We compare Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 8 with the current flagship phones, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, as well as last year’s still-brilliant S7 Edge. Which of these premium Samsung mobiles is best for you?
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 is about to launch in the UK, to erase the nightmare of the Note 7 for good. This creative and professional handset comes packing premium specs, the brilliant S Pen stylus and absolutely loads of features, including an iris scanner for additional security and full water resistance. It’s also a whopper, at 6.3-inches in size.
Of course, Samsung has already delivered a couple of mighty premium handsets in 2017. The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are also around the 6-inch mark, with the Plus model proving just a mite smaller than the new Note. All three of these phones share a lot of DNA, including top-end components and sleek design work, although they’re different enough to make a careful comparison worthwhile.
And then there’s the Galaxy S7 Edge from 2016. If you already own the S7 Edge, you might be considering an upgrade to this year’s fresh new tech, so are the latest models really a significant update? Alternatively, your budget might be a little stretched by Samsung’s latest smartphones, in which case the reduced price of the Edge handset might be rather tempting.
Whatever your situation, here’s our S7 Edge vs S8 vs S8 Plus vs Note 8 comparison, so you can work out which premium Samsung mobile is your perfect portable pal.
Read next: Best Samsung Galaxy phones in 2017
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs S8 vs S8 Plus vs S7 Edge: Specs
|Phone||Galaxy S7 Edge||Galaxy S8||Galaxy S8 Plus||Galaxy Note 8|
|Screen resolution||Quad HD||Quad HD||Quad HD||4K|
|S Pen stylus?||No||No||No||Yes|
|Processor||Snapdragon 820/Exynos 8990||Snapdragon 835/Exynos 8995||Snapdragon 835/Exynos 8995||Snapdragon 835/Exynos 8995|
|Rear camera||12MP f/1.7||12MP f/1.7||12MP f/1.7||12MP Dual|
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs S8 vs S8 Plus vs S7 Edge: Design
If you’ve never really understood that whole ‘it’s what’s on the inside that counts’ mantra, the good news is that all of these phones are absolute stunners.
The S8, S8 Plus and Note 8 all look very similar, with a near bezel-free finish that blows the competition away. Even though these handsets sport massive displays, they’re surprisingly easy to grapple with thanks to that smart and ever so slightly seductive design. The fact that the home button is built into the screen means the panel can pretty much fill the entire front. No wasted space to speak of, pretty much.
Although the S7 Edge has thicker top and bottom bezels, complete with a standard home button rather than an integrated one, you still get a wraparound display which eliminates the side bezels. As a result, this older model is more or less the same size and weight as the S8, despite rocking a smaller screen. Then you have the S8 Plus and Note 8, which are both taller and heavier - although not to a seriously significant degree.
Every Samsung handset in this comparison offers a solid metallic edging, which gives way to a shiny and smooth glass backing. That glass scuffs up rather easily however, so keep a cleaning cloth to hand. All four of these phones are water resistant too, so you can dunk them in fresh liquid without any panic.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs S8 vs S8 Plus vs S7 Edge: Screen and media
Super AMOLED screens are packed onto each of these handsets and they’re all pleasingly bright, while producing vivid images. The S7 Edge offers a Quad HD resolution, which means plenty of detail when enjoying high-def movies or browsing photos. You get a ‘QHD+’ screen on the S8 and S8+, which offers a similar resolution but a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio, which is better suited to watching widescreen movies.
However, Samsung has gone a step beyond with the new Note 8, which offers full 4K Ultra HD visuals. Since 4K video streaming is set to get big on mobile in 2018, that’s definitely good news. Of course, it’s virtual reality that will truly be boosted by this Ultra HD panel, with Gear VR experiences proving even more immersive.
The Note 8 and the S8 handsets can also handle HDR video. This allows for even more realistic image reproduction from supported content, including a boost to colour range and contrast levels. Again, we’ll see HDR movies and shows offered on mobile platforms by services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in the near future.
Sadly the S7 Edge doesn’t offer HDR support, although visuals are still fantastic. If money is a key factor, media fans will be perfectly happy watching their favourite shows on this older handset. Note that the older Edge model doesn’t offer Bluetooth 5.0 support either.
