Tag Archives: Sony IMX260

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 Review – In A Class Of Its Own

We loved last year’s Samsung Galaxy Note7 and were sad to return it to Samsung before we could complete our review. We are glad to see it return as the Galaxy Note FE, but if you are one of those who were impressed by the Note7, you will be even more impressed with the new Samsung Galaxy Note8. It is literally in a class of its own.

In fact, we are so impressed with the Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check), we gave it our Editor’s Choice Award. Find out why we think it deserves no less!

 

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 Specifications

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) is more than just a Samsung Galaxy S8 / S8+ with an S Pen. While it shares many similarities, it introduces numerous improvements. Here is a table that compares the specifications of the Galaxy Note8 against the Galaxy S8+ and the Galaxy Note7 (now known as the Galaxy Note FE)

SpecificationsSamsung Galaxy Note8Samsung Galaxy S8+Samsung Galaxy Note7
Display6.3" Super AMOLED dual-edge display
- 1440 x 2960 pixels (521 ppi)
6.2" Super AMOLED dual-edge display
- 1440 x 2960 pixels (529 ppi)
5.7" Super AMOLED dual-edge display
- 1440 x 2560 pixels (577 ppi)
ProtectionCorning Gorilla Glass 5 (front & back panels)Corning Gorilla Glass 5 (front & back panels)Corning Gorilla Glass 5 (front & back panels)
Operating System (At Launch)Android 7.1.1 NougatAndroid 7.0 NougatAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow
System PlatformSamsung Exynos 8895 Octa
or
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Samsung Exynos 8895 Octa
or
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Samsung Exynos 8890 Octa
Memory6 GB LPDDR4 SDRAM4 GB LPDDR4 SDRAM4 GB LPDDR4 SDRAM
Storage Options64 GB / 128 GB / 256 GB internal flash storage
One microSD slot (shared with SIM 2) - supports up to 256 GB
64 GB internal flash storage
One microSD slot (shared with SIM 2) - supports up to 256 GB
64 GB / 128 GB internal flash storage
One microSD slot (shared with SIM 2) - supports up to 200 GB
Front Camera8 MP sensor with f/1.7 lens8 MP sensor with f/1.7 lens5 MP sensor with f/1.7 lens
Rear CameraDual Lens Camera with Dual OIS

Wide-Angle Camera
12 MP (1.4 µm) sensor with f/1.7 lens, optical image stabilisation (OIS) and LED flash

Telephoto Camera (2X optical zoom)
12 MP (1.0 µm) sensor with f/2.4 lens, optical image stabilisation (OIS) and LED flash
12 MP Sony / Samsung (1.4 µm) sensor with f/1.7 lens, optical image stabilisation (OIS) and LED flash12 MP Sony / Samsung (1.4 µm) sensor with f/1.7 lens, optical image stabilisation (OIS) and LED flash
Dual SIM capabilityHybrid dual SIM (dual standby capability)
- SIM 2 + microSD shared slot
Hybrid dual SIM (dual active capability)
- SIM 2 + microSD shared slot
Hybrid dual SIM (dual active capability)
- SIM 2 + microSD shared slot
ConnectivityNetwork : LTE Cat. 16 (1 Gbps / 150 Mbps)
WiFi : 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz & 5 GHz), MIMO (2 x 2)
Bluetooth : Version 5.0 LE, ANT+
Others : USB 3.1, NFC, GPS
Network : LTE Cat. 16 (1 Gbps / 150 Mbps)
WiFi : 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz & 5 GHz), MIMO (2 x 2)
Bluetooth : Version 5.0 LE, ANT+
Others : USB 3.1, NFC, GPS
Network : LTE Cat. 16 (1 Gbps / 150 Mbps)
WiFi : 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz & 5 GHz), MIMO (2 x 2)
Bluetooth : Version 5.0 LE, ANT+
Others : USB 3.1, NFC, GPS
Fingerprint SensorYes, Rear MountedYes, Rear MountedYes, Home Button
Iris ScannerYesYesYes
Other SensorsAccelerometer, Proximity, RGB Light, Geo-magnetic, Gyro, Barometer, Hall, HRMAccelerometer, Proximity, RGB Light, Geo-magnetic, Gyro, Barometer, Hall, HRMAccelerometer, Proximity, RGB Light, Geo-magnetic, Gyro, Barometer, Hall, HRM
BixbyYesYesNo
S PenYesNoYes
Water & Dust ResistanceIP68IP68IP68
Battery3,300 mAh lithium-ion battery (non-removable)
- fast charging capability (wired & wireless)
- wireless charging (WPC and PMA)
3,500 mAh lithium-ion battery (non-removable)
- fast charging capability (wired & wireless)
- wireless charging (WPC and PMA)
3,500 mAh lithium-ion battery (non-removable)
- fast charging capability (wired & wireless)
- wireless charging (WPC and PMA)
Dimensions162.5 mm tall
74.8 mm wide
8.6 mm thick
159.5 mm tall
73.4 mm wide
8.1 mm thick
153.5 mm tall
73.9 mm wide
7.9 mm thick
Weight195 g173 g169 g
Colour OptionsMidnight Black, Deepsea Blue, Orchid Gray, Maple GoldMidnight Black, Orchid Gray, Arctic Silver, Coral Blue, Maple GoldBlue Coral, Silver Titanium, Gold Platinum, Black Onyx

