Everyone was laughing at Samsung (SSNLF) last year during the Galaxy Note 7 exploding batteries disaster, but no one is laughing now.
Samsung unveiled the new Galaxy Note 8 phone at an event in New York on Wednesday morning. The Note series is best known for its larger screen size, sometimes called a "phablet" to represent that it's part phone and part tablet, as well as for its nifty stylus called the S Pen.
This time around, Samsung is so confident in its Note 8 design that it poked fun at Apple (AAPL) for killing the headphone jack in its iPhone 7 models that launched last September. "Guess what you can do with our headphones? Plug them into a standard headphone jack," said Justin Denison, senior vice president of product strategy at Samsung.
The Note 8 officially launches September 15, but preorders will start in the next few days. The advanced features are reflected in its higher price, ranging in the mid-$900s depending on your carrier. Apple is expected to release a fully redesigned 10-anniversary edition of the iPhone next month for a starting price of $1,200. Today, Samsung set a new bar for the iPhone 8.
If you're looking to up your Instagram game, then the Note 8 is your best option. It now boasts the best camera on the smartphone market -- for now. Apple could leap frog it next month with the iPhone 8 but for now, it reigns supreme.
The waterproof Note 8 camera features a dual pixel sensor to help capture photos in lowlight and a "quick launch" button so you can quickly capture a photo of a skateboarder in the air or of the bride kissing the groom.
More importantly, the camera is "literally twice as good as before" with the introduction of a dual camera, according to Suzanne De Silva, Director of Product Strategy at Samsung. The two separate cameras on the back of the phone include a wide lens to capture landscapes better and a telephoto lens capable of 2x zoom to get closer to your subject. The Note 8 is also the first smartphone to feature image stabilization capabilities on both cameras, letting you take crisp and clear action shots.
Samsung also lets users blur the background of photos, a popular feature on the iPhone 7 Plus called "portrait mode." But unlike the iPhone 7 Plus, the Note 8 allows users to adjust how blurry the background is on photos and it lets users choose to blur the background after a photo is already taken. This option known as "live focus mode" also automatically takes two photos -- one close up photo with a blurred background and one non-blurred photo from further away.
"The new camera was a good catch up for Samsung, as well as a big differentiating factor," said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.
Touch and multitouch capabilities have made the stylus largely obsolete. But for the Note 8, it's a unique and differentiating factor that users love. And with the new edge-to-edge infinity display on the Note 8, there's more room to draw and create notes.
"The S Pen has always been the heart and soul of the Note series," De Silva said at the event.
The Note 8 Pen has a finer tip and greater pressure sensitivity to more accurately capture strokes that tell the phone what the user wants it to do. The "live message" function on the new phone lets users add animation to what you write or draw. For instance, you can write "hello" on a selfie, animate the "hello" to make it sparkle and then send it to a friend.
One of the best features on the previous Note phone was the ability to write to-do lists or other notes on the locked screen. For the Note 8, users can now write up to 100 pages of lists on their locked screen, and they can edit the list simply by double tapping the screen.
Other features for the S Pen include the ability to translate text simply by hovering over it with the stylus. Even units of measurement are converted to your preference.
The Note 8's larger screen has made it the phone of choice for multi-taskers. Being able to carry around a mini-computer allows for higher productivity.
With Samsung DeX, users can easily connect the Galaxy Note 8 to a monitor, keyboard and mouse for a full desktop experience. That means you can start a video call while walking home and then switch to your desktop monitor at home by docking the phone.
"It's all around an impressive phone," Dawson said. While Apple tends to have loyal users, the Note 8 is set up to do very well in sales and may steal some Android or S series users, he said.