Expert: Increments add up in Samsung’s latest phone

Email to a Friend

Samsung’s reboot of the Galaxy Note smartphone is as much about “increments” as it is about breakthroughs, according to one expert.

The Galaxy Note8, which is on preorder until its announced Sept. 15, 2017, release date, marks Samsung’s return to a popular product that was killed in October 2016. A flaw in the design of the Galaxy Note7 led to the smartphone’s battery overheating and possibly causing a fire.

Melissa Perenson, who has covered computing and computers for 20 years, tells Consumers Digest that the Galaxy Note8 is part of an industry evolution where innovations happen incrementally. Although the Galaxy Note8 has no new game-changing features, as the Galaxy Note7 did when it added iris scanning to unlock the phone, Perenson says the new model has a few notable “firsts.”

The Galaxy Note8 will be the first Samsung smartphone to have two rear-facing cameras—each one having 12 megapixels. (At least four other manufacturers have a smartphone that has at least two rear-facing cameras.) More important, the Galaxy Note8 will be the first smartphone that has optical image stabilization on both of its rear-facing lenses. Optical image stabilization helps to prevent a camera from capturing shaky images, and Perenson says having it on both rear lenses will make a difference in terms of quality.

More notable, however, is the smartphone’s price. At a starting price of $930 for a 64GB model (cellphone-service providers are offering it at a higher price), the Galaxy Note8 will be the first smartphone that cracks the $900 threshold. (The Galaxy Note7 cost $850.) Perenson says it won’t be long before smartphones bump the $1,000 mark, but, she adds, few people will notice.

That’s because cellphone-service providers now allow consumers to pay for their smartphones monthly, which Perenson calls “incremental pricing.” When smartphone prices increase only a few dollars on a monthly bill, consumers shrug, she says. “People think, ‘Oh, that’s just another latte at Starbucks,’” she says. “Then it becomes all about having the latest and greatest.”

We’ll have more to say about the Galaxy Note8 and other new smartphones in our November/December 2017 issue.