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Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 gets positive reviews, comparisons with iPhone 7 Plus 'Portrait' mode

Image Credit: Adam Patrick Murray/IDG via Macworld

Reviews have begun to emerge for Samsung's latest flagship phone, the 6.3-inch Galaxy Note 8, taking a largely favorable view while contrasting its "Live Focus" camera mode with the Portrait option on Apple's iPhone 7 Plus.

Samsung's attempt at simulated bokeh — blurred background — using a dual-lens camera is "basically not any worse or better" than Apple's, The Verge claimed, saying they both "feel like first-generation attempts" with "a lot of headroom for improvements to come in later iterations." The site complained that indoors or in poor light, image quality can be bad, and that even with good light the two phones can produce a "cardboard cutout" effect and fail to capture detail around objects like hair.

Macworld gave the edge to the Note 8, pointing out that the phone not only offers the ability to adjust bokeh and keep both lens views — options that are missing on the 7 Plus — but avoids blurring everything, and is better at handling depth. It did suggest that Apple's software is "easier to use," and will soon be paired with iOS 11 and new iPhones with upgraded camera technology.

Reviews from CNET, Engadget, Android Police and elsewhere typically agree that while the device is one of Samsung's best products to date — with a high-quality display, solid performance, and an upgraded stylus — it's also extremely expensive at $930 or more, while not being a dramatic improvement over the much cheaper Galaxy S8 and S8+.

It's not yet clear if the phone has dodged the battery issues that plagued 2016's Galaxy Note 7. A series of fires forced the company to issue two separate recalls before killing the product entirely, at a cost of over $5 billion. In response it implemented a new battery-testing regime, and indeed there have been no widespread complaints about the S8 line.