out slowly for now, but the deluge of speculation, leaks and image renders will come as we get closer to August. Hold on tight!

Update, July 18, 10:25 a.m. PT: This article was originally published May 14, 2017 and has been updated with more information.

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