back to article Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 is hot, but not much more than the S8+

Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 is everything you'd expect in a premium handset, but the stylus doesn't appear to add huge value. The Register was today offered the chance to get hands-on with the new phablet at its formal Australian launch. My immediate impression was that there's now very little distinction between a Phablet and a …

  1. LDS Silver badge
    Flame

    "ever became noticeably warmer"

    That's what the water trays were for....

    1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: "ever became noticeably warmer"

      ...better than the Note 7, which occasionally became noticeably much, much warmer.

    2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: "ever became noticeably warmer"

      Maybe it gets warm because of the 10x optical zoom.

      "Samsung made much of the device's camera, now imbued with 10x optical zoom"

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: "ever became noticeably warmer"

        Shame the author has read the specs of the phone, because it's 2x optical.

        http://www.samsung.com/uk/smartphones/galaxy-note8/camera/

        10x would require quite a bump. Or magic.

        1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: "ever became noticeably warmer"

          Musing on this, I think it's probably a Freudian slip, what with the iPhone X (10) out recently, I think the author got all Roman on our asses. Or Binary.

  2. Mark 110

    Has that intern started yet?

    "The Note gets 6GB of RAM, two more than the S8+, but a 3300 mAh 200mAh down on the S8+'s power source."

    Sentence is missing the word battery and a punctuation mark afterwards. Its getting like Grauniad in here sometimes :-)

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Has that intern started yet?

      'and-write' (sic) should have been 'hand write' I think,....

      1. Simon Sharwood, Reg APAC Editor (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Has that intern started yet?

        Yes it should. I missed the H. My bad. The production desk will give me a grilling now :-(

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Has that intern started yet?

          They'll spend the first two weeks looking up how to run a DROP TRIGGER against the running instance of Kieren.

    2. Mike Richards

      Re: Has that intern started yet?

      'Samsung reckons it's possible to dial phone numbers you and-write in notes,'

      Ummm? Not a clue what that was meant to say.

      1. Simon Sharwood, Reg APAC Editor (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Has that intern started yet?

        "Hand-write". My bad. And the intern will work in London, not down here in Oz.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Has that intern started yet?

      Sentence is missing the word battery and a punctuation mark afterwards.

      I was able to make sense of it - and for free I won't complain. But rather than the grammar, surely the main problem is in the sentence you've highlighted, that this huge phone comes with a poxy little 3300 mAh battery? That's pathetic for a device costing £850. The S8+ is pretty unambitious (after the Note 7 we can guess why).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Has that intern started yet?

      It's Oz speak.

  3. Christopher Rogers

    S8+ was the right move then. The best of both worlds. I only got into computers because my handwriting is terrible...

    1. big_D Silver badge

      The Note 8 is for those that want a stylus, the S8+ for those that don't. I don't see why there should be any other differences in the spec.

      (Obviously the 200mAH disappear to make room for the stylus.)

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      handwriting is dying out...

      The best of both worlds. I only got into computers because my handwriting is terrible...

      Same here, (left handed for a start) - although, a couple of years at college with ex-industry lecturers who could talk off the top of their heads for 3 straight hours means my handwriting at least has character even if it's still illegible rather than like a relative coming up a few years later (when photocopies were cheaper) whose handwriting looks like an eight year olds.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

    Sorry Samsung fans, but you know I'm right.

    1. rmason Silver badge

      Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

      Obvious troll is obvious.

      There is nothing particularly to separate the two. Just the branding and OS.

      1. Lysenko

        Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

        £170+ and a fingerprint reader separates the X from the (already stupidly expensive) Note 8. If I was going to spend >£500 on a phone (which isn't going to happen, ever) then there's no question which is better value.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

          The iPhone X is a red herring. It can't sell in volume because Samsung can't make the screens quickly enough. It is something that generates discussion before those who want a new iPhones will buy an iPhone of another flavour. For that reason, there's little point in bringing up the iPhone X for comparison to Samsung's or LG's latest offerings. An iPhone 8 is a more suitable object of comparison, and specifically for a Note the 8+.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            @Dave 126

            Because the iPhone X is going to be lower volume than the 8/8 plus you think it is "irrelevant"? Apple will sell far more iPhone Xs over the next year than Samsung will sell Note 8s (and the Note 8 is similarly outsold by its cheaper brother the S8/S8 plus) so I guess it is irrelevant too?

            It is likely the iPhone X's display is not the only production limitation, the new front sensors for depth scanning may be even more limited since they've never been produced at anywhere near such a small size in volume before. Apple is solving the display issue by adding LG and potentially a third OLED supplier for next year, and presumably doing something about the sensors as well.

            I think they figured that rather than wait until 2018 to have production up to snuff, they'd sell 2018's iPhone in 2017 - I doubt this was plan A.

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: @Dave 126

              @DougS

              LCD and OLED screen costs have always been affected by yield rates. Small sensors and IR emitters far less so - for reasons that are obvious if you only think about it. Hint: area is L x W.

              The 8 screens cost Apple about $50, the X screens currently $150.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

          there's no question which is better value...

          Samsung - cheaper, but nothing works properly. Face scanner can be fooled by a child's drawing of Father Christmas, finger print scanner (if you can actually reach it) can be fooled by damp toilet paper, Android bloat and malware, no software updates, no security patching, odd intermittent failures, no support after Samsung release next iteration in 6 months time, stylus will get lost within 30 minutes, danger of body and face burns. Used by witless, entitled twenty-somethings. Screen always cracked.

