Samsung Galaxy Note 8 USB woes

This isn’t a review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8; I mostly just want to talk about the USB speeds for a bit.

As a side note, so far I’m pleased with my Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Upon setting up the phone, I noticed the graphics were a bit bloated by default. Out of the box, the always on display has these extra little annoying things that I disabled by changing the wallpaper (they’re called “infinity effects”) but that can all be customised, so it’s no problem. The phone seems to work well with my Garmin Fenix 5x watch too.

Adobe Photoshop express and Adobe Lightroom now let you edit raw photographs and you can quickly view them too; again that’s something I’ll make use of. It really is a great device and when I get around to reviewing it fully, I hope my review will show that. I’m actually pretty disappointed with the reviews I’ve seen far. They’re professional and well made, but they’re far too negative.

If you don’t want to read all of this, please read the bullet points:

  • I have achieved 70MB/sec+ speeds writing to the phone from a device connected to the USB port of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8
  • Speeds drop significantly, down to as low as 13MB/sec, when multiple devices are connected
  • The MicroSD card slot is fast and runs at USB 3.1 speeds
  • It’s quicker to copy files from an external SD card reader to the MicroSD card slot, and back again to a different SD card than it is to copy files from an SD card to a MicroSD card on the same USB card reader
  • If you’re looking for a portable backup solution to add to your professional camera, look no further but be aware of its USB limitations
  • You can load raw photographs quickly

Please don’t be too alarmed by what I’m about to say below. For the average user that has zero interest in plugging in multiple high speed USB devices, this will not affect them.

USB 3.1 isn’t always USB 3.1

The USB C USB 3.1 port isn’t always USB 3.1. I could be wrong, but it’s as if Samsung have implemented a crafty measure to slow the USB port as a means to lower current draw from the battery and therefore minimise heat (if you know about last year’s disaster, you probably know where I’m going with this theory…)

It’s not mentioned in the documentation anywhere and I am hugely interested in USB C USB 3.1 phones as I can use them as a portable backup device for my Sony a7rII camera (taking a laptop isn’t an option on long hikes.)

It’s not all doom and gloom though, take a look at this screenshot for example —

If you’re just plugging in the one USB device i.e. an SD card reader, and you copy files from that device to the onboard storage or the built in microSD card, you will receive full USB 3.1 speeds (my cards aren’t super quick, but I’ve gotten over 70MB/sec so I know it’s not using USB 2.0, for sure.)

Here’s the problem though… If you plug in a memory card reader with dual slots, with the intention to move files from a large SD card to a microSD card (NOT the built in microSD card reader) on the same USB reader, i.e. a hub of sorts, then it will revert to USB 2.0 speeds.

Some people have tested a few devices, noticed that a Samsung T3 SSD is fast and that their third party HUB is slow, and then drawn the conclusion that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (actually I think the comment I read was about the Samsung Galaxy s8+ but the same logic applies) favours Samsung’s own equipment. From what I can tell this is not true at all–non causa pro causa.

The limitation is based around the number of devices, not the brand of device. It could be entirely a software based limitation as the phone has the hardware to work in USB 3.1 mode; however, I’m not 100% sure. I suspect the port doesn’t supply the same amount of current as last years model.

There are a few ways to make a battery explode, 1) short it. 2) short it by crushing it. 3) discharge it incredibly fast. 4) charge it incredibly fast. 5) discharge it fast enough to expand and crush itself (if there’s not enough room in the case). 6) charge it fast enough to expand and crush itself (if there’s not enough room in the case).

The battery undoubtedly has more room in the case compared to last years model, and by limiting the amount of current to the USB port, it would be far less likely to discharge too quickly. In other words, I suspect they’ve gone safety mad. I’d be fine with that if they informed the user, but there’s no mention of this.

USB card reader information


USB card readers are mostly bad and most of them do not support sequential writes, but I have found a few decent ones.

