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The write stuff: Samsung unveils its new stylus-toting flagship, the $950 Galaxy Note8

Last year, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note7, which it proudly touted as the latest and greatest addition to its venerable line of stylus-equipped handsets. That launch turned into a catastrophe for the Korean company, as a series of fires - which were later attributed to battery flaws - led to two high-profile product recalls, and the complete withdrawal of the product from the global market.

Samsung later resurrected its fiery flagship as the Galaxy Note Fan Edition, but today, it's drawing a line under the Note7 with the launch of its new Galaxy Note8.

Samsung didn't attempt to gloss over the Note7 disaster, directly addressing it in a nostalgia-fuelled intro video at the start of its Galaxy Note8 announcement today. "None of us will ever forget what happened last year," Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh said, as he expressed his "deepest gratitude" to the company's customers for sticking with it.

The Galaxy Note8's key specs include:

  • 6.3-inch Super AMOLED display with 2960x1440px resolution, dual-curved edges and Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (United States) / Exynos 8895 Octa (other markets) processors
  • 6GB RAM
  • 64GB / 128GB / 256GB storage options (plus microSD slot)
  • Dual 12MP rear cameras with optical image stabilization, 2x optical zoom phase detection autofocus, dual-LED flash, and 4K video recording at 30fps
  • 8MP front-facing camera
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • NFC support
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • USB 3.1 Type-C connector
  • Wireless charging
  • 3300mAh battery
  • IP68 dust- and water-resistance
  • Iris sensor
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6mm; 195g

While the Note8 has a similar display to the Galaxy S8 and S8+ that the company released earlier this year, it's the first time that Samsung has paired its dual-curved Infinity Display with the S Pen.

"Draw your own emojis, make animated GIFs, or write handwritten messages on photos," Samsung says. "Live message allows you to express your feelings and send them to people you care about."

Samsung says the Note8's dual 12MP rear cameras will provide superlative low-light performance, and claims that it's the first device to feature optical image stabilization in both of its rear cameras "to produce photos that come out beautifully steady even with camera shake".

The telephoto camera also includes 2x optical zoom, which Samsung has paired with a new Live Focus mode, along with Dual Capture capability that "simultaneously takes two different pictures" to let you take the perfect picture, apparently.

Get the focus you want before you press the shutter button. Live focus lets you take beautiful bokeh shots where you make your subject stand out. And if you're not entirely satisfied, you always have the option to adjust the level of background blur afterwards.

Samsung also claims that the front-facing camera will take excellent pictures in low-light, with Smart Auto Focus features to track faces in the shot.

The Note8 supports Samsung's DeX desktop dock, which offers a similar PC-like experience to Continuum on high-end Windows 10 Mobile phones. As with Continuum, it supports mouse and keyboard use when connected to an external display through an optional dock. "With DeX, you can work and play better than ever," Samsung said, "with newly optimized apps that connect to every part of your life."

The Galaxy Note8 will ship with Android 7.1.1 Nougat, but it will be upgraded to Android 8.0 Oreo, which Google announced this week. However, it's not yet clear when that will happen. As always, Samsung has loaded its own software customizations onto the device, including its own user interface, which will be familiar to owners of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ flagships.

The Note8 will also come with Samsung's Bixby digital assistant, which launched in 200 markets around the world yesterday - but voice support remains limited to US English and Korean.

The Galaxy Note8 will be available in four colors at launch: Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Maple Gold, Deep Sea Blue. It will be released on September 15, with pre-orders opening in the next few days.

However, it won't be cheap. T-Mobile US has priced the Note8 at $930, while AT&T and Verizon have priced it at $950 and $960 respectively. You can already pre-order it in the UK from Samsung, where it will set you back £869.

You can get a further overview of the Galaxy Note8 in the promotional video below:

We'll be going hands-on with the Galaxy Note8 later, so stay tuned to Neowin!

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