 

Unboxing The Samsung Galaxy Note8

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) comes in the premium black Samsung box. Let’s unbox it, and see what’s inside!

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When you unpack everything, you should find the following items :

  • One Samsung Galaxy Note8 phablet with S Pen
  • One Samsung Galaxy Note8 TPU bumper case
  • One set of Samsung Galaxy Note8 documents
  • One 15 W Samsung Quick Adaptive Charger
  • One USB Type C cable, with USB Type A and micro USB converters
  • One pair of AKG earphones with replacement ear buds
  • One set of spare S Pen nibs, and nib extractor tool
  • One SIM tray extractor pin

Next Page > The Samsung Galaxy Note8 Up Close, Cameras, Hybrid SIM & Fingerprint Sensor

 

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The Samsung Galaxy Note8 Up Close

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) has a large 6.3″ Super AMOLED display with a WQHD+ resolution of 1440 x 2960 pixels. But thanks to its Infinity Display design, the Galaxy Note8 is just 2.2 mm wider than the Galaxy S7 edge, which only has a 5.5″ display! This means it will better fit smaller hands, while offering a much larger display.

Just as we saw with the Galaxy S8 (Price Check), the new Infinity Display covers almost the entire frontal aspect of the Galaxy Note8. Samsung achieved this by removing the physical Home button and making it part of the display. It is pressure-sensitive, and works like a physical button.

The same metal-glass design philosophy from the Galaxy Note7 was retained, with the glass protection upgraded to Gorilla Glass 5. The Samsung Galaxy Note8 continues to boast the same IP68 dust- and water-resistance rating of its predecessor, as well as its iris scanner.

The Infinity Display required the fingerprint sensor to be moved to the back, as it was in the Galaxy S8 (Price Check). There is also a dedicated Bixby button, as well as a new dual-lens camera.

 

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 Cameras

Like the Galaxy S8, the Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) has a new 8 MP front camera with f/1.7 lens. It is capable of recording 4K videos at 30 fps, and has great low-light capability.  its low-light capability will come in handy, as the front camera does not have flash support, not even screen flash.

But what’s unprecedented is the new dual-lens main camera that beats everything else in the market today. It boasts a regular wide-angle 12 MP camera with a very fast f/1.7 lens, as well as a telephoto 12 MP camera with f/2.4 lens. However, unlike other dual-lens cameras, it works like two separate cameras that captures images simultaneously!

This allows it to create pictures with amazing adjustable bokeh through its Live Focus feature, while giving you the Dual Capture option to capture photos from both cameras simultaneously! Learn more about these two features in our article – The Samsung Live Focus & Dual Capture Explained & Tested.

This is also the world’s first dual-lens camera to boast optical image stabilisation (OIS) for both lenses! This is especially important for the telephoto camera, as it is paired with a “slower” f/2.4 lens. What this ultimately means is better photos and videos with either camera, even in low-light conditions.

If that’s not enough, the Galaxy Note8’s dual-lens camera is also the first in the world to allow you to switch between the two lenses on-the-fly while recording videos! This is an incredibly useful feature. Once you tried it on the Galaxy Note8, you will wonder why on Earth can’t other dual-lens cameras can’t do the same thing!

We will share with you photo and video samples later in the review. You will be able to see for yourself, the quality of the images captured by the Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check). Be sure to also check out how useful it is to switch between the two lenses on-the-fly in our video samples. This is, no doubt, the best dual-lens camera system in the world today.

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Hybrid SIM & Fingerprint Sensor

This is the South East Asian model (SM-N950FD), which supports Dual SIM, dual standby capability, and comes with a hybrid SIM tray. This gives you some flexibility – you can choose to use either a second SIM card, or a microSD card, but not both at the same time. The microSD slot supports microSD cards of up to 256 GB in size.

With the removal of the physical Home button, Samsung moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the Galaxy Note8. This is not unique as many smartphones have a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor (e.g. Huawei Mate 9, Honor 5C). However, the Galaxy Note8 fingerprint sensor is awkwardly placed next to the camera sensor, instead of the more natural position below the camera sensor.

