Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus vs Pixel XL: Should I go Samsung, Apple or Google?

We compare the rumoured Samsung Galaxy Note 8 with the biggest competition from Apple and Google, namely the iPhone 7 Plus and Pixel XL. Should you hang on for the new Note, or go for a rival phablet instead?

The Note 8 is ready to drop here in the UK, although we already pretty much know all of the specs and other details already. Thanks to multiple leaks, we’re already excited about that 6.3-inch 4K screen, dual-lens camera and premium specs.

So does the latest Samsung Galaxy Note 8, as rumoured so far, offer enough cool features to steal pocket space (and it’ll take up the whole thing) from the Apple iPhone 7 Plus or Google Pixel XL? Plus, after that series of explosive Galaxy Note 7 phones being recalled, will anyone want to go back to the Note again? Here’s how Samsung’s stylus-packing handset compares to the biggest rivals out there.

Check out our other Note 8 comparisons:

Note 8 vs Note 5 vs Note 4

Note 8 vs Google Pixel XL 2 vs iPhone 7s Plus

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus vs Pixel XL: Specs

Phone iPhone 7 Plus Pixel XL Galaxy Note 8
Screen size 5.5-inches 5.5-inches 6.3-inches
Screen resolution Full HD Quad HD 4K
Water resistant? Yes No Yes
Fingerprint sensor? Yes Yes Yes
OS iOS 10 Android Nougat Android Nougat
Processor Apple A10 Snapdragon 821 Snapdragon 835/Exynos 8895
Memory 3GB 4GB 6GB
Storage From 32GB From 32GB 64GB
microSD? No No Yes
Battery 2900mAh 3450mAh 3000mAh
Rear camera 12MP Dual 12MP 12MP Dual
Front camera 7MP 8MP 8MP

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus vs Pixel XL: Design

The Samsung Galaxy S8 pushed design to another level with that bezel-free Infinity Display, plenty of shiny glass and of course a button-free front. Expect the Note 8 to offer a similar look, only with an even bigger display.

While that all sounds awesome, it’s up against the design genius of Apple and Google’s well-loved Pixel XL. The iPhone 7 Plus features a sleek aluminium unibody with curved edge 2.5D glass for that ‘goes-on-forever’ type look you can’t help love. Google’s Pixel XL is very, very similar in design, minus a home button on the front in favour of the rear. You also get a blend of metal and glass on the back, making it something of a halfway house.

So who wins out? Well, the iPhone 7 Plus is fully waterproof as is the rumoured Note 8, while the XL is not. But then the iPhone 7 Plus doesn’t have a headphone jack, where the Pixel XL does and so too should the Note 8. plus while all three have fingerprint sensors, the Note 8 is also almost certain to offer iris recognition to unlock the handset.

Which is best?

Our personal preference here is the new Note 8, which should offer a surprisingly usable design despite that larger screen. Not to mention serious good looks and full water resistance.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus vs Pixel XL: Screen and media

The iPhone 7 Plus and the Google Pixel XL both sport 5.5-inch displays. You’ll notice a difference in sharpness however, as the iPhone offers Full HD visuals (1920×1080 for 401ppi) while the Pixel boasts crisper Quad HD visuals (2560×1440 for 534ppi).

The Galaxy Note 8 could blow both of these rival phones out of the water however, since Samsung is a screen manufacturer after all. The Note 8 should come packing a mighty 6.3-inch Super AMOLED screen with 4K resolution and HDR display smarts.

That means watching Ultra HD videos on the move won’t mean putting up with reduced quality. That 4K resolution should also offer decent VR visuals when the phone is mounted on a headset, such as the Samsung Gear VR. Despite being so close to the eyes, this quality could help avoid pixelation and really add to the immersion on offer.

Which is best?

