I've been meaning to put my thoughts on the Note 8 down for a few weeks now, but they're basically the same as Andrew's: it's a great, huge phone that has many redeeming qualities, including a beautiful screen, admirable performance, and an S Pen that I love and want to use, but don't. Oh, and battery life is fine. Not sure what everyone's on about in that regard.
BUT I do have something nice and effusive to say about the shag carpet Alcantara case, which I picked up alongside my blue Note 8 at launch. Samsung's first-party accessories tend to be hit-or-miss, and while I initially scoffed at the idea of putting a soft, suede-like cover on my phone, I have no regrets: this is one of the best I've ever used.
Let's start with the fit and finish. When a company makes its own accessories, they tend to fit better than those of third parties — not universally true, but there's a correlation. (You'd also hope for high quality if it costs $49.) This thing fits like a glove and finds the right balance between protection and bulk. The Note 8 is already an oversized phone, especially vertically, so I was concerned about using any case with it.
The Alcantara case hugs the sides and top while leaving the bottom area exposed, which, while not entirely protected, makes the most amount of sense from a usability perspective, especially when it comes to applying and removing it. Ideally, you want to easily access the S Pen, speaker, headphone jack, and charging port — the bottom is always busy on a Note device — so going with a full-perimeter case would have been too restrictive. And, selfishly, it lets me see just a little bit of that blue metal that, only available in Canada, I love so much. 🇨🇦
The case also does well to add a bit of a lip to the front of the phone, which is ideal when it comes to drop protection. Obviously, this isn't going to be considered a heavy duty case in any way, so if you drop the phone while it's in the Alcantara case expect some damage, but any lip is better than none. On the other side, there's a nice little groove in which the camera(s) module sits, also protecting against scratches against that rear glass.
Holding the Note 8 while in the Alcantara case is a revelation. I noted above that the glass back is fairly grippy and I rarely left nervous about clutching it naked (the phone was naked, not me — probably) but there really is something to this material.
Alcantara is fairly new to the tech industry — we've seen it pop up in a few cases, as well as Microsoft's beautiful Surface Laptop and Surface Pro Type Cover — but it's been used in cars and home furniture since the 1970s. In fact, it's a brand; Alcantara is the name of the company that creates the material.
That material is basically a mixture of polyester and polyurethane — in other words, mostly plastic — which gives it its tensile strength. In the manufacturing process, however, the fibers are woven similarly to other threaded textiles to form the suede-like outer portion that makes it so pleasant to hold. But unlike suede and other leathers, Alcantara doesn't tarnish quite as easily — sure, it can discolor over time, but if treated well, and occasionally washed with soapy water, it should hold up nicely.
Having only pawed the Note 8's Alcantara case for a few days, I can't say whether it will hold up as well as a typical plastic case, but so far, so good.
Interested? You can pick up an Alcantara case for the Note 8 in one of four colors — black, green, pink, and dark gray (shown here) — for $49.
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Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central.