The Galaxy Note 8 is at once a safe, almost obvious phone, and one that still manages to show Samsung reaching out into new, untested waters. By taking the look of the Galaxy S8, scaling things up a bit from the GS8+, and adding in S Pen support, the Note 8 feels like the Galaxy Note phone Samsung was always going to make. But by giving us dual cameras for the first time, it still shows that Samsung is willing to use the Note platform to test out new features.
Even those dual cameras, though, are valid targets for criticism, and should we really be rewarding Samsung for taking this long to catch up with what feels like almost every single other smartphone manufacturer out there?
While there's a healthy handful of issues like that we could pick at, none of those are worth ignoring that this is a powerful, attractive, feature-rich handset that is exactly what the next Galaxy Note needed to be. It's enough to get you to move past the Galaxy Note 7 and finally start feeling secure again about Samsung's stylus-equipped phablets.
But even though this comes together as a well-done phablet and a worthy new addition to the Note family, it's also an expensive phone: a really, really expensive phone. The Galaxy Note 7 was already a pricy phablet in the mid-$800 range, but with the Note 8 you could be paying $950 or more, depending on your carrier.
That's asking a lot from smartphone shoppers, especially with the very similarly equipped Galaxy S8 going for $200 less. The S Pen, larger screen, additional memory, and telephoto camera have to cost something, but there's a big psychological barrier as we start approaching that $1000 mark, and for as good as the Note 8 can be, it's not clear that it's the sort of exceptional phone that has the right to demand such lofty sums.
If you're a die-hard Note fan, and already like the new look Samsung introduced with the S8 this year, then maybe the Note 8 makes a lot of sense. But if the most attractive thing about this handset for you is just the dual cameras, maybe wait until the Galaxy S9 and see if you can't get some similar imaging hardware in a more compact package for a lot less money.