Samsung’s huge new smartphone has finally been announced and it costs the best part of £1,000. Is it worth all that money or are the S8 or S8+ better, cheaper options?
Screen size aside, what separates Samsung’s shiny new phablet from its flagship handset? The S8 only came out six months ago and the smartphone world hasn’t moved on a great deal.
We’ve put both phones side by side to see if there are any big differences and to see if one has the edge over the other, and you can read our impressions of the Galaxy Note 8 in our first look review. We’ve also considered the S8+, which has a screen just .1 of an inch smaller than the Note 8.
Best Buy smartphones – the handsets that should be on your shopping list.
How do the screens compare?
You’ll spend most of your time looking at the screen, so it’s a good place to start when you’re comparing them. Both screens have a tall, thin 18:5:9 aspect ratio that means the screen can be bigger, but the phone isn’t too unwieldy to hold. The S8 has a 5.8-inch screen, while the S8+ has a 6.2-inch screen, and the Note 8 is only slightly larger at 6.3-inches.
The Note 8 may be significantly bigger than the S8, but the resolution of all three phones is the same 1,440×2,960. Rumours were that the Note 8 would have a 4K screen, but Samsung decided against it in the end, perhaps that would have tipped the phone over the £1,000 threshold. The bigger screen means the pixel density on the Note 8 isn’t as high as the S8, but if you put the two phones side by side you would struggle to tell the difference.
What about the design?
Whether you prefer the screen size on either the S8 or the Note 8 you’ll have a good looking phone in your pocket, (or poking out the top of your pocket if you go for the Note 8) they are both sumptuously designed.
Samsung calls its wrap-around screen the ‘Infinity Display’. Its subtly curved edges seem to disappear into the body of the phone and both handsets are practically bezel-free.
Despite having a much larger screen, the clever aspect ratio means the Note 8 isn’t too much bigger than the S8. It measures 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6mm to the S8’s 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm and some of that extra space is used to house the S-pen stylus. The S8+ sits between the two at 159.5 x 75.4 x 8.1mm, still a big phone, but it should be more manageable than the Note 8.
Will one take better pictures?
The big plus point in the Note 8’s camp is its extra rear camera. It has two 12Mp lenses: one is a match for the S8’s with a wide aperture of f/1.7 to let in plenty of light. The other is a wide-angle lens that has optical zoom.
Optical zoom means the camera can zoom in on the subject without losing clarity – something that can happen with digital zoom. Having two lenses gives you more options when you’re shooting and when taking a picture with either camera, the Note 8 will take one simultaneously with the other lens too, giving you more options when you’re looking back through your photos.
This means the Note 8 should take superior shots of far off subjects, but the significantly narrow aperture on the wide-angle lens means it might not be the best choice when the light’s not good.
Does either have an edge in performance?
Both phones have Samsung’s latest Exynos 8895 Octacore processor, but the Note 8 gets two extra Ram giving it six overall. There are phones with more Ram – the OnePlus 5 has eight – but 6GB is more than enough to keep the phone running smoothly.
Both phones are still running Android Nougat, despite the release of Oreo, but hopefully neither phone will have to wait too long to get the upgrade.
The Note 8 has a bigger battery too… just. At 3,300mAh it’s 300mAh bigger than the S8’s. The extra juice is likely to be devoted to keeping that huge screen going.
Is the Note 8 worth the extra money?
It looks as though Samsung has added enough new features to the Note 8 to justify its steep price tag. The bigger screen, extra camera, S-pen stylus and slight improvement to the internal specs are welcome, but the phone is likely to be too unwieldy for some.
It’s a phone you need to hold in your hand before you buy it and if it is too large then the new additions may not be enough to sway you. We’ll get this phone tested as soon as it’s released, but in the meantime you can see what we thought of the phone in our hands on video review.