You get a choice of 32GB to 128GB of storage on the S7 Edge, while the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus come with a base 64GB as standard. The Note 8 also offers 64GB of space for your apps and the rest, while all four Samsung mobiles here can have their storage expanded using a microSD memory card.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs S8 vs S8 Plus vs S7 Edge: Features
Android is the operating system of choice, complete with Samsung’s little tweaks of course. On the new 2017 models you get loads of features, many of which carry over from the S7 Edge, including split-screen multi-tasking, the Game Launcher tool, Samsung’s S Health app and plenty more besides. Check out our tips and tricks guide for more info.
However, the Note 8 is a step beyond the other phones here with the brilliant S Pen stylus tucked into its frame. This slender pen can be pulled free at any point to make pin-point screen selections, sketch up a storm or scribble on documents. It’s even water resistant like the phone itself, working on a damp screen without complaint.
With all of these Samsung handsets you get a fingerprint sensor, for quickly and securely unlocking your phone and authorising online payments. However, the S8 and S8 Plus feature a scanner that’s quite awkward to use. For some reason it’s tucked away in a strange position on the back of the phone, meaning a spot of groping is often required in order to find it. On the S7 Edge, this scanner is built into the physical home button instead, while the Note 8 should integrate the sensor into the actual display.
The S8, S8 Plus and Note 8 also boast an infrared iris scanner and facial recognition, as an alternative means of security.
Samsung’s Bixby assistant should be coming to the Galaxy S8, S8 Plus and Note 8, although we’re yet to see any sign of the AI here in the UK.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs S8 vs S8 Plus vs S7 Edge: Performance and battery life
A Qualcomm Snapdragon processor is stuffed inside all of these phones, in the US models at least. The Galaxy S7 Edge sports the older Snapdragon 820 chipset, while the other mobiles offer the latest Snapdragon 835 platform. The result is future-proof performance, stronger energy efficiency and a host of other benefits. Check out our 820 vs 835 comparison for all you need to know.
Here in the UK and in most other regions, you get Samsung’s own Exynos processor instead. The older S7 Edge uses the Exynos 8890, while the newer phones pack in the 8895. Once again you get a jump in power and efficiency, although that said the S7 Edge is still a smooth operator. You can happily blast through the latest games and demanding VR experiences, without much of a stutter.
As for battery life, the Galaxy S7 Edge can make it through a full day on a single charge and that’s more or less it. You can refill the battery wirelessly if that’s your bag, while Samsung's own ‘Adaptive Fast Charging’ tech is on board for wired charging.
Fast charging and wireless charging make an appearance on the S8, S8 Plus and Note 8 as well. Battery life remains the same, so there’s no upgrade in this department.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs S8 vs S8 Plus vs S7 Edge: Cameras
The Galaxy S7 Edge’s 12-megapixel camera is still brilliant despite the phone’s age. That f/1.7 lens is dependable in almost any conditions, including seriously low light, which many rivals struggle with. You get a handful of bonus photo and video modes, with the ability to shoot up to 4K resolution video as well as slow-mo and timelapse footage.
Check out our full S7 Edge camera review for samples and more.
Although the S8 and S8 Plus don’t appear to tweak the camera specs at all, although the experience has changed significantly. You can expect more natural colour reproduction and a slight improvement to exposure levels, helped no doubt by the phone’s automated multi-shot capture feature. This nifty camera tweak actually takes three shots every time you tap the shutter button, before combining them for the best possible results. You can again shoot up to 4K resolution video too, as well as slow-mo and the rest, while Samsung has added a lot of fun AR stickers and other effects for younger users.
Check out our full S8 and S8 Plus camera review, which includes a comparison with the S7 Edge snapper.
Finally, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is expected to feature dual rear cameras with 12-megapixel sensors. This should once again offer solid all-round performance, no matter the conditions, as well as the usual array of funky bonus features.
Around the front of the S8, S8 Plus and Note 8 you'll find an improved 8-megapixel selfie camera, which can shoot better low light photos than the S7 Edge's 5-megapixel effort. Of course, these phones all boast a decent screen flash feature to help out when the lights are low, by illuminating the display to brighten your face.
Come back soon for our full Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review, camera review and other features.