          Apple - more expensive. It worked well yesterday, it works well today, it'll work well tomorrow, it'll work well and be fully supported in 5 years time. Used by those who truly value quality.

          I see what you mean.

          1. Triggerfish

            Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

            I bet you wait for every windows post so you can go on about Penguins as well.

          2. Angus Cooke

            Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

            Looks like you have a chip on both shoulders! Idiot.

          3. macjules Silver badge
            Gimp

            Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

            You forgot to add that each iPhone X is lovingly caressed by Tim Cook and Jonny iVe before being packed.

          4. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

            Upvoted for the thing about Father Christmas and because Samsung software is atrocious. Their first fingerprint scanner software dumped the fingerprint as a BMP in a world readable file. No matter how shiny the hardware (if it doesn't have battery problems, and I'm not just talking about the Note 7), you wouldn't get me to buy anything Samsung.

            Except the washing machine because that wasn't my decision, but it unsurprisingly gives cryptic error codes and sometimes forgets where it is in the program if you pause and restart.

            My work phone is a Samsung, was given to me for free, and it's sat unused in my drawer because it's bollocks. Heavy, slippy glass back that's going to break if you look at it wrong, crappy software you can't uninstall.

            1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

              Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

              @Dan55 "crappy software you can't uninstall."

              Like the stocks App on IOS?

              1. D@v3

                Re: GruntyMcPugh

                What stocks app?

                Oh, the one i deleted when iOS10 came out.

          5. Adrian 4 Silver badge

            Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

            @AC

            You may well be right, but most iphones I see (as well as other makes) are cracked. There seems to be a correlation between people who spend too much on a phone and people who don't understand simple materials science.

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

              > I must have missed the bit about the X having 6GB RAM

              And that does what for you exactly? RAM is meaningless beyond what it does for the user experience - so if you want to compare handsets on a task-for-task basis then go for it. Remember that they have different OSs, and different speeds of NAND storage, and of course different SoCs. Anandtech can give you a range of benchmarks and analysis, if you fancy.

              You merely waving numbers around like a teenage game of Top Trumps suggests you've learnt nothing from the last twenty years of computing. It's actually embarrassing that a supposedly technical website like the Reg has readers that up-voted that simplistic fuckwittery.

          6. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

            As someone who has moved from Apple to Samsung, you are talking bollocks. I've had multiple Apple products fail. iPhones and MacBook Pro's. I no longer buy Apple kit as it's too expensive for what it is and their support is awful.

            From now on I will stick with Android phones because for ~£500 I can get something that is far more usable than an iPhone and I get a headphone jack.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

        There is nothing particularly to separate the two. Just the branding and OS.

        The OS is a pretty damn big difference..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

      and the iPhone will make you cross.

      I'm here all week...

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

      I must have missed the bit about the X having 6GB memory and a stylus built in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

        You also missed the bit about iOS being literally 10-15 times more efficient at runtime than the Java-heavy Android. 6GB for Android is like 500MB for iOS. Android is like an breathless obese child squeezing into a Fiat 500. iOS is like a hunting lion. When you run something on an Android phone, 95% of all processing is offloaded to Google severs, else the phone would melt.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

      Hmm...

      Is IP67 is so much better than IP68 water rating?

      Is the lack of fingerprint sensor make it better?

      Oh - and the price...

      I'll stick with my Samsung S8 thanks.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Rendered irrelevant by the iPhone X...

        IP67 means 30 minutes under a half meter of water, and IP68 means 30 minutes under a meter of water. Does that extra half meter really matter? You're safe either way if you knock your phone in a full sink. Neither tests the effect of dropping your phone in a pool, or getting caught outside in a huge downpour with your phone in your pocket. Your phone is probably fine if either happens, but IP67 vs IP68 isn't going to make it more or less likely to survive either of those occurrences.

        If someone came out with a phone rated waterproof down to a couple hundred meters like many watches, would that be better than IP67/IP68 in a way that would or should influence any purchase decisions, or would it just be another pointless spec to use in a dick measuring contest? Would anyone take their phone underwater in a chlorine filled pool or salt filled ocean if it was waterproof to 200 meters? I sure wouldn't - might not have desirable effects on the finish, or on the chemical coating used to keep the screen fingerprint resistant. Though more to the point, why would you? Taking pictures underwater doesn't work too well without the proper lens.

  5. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    I've had three Notes, the 1, 3, and now the 4. I've only had one smartphone without a stylus since 2004, that was an HTC HD2, and while I liked the phone, I really missed the stylus.

    I use my stylus daily, to take notes, and largely, for shopping lists. I write down things I need as I think of them, then cross them out as I shop. I have crap handwriting too, so I use the Italic pen, which gives my script some form, and stops it looking like a scratchy line.

    1. Yesnomaybe

      Yup, I had 2 now on 4, can't wait for the 8, buying it whatever the price.

      1. Gob Smacked

        ..and it's good

        My son already has it. Batterywise: he's doing more than a full day with a full charge and if he then charges it, it's back on 100% in about an hour.

        I'm officially jealous (still on the Note 3).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yup, I had 2 now on 4, can't wait for the 8, buying it whatever the price.

        I assume you're referring to the iPhone?

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      I write down things I need as I think of them, then cross them out as I shop.

      There's an app for that you know..

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        @CrazyOldMan "I write down things I need as I think of them, then cross them out as I shop.

        There's an app for that you know.."

