Samsung launches Galaxy Note 8

Samsung's Galaxy Note 8

Samsung released its newest phone, the Galaxy Note 8, on Wednesday with both the usual fanfare and a dose of humility, thanking customers for sticking with its flagship line after the company's last version had to be recalled.

"None of us will ever forget what happened last year. I know I won't," said company president DJ Koh at a Samsung event in New York to present the Note 8.

The South Korean technology giant has a lot riding on the device beyond winning over consumers. The successor to the Note 7, which had to be recalled twice for a tendency to burst into flames, the Note 8 is Samsung's biggest, priciest and most powerful phone. It comes at a time Samsung is set to invest deeply into new manufacturing facilities.

The company is also mired in a leadership crisis. A court is expected to rule on Friday in the trial of Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, who is accused of bribing former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, among other charges.

With Samsung looking to turn the page, here are the key specs for the new device, as reported by CNET:

  • Large screen. The newest phone has a 6.3-inch AMOLED screen with 2,960x1,440 resolution. It is Samsung's largest phone. 
  • Twin rear cameras. It's the first Samsung phone to have a two-camera setup, with a 12-megapixel telephoto lens alongside a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens (there's also an 8-megapixel camera up front).
  • Stylus. The stylus (or S-Pen) has become standard on the Note line. There's a new feature here, "screen-off memo," which lets a user scribble on the screen without having to unlock the phone.
  • Reduced battery size. While the Note 7 had a 3,500mAh battery, its successor has 3,300mAh, which leaves more room in the phone's cavity. No longer is Samsung trying to squeeze more battery power into each phone.
  • 8-point battery safety check. To boost confidence, Samsung is also seeking certification from an outside safety lab, UL.
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Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 CNET

The new phone also kept some features that were rolled out with the Galaxy S8, including:

  • The Bixby button. Like the S8, the Note 8 has a clickable button on the side of the phone that activates Samsung's phone assistant. It's not quite the same as Siri or Google's Assistant, which the Note 8 also has. Instead, it lets a user tell their phone to do things like open an app or operate the camera -- even when the phone is locked. 

  • Awkward fingerprint reader. The Note 8 keeps a feature of the S8 that was widely criticized -- a fingerprint reader on the back of the phone, to the far side of the camera. Many users found it hard to reach.

The price is likely to be at least $850, the Associated Press reported, making the phone among the most expensive on the market. By contrast, Apple's iPhone 7 starts at about $650 and the Galaxy S8 at $750.

Samsung's Note phones tend to be niche products aimed at people who use their phones more than the average consumer.

TEC Samsung Note 8 Phone
Justin Denison, vice president of strategy for Samsung Telecommunications America, stands among projections of the company's Galaxy Note 8, during the phone's introduction, in New York on Wed., Aug. 23, 2017. AP

The phone comes in a range of colors: midnight black, orchid grey, deepsea blue and maple gold (the last two won't be available in the U.S. at launch.)

Preorders for the Note 8 start on Thursday, and the phone will be available for sale on Sept. 15.

Customers who had bought the Note 7 will get an instant trade-in value worth up to $425 through a special offer on Samsung.com, the company said. It'll be a tall order for Samsung, considering that starting last September up to 3 million Note 7 phones were recalled after a number of units overheated and some caught fire.

CNET and The Associated Press contributed reporting.