In unveiling its Galaxy Note 8 smartphone on Wednesday, Samsung sent a loud message that it’s unwilling to let Apple dominate 2017 without a fight.
At an event in New York City on Wednesday, Samsung showcased what may be its most impressive smartphone yet. The Galaxy Note 8 takes all of the best features in the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, both of which debuted earlier this year, and adds some additional components that make the phone more attractive than its predecessors.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 comes with the same curved screen so many Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ owners (myself included) found so appealing and made it even bigger at 6.3 inches (from 6.2 inches in the Galaxy S8+). Samsung has also revamped the smartphone’s design with slick lines and a futuristic feel popularized by its Galaxy S8 devices. Add that to its fast wireless charging, speedier performance from its new processors, and user-friendly operating system in Android Nougat, and the Galaxy Note 8 looks like a contender.
But it’s the extras that may make it an even more attractive option this holiday season. It’s the first Samsung smartphone to come with a dual-lens camera. And with its compatibility with the S Pen stylus, allowing users to draw and write on the screen, it’s more versatile than most handsets available today including the Galaxy S8.
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But Apple (AAPL) is looming.
Next month, Apple is expected to unveil three new smartphones. Two of those, presumed to be the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus, are expected to include minor updates over last year’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Both smartphones look decidedly “old school” compared to the Galaxy Note 8.
The third Apple phone this year, called the iPhone 8, if reports are accurate, may be the Galaxy Note 8’s biggest rival. It’s expected design mimics the Galaxy Note 8’s, complete with a screen that almost entirely covers its face. With a rumored 5.8-inch screen, the iPhone 8 won’t be much smaller than the gigantic Galaxy Note 8. Apple’s iPhone 8 may also be the first from the company to come with wireless charging, which would eliminate the need to tether the smartphone to the wall to boost its charge.
Of course, this being Apple, there’s a good chance that all three new iPhones will be hits and sell better than any other rival device. But based on objective criteria, shoppers may decide that Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 is superior to the iPhones in at least some critical areas.
Those who want a bigger display, for instance, will find it in the Galaxy Note 8. The S Pen stylus is a surprisingly handy accessory, and at just a shade under $1,000, there’s reason to believe the Galaxy Note 8 will be less expensive than the iPhone 8, which is rumored to cost more than $1,000.
It’s also worth noting that analysts and market watchers say Apple could have trouble producing enough iPhone 8s to meet the demand due to manufacturing difficulties. If that’s true, some consumers who feel they need the latest and greatest device may opt for the readily available Galaxy Note 8 rather than wait for the iPhone 8.
However, Apple’s iPhone will be superior to the Galaxy Note 8 in some respects. Apple’s iOS operating system is better than Android, in my opinion (I also own an iPhone 7 Plus), and the iPhone maker’s services integration that lets users access photos, music, and other content from a range of devices is outstanding.
But pitted against the Galaxy Note 8, Apple’s pending iPhone may not be an obvious choice. Samsung has delivered some of its best features to the Galaxy Note 8, and it’s done it all in a device that comes with one of the best designs ever.
Don’t ignore the Galaxy Note 8 just because it’s not an iPhone. Samsung has unveiled an impressive new device that puts Apple on notice.