Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 review
8 in 1,280x800 display, 345g, 1.6GHz Exynos 4 Quad, 2.00GB RAM, 16GB disk, Android 4.1.2
Samsung has further expanded its line-up of stylus-equipped devices with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0. It sits between the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – a giant smartphone - and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 – a full-sized tablet. The Note 8.0 has an 8in display, a Touchwiz-skinned version of Android and the S-pen for note-taking and sketching.
Here we're looking at the Wi-Fi only version of the device, though a 4G version is also available, which brings the device far closer to the Note smartphones thanks to its ability to make and receive calls and texts. That version, though, isn’t yet widely available and the only one we could find was going for a whopping £459.
Back to the Wi-Fi model, it’s still a hefty £339. That’s twice the price of Google’s slightly-smaller 7in Google Nexus 7, and £70 more than even the 7.9in Apple iPad Mini. Of course neither of those devices has a stylus, but with such a high price the Note 8’s penmanship will really need to impress in order to earn our recommendation.
BUILD QUALITY AND DISPLAY
First impressions are mostly positive - built from the same glossy white plastic as the Galaxy S3 smartphone, the Note 8.0 shares a very similar design with a rounded rectangular shape, finished with a chrome strip around the edges. The oblong home button and illuminated back and menu keys will feel instantly familiar to S3 owners as well. The left and right bezels are just large enough to rest your thumbs on without coming into contact with the touchscreen, although we’re currently spoilt by a collection of smartphones and tablets with next to no bezel at all – including Samsung’s own Galaxy S4 – so you don’t get the same impression of a premium device here.
At 340g it’s surprisingly light, even compared to 7in budget models – we had no trouble holding it in one hand without having to give our wrists an occasional rest. The S-pen slots into a holder in the underside of the tablet with a reassuring click, so you can be confident it won’t fall out when on the move. A MicroSD card slot is hidden beneath a (rather flimsy) plastic flap on the left side of the tablet, with both power and volume buttons on the right side. The 3.5mm audio jack sits at the top and the speaker grilles fire downwards from the base of the tablet.
The screen dominates the front of the Note 8.0 – as the name suggests, it’s an 8in display based around a 1,280x800 TFT panel. That’s fairly standard resolution for entry-level tablets, but it’s slightly disappointing in a premium one like this. Even so, both images and text look crisp and fairly detailed – just don’t expect the same level of clarity as a Full HD display. Viewing angles are above average for an LCD panel, although the glossy finish can make light reflections a little troublesome, and colour accuracy is great. However, dark images don’t have the deep blacks you’ll find on an AMOLED or IPS display. As it’s a 16:9 panel, you don’t get quite the same usable space as with Apple’s iPad Mini - which has a squarer 4:3 display - but it’s still noticeably larger than the 7in Nexus 7.
The larger screen has a considerable impact on battery life – the Galaxy Note 8 lasted a little under seven and a half hours in our video playback test. That's some three hours less than the Nexus 7 and it certainly can't compare to the iPad Mini, which managed an incredible eleven and a half hours in the same test.