The higher position makes it harder for the user to reach, because the Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) is a tall device. Being offset makes it harder for left-handed users to use, and makes it easy for all users to smear the main camera lenses with their oily fingerprints.

Obviously, we do not like this fingerprint sensor at all. It is harder to use, as our Galaxy Note8 set-up video will show, although its usability improves with practice. But the good news is – the Samsung Galaxy Note8 also supports alternative login methods like iris scanning and face recognition, that work better.

Next Page > Iris Scanner, Facial Recognition, IP68, S Pen Stylus

 

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Iris Scanner & Facial Recognition

These are not new abilities for a Samsung Galaxy Note device. They were first introduced in the Galaxy Note7, The iris scanner was easy to set up and use, and so, it quickly became our favourite way to log into the Galaxy Note8.

The iris scanner works best if you are not using glasses or contact lenses though, and it may not work in bright sunlight. Its accuracy may also be affected by dirt and fingerprint smudges on the iris camera and LED sensor. Finally, the iris scanner takes longer to log in than the fingerprint sensor, but the coolness factor is undeniable.

The facial recognition feature is easier and faster to use because it does not require you to align your eyes with the sensor focus circles. However, it is less secure than the iris scanner or fingerprint scanner.

 

IP68 Dust & Water Resistance

Like the Galaxy S8, the Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) is IP68-rated for dust- and water-resistance. Best of all, you don’t even have to prepare it in any way before you dunk it into water! For more information how how Samsung achieved this feat, take a look at The Samsung Galaxy S7 IP68 Engineering Explained.

Officially, the Galaxy Note8 can withstand complete immersion in water up to 1.5 m in depth, for up to 30 minutes. That means you can take it for jogs in the rain, reading in the shower or soaking in bath. Heck, you can even take it for a swim!

There are some caveats though. The IP68 rating applies to a specific set of test conditions : 15-35 °C, 86-106 kPa, 1.5 metre, 30 minutes. Even so, water may enter and damage the Galaxy Note8 if it is exposed to “water moving with force“, like running water from a tap or waterfall, or ocean waves.

In other words, this is not a waterproof phone like the Oukitel K10000 Pro or the Kenxinda ruggerdised smartphones. It is IP68 water-resistant, so you need to be gentle with it. You can read more about this in our article – The Samsung Galaxy S7 IP68 Engineering Explained.

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S Pen Stylus

This is the defining feature of the Samsung Galaxy Note8 – the S Pen stylus. This is the same S Pen used by the Galaxy Note7, with a 0.7 mm tip and 4,096 pressure levels. The S Pen is electromagnetically-powered by close proximity to the Galaxy Note8, so there is no need to worry about batteries – which is just awesome.

A set of spare nibs and a tweezer are included, so you can also swap the default black nib for a white nib, depending on your preference for more friction (black) or a smoother writing experience (white).

Next Page > The Samsung Galaxy Note8 Setup Process, Ergonomics, Memory & Storage

 

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The Samsung Galaxy Note8 Setup Process

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) runs on Android 7.1.1 Nougat, and is very easy to set-up. If you are setting it up as a new device, it should take you only 5-7 minutes to finish the setup process.

 

The Ergonomics

Looking at the specifications, you would expect the Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) to be a large phablet. After all, it has a large 6.3″ display. Yet, it is about the same size than its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy Note7 with a 5.7″ display!

Despite its larger display, it is only 0.9 mm wider, so it fits most hands comfortably. But this is still a two-handed device, because of its height. If you prefer to use only one hand, you can turn on the One-handed mode option.

The Super AMOLED display is beautiful as always. However, the WQHD+ resolution of 1440 x 2960 results in a non-standard 18.5:9 display ratio. Watching movies will result in some pillarboxing – a black bar on each side of the movie.

The Gorilla Glass 5 back looks fabulous… at first. It is easily smudged by oily fingerprints, because it lacks the oleophobic coating of the front Gorilla Glass 5 cover protecting the display. The smudges are particularly obvious on the Midnight Black version. Perhaps that’s why Samsung threw in a clear TPU bumper case – it protects the Galaxy Note8 while keeping the shiny back smear-free.

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Available Memory & Storage

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) comes with 6 GB of LPDDR4 memory, of which 2.8 GB (37.5%) is available for use. There is obviously quite a fair bit of bloat. That said, 2.8 GB of memory is more than what many smartphones ship with, and is more than enough to run many applications simultaneously.