The Galaxy Note 8 is the clear winner here, with a more spacious, super-sharp HDR-ready screen.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus vs Pixel XL: Features

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will come packing that much loved S Pen stylus as a crucial part of the package, something the competition doesn’t offer. This allows precision input, which is ideal for getting creative on the move or staying productive.

The new Note should also have Bixby AI onboard for smart artificial assistant controls. Since this is powered by former Siri developers who wanted to make something even better, it’s a really enticing offering.

This will all be sat alongside the typical Android Nougat features, an OS that’s also unsurprisingly found on Google’s own Pixel handsets. The Pixel XL adds no bonus features, sticking instead with a vanilla version of Android. Of course that does mean you get the Google Assistant deeply integrated for voice controls and unlimited Google Photos storage.

Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus uses iOS 10 instead, which offers less customisation but plenty of great functionality. For instance, the iPhone boasts 3D Touch, for pressure sensitive controls that make interactions even faster. Peking at content before opening it up is a really nice feature, while you can also jump straight into specific actions from your desktops.

As for storage, only the Galaxy Note 8 here offers microSD memory card support. With the other handsets, you’re stuck with whatever storage option you opt for. Good thing you can get upwards of 128GB of space then, albeit for a bigger price tag.

Which is best?

That brilliant S Pen stylus once again wins this round for the Galaxy Note 8. That said, we like the user experience offered by the rivals here too.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus vs Pixel XL: Performance and battery life

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is rumoured to come packing the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 CPU with a hefty 6GB of RAM, giving download speeds of up to 1Gbps. It’s also expected to arrive sporting a 3000mAh battery, which isn’t massive when you consider it’s powering a huge 4K resolution screen. Expect fast charging as well as wireless charging to also be present. And hopefully no more exploding/burning issues.

The iPhone 7 Plus runs an A10 Fusion processor at 2.34GHz and is backed by 3GB of RAM and a 2,900mAh battery. Don’t expect much more than a day of use, especially if you like to stream lots of media. However, performance is still perfect after close to a year of use, even when blasting through demanding games and editing video footage.

Google’s Pixel XL packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor with 4GB of RAM, as well as a 3,450mAh battery. This handset also boasts that fast charging feature and again, despite the Pixel’s age, you can expect a silky smooth experience throughout.

Which is best?

We’re yet to test Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8, although those premium specs should make for a more graceful ageing experience. Still, the Pixel XL continues to impress with its smooth performance and solid battery life.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus vs Pixel XL: Cameras

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is expected to feature dual rear cameras with 12-megapixel sensors and, of course, the ability to shoot RAW images and full 4K resolution video. This should also give the option of easy GIF creation, AR stickers and other fun features for younger users. Expect cool bokeh effects to feature too, thanks to that secondary lens.

Meanwhile the front-facing camera should come in at 8-megapixels with plenty of Sammy modes to play around with.

Apple has also gone the way of the dual rear camera with 12-megapixel f/1.8 and f/2.8 lenses for fully stabilised high-quality snaps and up to a 63-megapixel panorama mode. Although we expect the Note 8 to offer better low light photography, we can’t fault the iPhone’s snapper for everyday use. Plus, you once again get support for up to 4K photography, as well as the Live Photos feature.

The front-facing iPhone selfie snapper is 7-megapixels, offering sharp shots.

In stark contrast to the others here, Google’s Pixel XL uses a traditional single-lens camera on the rear at 12.3-megapixels. Overall quality is excellent, including strong low light performance. Once again you have the ability to shoot 4K video, as well as a great HDR mode and more.

The Pixel XL also sports an 8-megapixel front-facing selfie snapper, just like the Note.

Check out our Pixel XL camera review and iPhone 7 Plus camera review for samples and full info. We’ve also put these snappers head-to-head in our Pixel vs iPhone camera comparison.

Which is best?

This is a really tricky call. The Note 8 has the potential to be the very best smartphone camera out there in 2017, although only a complete test will truly decide this. For now, the Pixel XL and iPhone 7 Plus both offer strong optics.