When I connect my SD card reader to my computer, as a reference, the speeds slow up a bit and the card reader gets quite hot when writing from one card to another sequentially. With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the speeds can drop to as low as 13MB/sec after a lot of writing, (that’s 26MB/sec total USB throughput, as they’re both on the same port.)

There are two ways to think about this problem…

Above are two examples of how to transfer data. The last one shows data going from a large SD card to a MicroSD card on the same SD card reader. If you look at the screenshots below, the first one shows sustained sequential writing from an external SD card to an external MicroSD card. It’s not great.

The SD to phone photograph shows the kind of speeds I’ve achieved with the USB port i.e. 70MB/sec+ when only one device is connected. The SD to MicroSD picture is on the breaking point of maximum USB 2.0 speeds, but I suspect the limitation here is with the speed of the MicroSD card in the phone itself rather than it being limited to USB 2.0.

If you look at the MicroSD phone to SD speeds, this is faster than USB 2.0; in other words, I believe the MicroSD card slot in the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 phone supports USB 3.1 speeds, and a single device connected to the USB port also supports USB 3.1 speeds. Not only that, but when data is transferred from USB to the MicroSD card in the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 phone, the sustained writes do not seem to dip. They’re respectable, and remember, 70MB/sec writing is actually 140MB/sec total throughput.

My advice is to buy a 128GB MicroSD card. Use 64GB for phone storage, and 64GB as a buffer. Copy files from a 64GB SD card to the MicroSD card in the phone. Then plug in a different SD card or even a Samsung T3 SSD, and copy the files from the MicroSD card in the phone onto the second device.

You can leave the MicroSD card in the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 at all times; the only reason I suggest this method is because most phone cases suck more dick than a swedish pornstar and do not let you access the MicroSD card slot very well. If you have access to the MicroSD card slot with your phone case or you don’t mind removing your case frequently, then you might as well just put a fresh 64GB MicroSD into the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 phone and copy the files from an external USB card reader onto it.

This is a bit of a convoluted solution, but it is a solution nonetheless. I do not own a Samsung T3 SSD, so I cannot be certain what the speeds are; however, MicroSD in the phone to an SD card gives you 60MB/sec write rates, combine that with the first card at about 50-55MB/sec, and then half the value (as you’ll be copying to two separate places), and you could still be looking at 30MB/sec+ sustained write rates. Moreover, when raw photographs are on the MicroSD card in the phone, you can open them quickly. I would really like to get my hands on a Samsung T3 SSD as I’m curious as to how quickly you can edit photographs on that thing.

Remember, USB 2.0 is 60MB/sec maximum theoretical speed on one port (which you’d have to half if you’re copying from one device to another), so you’re still breaking USB 2.0 speeds in pragmatical terms, with this method and you get the choice of being able to copy to an SD card, MicroSD or an external SSD. With sequential writing on the same memory card reader, you’re pretty much limited to SD card to MicroSD.

Canada, US Visa, Zeiss Batis and stuff

I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing my posts about the Pacific Crest Trail and my US Visa denial, so I’ve decided to make a page dedicated towards it and then limit my blog posts to happier content. Hopefully it will be helpful to someone at least.

I’m going to give Canada some serious thought. Banff looks really pretty. I think I’d like to buy a longer lens, if I do go to Canada. A Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM lens will be a bit heavy, but the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 lens might just be manageable. It’s a lens I initially laughed at, and the price is extortionate, but it’s really quite lightweight for its focal length. The price is a bit of a problem though.

I’m going on holiday Saturday, for a week, and hopefully I’ll be able to take a few photographs :). When I return home, I will receive my Samsung Galaxy Note 8. I will do a full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, I also want to update my Garmin Fenix 5x watch review, and write about how well it functions with a phone.

US Visa, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Pre-ordered and Raspberry Pi

Last night, I couldn’t sleep very well. I was really anxious about getting a Visa; travelling is extremely important to me, and it would mean so much to me if my Visa application is approved. My Visa interview is next week and I really hope it goes well :).