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check comes with 64 GB of internal flash storage, with 51.1 GB of free space for you to use. That is enough space to store about 11,500 photos, or 6.25 hours of 1080p videos, or 2.5 hours of 4K videos. If that’s not enough, you can top it up with a microSD card (up to 256 GB).

Next Page > The Samsung Galaxy Note8 Camera Performance – Photos & Videos

 

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Camera Performance – Photos

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) uses the same excellent 12 MP sensors as the Galaxy S8 (Price Check) for both the wide-angle and telephoto cameras –  either the Sony IMX260 sensor, or Samsung’s own ISOCELL S5KL1 sensor. They are both identical in specifications and performance – with Dual Pixel autofocus technology and 1.4 μm pixels.

The maximum 12 MP resolution is attained with the 4:3 aspect ratio. Each picture has a resolution of 4032 x 3024, and a file size of between 3.8 MB and 4.8 MB. Here are 6 high-resolution samples for you to check out. Click on them to load the full-sized photos, which you can also download to examine.

It’s no surprise that the Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) performed exactly as the Samsung Galaxy S8 (Price Check), in this respect. It still remains one of the best, if not the best, smartphone camera out there today.

What’s unique though is the Galaxy Note8 Live Focus feature, which allows you to create really awesome bokeh for the background. No doubt, the bokeh is artificially created, but the simultaneous use of both cameras allow for precise delineation of the subject and the background. Live Focus also allows you to adjust the amount of bokeh for the background.

You can read all about Samsung Live Focus and the accompanying Dual Capture feature in this separate article – The Samsung Live Focus & Dual Capture Explained & Tested.

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Camera Performance – Video Recording

Like the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) is capable of recording 4K videos from both front and back cameras. However, this time, Samsung has limited the 4K recording time to just 10 minutes. This was likely done to ensure that the sensor does not overheat the battery that lies next to it.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge has no such limitations, and is thus, a better smartphone for 4K video recording. However, the Galaxy S7 edge is somewhat limited by the 4 GB file size limit. When you record a long 4K video, it will be broken up into separate files that are about 11.5 minutes in length, with a short recording gap in between. So its advantage is limited.

Samsung appears to be using a more efficient codec for the videos, allowing 1080p videos to be recorded to about 40 minutes before hitting the 4 GB file size limit. This is about 25% longer than the Galaxy S7 edge, which only managed about 31-32 minutes.

Below are four video samples, all taken without the use of gimbals.

Test #1 : Piano (1080p)

As expected, the Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) did an excellent job capturing this live performance. The audio quality was very good, albeit lacking the wider dynamic range of the HTC 10 (when HiRes Audio is enabled). The noise reduction is decent, although the background noise is still audible.

We LOVE the ability to instantly switch between the wide-angle camera and the telephoto camera while recording. You can also see how well the OIS worked for both cameras. In other smartphones, videos recorded with the unstabilised telephoto lens will often induce nausea…

Test #2: Piano (4K)

Note the incredible amount of detail capture by the Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check). We are very impressed with its ability to capture such detail even in the bright background, which is often overblown in other smartphones. Note that you can still switch instantly between the wide-angle camera and the telephoto camera while recording in 4K.

Test #3 : Street Market (1080p)

In this test of the Samsung Galaxy Note8’s image stabilisation capability, you will note that it does a rather decent job of smoothing out the jerkiness during our walk. It is not the best we have seen, but it’s still pretty good.

Test #4 : Street Market (4K)

The image stabilisation for the 4K video was also good. In addition to OIS (optical image stabilisation), it appears to perform some EIS (electronic image stabilisation) as well.

Next Page > The Samsung Galaxy Note8 Work Performance, Battery Life & Recharging Speed

 

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Work Performance – PCMark

We tested the Samsung Galaxy Note8’s performance using PCMark, which simulates work applications like web browing, playing video, writing text and editing photos.

Work 2.0 Samsung Galaxy Note8 Samsung Galaxy S8+ Samsung Galaxy S8 Huawei Mate 9
Performance Score
5617 5285 5303 6316
Web Browsing 5433 5041 5155 5624
Video Editing 4872 5219 4998 5370
Writing 5696 5122 5158 6326
Photo Editing 8563 7003 7082 9864
Data Manipulation 4329 4369 4458 5333

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) is powered by the Samsung Exynos 8895 SoC, which is really fast, albeit not as fast as the Kirin 960 SoC used in the Huawei Mate 9 (Price Check).

 

Battery Life – PCMark

We then tested the Galaxy S8’s battery performance using PCMark. It basically ran the PCMark work tests until its battery capacity dropped to 20%.

