Tech review: The Note 8, which goes on sale in the U.S. next week for $930 to $960, is for “power users” — those who use their phones a lot more than the average consumer.
NEW YORK — A stylus might seem, well, out of style in the tap-and-type world of smartphones. Yet it’s what sets Samsung’s Note phones apart from the competition.
That’s significant as Apple prepares to launch what’s expected to be a super-premium phone next week, one that will match many of the features in the new Note 8 phone. Though not its pen.
I was skeptical at first, but the stylus grew on me.
Still, the Note 8 isn’t going to be for everyone. Most people will be fine with Samsung’s S8 phones for a few hundred dollars less. The Note 8 is more for “power users” — those who use their phones a lot more than the average consumer. The Note 8 starts selling in the U.S. next week for $930 to $960, depending on the carrier.
What’s top on people’s minds probably isn’t the Note 8’s pen, but the phone’s battery, given last year’s Note 7 recall following a string of spontaneous fires. Samsung has stepped up its safety tests this year. Time will tell how well they work.
Samsung reduced battery capacity by 6 percent to make room for various safety measures. But there’s still plenty of juice. The phone still had two-thirds of its charge left after four hours of Netflix. Tasks such as email, Facebook and note-taking won’t be as draining.
A screen-off memo feature lets you use the stylus to take notes without having to unlock the phone. You can jot down a quick reminder while walking, or cross items off your shopping list at the store. It feels like real writing, without any noticeable lag. And writing a quick thought doesn’t feel as rude as opening an app and typing while with friends.
Unlike past Note models, this one lets you scroll down to write more than a single screen worth of notes.
But I had to retype my notes anyway, including impressions I jotted down for this review. Samsung’s character-recognition software couldn’t make out my chicken-scratch handwriting. For instance, “end up typing” got transcribed as “inn up yping.”
Past Note phones translated words you hovered over with the stylus. The Note 8 extends that to full sentences, though it’s on you to figure out that you have to tap the “T” icon to switch modes. And you need to specify the language you’re translating from, even…