I loved the Note 8 when I reviewed it last autumn, thanks to its top-notch performance, beautiful design and solid camera. Three months on, what's changed? This is my long term review of the Galaxy Note 8.
I put the Note 8 in a protective case after my review, so now the design is much more subdued -- I rarely get comments about it anymore, unless someone asks what it is and I actually take it out of the case to show them. The giant screen remains a big selling point, and I still love watching videos here. It's easy to see why these big-screen phones with tiny bezels have caught on so rapidly.
Unfortunately, I've stopped using the stylus for most tasks; writing on a proper keyboard is always faster and it's much easier to simply email myself notes or write them in Google Docs rather than trying to decipher handwritten ones.
The fingerprint reader is so annoyingly placed that I rarely use it; I usually keep my phone unlocked when it's paired with my Gear Fit 2 to avoid using it. I'm glad to hear that this will be fixed in the Galaxy S9, and that phones with sub-screen fingerprint readers have already been released.
I still haven't received an Oreo update even though the S8 got a beta version. I was really expecting better from Samsung in this regard, but they're no Essential, Google or OnePlus. The Note 8 amazingly remains as fast and fluid as ever, with no discernable loss in performance. By comparison, the Galaxy S7 Edge I was using before this has turned into a sluggish mess since I've stopped using it!
The battery life also seems good, if not 100% as good as it was. I still easily get a full day of use, and occasionally I've woken up with 30% left in the morning and eked it out until the end of the day with various power-saving modes. The quick charging has also saved me on a few occasions, as I can charge for 30 minutes and get enough charge to last the night without being too careful.
Winter can be a disappointing time for photography in the UK, but the Note 8 has still produced some excellent results -- mostly when I've gone on holiday, it has to be said. I'm generally happy with every photo I take, and the camera still starts up super fast and focuses even faster. The 2x zoom remains useful in some situations, and I'd look for a similar dual-camera system on my next phone.
The Note 8 remains the best Android phone on the market in my eyes — but the S9 may challenge it once that's released. In terms of value, I still feel the Note 8 is overpriced; with my own money I'd go for an Essential Phone or OnePlus 5T, both of which have a similar all-screen design. However, I'll probably wait to find a replacement for the Note 8 until later this spring when the next wave of flagship phones are released. I'll miss the Note 8, but I'm glad I got the chance to use it for a few months!