The S-Pen is the same basic design as the one introduced with the Note5 - you need to click it before you can pull it out of its silo. We're not trying to see if it'll go in the wrong way anymore, but that issue was already addressed before, so we'll just assume Samsung's learned its lesson and it's safe.
The S-Pen, or rather the pressure sensitive layer in the display, can recognize up to 4,096 levels of pressure - twice as many as the Note5, but the same number as on the Note7. Ahem, we mean the Note FE.
The tip is 0.7mm in diameter, so pretty fine then, but that's not news either. The entire stylus is 108mm long and 5.8mm wide, for the nerds among you.
The S-Pen's newest feature is Live message - the phone will record your scribbling as a GIF, which you can then send out via your favorite messaging app. Screen off memo is here too - just pull out the stylus and write on the black display, without waking up the phone and going through the lockscreen. The PEN.UP community is a go-to place for sharing your drawings, provided you have some artistic talent, and you don't just use the Note for scribbling to-do lists.
You can use the S-Pen's built in translation feature by hovering over words; you can use it to magnify portions of the screen, you can capture scrolling screenshots with ease. And you can even do it under water if you so wish. We'd rather not.
The Galaxy Note8 relies on iris recognition for keeping your device away from prying eyes, heh. It was the same with the Note7, and then the S8 and S8+ that followed, but we figured we'd still mention it here.
You see, you'd better get used to holding the Note8 right, and looking at it with your eyes wide open, as the fingerprint sensor is best left as a last resort. We've had mixed success with iris recognition on the S8+, some of us quickly adjusting to it, while for others it just wasn't a good fit with the angle at which they used their phone.
The Galaxy Note8 runs on a heavily customized version of Android 7.1.1. Ideally, it should have been Android Oreo, but we guess that's coming down the line too.
The Samsung UX you'll find on the Note is the same as what's been around for some six months on the S-series flagships but also on models lower down the ranks like the J-series, for instance.
Of course, the Note8 gets the Edge features that the flat J's aren't equipped to handle. Apps edge, People edge, Tasks edge - a ton of actions are available with a simple inward swipe from the side.
A new addition to the software package is App pair in multi-window - you can pair apps and launch them simultaneously, and for some apps, it even works for two instances of the same one. Talk about productivity.
Introduced with the Galaxy S8, the DeX docking station will be available for the Note8 as well. Just add a monitor, keyboard, and a mouse, and you have a full-featured desktop experience. Okay, it might be an overstatement, and the potential target audience may be small, but the option is there if you find a use case. Samsung will be bundling DeX with pre-orders of the Note8 in Europe.
It's still beyond us why every phone maker must come up with a personal assistant of its own, but if someone can pull it off, it's probably Samsung. Yes, we're talking about Bixby, which the company is aiming to make the backbone of its services. And here we were, forcing the poor lad to try and recognize our booze - what, it was a heavily advertised feature.
The Note8 will naturally support the latest Gear VR headset, or the other way around - the point is, the two will work together. The newest iteration of the headset that goes by the same name, and is not confusing at all, comes with a Controller with a touch pad, a trigger and a few more buttons - a giant leap in interaction over the previous temple touch pad design.