Work 2.0 Samsung Galaxy Note8 Samsung Galaxy S8+ Samsung Galaxy S8 Huawei Mate 9
Battery Life 8 hours 50 mins 9 hours 34 mins 10 hours 32 mins 11 hours 27 mins

Of the four smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) has the smallest battery at 3,300 mAh. The Huawei Mate 9 (Price Check), in comparison, has a 4,000 mAh battery. Even so, it managed to deliver almost 9 hours of non-stop operation.

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Battery Recharging Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 comes with an adaptive fast charger with a power output of 15 W. Take a look at how fast it recharged the 3,300 mAh battery.

It took the Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) just under 83 minutes (1 hour 23 minutes) to recharge its battery from 20% to 100%. That is a battery life : recharging ratio of 6.4 : 1 – a very good performance.

The fastest recharging happened up to the 85% level. This took just 53 minutes. Then the recharging speed slowed down, and it took a further 30 minutes to top up the remaining 15%.

Next Page > Overall Performance, Our Verdict & Award

 

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Overall Performance

AnTuTu is a nice benchmark for testing various performance aspects of Android devices.

AnTuTu Samsung Galaxy Note8 Samsung Galaxy S8+ Samsung Galaxy S8 Huawei Mate 9
TOTAL SCORE 178168 170991 175422 123167
3D SCORE 74302 72039 74336 40114
– 3D (Marooned) 43996 42844 43953 23313
– 3D (Garden) 30306 29195 30383 16801
UX SCORE 54965 50518 52159 39975
– UX Data Secure 8100 7822 7996 7943
– UX Data Process 6079 5830 5866 6985
– UX Strategy Games 11072 10359 11165 11860
– UX Image Process 24646 21998 22716 5580
– UX I/O Performance 5068 4509 4416 7607
CPU SCORE 38240 38274 38513 31992
– CPU Mathematics 10970 10958 10996 9680
– CPU Common Use 11135 11001 10939 11139
– CPU Multi-Core 16135 16315 16578 11173
RAM 10661 10160 10414 11086

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) sure is fast in AnTuTu. Its Exynos 8895 proved to be much faster in 3D rendering than the Kirin 960 used by the Huawei Mate 9 (Price Check).

 

Our Verdict & Award

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) is truly in a class of its own. It is the only phablet in the world with an electromagnetic stylus, an Infinity Display and a dual-lens camera. Nothing else, not even the new Apple iPhone 8 Plus (Price Check), is in the same league. It builds upon the excellent, albeit unlucky, Galaxy Note7, with a plethora of major improvements.

First and foremost is the Infinity Display, which is almost bezel-less and covers almost all of the front aspect. To achieve this, Samsung integrated a pressure-sensitive Home button into the display itself, and moved the fingerprint sensor to the back.

The Infinity Display also allowed Samsung to increase the display size while reducing the width of the device. The Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) has a large 6.3″ display in a form factor that equivalent to a regular 5.5″ device. It makes for a better fit for smaller hands, and most pockets.

The new 18.5 : 9 aspect ratio is useful for viewing two different screens at the same time, but introduces pillarboxing when you watch movies. Samsung allows you to stretch the videos to fit the entire screen, but you will lose the upper and lower parts of the videos. So it’s a trade-off.

As their flagship phablet, it comes as no surprise that the Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) is very fast, thanks to its top-of-the-line Exynos 8895 octa-core processor. It also has an incredible amount of memory and it comes with a reasonably large storage capacity of 64 GB. This should be more than enough for even power users, even if they enjoy recording 4K videos.

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The Samsung Galaxy Note8 extended the amazing camera used in the Samsung Galaxy S8 by doubling it to create a dual-lens camera system that is unparalleled. Both cameras are optically-stabilised and work simultaneously. This allows the Galaxy Note8 to support the new Live Focus and Dual Capture features. It also gave us the ability to instantly switch between the two lenses while recording video.

It bears pointing out that Samsung took extra care with the Galaxy Note8’s battery, employing greater scrutiny and safety protocols to ensure its safety. Even though it has a relatively small 3,300 mAh capacity, it lasted just under 9 hours of non-stop operation in our stress test. Best of all – you can completely recharge it in less than 1.5 hours!

The offset fingerprint sensor, though, was awkward to use. We highly recommend that Samsung move the fingerprint sensor to the more conventional position below the main camera in their next device. We far prefer the iris scanner, which is really easy (and cool!) to use.

Samsung really went the extra mile with the Galaxy Note8, making sure it is in a league of its own. There is no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Price Check) deserves our Editor’s Choice Award. Job well done, Samsung!

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (SM-T825) Tablet Review

Samsung has finally introduced a new tablet – the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3! Their last tablet, the Galaxy Tab S2 debuted in September 2015 and ran on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. Now, find out what’s new in the Galaxy Tab S3, and what it offers over its predecessor!

