We’ve yet to run our full set of benchmarks on the Note 8, but initial impressions are very good. It’s capable of great photos, battery life should be stellar and performance excellent. The iPhone 7 Plus has been out for virtually a year, so in some ways it’s an unfair fight: the iPhone 8 is just around the corner and should offer some compelling new tech that the ‘old’ model doesn’t have. Yet, it’s still a top-notch phone in almost every way and – amazingly – it’s the cheaper of the two here.
Price When Reviewed
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: $930
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: 32GB $569 | 128GB $669
Best Prices Today: Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Until Apple launches the iPhone 8, and perhaps iPhone 7S Plus, Samsung’s Note 8 must persuade buyers it’s a better deal than the iPhone 7 Plus.
Both are monster phones not just in size, but also processing power. Here we compare the two so you get a clear idea of which is the better choice for you.
Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus: Price
Neither is a phone you buy on a budget. Although the iPhone 7 Plus starts at £719 for the 64GB model. If you want 128GB, it’s £819. You can buy it in six different colours from Apple’s website.
The Note 8 doesn’t even try to compete with that, offering a 64GB version for an eye-watering £869. That’s £170 more than the Note 7 when it went on sale. You can pre-order a Note 8 now – it doesn’t go on sale until 15 September. To begin with there are two colours: black and gold.
If the rumours are true, the iPhone 8 will cost even more than that, but right now it makes the iPhone 7 Plus look almost cheap, and that’s just mad.
Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus: Design
The Note is isn’t that much larger than the already big iPhone 7 Plus. But it feels like you’re getting more because it crams in a whopping 6.3in screen. This makes the 5.5in screen on the iPhone look tiddly, and also highlights its fat bezels.
The 7 Plus looks and feels good, but it also looks the same as the two 5.5in iPhones that have gone before it, so it’s only the dual-camera setup at the rear which tells everyone you’ve got the latest model.
It bears repeating that the Note 8 is a massive phone. That’s probably what you want, but it is both bigger and heavier than last year’s disastrous Note 7.
The S Pen stylus tucks inside the body as normal, and is the main differentiating feature from your typical phone. If you’re already used to an older Galaxy Note and you can’t live without the S Pen, then the Note 8 is the obvious upgrade.
But if you’re an S Pen virgin, then it’s impossible to say whether it will be the killer feature for you or not. There’s deep integration and Samsung has added a few extra features for the Note 8 such as Live Message in which you can create gifs with the Pen.
There are plenty of other uses, of course, but the main one is for scribbling notes or sketches.
The Note also packs in an iris scanner on the front, while the iPhone 7 Plus has its Touch ID sensor below the screen: one reason why that bezel is so large. (And yes, we have a lot of emails to read.)
Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus: Display
At 6.3in the Note 8’s screen is marginally larger than the S8 Plus’. It has a 2960×1440 resolution, which works out as 521 pixels per inch.
That’s way more than the iPhone’s 401ppi, but things still look nice and sharp on the 5.5in full-HD iPhone. Although Apple upgraded the screen so it has a wider colour gamut, the OLED screen on the Note 8 is capable of much punchier, vibrant tones – if you like that sort of thing.
Like some recent Samsung phones, you can swipe in from the edge of the Note 8’s screen for quickly accessing a menu – you can customise what’s shown.
Apple, on the other hand, offers 3D Touch, which makes different things happen depending on how hard you press on the screen. This takes some getting used to as you have to force yourself to learn what’s possible. Some things, such as being able to see a preview of an email or webpage without leaving the app you’re in are good, as are contextual shortcuts to apps.
For example, you can press hard on the Messages icon to see your four most contacted people and tap on one to open that conversation thread.
The Note 8, though, has the more impressive display. The question we can’t yet answer is whether the iPhone 8’s will match or beat it.
Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus: Specifications
Here are the main specifications side by side in a handy comparison table.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Android 7.1 Nougat
iOS 10 (upgrade to iOS 11 in September 2017)
6.3in Quad HD display (2960×1440), 521ppi
5.5in Full HD (1920×1080), 401ppi
Exynos 8895 octa-core processor (Snapdragon 835 in some markets)
Apple A10 (with M10 co-processor)
64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Micro-SD card slot (up to 256GB)
Dual 12Mp with OIS
Dual 12Mp with OIS
Heart rate monitor
Yes, for Apple Pay only
4G LTE Cat 16
4G LTE Cat 9
3300mAh non-removable battery
2900mAh non-removable battery
IP68 dust & waterproof rating
IP67 dust & waterproof rating
Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus: Cameras
The Note 8 has two 12Mp rear camera, with a very similar setup to the iPhone.
The second camera on both is effectively a 2x optical zoom, letting you get closer without physically moving closer.
In our experience, the quality from the iPhone’s zoom camera is very hit and miss. It’s not even used in low-light anyway. In good light it can capture great photos, but on occasion, those look like oil paintings with hardly any detail when you zoom in.
On the whole, though, the iPhone takes great shots and is capable of stunning, stabilised video too.
We’ve yet to properly test out the Note 8’s cameras as we’ve had limited hands-on time with it.
From what we’ve seen it is also capable of detailed, sharp photos – they just look a little more processed than the natural-looking images from the iPhone.
Importantly, the secondary camera has optical stabilisation, whereas the iPhone’s doesn’t. And that bodes well.
Around the front, you get an 8Mp selfie camera, 1Mp more than on the iPhone. In the real world, though, that resolution doesn’t make a noticeable difference.
Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus: Performance
These are two of the fastest phones you can buy at the moment, so you’re unlikely to notice any lag or slowdown as you load app after app, or play intensive games.
The Note 8 has 6GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 835 processor in the US, but the octa-core Exynos 8895 in the UK and elsewhere.
Apple doesn’t talk about RAM, but it’s widely known that the 7 Plus has 3GB. Numbers – even numbers of processing cores – can be misleading and Apple has long proven that you can extract plenty of performance if you know what you’re doing.
Whether the Note 8 will be more power efficient than the iPhone is currently unknown: we still need to run our battery tests.
Having used the iPhone for a year now, we know for a fact that it will easily last a day with light use, but the battery drains rapidly if you’re playing demanding games or using the GPS a lot.
That’s not a criticism: it’s the same with almost every phone. The bottom line is that the iPhone has a one-day battery that you’ll end up charging each night.
Which phone should I buy?
As ever when comparing iOS and Android phones, software plays a very large part in the decision. Samsung customises Android a lot, but in general the changes are enhancements rather than unwanted bloat. The big screen means you can run two apps at the same time.
With the iPhone, you’re also getting a seriously high-performance device and it’s capable of some excellent photos, just like the Note 8.
The Note 8’s stand-out feature is the S Pen, while the iPhone has 3D Touch.
Don’t forget that Samsung’s phone is a lot more expensive for the same amount of storage, but the bigger, higher resolution screen will make it the better choice if you don’t mind the extra bulk.
And, presumably, if you were after a small-screen phone, you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
Get the latest news on the Note 8.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Specs
- Android 7.1 Nougat
- 6.3in Quad HD display (2960×1440), 521ppi
- Dual curved edge Infinity Display
- Exynos 8895 octa-core processor (Snapdragon 835 in some markets)
- 6GB RAM
- 64GB internal storage
- Micro-SD card slot (up to 256GB)
- Dual 12Mp rear-facing cameras with OIS
- 8Mp front camera
- Pressure sensitive home button
- Fingerprint scanner
- Iris scanner
- Heart rate monitor
- 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 4G LTE Cat 16
- Headphone jack
- 3300mAh non-removable battery
- Wireless charging
- IP68 dust & waterproof rating