        Yeah, S-Note. Which uses the S-Pen. I can take a photo of my wife's shopping list (she has an S7 no S-Pen, so uses paper,.....) include it in my S-Note shopping list, and cross those items off too. I used to have an LCD Boogie Board attached to my fridge, so I'd write my shopping list on that, take a picture, then cross off the items on my phone (using the S-Pen). It's a simple, and elegant solution to an everyday activity. It actually adds a bit of value. Typing items in to a shopping list would be quite kludgy by comparison.

        1. cray74

          Typing items in to a shopping list would be quite kludgy by comparison.

          I'm not endorsing the following app as the greatest thing since sliced bread, just pointing out that there are options between "putting lines through items on a photograph" and "typing items into a shopping list." If your brain favors old school hand-written lists or something else, then ignore this post.

          "Note Everything" (I'm sure there are other check list apps) allows you to create check lists of many formats, and it retains them, even has a backup feature. You can mark items as "need" and "done" (i.e., "acquired," if it's a shopping list). You can prioritize and sort items, and it has a speech-to-text function for entry. You can have multiple lists - I keep a grocery list and a list of things to do when I go on travel. (Like never, ever forgetting to empty the garbage when you're leaving for a week and dropped a half-eaten garlic-and-herb crusted fish in the bin the night before departure. "Empty bins" is now on my travel check list.)

          Yes, you have to manually type in items for your lists (or speak them into the list), but you only have to do that once and then the item is in your list permanently until you manually delete them. Then it's just a matter of checking and un-checking the items with a single finger (or stylus) tap through the week as you think of whether you need to buy something again.

          I like a check list app because I was always forgetting the handwritten list by my refrigerator and almost never forget my phone. Obviously, it's not for everyone, but the option is out there.

  6. rmason Silver badge

    I'm marginally annoyed

    Marginally.

    this was supposed to be my next handset, primarily because I've always got along well with samsung phones, and especially the Note series.

    In the past that has been because it's always had superior battery life to others in the range, well over 24 hours without charging under reasonable/heavy usage.

    I can't see this one being the same as it has a smaller capacity than the S8+, presumably because they think we'd all have fits if it was a few mm thicker. I've had four of the various "note" phones and they've all been brilliant. shame if this one isn't. Will have to have a play with one.

    1. Peter 26

      Re: I'm marginally annoyed

      Maybe the stylus took up some of the battery room. FWIW my S8+ easily lasts a day, but that always seems to be the case with a new phone, hopefully that will still be the case in a couple of years.

      1. Cloud-Bytes

        Re: I'm marginally annoyed

        The Note easily lasts a day. The Stylus also does a ton of useful stuff the reviewer seems to have missed. Hover over a word or paragraph to translate in real time springs to mind as I write this from another country...

    2. Gob Smacked

      Re: I'm marginally annoyed

      @rmason: The Note8 by default uses a lower resolution than the S8/S8+. I guess this is the reason that it lasts more than a full day like the Notes before. It'll switch to higher resolution when necessary (video, etc.) or when you make it your preference to go to full resolution allways.

      For regular use FullHD is enough for me, can't see the small pixels anyway...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm marginally annoyed

      Have your burns healed up ok?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The single failure with all "Flagship" these phones..

    Is the battery..

    90% of the "wow" features they come with such as the touch features, pen etc, are just gimics and have very little use past the first week, when you'll default back to using all the same software and features you used on your past 10 handsets!

    Why would I pay a premium for this? when I can get a £200 phone with a 5000Mah battery that last 2 days, has 99% of the most useful feature the "Flagship" phones offer, but lasts a full 2 days.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: The single failure with all "Flagship" these phones..

      What use is a Quad HD screen, apart from killing my battery?

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: The single failure with all "Flagship" these phones..

        "What use is a Quad HD screen, apart from killing my battery?"

        To be honest, I watch movies on my S5 Mini. At night, phone on chest, SD-purchased movie, it looks just fine. When I'm reading web pages, I can't see a single pixel, no matter how hard I try. Whether that's aliasing or just sheer screen res, I don't really care.

        At the kinds of distances these things are used, even HD isn't worth the effort (in fact, I save a few quid by only ever buying the SD-version, because I can't tell the difference and because the stream-bandwidth is less if I do that).

        Same with quite a lot of the specs nowadays. As you say, the things that matter don't seem to change. I don't care about ultra-thinness. I'll happily have a slab in my pocket if it provides benefit. I don't care about ultra-light-weight. Sometimes it's nice to know the phone is in my pocket and you can't really go mad anyway given the single criteria "phone-sized". I'd rather have a thicker, heavier phone with longer battery, more ports, and more oomph (but not much, because pretty much the phone I have does everything I need at the speed I need it to) than edge-to-edge screens, HD screens, 4K screens, entirely-touch screens,ultra-thin screens, and no way to plug the damn thing into the things I want.

        To be honest, even the mini-micro-nano-SIM / mini-micro-nano-SD junk drives me mad. Just give me the big slot and if the card I want to plug in is too small, I'll put an adaptor on it. I can't do that the other way around, plugging a big SIM into a nano-SIM slot.

        Oh, and dual, triple, quad SIM while you're there. Gimme a Nokia-style brick, with modern hardware and all the trimmings. Then I'll consider it worth paying more than a couple of hundred quid for.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The single failure with all "Flagship" these phones..

          "To be honest, even the mini-micro-nano-SIM / mini-micro-nano-SD junk drives me mad."