Excuse me for changing topic a lot in this post, but I have a somewhat eventful month coming up and a few fun things to talk about.

Raspberry Pi

Recently, I bought a raspberry pi 3 b as I wanted to extend the WiFi range in my bedroom and create an access point without breaking the bank. I’m quite familiar with Linux, especially Debian, so setting up Raspbian was extremely simple. I’ve set it up such that my new phone will connect to the built in WiFi of the raspberry pi 3 b and this data will travel through the ethernet port into a network switch. The available guides online do not show you how to do this properly; the best guide I found allows you to set up an access point but it doesn’t allow you to connect to other computers on the same network (in the guide, the raspberry pi 3 b acts as its own DHCP server which is part of the problem.)

I didn’t want to spend much on this project and dedicated access points can be really expensive. If anyone else is interested in this, let me know… I have saved all of the commands and when I’m less busy, I’ll write a guide and post some photographs.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

I am now prepared to own the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Speaking of which, it was announced today and I have made a pre-order. It looks like a great phone, but for the price it would have been nice to see 256gb storage instead of 64gb, and I’d have liked it to be a bit cheaper and a bit lighter (it’s 195 grams.) I’m really looking forward to getting it :). It’ll be the first time I’ll get to try out my Garmin Fenix 5x with a phone! I’ll complete my review of the Garmin Fenix 5x when I get the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

It must seem like I’m only interested in electronic devices, haha. I am actually obsessed with hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, I am just holding back a bit because if my Visa is declined I’ll be pretty sad to say the least. If it is declined, I’ll still be travelling somewhere but it won’t be the same.

I probably won’t be posting for about a week. I want to prepare myself for the interview and whatnot.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 looks amazing

The specifications and design of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 are pretty much known at this point, it would seem. That’s if we’re to believe the latest leaks and rumours.

I originally thought the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 would be too big, but at the alleged dimensions of 162.4 x 74.5 x 8.4mm, it’s going to be a similar size to the model above except it’ll be about 10mm taller. I’m not expecting it to feel much different in the hand. Of course, the leaks and rumours could be inaccurate but I doubt it at this point.

It is a slightly thicker phone, but interestingly leaks claim it will have a slightly smaller battery, at 3,300 mAh; I guess Samsung are being extra careful with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, but I’m certainly not expecting the battery life to be bad.

The screen size of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is alleged to be 6.3 inches vs 5.7 inches of the previous model.

Americans can expect a Snapdragon 835, and the people here in the UK will likely get a Exynos 8895 chipset version of the phone.
Both should have 6GB of RAM, and there will likely be two storage variants: 64GB and 128GB sizes.

I’d love the larger storage version but I don’t know if I can justify the price difference.

A headphone jack, microSD card slot reader, etc. are all alleged to be there, so there’s nothing particularly bad about the phone from what I can see so far. Some people state the fingerprint scanner is going to be in a bad place, but I like using the iris scanner anyway.

I’ll definitely be pre-ordering one as soon as it’s available. I can’t wait :D.

Using the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 as a portable backup device

I plan to buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 as soon as it’s released. With the previous model now called the Samsung Galaxy Note Fan Edition (FE), you can copy files using USB-OTG and a card reader. This is a good backup solution for the Sony a7rII.

You can get some insanely fast microSD cards now e.g. the . There’s also a 100MB/sec version available in the USA.

When I get the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, I will see what the USB speeds are. If I can find an SD card with a 90MB/sec read speed and a microSD card with a 90MB/sec write speed, I’ll be able to copy files from one to the other and see how it works in real world use. The Samsung Galaxy Note Fan Edition (FE) caps out at about 90MB/sec but that might be because my card at the time could only read/write at 90MB/sec.

They’re getting so fast that it might not even be worth buying a Samsung T3.