Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

Alora Uy Guerrero
Technostorm Reviews

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 at a glance

  • Price: P23,990
  • Availability: April 13, 2013
  • Samsung Exynos 4412 chipset
  • 1.6GHz quad-core Cortex-A9 CPU
  • Mali-400MP GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage with microSD card slot (up to 64GB)
  • 8-inch display (800 x 1280 resolution; 189ppi pixel density)
  • 5-megapixel rear camera
  • 1.3-megapixel front camera
  • 4600mAh battery
  • Android Jelly Bean (version 4.1.2)


The simplest way of describing the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is that it's a blown-up version of our favorite Samsung Galaxy Note II with a slimmer, 8mm-thick profile. But has it blown us away just as much?

Like most Samsung Galaxies that preceded it, the tablet is clad in a glossy, plastic shell, making it more prone to smudges. The fingerprints are not that noticeable on our white review unit, but don't let this stop you from purchasing a hard case or a flip cover for the device.

With the exception of plastic flaps covering the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0's microSIM and microSD card slots; bottom-firing, dual loudspeakers, which are small yet pleasingly loud; and non-removable rear panel, the similarities between the 8-incher and the Note II are plenty and unmistakable. Cases in point: the button layout and the profuse use of plastics, metallic bands, and tapered corners spanning both devices' circumference.

Speaking of button layout, the presence of Samsung's physical Home key, which is flanked by navigation keys for Menu and Back, suggests that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is as much a tablet as a smartphone. And rightfully so. It can make calls, send SMS, as well as connect to 3G networks, after all.

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In theory, the hardware allows you to make and receive calls sans a headset, but for reasons that have to do with drawing too much attention to yourselfnot to mention bursts of laughter from strangerswe'd advise against doing so.

Because the gear is equal parts tab and phone, it's not surprising to see that apps, including our favorites NBA Game Time and Pocket, behave like their phone equivalents on the Galaxy Note 8.0.

Now, unlike Samsung's previous tablet-phone efforts, the Galaxy Note 8.0 dumps the firm's proprietary charging port in favor of the universally accepted microUSB. MicroUSB, of course, supports on-the-go or OTG cables and mobile high-definition link or MHL adapters for hosting flash drives and HDMI mirroring, respectively.

There's an IR blaster mounted on the right side, which, along with the "Peel Smart Remote" app, allows the tab to double as a universal remote control for, say, your HDTV or Blu-ray player.

Despite Samsung's unflinching resolve on using ho-hum build materials--plastic instead of aluminumyou've got to hand it to the South Koreans; they really know how to put together solid slabs of well-designed hardware. Like all Samsung's Android royalty, the 8-inch Note is impeccably built and is a joy to hold and touch. At 338 grams, it's almost as light as the Apple iPad mini, and as such feels light enough to carry around for long periods of time.

There are two cameras on the device: a 5-megapixel sensor on the back and a 1.3-megapixel sensor up front. And while both take in a good amount of light and snap pictures in a pinch, the two are exactly what they need to be: The 5-megapixel rear shooter is missing LED flash and delivers results that consistently appear washed out, if not lacking in detail; the front-facer is fine for video chat and nothing more.

Thankfully, the native camera app itself offers a bit of a silver lining in the form of various shooting modes, white-balance settings, and exposure values, plus the option to capture photo and video using the volume rocker. Still, we don't recommend going out of your way to use either cameras.

We'll stop there and let the samples speak for themselves. Below are photos taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0's main and secondary cams.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0's screen real estate measures 8 inches diagonally, so you won't have to squint your eyes when using certain apps in split-screen Dual View mode.

The display itself takes cues from the bigger Galaxy Note 10.1, so whether you like it or not, you'll have to settle for a standard TFT PLS panel. Mind you, that's not such a bad thing, especially if you prefer cooler colors to the vibrant, contrasty visuals of Super AMOLED displays, albeit at the expense of weaker black levels.

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And to its credit, the display does offer a good amount of brightness, in addition to above-average viewing angles. It manages to squeeze in 1280 x 800 pixels, and while that's no longer bleeding edge by today's standards, it's still noticeably sharper than the iPad mini's 1024 x 768-pixel display.

Samsung's Exynos 4412 chipset is responsible for powering all but one of the Galaxy Notes. The new Note 8.0 shares the same silicon as the Note II and sees a quad-core processor operating at 1.6GHz, along with Mali-400MP graphics, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of onboard memory, which is expandable up to 80GB (when paired with a 64GB microSD card). It makes use of Android Jelly Bean, which partly explains its brisk performance.