Updated @ 2017-09-06 : Updated various parts of the review with additional information and some corrections.

Originally posted @ 2017-07-03

 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Specification Comparison

Unlike the Galaxy Tab S2 (which comes in 8″ and 9.7″ models), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) only comes in the 9.7″ form factor. Here, we compare the specifications of the new Galaxy Tab S3 (SM-T820) against the 9.7″ model of its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S2 (SM-T819).

SpecificationsSamsung Galaxy Tab S3Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (9.7")
Display9.7" Super AMOLED display
- 1536 x 2048 pixels (~264 ppi)
9.7" Super AMOLED display
- 1536 x 2048 pixels (~264 ppi)
Operating SystemAndroid 7.0 NougatAndroid 5.0.2 Lollipop
System PlatformQualcomm Snapdragon 820Samsung Exynos 7 Octa (5433)
Processor2 x Qualcomm Kyro cores (2.15 GHz)
2 x Qualcomm Kyro cores (1.6 GHz)
4 x ARM Cortex-A57 cores (1.9 GHz)
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 cores (1.3 GHz)
Graphics ProcessorQualcomm Adreno 530 GPUARM Mali-T760
Memory4 GB LPDDR4 SDRAM (933 MHz)3 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM (800 MHz)
Storage32 GB internal flash storage
microSD slot (up to 256 GB)
32 GB internal flash storage
microSD slot (up to 128 GB)
Front Camera5 MP sensor with f/2.2 lens2.1 MP sensor with f/2.2 lens
Rear Camera13 MP sensor with f/1.9 lens
- Up to 4K video recording
8 MP sensor with f/1.9 lens
- Up to 1440p video recording
Audio4 AKG-tuned speakersTwo speakers
Connectivity4G LTE (LTE-enabled model only)
WiFi : 802.11 a/b/g/b/ac
Bluetooth 4.1
USB : USB 3.1 Type C
4G LTE (LTE-enabled model only)
WiFi : 802.11 a/b/g/b/ac
Bluetooth 4.1
USB : USB 2.0
S PenIncluded
Pen tip : 0.7 mm
Pressure levels : 4,096
None
Battery6,000 mAh lithium ion (non-removable)5,870 mAh lithium ion (non-removable)
Dimensions169.0 mm wide
237.3 mm tall
6.0 mm thick
169.0 mm wide
237.3 mm tall
5.6 mm thick
WeightWiFi only : 429 g
LTE-enabled : 434 g
WiFi only : 389 g
LTE-enabled : 392 g
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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Book Cover

Our review sample came unboxed, with the optional Book Cover, so there’s no unboxing video. However, you will get to check out how it works with the Book Cover.

As you can see, the Book Cover works just like the Apple iPad Smart Cover. It locks magnetically to the Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada), protecting the front and back glass covers against damage. Flipping it open automatically turns on the Tab S3. It also serves as a stand with three viewing angles.

The Book Cover offers much needed protection for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada). In fact, anyone who gets the Galaxy Tab S3 should at least The only downside is that, like other similar covers, you need to let the flip cover hang loose to use the rear camera. It also does not come with a stylus holder. If a stylus holder is a must, then you need to consider the Keyboard Cover option.

Next Page > The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Up Close, Cameras & S Pen

 

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Up Close

Superficially, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) looks like its predecessor, the 9.7″ Galaxy Tab S2. If you are hoping for a “bezel-less” display like the Infinity Display of the Galaxy S8 smartphone, you’re out of luck. It doesn’t come with the iris scanner either, just the same fingerprint sensor embedded into the Home button.

Like its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) comes in two variants – a WiFi-only model (SM-T820), and an LTE-enabled model (SM-T825). Our review sample is the SM-T825 LTE-enabled model, so it comes with a tray for a nano SIM card as well as a microSD card. The microSD card support, incidentally, has been doubled to 256 GB.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 also retained the front fingerprint sensor embedded into the Home button, as well as the dedicated capacitive touch buttons.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3’s biggest improvements are “hidden” from sight. It boasts the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC, which offers 18% better CPU performance and 3X better graphics performance. It also has a longer battery life of up to 12 hours, partly due to its slightly larger battery and a more power-efficient design.

In addition, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) now boasts a quad-speaker setup, which works great in the horizontal mode, when used with the optional Book Cover or Keyboard Cover. The four speakers have also been tuned by AKG.

 

The Cameras

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) also offers upgraded cameras. The puny 2.1 MP front camera of its predecessor was replaced by a 5 MP Samsung S5K4E6 ISOCELL sensor with f/2.2 lens. This is the same sensor used in the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge and the more recent HTC 10. The upgraded camera allows you to also record 1080p videos, and support Full HD video chats.