          Every UK SIM I've encountered in the past three years (across the household fleet of phones, multiple providers, contract and SIM only, MNO and MVNO) has been a full size one press outs for the smaller sizes. Are people really issuing the old style full size SIMs without that?

          1. Lee D Silver badge

            Re: The single failure with all "Flagship" these phones..

            @Anon: Vodafone. All the damn time.

        2. Alistair Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: The single failure with all "Flagship" these phones..

          I have NetFlix on my MotoG5. I keep up with my (no one else in house watches) series off NF by watching while I cook dinner. (Bluetooth headset comes in handy here, so I'm not chopping cable into the onions or summat) HD is utterly pointless on a phone. In any circumstances.

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: The single failure with all "Flagship" these phones..

            HD is utterly pointless on a phone. In any circumstances.

            When you're using it as a phone, I agree anything more than 300-odd ppi is pretty pointless. The added extra res does come into its own when using VR though.

          2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

            Re: The single failure with all "Flagship" these phones..

            @Alistair, "HD is utterly pointless on a phone. In any circumstances."

            Nope, it come into it's own when you use VR Apps, then you want more pixel density. Or you use a VR Headset and a theatre application, and get a large virtual screen in front of you. A VR headset and a pair of headphones is a nice immersive way to enjoy a flick. OK, you can't chop onions and immerse, but don't knock it until you try it.

            1. Baldrickk Silver badge

              Re: The single failure with all "Flagship" these phones..

              From arm's length, I get the point.

              From half that, (I.e. where I actually hold it when lounging around watching videos on it) the field of view is about the same as it is my 50" 4k TV from my sofa.

              With both, I can easilly tell the difference in the image quality when watching 720p, 1080p and 4k resolution video, and as stated a couple of times above, using it as a VR screen really makes the pixel density matter.

              For most everything else though, web browsing, actually using it as a phone, etc, etc, the resolution doesn't really matter.

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: What use is a Quad HD screen?

        not a lot if you are viewing 4K Videos on the handset.

        But Marketing said that 4K is where it is at and so here is a 4K screen on a handheld device.

        It will sell lots to the 'My thing is bigger than your thing brigade'. sigh.

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: What use is a Quad HD screen?

          To drive the price down so we can get them in the next-gen VR headsets :)

        2. DougS Silver badge

          @Steve Davies 3 - Quad HD & 4K videos

          Quad HD != 4K. Quad HD is 2560x1440, 4K is 3840x2160 (well technically 4K is 4096x2160 and UHD is 3840x2160, but everyone calls the latter 4K)

          Not that you can tell the difference when watching a 4K video on a 6" screen, but then you probably couldn't tell the difference between Quad HD and full HD (1920x1080) when watching said 4K video on a 6" screen either. Or watching the same video in "mere" full HD resolution. I suppose those who are very nearsighted might like it though - you get the same experience as having a massive $10,000 TV in your living room by holding your phone three inches from your nose!

          I agree with you though, it is essentially a marketing exercise. No doubt we'll see 4K displays on phones eventually. I don't think it is the display technology holding them back, it is the additional load it puts on the GPU for something the user can't see.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The single failure with all "Flagship" these phones..

      Why would I pay a premium for this?

      You wouldn't because you're logical and rational, like me and more than a few round these parts. We cannot see how Samsung (or Apple) can justify the huge prices of their premium phones - and even their mid range and low end phones are poor value against the interlopers.

      But we are not the target market. These things sell to people who have a few bob spare every month and will happily have £40-£50 contract phones; Generally younger buyers, people who spend all day fondling their phone, manage their lives through it, and are defined in their social circle by ownership of a premium handset. Apple X, 8, or at a push 7, Sammy 8 of any flavour, they might get by with a OnePlus 5, an LG G6, but if they go with those non-fashionable alternatives they'll forever be justifying to their equally shallow mates why they don't have a Samsung 8 or an iPhone X.

      I wrote above £40-50 a month - there's currently a special offer on the EE website, offering the iPhone X for.....<drumroll>...£83 a month <fanfare>.

      You and I are not part of the self absorbed world that is intended to buy these devices.

      1. Gob Smacked

        Re: The single failure with all "Flagship" these phones..

        @Ledswinger: I guess you forget the Note *users*. I can easily do 3 years with a Note and then put my savings on the table for the next big thing. I find it's mostly appreciated by business users and they can easily spare 3 dollars a day to upgrade yearly.

        The Note series is mostly about the fan base. If you really use the stylus and the additional software with it, you'll miss that dearly on a "regular" phone.

    3. royprime

      Re: The single failure with all "Flagship" these phones..

      I know everyone always moans about the batteries on phones, but do you live in a location with no power or do you just sleep only every other day? I put my phone on charge at night and in the morning I've 100% which happily sees me through the day.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: The single failure with all "Flagship" these phones. @ royprime

        I actually do you my phone a lot when out and about, including relying on GPS, and all the other bits I have on it. It can quite deplete battery life during the day, it's a pain around late evening if about to go out and having to charge up because the charge is low.

  8. Dippywood

    What use the stylus?

    I have a Note 4, and whilst I like the stylus, in most circumstances it is just a "nice thing to have."

    However, there is something for which i have found it essential:- correctly entering Vietnamese text into Google Translate.

