The Note 7 has caused major headaches for Samsung. Now discontinued, fans are looking forward to the Note 8, which has not been dropped by Samsung and is apparently codenamed Great (not Baikal as previously thought). We investigate when is the Note 8 coming out, plus all the details you want to know about Samsung's next phablet. See also: Best phone 2017.
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The Galaxy S8 will launch at an Unpacked event on 29 March and go on sale in April. Contrary to previous reports we aren't expecting it to come with an S Pen stylus, which means it will compete with the Galaxy Note 7 only on size: with a 5.8in screen as standard and 6.2in rumoured for the Galaxy S8+, the Note 7's 5.7in screen is comparatively small.
However, we'd expect Samsung to make the same design changes in the Note 8 in response, which means we'll see a larger, taller and potentially pressure-sensitive screen, with the fingerprint scanner moved to the rear and the home button gone altogether. You can also expect it, as usual, to be faster than the Galaxy S8.
This Galaxy Note 8 is not to be confused with the Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet from back in 2013.
When is the Galaxy Note 8 release date?
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 UK release date: August 2017 (TBC)
Traditionally Samsung has unveiled a new Galaxy Note flagship every year at the IFA tradeshow, which takes place in early September. For the past two years it has announced its new Galaxy Note early in August to get out ahead of the new iPhone, which is always revealed mid-September.
The most likely release date is August 2017. However, there are several factors pointing to an alternative release date.
The discontinued Note 7 has been a spectacular failure, hitting the company’s bottom line hard with a loss to the tune of several billion pounds, and a much harder impact on its reputation - one that may prove difficult to eradicate. Samsung is now faced with the choice of releasing the Note 8 much earlier to fill the gap in its product line and remove the focus from the Note 7, or to carry on as normal.
Some say the Note 8 will be released in March 2017 alongside the Samsung Galaxy S8, though this rumour appears to have come from the idea that Samsung is expected to announce two phones and both are thought to have curved-edge screens. Though one will still have a larger screen and a higher-capacity battery (and is rumoured to come with a dual-lens camera and higher-resolution 4K screen), Samsung isn’t going to be able to distinguish the two by referring to them as the standard and edge models any longer. (They will now be known as the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus.)
Plus it can’t be ignored that the Galaxy S-series edge is edging ever closer to the Note family in specification, with little more than an S Pen and some stylus-friendly software to distinguish the two lines.
There were whispers to suggest Samsung would be dropping its Note family, but dropping its second annual flagship launch could have an enormous impact on Samsung's profit margins. Fortunately the company has now confirmed that the Note 8 will exist, and that it will in Korea offer Note 7 buyers 50 percent discounts if they upgrade to the Galaxy S8 or Galaxy Note 8.
“I will bring back a better, safer and very innovative Note 8,” Samsung's mobile chief, DJ Koh, has recently told CNET.
All that said, we can't ignore the fact the Galaxy Note 8 already exists as an Android tablet from 2013 - read our Galaxy Note 8.0 review. We think that if Samsung is going to release a Note 8 it’s possible it could look to change the name. Also see: Best Samsung phone
What are the rumoured specifications?
The Note family is best known for its large, high-resolution screen and S Pen stylus support. Rumours say it could get an upgrade and integrate a new speaker. According to Patently Mobile, in September 2016 a patent was published by the US Patent & Trademark Office for the new stylus.
It says: "When the pen is being stored in the Galaxy Note body, the speaker, which is in the pen shaft, carries sound through the pen and exists at the top of the pen via a new speaker. When the pen is removed for the Note device the sound simply travels from the internal speaker through the pen shaft opening."
We would expect the Note 8 to come with a Quad-HD+ or even 4K SuperAMOLED display, and there is increasing talk that it could get the latter, making the Note 8 Samsung's first 4K smartphone. With rumours the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus will increase in display size to 5.7in and 6.2in respectively - in part due to much slimmer bezels - it's likely that the Note's traditional 5.7in display will also be increased to around 6.2in.
The Note 8 is tipped to get a pressure-sensitive display as Korean media reports on how Samsung was at MWC 2017 showing off advanced pressure-sensitive technology it has developed for its OLED displays. (We may get a teaser of this tech in the next couple of weeks with a thin strip under the display on the Galaxy S8, but for the Note 7 it should cover the entire display.)
It’s likely to be under 8mm thick (unless Samsung decides this is what caused the battery issues), waterproof, and feature dual cameras and a high-capacity (circa-3500mAh) battery with adaptive fast charging, fast wireless charging and USB-C support.
It will run Android 7.0 Nougat, with an update to Android O within a few months of its release. Samsung’s usual sensors - the heart-rate scanner, fingerprint scanner and iris scanner - should all be present, though with the fingerprint scanner now moved to the rear and the home button gone entirely.
In terms of core hardware we know that the Note series is traditionally a slightly more powerful version of the S series that is released earlier that year, though the Galaxy S8 is already expected to be a hugely powerful phone in order to provide the best VR and graphics experience. The S8 is expected to come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or next-gen Exynos processor - most likely the Exynos 8895M, which should be available from Q2 2017 - with the ARM Mali-G71 GPU and 6GB (or even 8GB, since the Snapdragon 835 supports this) of RAM. Expect the Note 8 to come with a minimum 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
Samsung has announced that it will be acquiring car audio maker Harman for $8bn with its eyes firmly on the connected car market. However, the brand is best known by consumers for its Harman Kardon audio label, which could spell very nice things for the upcoming Galaxy S8. Samsung says it will utilise Harman's audio brands, which also include the likes of AKG and JBL, to "deliver enhanced customer benefits and elevate user experiences across Samsung's complete portfolio of consumer and professional products and systems". (Via Android Central.)
One thing we can pretty much guarantee is that the Note 8 will feature the same software as the Galaxy S8, which means Android Nougat, TouchWiz, and the brand-new Bixby AI assistant. New details have been emerging about Bixby, primarily via Sammobile, and we now know that it might be available in female and male versions (potentially Kestra and Bixby, both of which may be fun references to Star Trek given the Galaxy in the S8's name), and that it can conduct mobile payments, control native apps and perform image search and OCR using the camera.
Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017