Head-to-Head: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs. iPhone 8 Plus Comparison

Head-to-Head: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs. iPhone 8 Plus Comparison

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Before iPhone X arrives, which is basically the price equivalent of a Samsung Galaxy Note 8, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to compare it to the closest to it right now – the Apple iPhone 8 Plus. Released 2 weeks ago, it’s still fresh, same as the week-older Galaxy Note 8.

 

Included Accessories

Surprisingly, out of the box, Samsung has decided to throw in a hard plastic casing. They might have taken a cue from others as competitors have started to do this for their flagships for almost a year. And even though the iPhone 8 Plus has fast charging capabilities, what’s included in its box is an underwhelming 5W wall adapter. A fast charger that would make full use of the iPhone 8 Plus’s fast charging technology will net you around 20 to 30 bucks. These chargers will charge the iPhone 8 Plus at theoretically less than half the time it would take the included adapter. Not a very nice move, Apple.

 

As for Samsung’s, they have been generous with what their flagships come with. Two adapters for non-Type C hardware, nib and eartip replacements, and for the first time ever, a plastic case.

Apple iPhone 8 Plus’s Included Accessories:

  • Lightning Cable
  • 5W Wall Adapter
  • Apple EarPods
  • Lightning to 3.5mm adapter
  • SIM ejector pin

Samsung Galaxy Note 8’s Included Accessories:

  • 3.5mm AKG-tuned in-ear headset
  • Eartip & S-Pen nib replacements
  • 18W Adaptive Fast Charger
  • 1m USB Type-C cable
  • Hard Plastic Case
  • SIM ejector pin
  • microUSB to Type-C Adapter
  • Type-A to Type-C Adapter

While Apple steered far away from the usual offerings of its competitors, Samsung veered towards a new direction (the plastic case) which I hope they start doing too for their other smartphones.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Design

Apple was brave enough to retain its age-old design while adding a new one for their yearly release. Despite the booming trend of 18:9 bezel-less displays, Apple stuck to their 16:9 display. Off the front, I couldn’t deny myself that the Note 8 is more attractive with its Infinity Edge display. And while both may have earpieces, the iPhone 8 Plus’s doubles as a secondary speaker for a stereo effect. The absence of a notification LED on the iPhone 8 Plus is quite expected, but I did somewhat wish that Apple made a surprise announcement at launch that it will have one, along with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. I guess Apple isn’t really into surprises nowadays.

The back is new for the Apple line since it’s now covered by the same glass on the front that’s been developed in-house. It is said to be 50% more durable than the previous iPhones’, but I doubt that’s going to stop the glass from breaking when dropped from a height.

Cameras are protruding on the iPhone 8 Plus, as they have always been, with the mic and quad-LED flash. Samsung’s first dual-cam smartphone wasn’t made with ergonomics in mind but reaching the fingerprint scanner is a bit better than my experience with the S8 Plus. What this may have a downside on is when you put the Note 8 in a fairly thick case wherein the fingerprint scanner will be too recessed.

Moving to the sides, the stark contrast in finish affects grip a lot. Button placement and tactility are a lot better on the iPhone 8 Plus because of its smaller form factor, and to add, fingerprint scanning too. Ports, well.. port on the iPhone 8 Plus, are all on the bottom for both. Speaker grilles too, along with the Note 8’s iconic S-Pen slot. Do note that the left grille on the iPhone 8 Plus is a placebo as it houses one of the two stereo mics.

Popping their trays out, expandability has never been an Apple thing. Samsung still has their hybrid tray for an optional second SIM or a microSD.

Talking about handling, even with the iPhone 8 Plus’s heavier profile, it is easier to hold than the Note 8’s with its matte sides and grippy rear glass. Also, to add, the profile that the iPhone 8 Plus has made it more pocket-friendly. As a function over form person, I can’t help but adore the iPhone 8 Plus’s better handling and low-profile aesthetics.

 

Winner: Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Display

With Apple retaining the very same display as the iPhone 7 Plus has plus True Tone tech for a more natural-looking display, it is by far, one of the nicest mobile displays I have laid my eyes on. Samsung’s Super AMOLED is still the same for the Note 8, with a larger 6.3-inch profile, being a tenth of an inch larger than the S8 Plus’s.

It is to be noted that the Note 8’s display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 while the iPhone 8 Plus is ion-strengthened with an oleophobic coating for those nasty fingerprints.