    For those not in the know, Vietnamese uses the Latin alphabet with diacritics marking the tones, inflexions and guttural stops - having the wrong accents on your text will completely change it's meaning. Since camera input does not work, being able to write the word is very useful, and saves trying to remember the keyboard trickery required to get the right diacritics in the appropriate places.

    Since I am married into a Vietnamese family, this is a life-saver!

    Niche perhaps, but suits me!

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: What use the stylus?

      Just curious but can't you use a Viet keyboard easily? I watch them and they seem to switch between that and English on the phones and use them so fast including getting the right accent marks etc. Haven't tried one yet.

    2. Dippywood

      Re: What use the stylus?

      They exist - and you are right that the Vietnamese use them well - but you need to remember all the shortcuts to get the diacritics.

      Not practical for an occasional user.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: What use the stylus?

        Aaah I see, currently learning Viet, but I see it getting switched between so fast and still unfamiliar enough with the language I can't follow what they are doing.

        I didn't think a note would be more useful than an S8+ but that's a use I never thought of.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "the wrong accents on your text will completely change it's meaning"

      Also, having a misplaced apostrophe in an English text.... (it's instead of its...) :-)

      1. Dippywood

        Re: "the wrong accents on your text will completely change it's meaning"

        I must be a grocer :-)

        That is not normally an error I make, but mea culpa

  9. Anne-Lise Pasch

    Can someone recommend an Android phone that has less crapware, a long battery life, and decent specs? I was waiting for the Note 8 but I want a phone that goes longer between charges.

    1. Triggerfish

      Could try looking at the LG V20, older model but removable battery.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        It might be worth you looking at the the Moto Z range from Motorola - Android appears pretty stock, and Moto boast battery lives between 24 and 40 hours depending on model. Plus, you can snap a 'Moto Mod' battery on the back for even more uptime - a better solution than swapping a battery (a la older Note and LG phones) because no phone restart is required.

        Some Sony Xperia phones boast a good battery life, and they do minimal reskinning of Android. There are some bundled apps such as 'Walkman', but not all of them are crap. Sony's 'Stamina Mode' is better than Google's Battery Saving mode on Marshmallow, but I don't know if Sony still add it.

        1. Ol' Grumpy

          In terms of "stock android" - the Moto G5 Plus is also worth considering although I believe there is a new one in the works. Decent camera, dual sim and the battery easily lasts into a second day for me and there isn't much in the way of bloatware on there.

          The downside is that software updates however don't appear to be a thing. I've been stuck on 7.0 since I got it. It also has a fixed battery.

          1. Cuddles Silver badge

            "In terms of "stock android" - the Moto G5 Plus is also worth considering although I believe there is a new one in the works. Decent camera, dual sim and the battery easily lasts into a second day for me and there isn't much in the way of bloatware on there."

            This would be my recommendation too. Got one a month or so ago for about £200; stock Android with specs more than good enough for everything except benchmark pissing contests. It's not waterproof, has a fixed battery and doesn't have a great camera, but there really doesn't seem to be anything comparable even at twice the price, let alone at the same price.

            The Moto G5S and G5S+ have supposedly already been released, but seem to be very difficult to actually find anywhere. The trouble is that they've upped the size, so the G5S is now the same size as the G5+ but with terrible specs, while the G5S+ is significantly bigger at 5.5". If you want a massive phone it's probably not bad if you can actually find one, but the original G5+ is much more my cup of tea.

            As for updates, they'll probably get at least one based on how the previous phones in the series were treated, but they're certainly not going to be regular. LineageOS should be available soon though, which will keep it getting updates long after any manufacturer would have abandoned them.

            1. Anne-Lise Pasch

              Will wait until the G5S+ hits, and see if I can try one in my hands in a shop before I buy, but sounds like what I'm after. Thank you all!

    2. Peter 26

      I hate crapware, but went with the Samsung S8+ bought 2nd hand on eBay for about £530. They have only been out a few months, so most people selling them are unwanted upgrades. There is an app called BK Disabler which you can use to disable all the Samsung crapware including the Bixby button (no root required), install Nova launcher and it ends up looking like a normal android phone.

      The only alternative I considered in the flagship but not £1000 price bracket are the OnePlus 5 which has a slightly worse camera, proprietary fast charging (which is better than all the rest, but means you can only buy charging accessories from OnePlus) and they only support software updates on their phones for about 18 months. But the best thing is no crapware, it's pretty much default android.

      Unfortunately there is no obvious answer, it depends on what you care about. For me I care more about regular updates and a decent camera so went with Samsung s8+, but wish I didn't have to disable all the crapware, but it wasn't that hard and is a one off thing.

      The best phone will probably be the next Google Pixel announced in the beginning of October, but it will probably cost around £1000.

      1. Neill Mitchell

        £1K barrier broken

        "The best phone will probably be the next Google Pixel announced in the beginning of October, but it will probably cost around £1000."

        This is the problem. Now the £1K barrier is effectively broken, everyone will start taking the piss and selling £1K devices because Apple and Samsung are getting away with it. Pure profit and greed.

        What tangible real world improvements does the Note 8 really give over the Note 4? I'm all for new products, but this strikes me as a small incremental technology refresh for a serious hike in price.

        Priced for the current market rather than actual technology value.

    3. fruitoftheloon
      Happy

      @Anne-Lise Peach

      Anne-Lise,

      I charge my Blackberry Keyone about every three days, I find the BB keyboard (which doe lots of VERY useful stuff) to be a fabby 'droid.

      Ooi Carphone warehouse usually stock them if you wanted to give one a test drive...

