Galaxy's noteworthy return
IT'S amazing the passion people have for their phones.
When Samsung was forced to recall its flagship Galaxy Note 7 last year, there were plenty who were reluctant to give them up, despite the exploding battery safety risks.
The way some fans were discussing it on social media, it was almost like they had lost a loved one.
After covering the launch of Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 in New York, we made the obligatory visit to Trump Tower.
Outside, four or five police officers in full tactical response gear, including assault rifles, were on duty.
Bravely - or stupidly - I went up to one of them to offer a "g'day from Australia”. He was immediately taken aback and seemed threatened by my approach, telling me to back up.
It was only after I mentioned we were in town to cover the Note 8 launch that the situation was disarmed.
He wanted to know all about the launch, the new features of the phone.
His knowledge of the technology was pretty impressive. And he's not alone.
According to the Korean tech giant, 85% of Note owners reported loving their phone, with 75% calling it the best phone they had ever owned.
"That is such a sign of love and we want to return the love back,” one official said.
The Note has been at the forefront of innovation, starting with the AMOLED display in 2008, S Pen in 2011, water and dust resistance in 2013, wireless charging in 2015 and infinity display this year.
With a new square-curved design, it sports a 6.3-inch quad HD and super AMOLED display for mobile HDR content, yet at 74.8mm wide can still be held in one hand.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will sell for almost $1500 in Australia - making it the maker's biggest and most expensive phone ever.
Samsung Electronics Australia director IT and mobile Garry McGregor says the Note 8 builds on the features that Samsung has pioneered, including biometric security, fast and wireless charging and a "beautiful handwriting experience”.
Sweating in a hot New York hotel restaurant undergoing renovation, he tells Australian journalists the phone is "critically important” to Samsung's future.
"The Note 8 is the most powerful and refined device we have ever launched,” he said.
First looks for the Note 8 are very promising. It's a big phone with big features and Mr McGregor is genuinely excited about what it has to offer.
Samsung believes the number-one selling point of its Note 8 will be its dual camera system - the first to feature optical image stabilisation for both the wide-angle and telephoto lens.
In our brief testing ahead of the launch, the two 12MP rear cameras captured super-sharp high-resolution images with bokeh effect (blurred background) to rival a DSLR and Apple's iPhone 7 Plus.
Live Focus even lets you control the depth of field by allowing you to adjust the bokeh effect in preview mode and after you take the photo.
In Dual Capture mode, both rear cameras take two pictures simultaneously and allow you to save both images - one close-up shot from the telephoto lens and one wide-angle shot that shows the entire background.
The Galaxy Note 8 will also capture better selfies with its 8MP Smart Auto Focus front-facing camera for photos and video chats.
On the work side of things, the new Note 8 has some big improvements to its functionality, including the ability to pair applications and launch them in multiple windows with the click of one icon on the edge display.
For security, the Note 8 will offer iris and fingerprint scanning, defence-grade protection through Samsung Knox 6 and a secure folder to keep personal and professional data separate.
With 6GB RAM, a 10nm processor and expandable memory of 256GB, it is a phone that, when coupled with Samsung's DeX dock, keyboard and monitor, could make you question whether you need a laptop.
And as for that exploding battery issue, Samsung says it will continue to commit to industry-leading safety initiatives.
The new smaller 3300mAh battery is more efficient than the larger 3500mAh version that came with the Note 7.
As you would expect, it has undergone exhaustive testing, including Samsung's rigorous eight-point safety process. The last thing the company wants is a repeat of last year's disastrous recall.
Samsung is hoping the Note brand will be remembered for big innovations rather than advances in combustion technology. With a price tag of almost $1500 in Australia, it would want to.
The writer travelled to New York as a guest of Samsung.