Samsung Note 8 Presents a Stylish Stylus — for a Price

A stylus might seem, well, out of style in the tap-and-type world of smartphones. Yet it's what sets Samsung's Note phones apart from the competition.

That's significant as Apple prepares to launch what's expected to be a super-premium phone next week, one that will match many of the features in the new Note 8 phone. Though not its pen.

I was skeptical at first, but the stylus grew on me.

Still, the Note 8 isn't going to be for everyone. Most people will be fine with Samsung's S8 phones for a few hundred dollars less. The Note 8 is more for "power users" -- those who use their phones a lot more than the average consumer. The Note 8 starts selling in the U.S. next week for $930 to $960, depending on the carrier.

Battery Issues

What's top on people's minds probably isn't the pen, but the phone's battery, given last year's Note 7 recall following a string of spontaneous fires. Samsung has stepped up its safety tests this year. Time will tell how well they work.

Samsung reduced battery capacity by 6 percent to make room for various safety measures. But there's still plenty of juice. The phone still had two-thirds of its charge left after four hours of Netflix. Tasks such as email, Facebook and note-taking won't be as draining.

Great for Note-Taking ... to a Point

A screen-off memo feature lets you use the stylus to take notes without having to unlock the phone. You can jot down a quick reminder while walking, or cross items off your shopping list at the store. It feels like real writing, without any noticeable lag. And writing a quick thought doesn't feel as rude as opening an app and typing while with friends.

Unlike past Note models, this one lets you scroll down to write more than a single...

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