      Ymmv.

      Cheers,

      Jay.

    4. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Moto G5

      Pretty much stock Android, still gets updates, decent battery and good specs (AFAICT).

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Moto G5

        I'm not sure what moto is doing with the G5, but MotoG5 with RR and I can go (sometimes) three days with regular usage, but typically don't go below 60% battery on a regular day. Mind you I only have about 10 installed apps, and I throttle them *all* with ES.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Can someone recommend an Android phone that has less crapware, a long battery life, and decent specs?

      Depends what you mean by decent specs. I've just splashed £158 on one of these.. Lasts several days with my very light use - I've had it on power with minimal use for 8 days 22 hours before it turned itself off. Using it as intended you'd get two or three days out of it. I opted for the 3 GB RAM, it works quickly and effectively, takes an SD card, the main hint that it is not an expensive phone is that the Sony 13 Mp camera is reasonable, but not as good as the current premium phone cameras - its more in keeping with a Sony or Samsung mid-range phone. Overall, its brilliant, feels really well made, looks super. Out of the box the icons are a bit Apple-esque that may suit you, but I didn't like, but I just stuck on Nova Launcher, and it looks fantastic and works well. If you install a new launcher you'll need to install a separate SMS client like Android Messages, because the Xiaomi SMS client is a system app that Nova doesn't seem to recognise.

      What don't you get? You're forgoing waterproofing, wireless and fast charging, USB-C, but those were all things I can live without (there are immersion test videos on Youtube that claim it is waterproof, but the makers aren't claiming that,and I'm assuming it isn't). The supplied charger + UK adaptor isn't something you'll want to use, but any proper UK USB charging lead is fine, and it doesn't come with earphones, but takes any 3.5mm connection or Bluetooth. The other things you're not getting are things most of us don't need - ultra-fast processors that only show up in benchmarks, excess pixel counts and the like.

      I bought mine through Ebay from a UK importer who made sure this was the "Global" model with all the right 4G bands, and who configured the device for English users and installed Google services. That way I don't get embroiled with UK import duty issues, and it is UK despatched so if I wanted to return it then that's quick and easy (at the risk of advertising, the Ebay supplier was miandmore ). And by paying with a credit card on a UK transaction, I've got some protection if it all goes base over apex and the supplier can't or won't help.

    6. Gob Smacked

      @ Anne-Lise Pasch

      If you can try it for yourself or have a Note 8 owner at hand, you'll find that the battery life is very good and it charges very, very quickly. Don't mind the figures, listen to the experience.

    7. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Can someone recommend an Android phone that has less crapware, a long battery life, and decent specs?

      OnePlus 3 or 3T. I wouldn't recommend the 5 - it's £200 more for very little extra.

      And they update reasonably regularly. And have an active ROM crowd so plenty of choice if you don't like the supplier ROM.

      1. psychonaut

        get a second hand note 4. as long as you can put up with the crappy night camera action.

        1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
          Unhappy

          problem with 2nd hand is age / wear.

          My note 4 is becoming unreliable, and will need replacement soon, but buying a phone of the same vintage implies the same issues.

          I would love another note 4 - at least compared to whats currently on offer, the only real improvements seem to be increased storage and wireless charging (in hope of reducing mechanical wear on the USB port).

          Most of the new features being advertised are actually negative incentives. The only reason to buy the new models is because the bastards stopped making the old ones.

          1. Baldrickk Silver badge

            mechanical wear on the USB port

            That's the first practical argument for wireless charging that I have heard so far.

            (That's charging pads - room level wireless charging would be cool and useful.

        2. Boo Radley

          Note 4?

          I've been using my Note 3 for 3+ years. You can still find a Note 4 brand new on ebay for less than $250, which is my planned upgrade path.

  10. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Mathematical notation?

    I've only briefly played with a Note (4?), but I got the impression that it was handy for entering mathematical notation, transcribing big Sigma symbols and the like. Presumably it'd be useful for cultures that don't use an alphabet as we Roman-influenced folk do - is this the case?

    And what is 3rd party support for the stylus like? Presumably it lends accuracy to drawing and painting apps, but does it add anything else?

    I get the impression that some past Note buyers chose it for removable battery and sdCard rather than the stylus per se - can any Note users comment on this?

    It just seemed strange that the reviewer didn't have the imagination to see past his own stylus use case of making shopping lists. But maybe he's in the majority - one assumes the market for a stylus phone is not overwhelmingly huge, else Apple would make an iPhone that supports the iPad Pro's pencil. (It doesn't matter a damn what Steve Jobs might have said about stylii, he was known to turn on a dime if presented with a strong argument. He didn't like the Windows CE

    resistive touchscreen phones that *required* a stylus just to use as a phone)

    1. rmason Silver badge

      Re: Mathematical notation?

      @Dave 126

      I've had every (I think) note that was launched in the UK.

      You're 100% correct. Others may vary but what attracted me to the note line was the large and replaceable battery. It's what kept me there too.

      The stylus actually does become handy, but (for me) was never a key feature or the reason for purchase. It does get used, but rarely in any serious way.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Mathematical notation?

      Mathematical notation on anything like this is going to be a nightmare.

      I never managed to find a single device useful for this when I was at university, the tolerances and accuracy just aren't there and it makes it slower than just using pen-and-paper. Even 75"+ interactive whiteboards are a struggle.

