When announcing a new phone, these days you’ve got to have something new to offer, or you look like you’ve given up! Samsung had a bigger mountain to climb – closing the chapter on the failed Note 7 device, and getting attention with new and innovative features.

Aside from the stunning large 6.3inch screen, I reckon there are three key features of the Galaxy Note 8 that will get some attention as it hits the market, and I went hands on with the device here in New York City to see for myself.

Dual Camera

Certainly not first to market, this though is Samsung’s first Dual Camera on a smartphone. They’ve taken the Apple approach – using one lens as a telephoto 2x zoom, and the other as the “standard” wider angle.

And while Apple has “portrait mode”, Samsung calls it “Dual Capture” mode.

Samsung’s advantage is Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) on both lenses. Meaning in a longer zoom, demonstrated to me at 4x, with a little hand shaking, the Note 8 image is crisp and clear. Though in reality, the kind of portrait shots you’re taking are actually in 2x zoom at most and use the lenses together to map the blurring, so that’s not a real-world test.

The advantage Samsung bring to this is the options and post edit capabilities.

Firstly, you can modify the level of background blur after the shot is taken. Much like Huawei’s Wide Aperture mode, you move a slider to increase and decrease background blur. Images can be exported for sharing without removing the capability to edit the photo.

And then there is the option to look at the wider shot too. So on a photo taken with a wide vast scene, the Dual Capture is taken at 2x zoom, if there was more to the photo you wanted, that wide angle shot is also stored on the camera roll – so that’s there to use.

I like what they are thinking with it, but I’m not sure it’s a required feature. By the time March comes around and we’re talking Galaxy S9 – I can imagine dual cameras there and even more enhancements to this feature.

Live Messages

You’re in a text message conversation with a friend. You want to send a smiley face. Why pick a boring emoji when you can draw one yourself.

Again, a feature Apple has in some ways since the Apple Watch launched and more recently added to iOS, but executed differently.

The tap of a button on the keyboard opens up the scratch pad, and you can scribble away. Choose pen thickness, colour and off you go.

You can also choose a background image from your gallery and draw on top of it.

Once done, your drawing or writing is replayed in an animation and sent as an MMS.

Every message you send is stored in your “collection” to be sent again, or shared elsewhere.

I expect we’ll see a lot of these popping up as Animated Gif’s on Social media over the months ahead.

Fun feature, worth playing around with.

App Pairing

Sadly, neither of those two features are going to make me want to switch – as fun as they are.

App Pairing though, had my eyes wide open from the moment it was mentioned.

You might know that most phones have the capability to split the screen and show multiple apps operating in real time. Problem is, who’s doing that? It’s difficult to initiate and frankly we often forget it exists.

With these wider aspect screens, its an even more useful feature.

Swiping in from the right hand side of the screen in the App Launcher, you can see all the quick access apps you like to use, however, when you add an app you now have the option to create an App Pair – choose two apps, the icons are grouped together and placed onto the App Launcher dock.

Now, when you click that grouped icon, both apps are launched. The screen is split 50/50 and ready to use.

My only wish list item would be to save and store the split ratio – Google Maps at 60% and Music at 40% of the screen perhaps – I didn’t get a lot of time to test it – that may exist, but it didn’t appear to at first glance.

This feature will have more people using multi-window multi-tasking, and on a device the size of the Note 8 with the S Pen stylus, it’s a really useful feature.

We’ll have a full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 in the weeks ahead.

Trevor Long travelled to New York as a guest of Samsung – for more information, read our full list of commercial agreements and disclosures