The main camera at the back was upgraded with a 13 MP Sony IMX260 sensor, up from the 8 MP shooter. This is the same excellent sensor used in top-of-the-line smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. It can record videos at up to 4K resolution, but does not support optical or electronic image stabilisation. We will share with you photo and video samples from this camera later in this review.

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The S Pen Stylus

New to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S series is the S Pen stylus. This is a redesigned S Pen with a thinner nib (0.7 mm) and 4,096 pressure levels. The S Pen is electromagnetically-powered by close proximity to the Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada), so there is no need to worry about batteries – which is just awesome.

It is thin at just 9.4 mm, and has a rectangular profile for a better grip. The metal clip at the end locks on to the magnets along the left side of the Galaxy Tab S3.

Next Page > Initial Setup, Ergonomics, Available Memory & Storage

 

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Setting Up The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) runs on the latest Android 7.0 Nougat operating system, and is very easy to set-up. If you are setting it up as a new device, it should take you only about 5 minutes to finish the setup process.

 

The Ergonomics

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) is now clad in glass, which gives it a more premium look and feel. However, the glass covers are very susceptible to fingerprint smears, and add about 10% more weight. The Galaxy Tab S3 with the Book Cover weighs just under 500 g, which is a significant amount of heft.

The glass covers are a little slippery to handle too, especially if you have oily or wet fingers. So it is recommended that you use it with the Book Cover, or the Keyboard Cover, for better grip.

 

Available Memory & Storage

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) comes with 4 GB of LPDDR4 memory, of which just 1.7 GB (42.5%) is free to use. This is far less free memory than other 4 GB devices we reviewed recently :[adrotate group=”2″]

That said, 1.7 GB of free memory is still more than what 3 GB devices have, so you don’t need to worry about running out of memory. Even so, we hope Samsung will seriously reduce the amount of bloat with their upcoming Android Oreo update.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) comes with just 32 GB of internal flash storage, of which 22.8 GB (71%) is free to use. For a 2017 tablet at this price point, we feel that Samsung should have given it at least 64 GB of storage. Of course, you can always top it up with a microSD card (up to 256 GB).

Next Page > Camera Performance – Photos & Videos

 

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Camera Performance – Photos

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) uses the Sony IMX260 sensor for its main camera, paired with an f/1.9 lens. However, it lacks any optical or electronic image stabilisation. The full 12.8 MP resolution (usually quoted as 13 MP) is attained with the 4:3 aspect ratio. Each picture has a resolution of 4128 × 3096, with a file size between 2.8 MB and 4 MB.

Here are ten full resolution, unedited photo samples for you to check out. Click on them to load the full-sized photos which you can download to examine.

This is the same sensor used in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, so there’s no surprise that the pictures are excellent. The f/1.9 lens also allowed for very good low-light performance.

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Camera Performance – Video Recording

Thanks to the Sony IMX260 sensor upgrade, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) can now record videos at up to 2160p (4K) at 30 fps. Officially, it does not support any form of optical or electronic image stabilisation. However, our tests show that it actually performs some electronic image stabilisation at 1080p or lower resolutions. Take a look…

Test #1 : Piano (1080p)

The image quality is excellent, with great control of the bright background. The recorded audio was also quite clear. Surprisingly, the amount of handshaking was minimal.

Test #2 : Piano (4K)

When we recorded this clip in the 4K resolution, we noticed that there was significantly more handshaking. From this, we can surmise that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 actually performs some electronic image stabilisation at lower resolutions.

Test #3 : Street Market (1080p)

Even though this test involved walking down a street market, the video was surprisingly smooth. That is quite unexpected for a camera that officially does not support any form of image stabilisation.

Test #4 : Street Market (4K)

The jerkiness of the 4K video is readily apparent. The image quality is excellent, but the complete lack of image stabilisation (for real this time!) is nausea-inducing!

Next Page > Work Performance, Battery Life & Recharging Speed

 

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Work Performance – PCMark

We tested the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3’s performance using PCMark, which simulates work applications like web browing, playing video, writing text and editing photos.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Huawei Mate 9 ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra HTC 10
Work Performance Score
(Average)
6434 7593 6313 6105
Web Browsing 6294 8717 6257 5782
Video Playback 3903 4987 4287 3321
Writing 6584 7883 7166 7463
Photo Editing 10599 9702 8262 9694

Not surprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) performed well, matching top-0f-the-line smartphones like the ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra and HTC 10.

 

Battery Life – PCMark

We then tested the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3’s battery performance using PCMark. It basically ran the PCMark work tests until its battery capacity dropped to 20%.