      I still contend - despite being an IT guy for 20 years - that there is no sensible way to record mathematical notation on a machine outside of formal LaTeX-/MathML-like languages (even if done through a GUI), or by hand. There's far too much scope for "did you mean to the power of x, multiplied by x, x-bar, absolute x, x subscript, Chi, etc." with any kind of automated interpretation so that, like voice recognition, you spend half your time going back and correcting things rather than typing them. And that's REALLY not what you want in an equation where one mis-placed or mis-interpreted symbol destroys an entire paper.

      And if I was in a lecture taking maths notes or trying to "invent" new maths, I would not want to be hindered by technicalities while the thoughts are flowing and have further x's and Chi's thrown at me.

    3. casinowilhelm

      Re: Mathematical notation?

      All the best third party paint apps support the stylus very well, including pressure sensitiviy and palm rejection and things like using your finger as the eyedropper tool. I don't use it for anything other than that though.

  11. Brenda McViking

    I give Orlowski a hard time over lack of specs in reviews, so it's only fair Sharwood also gets chastised for not having the following basic spec info in the article:

    what charging slot? Type-C usb

    MicroSD card slot? yes (and some markets hybrid microSD/2nd SIM)

    3.5mm jack? yes

    removable battery? no. okay, I admit defeat. I think this one is looking pretty dead and never to return. doesn't mean I have to like it though. My last smartphone purchase was an LG V20, and the removable battery was the fundamental reason.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      The Moto Mod phones allow a secondary battery 'backpack', reducing the number of charge/discharge cycles endured by the primary battery.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      The LG V20 has a *swappable* battery... the LG-built Nexus 5 has a *removable* battery. The distinction is that the former takes seconds and the latter takes a few minutes - and a small Philips screwdriver.

    3. James 51 Silver badge

      There is a LG Stylus 3 which has a stylus and a removeable battery but can't find any reviews on the sites I ususally go to so not sure what it is like. Can't find it on amazon either, Three is the only place that seems to have it.

    4. Brangdon

      Am I the only person who also cares about FM radio? I want one partly for emergencies, partly to save data, and partly to save battery. Few flagship phones have them now, allegedly because the network operators want you to pay for internet data instead.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        If you want to save battery, use the FM radio on a Sansa Clip. If you want access to an FM radio for emergencies then a phone really isn't suitable - the battery on a standalone FM radio will last weeks of occasional use.

      2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        @Brangdon "Am I the only person who also cares about FM radio?"

        I was, but the govt have mooted reusing the analog FM bandwidth and moving everything to DAB, so I'm not sure how much future FM has,.... although the govt being the govt, they'll probably not get around to it until someone offers them several £Bn for the spectrum.

        1. cambsukguy

          They will be offering already, to stream radio to cellphones I imagine.

          People use data recklessly, streaming video, radio, video calling. I know someone who sends most of their messages on WhatsApp using audio instead of typing. People complain about not getting good streaming reliability while being the source of the problem.

          A bit like bad parking, people complain they never get a space but park atrociously when they have the space.

          This is one of those (many) situations (pulling out of side streets, cutting in traffic queues, jumping red lights) where being a good citizen just means others get the benefit of your altruism.

          At least altruism can work with data, I have a very cheap SIM-only package (4GB, £9) and never even check the amount used - I would have to be away from home with no WiFi and a laptop needed internet before I worried.

  12. Borrus
    Trollface

    Nobody will want one of these if they're hot!! The best phones these days are the cool ones. Nobody likes to get their fingers burned.

  13. Not also known as SC

    Software Updates

    I moved away from Android phones a couple of years ago because every one I'd bought seemed to be abandoned by the manufacturers / carriers after what felt like a very short time and no longer received any updates / security patches. What is Samsung like regarding software updates? Are they one of the better companies or are they on par with most other Android phone manufacturers? (I think my last Samsung phone was an S3).

    1. John Miles

      Re: Software Updates

      My Note4 just got security updates today and has been getting them monthly for a while (not sure when ot will end) - it did get an update to newer Android after I brought it, but is still on 6.01 (not sure what sticky mess the name should be) and I doubt will go later than that. A lot better than the past when the original Galaxy I had which got a couple of updates and then nothing - but I believe there was a push from Google to get things more frequently updated and Samsung seems to have come on board

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Software Updates

        Same is true for the Galxy S5 and S5 Neo. Both getting security updates (don't know for how much longer). The S5 is now left on Android 6, the S5 Neo is getting a roll out of 7 (subject to the carriers in many instances).

        I don't get the impression that Samsung are actually supporting their handsets for any longer in terms of the Android version, YMMV. Incidentally, I was a long time Sammy loyalist, but have jumped ship to Xaomi recently - if I get any updates that'll be a bonus, at the price I paid it doesn't matter if I don't.

        1. Not also known as SC
          Pint

          Re: Software Updates

          @ John Miles

          @ Ledswinger

          --------------->

          Thanks for the replies. When I'm in the market for a new phone / tablet I'll definitely consider Samsung again (although probably not the flagship models).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Software Updates

            When I'm in the market for a new phone / tablet I'll definitely consider Samsung again (although probably not the flagship models).

