I’ll never forget when the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 arrived at my apartment on August 17, 2016—two days earlier than its release date. Everything about the phone was perfect: the screen, the note-taking capabilities, the speaker and the phone call quality. I told one of my colleagues that Note 7 was the hottest smartphone ever released. Little did I know how literal my words would end up being.
After owning it for two days and obsessing over its beauty, I charged it overnight using the Samsung wireless charger. I woke up six hours later. When I grabbed the phone, the phone was burning hot.
“There is no way my perfect new phone could have anything wrong with it! It must be the charger!” I thought as smoke began to creep out of its sides. Worried that the phone would catch fire, I poured a huge gallon of water on it. This wasn’t supposed to happen! I was more upset about the death of my new smartphone than concerned about my safety—that’s how good the Note 7 was.
I got a replacement the same day (thank you, T-Mobile) but learned about the recall two weeks later on September 2. My new unit didn’t heat up, but I never put it on my wireless charger. Still, I was worried, and I took another beloved Galaxy Note 7 back to the T-Mobile Store. One month later, the new “safe” version of the Note 7 came out, and I stood in line for two hours to get it. I was back in smartphone heaven until there was another recall. I held off returning it as much as I could, but it was eventually bricked by T-Mobile. My inner geek felt empty knowing I would have to give up the Note 7 for good.
Well, perhaps I and others who miss our Note 7 phones are in luck—sort of. A new “safe” version of the Note 7, referred to as the Note 7R or Note 7 FE, is set to go on sale in Korea and other non-U.S. countries later this month. Those in the U.S. will still be able to buy an international edition and use it with their carrier’s SIM cards since many of these Note 7 devices will be unlocked. But at a price point (in the primary market) that’s only about $200 less than the original Note 7 model, the prospect of having a Note 7 doesn’t sound as exciting anymore, especially since its specs are somewhat outdated.
There’s also another reason to avoid purchasing the Note 7: Samsung is in the final stages of preparing the Galaxy Note 8. As the Observer reported last month, the Note 8 appears to be taking the (very few) flaws of the Galaxy S8 series and fixing them. For example, both the S8 and S8+ units were supposed to have an under-the-screen fingerprint reader, but Samsung wasn’t able to perfect the technology by the planned release date. There was also supposed to be a dual-lens camera as early prototypes demonstrated, but it didn’t make it to the final release. Recent reports suggest that while the in-screen finger print reader is a possibility, the dual lens camera will definitely appear.
Many reports say that the Note 8 will be slightly larger than the already large Galaxy S8+, which should thrill most but worry others who think the S8+ is approaching a non-pocketable size. However, the biggest improvement is a 4K screen, which some say is overkill for a mobile device. However, the 4K resolution is needed when the Note 8 is used with the Gear VR headset. Currently, Quad HD+ screens on Samsung’s other smartphones reveal a “screen-door effect” in virtual reality since the screen resolution isn’t high enough when the phone’s screen is magnified onto your face. When not used with VR, Samsung will likely have a setting to reduce the screen resolution to save battery life.
Some sources have the Galaxy Note 8 release date in October, but it’s more than likely that Samsung will release their new smartphone beast in August in order to beat the iPhone 8 series to the market. Samsung knows the Galaxy Note line reputation was tarnished with the Note 7 and needs to make amends. If the Galaxy S8 series is any indication, Samsung has learned their lesson. The Note 8 will likely make people instantly forget about the Note 7 debacle that almost destroyed the Korean company in 2016.
Daryl Deino is a writer, actor and civil rights activist who has appeared on shows such as The Untouchables, Parks and Recreation and Two Broke Girls. Besides writing for Observer, he has also written extensively about technology, entertainment and social issues for sites such as the Huffington Post, Yahoo News, Inquisitr and IreTron. Follow him on Twitter: @ddeino.