Samsung claims that the Galaxy Tab S3 has a battery life of between 8 hours (Internet use time) to 12 hours (video play time). This battery test shows that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) will last about 8.5 hours of non-stop work – web browing, playing video, writing text and editing photos.

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Battery Recharging Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 comes with a 10 W fast charger and a USB Type C cable. Take a look at how fast it recharged the 6,000 mAh battery.

It took the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) about 114 minutes (1 hour 54 minutes) to recharge its battery from 17% to 100%. Overall, it has a battery life : recharging ratio of about 4.4 : 1, which is rather low. Samsung should have packaged it with an 18 W fast charger.

Next Page > Gaming & Overall Performance, Our Verdict & Lowest Prices

 

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Gaming Performance – 3DMark

We tested the Galaxy Tab S3’s gaming performance using 3DMark, using the Ice Storm Unlimited test.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Huawei Mate 9 ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra HTC 10
Gaming Score 17878 27853 17719 23171
Graphics 18515 36605 21124 27512
Physics 15958 15164 11328 14925
Graphics Test 1 88.8 fps 202.5 fps 115.2 fps 136.6 fps
Graphics Test 2 73.6 fps 131.1 fps 76.3 fps 106.4 fps
Physics Test 50.7 fps 48.1 fps 36.0 fps 47.4 fps

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) is not the fastest gaming tablet, but it has good gaming performance.

 

Overall Performance

AnTuTu is a nice benchmark for testing various performance aspects of Android devices.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Huawei Mate 9 ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra HTC 10
TOTAL SCORE 131430 123167 76096 113813
3D SCORE 57553 40114 18816 50700
– 3D (Marooned) 36690 23313 10861 34778
– 3D (Garden) 20863 16801 7952 15922
UX SCORE 43151 39975 26794 30890
– UX Data Secure 6524 7943 5077 6319
– UX Data Process 3534 6985 4198 3379
– UX Strategy Games 9054 11860 7503 5433
– UX Image Process 21022 5580 6879 9521
– UX I/O Performance 3017 7607 3137 6238
CPU SCORE 24024 31992 23689 21915
– CPU Mathematics 8532 9680 6950 8494
– CPU Common Use 6041 11139 6311 5931
– CPU Multi-Core 9451 11173 10428 7490
RAM 6702 11086 6797 10308

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) did well in AnTuTu, coming in top actually. It bested even top-of-the-line smartphones like the Huawei Mate 9 and HTC 10.

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Our Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) is a long-awaited upgrade to the Galaxy Tab S2. If you are hoping for revolutionary changes that have been the hallmark of the Samsung Galaxy S smartphones, you will be sorely disappointed. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S team retained the same familiar design.

So there is no Infinity Display or iris scanner, as some of us have hoped for. Instead, they clad the Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) in glass, and focused on internal improvements. It now boasts a faster processor, a much faster graphics processor, more and faster DDR4 memory, and a quad-speaker system tuned by AKG.

Also upgraded were the cameras. The puny 2.1 MP front camera was replaced with the 5 MP camera used in the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge and the more recent HTC 10. The main camera also saw an upgrade to the excellent Sony IMX260 sensor used in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.

Other less obvious upgrades include the display and battery. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) used the same excellent Super AMOLED display, but it is now capable of displaying HDR images and videos. The battery also saw a slight increase in capacity, allowing the Galaxy Tab S3 to achieve a rated battery life of 8 to 12 hours. Needless to say, the  battery has also undergone the new Samsung 8-point battery safety check.

Arguably the biggest upgrade the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 introduces is the improved S Pen. This is the first time a Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablet comes with the S Pen. The new S Pen is still powered electromagnetically, but now has a thinner nib and 4,096 pressure levels.

The only issues we have with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) are the memory bloat and its rather limited internal storage. At its launch price of RM 2,999 (US$ 599 in the US), we would have expected at least 64 GB of internal storage, or a Book Cover (RM 199 / ~US$ 47) thrown in.

If you find the Galaxy Tab S3 too pricey, you will be glad to note that the older Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is now on sale at almost half the price! Now that’s a really great deal!

 

Availability & Lowest Prices

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) is now available in Black and Silver colour options. The Pogo Keyboard Cover comes in Gray colour and retails at RM499 / ~US$119.

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The Book Cover is available in Black, White and Green colours, and retails at RM199 / ~US$47. Check out the latest offers below :

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 LTE (Black) : Amazon | Lazada
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 LTE (Silver) : Amazon | Lazada
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Keyboard CoverAmazon
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Book Cover (Black)Amazon | Lazada
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Book Cover (White)Amazon | Lazada
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Book Cover (Green)Amazon | Lazada

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