            I gave Samsung the heave-ho on the basis that when it comes to Android versions, most handsets are orphaned after two years if you're lucky, and I wasn't prepared to spend flagship money on a two year toy. I looked at the Samsung mid range handsets and concluded that they were technically underwhelming, and distinctly over-priced against the challenger brands. I almost went with a Moto G5, but it lacks a compass which has some implications for using maps, and several technical reviewers comment on poor audio quality which mattered to me. I really doubt I'll buy another Samsung, not because I dislike the company, just that their corporate flab means that the value is poor at most price points. Obviously that may differ for others, but I think you'd really need a Sammy-specific USP like the stylus on the Note 4 to justify paying their prices.

  14. Gob Smacked
    Pint

    Stylus all the way!

    The Note series has its own moderate fanatical user base. I'm one of them. My prediction: the Note 8's will sell like hot cakes, just like the previous Notes. Pricier than the S series, like the previous Notes. Still, they'll sell, as Samsung knows well.

    My 4 year old Note3 is definately going to be replaced soon...

  15. casinowilhelm

    Since they have the monopoly on having a tightly integrated stylus that works brilliantly, I decided to suck it up and buy one because my note 4 is finally packing in and I absolutely love having a stylus (I do bits of sketches, drawings and idea concepts every day with it) and on the note 8 it works better than ever. It's pretty much a wacom cintiq in my pocket. Could do without the pricetag and the bixby nonsense but I'm very happy so far.

  16. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Continual improvement is where it's at

    My immediate impression was that there's now very little distinction between a Phablet and a plus-size handset

    So don't use it. It was made up by marketers and largely ignored by the populous.

    With its phones Samsung has pursued a strategy of continual improvements. There's been the odd tick-tock: the Notes get something special or the Galaxys do. Over time high-end becomes standard: high-res, edge-to-edge screens, wireless charging, etc. This is how consumer electronics works and why Samsung is doing well at it. That it has managed to throw in some significant changes: split screens and DeX spring to mind, shows how hard they're working on next-gen stuff.

    The stylus is nice to have for most of us but essential for some which is why the Notes continue to sell well despite the price.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ubiquitous Smartphones

    The rivalry is childish and reminiscent to the Amiga vs. Atari ST, Nintendo vs. Sega type arguments.

    Samsung, Apple - both essentially the same and gradually getting more and more expensive to allow you to browse Facebook, take photos, use apps and phone people.

    The vendor buy in by consumers is impressive - the amount of people I know who have an iPhone 7 who will upgrade - or Samsung S7 to Note. Most are on 2 year contracts so will move to the next iPhone 11 or iPhone 12 when that eventually comes out. They just see it as a £65/month contract rather than TCO. It's crazy - especially when (for a 2 year life) there are so many cheaper mid-range devices.

    1. Not also known as SC

      Re: Ubiquitous Smartphones

      "The rivalry is childish and reminiscent to the Amiga vs. Atari ST, Nintendo vs. Sega type arguments."

      Compared to camera systems, smart phone rivalry hasn't even got started. Just try mentioning Nikon on a Canon forum or vice versa! I opted out and bought Pentax :-)

    2. cambsukguy

      Re: Ubiquitous Smartphones

      > They just see it as a £65/month contract rather than TCO. It's crazy...

      I will tell you what's crazy, thinking that £65/month is reasonable when £20/month will buy a good/reasonable phone over three years with a SIM-only contract.

      £40/month saved would pay for my broadband and a TV licence.

  18. Jim-234

    Apple vs. Android, you really get similar update lengths

    I've had Androids for a long time and Had the Note 3 (still in use by a friend), the Note 4 (also in use by a friend) as well as the S7 Edge and the Note 8. All of the Samsung ones (sprint/ATT/Tmobile) seem to get a bit over 2 years of software updates & patches, usually till about the 3 year mark.

    Many of my friends / family have the Apple iPhones, and while they say you can upgrade their software anytime, in reality if your phone is 3 to 4 years old and you try to put the latest iOS on it, you pretty much brick the phone into an unusable blob of waiting.... waiting...

    So in the end if you want to keep with the latest software from either Google or Apple, you pretty much ned a new phone every 3 to 4 years, or just leave the software where it is and the phone can go on.

    The Note 8 camera is way better than the Note 4 camera.

    The always on function of the screen is really nice to have once you set it up as you like it.

  19. BradPitt1
    Thumb Up

    Back to Android

    I recently made a big decision and going back to Android with Galaxy Note 8 after six years with Apple. This is a reliable phone with the best camera, excellent quality and performance. I'm a little bit disappointed with battery life, with the massive usage it barely lives the whole day. Brad from https://www.megebyte.com

  20. IT_Architect
    Happy

    ...bringing the nostalgic experience of using a pencil into the digital world, but I could find no

    "Spokespeople also enthused about bringing the nostalgic experience of using a pencil into the digital world, but I could find no immediately obvious "value-add" from the stylus."

    I know what you mean. It's like going back to the bad ole days when we used to use a ball point pen to sign legal documents and a mouse to select things. Today we simply dip our finger into an ink well to sign legal documents and pdfs, and a catcher's mit to select things. I like the challenge of selecting the right thing, and the suspense and surprise that goes with seeing whether or not I got it. I also find it much less distracting during a meeting to look at my phone max out my fingers than to jot notes with a stylus, and when you're explaining something, who wouldn't rather use a thousand words instead of a simple sketch? I know this, if I'm going to use a movement to dispatch a lock screen, I'd much rather use it to do something useful like swiping my finger than to pull out a stylus. Note users are taking a terrible risk too that they might not be thinking about. If they ever quit making them, the price to replace them with a used one will go up, instead of being able to buy a replacement at a greatly reduced price. (tic)

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