Using the horsepower at its disposal, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 genuinely warps forward in a way that feels every bit as fast and responsive as any on the local market. It's the small things. Slowdowns are barely noticeable as you cycle through home screens and menus, and launching apps and switching between them are a breeze.

As far as graphics-intensive Google Play titles are concerned, gamers will find little to no fault with Samsung's upcoming hybrid. For instance, Real Racing 3 works flawlessly on the Note 8.0. High frame rates are likewise to be expected from 3D games, such as NBA 2K13, Temple Run 2, and God of Blades.

As for benchmark performance, this Samsung netted high scores across the board, as expected. Below are numbers we got using AnTuTu Benchmark, Quadrant Standard, NenaMark 2, and Vellamo Mobile.

S Pen
Obviously, this tablet-phone hybrid is complete without Samsung's S Pen. The stylus is the X-factor as far as hardware goes, and brings the newest Galaxy Note to greater heights with optimized onscreen recognition and better software integration.

With the exception of the Note 10.1's S Pen, it's also slightly longer and wider when compared with others. It's mostly a more S Note-friendly, more accurate version of the original. That's not to say it's a big leap from the second-gen Note's.

If you're familiar with Samsung's Galaxy S4 unveiling, you already know that the Seoul-based company has somewhat shifted its focus from introducing hardware firsts to improving its own software suite. It's only logical then that the Galaxy Note 8.0 ships with a bevy of Samsung-only apps, including a preinstalled Air View-optimized Flipboard.

Here are our favorite software features:

  • Reader mode. Samsung is serious about pushing the Galaxy Note 8.0 as an e-reader killer, so it's expected that the 8-inch tab boasts a revamped page-turning experience in addition to the so-called Reader mode. What the latter does is it automatically tweaks the onscreen color temperature and contrast of certain apps, including Samsung content store Reader’s Hub. That way, text appears darker, making it really stand out from the background.
  • Idea Sketch. Fairly new to the Korean's line of S Pen-toting hybrids. Basically, it lets you write whatever object you're looking for on the Idea Sketch overlay, which then shows you a variety of clip arts you can transfer to your S Note canvass. 
  • Awesome Note HD. This personal note-taking and organizer app debuts on the Galaxy Note 8.0. It has support for high-res displays and a strong repertoire of useful templates, including diary types and shopping and to-do lists. 
  • Dual View. Samsung’s multi-window feature makes an appearance on the Note 8.0. The feature even brings the total number of supported apps up to 20 (from 16, we’re told), meaning it’s a yes for split-screen video watching or viewing news or social network feeds while writing a lengthy email.
  • Quick Command. With Quick Command, the tab-phone hybrid lets you assign and use gestures for instant access to often-used services, such as email, messaging, and Google Search. Firing it up is as easy as dragging the S Pen to draw a straight line from the bottom to the top of the screen while holding the stylus' button.

Battery life
We've had the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 for a few days now, and we're happy to report that we're pleased with its battery life. The 4,600mAh cell doesn't disappoint, lasting roughly two days with normal to heavy usage on a single charge. And by "normal to heavy usage," we mean several hours of combined telephony, sketching, gaming, Web browsing, and movie playback.

>>CHECK OUT: Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0's software tricks

To really put the battery through its paces, we switched on WiFi and allowed our email to sync in the background, fixed brightness at 50 percent, then played a 1080p video continuously. The next-gen Galaxy Note held out for more than 7 hours before the battery croaked. Obviously, the slate sips power even more judiciously with power-saving mode enabled and WiFi used sparingly.

Even better, the battery doesn't take a generation to recharge. In fact, charging time from empty to full usually takes three hours, which is surprisingly short given the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0's relatively beefy cell.

Samsung is known for testing the waters with the intention of finding a sweet spot for its core offeringsor perhaps create demand for something quite different. The original Galaxy Note can attest to that. A year and a half and three iterations after, the April 13th official retail roll-out of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is almost upon us, and we couldn't be more excited.

We're going to go out on a limb here and say that all things considered, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is the best one of the series. Not only does it have the same functionalities as previous-generation Notesand then someit also boasts the most desirable balance between tab and handset.

It's large enough to take full advantage of Dual View mode, S Note, and other S Pen-enabled apps, and just as importantly, light enough to comfortably bring with you for hours. Sporting quad-core internals, the Note 8.0 is just as powerful, if not more powerful, than all the Galaxy Notes.

The 3G variant of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 will retail for P23,990, which is reasonable given the device’s specs. Those hoping for a WiFi-only version can get it for free via Sun Cellular's Plan 1699with a Samsung Galaxy S III mini thrown in for kicks.