Side-by-side, even with Note 8’s denser panel, the difference in detail cannot be discerned even up close. Colors may pop out more on the Note 8, but the more natural and non-overbearing contrast that the iPhone’s OLED display proved to be better.

Even though the Note 8 still has the same color calibration options found in many of Samsung’s smartphones, the on-the-fly adjustment provided by True Tone can hardly be matched.

Personally, I’d choose comfort over function for the display for long-term use and for health purposes too. Feature-packed the Note 8’s maybe, iPhone 8 Plus’s more eye-friendly display wins in my book.

Winner: Apple iPhone 8 Plus

 

ROM/UX

The introduction of iOS 11 and Samsung Experience 8.5 for these phones were well in time for their respective releases. Stability issues on the S8 and S8 Plus were absent during my use of the Note 8.

For some reason, a lot of iOS 11 features for iPads weren’t brought to the iPhones, especially the split-screen feature. The Nougat release made this available for all Android smartphones, making it hard to understand as to why Apple deems it to be ‘impossible’ on the iPhones.

iOS 11 doesn’t fall far from iOS 10. Compared to Samsung Experience, it’s cleaner, sleeker, but with less functionality. Samsung Experience 8.5 provided a quick-launch Edge function for preset apps called App Pair, fully utilizing the split-screen function that Samsung has had for some time now. Not only is it a bit faster, but quick-access options are overflowing along with its S-Pen functionality.

Going back to iOS 11, it isn’t bad from what the Note 8 offers, especially with Apple’s call for simplicity and improving upon what has been established. The Control Center has been reworked to be more intuitive, and drag-and-drop is limited to the Files app. Time to step up a bit, maybe?

As much as I love both phones’ camera UI, the iPhone 8 Plus’s “swipe-for-mode” switch is still more intuitive for one-hand usage. Feature-wise though, the Note 8 takes that cake. Providing the ability to download more camera functionalities and adding their respective shortcuts on the Home screen, the trade-off would be the additional time it’ll take access those features. Filters are both one swipe away on both, but being able to switch cameras with a swipe on the Note 8 may be more appealing.

Even with the Note 8’s overflowing features, they still are just a few taps and swipes away, and that is what gives a better user experience for the Samsung Experience 8.5.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

 

Camera

The Note 8 that we got comes with the same sensor as most S8 and S8+’s did for EMEA, which is the ISOCELL S5K2L2. This is for both telephoto and wide angle lens with different sensor sizes and such. On the iPhone 8 Plus is a pair of in-house sensors for the rear camera with specs that are fairly similar to the Note 8’s. What they differ the most is with the front cameras since the ISOCELL S5K3H1 on the Note 8 can go up to f/1.7.

By just checking in DxOMark, the Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are tied with 94 points. So, let’s get to it, shall we?

Phone Rear Camera Front Camera
Apple iPhone 8 Plus Dual 12 MP, (28mm, f/1.8, OIS & 56mm, f/2.8), phase detection autofocus, 2x optical zoom, quad-LED (dual tone) flash

Video:
Up to 2160p@24/30/60fps,
Slow-mo 1080p@30/60/120/240fps

7 MP, f/2.2, face detection, HDR, panorama

Video recording: up to 1080p@30fps

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Dual 12 MP
(26mm, f/1.7, PDAF & 52mm, f/2.4, AF), OIS, autofocus, 2x optical zoom, dual-LED (dual tone) flash1/2.55″ sensor size, 1.4 µm pixel size @ 26 mm
1/3.6″ sensor size, 1.0 µm pixel size @ 52 mmGeo-tagging, simultaneous 4K video and 9MP image recording, touch focus, face/smile detection, Auto HDR, panoramaVideo:
Up to 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, HDR, dual-video rec. Slow-mo 720p@240fps
8 MP, f/1.7, autofocus, 1/3.6″ sensor size, 1.22 µm pixel size, dual video call, Auto HDR

Video recording: up to 1440p@30fps

Rear Camera

With daylight-assisted shots, the difference in detail is negligible  although the iPhone 8 Plus produces better HDR shots by providing more detail to darker areas. Colors are a bit better on the iPhone 8 Plus’s since the Note 8’s are washed out to some extent.

Entering low-light scenarios, this is where the Note 8 shines. With its low-light optimized sensor, less noise and better exposures make up for better and more detailed shots.

Telephoto shots come out generally better on the Note 8’s with its better sensor and lens.

The iPhone 8 Plus’s quad-LED flash produces softer and more natural shadows except for really close shots.

Speed-wise, they are tied even under daylight.

And with videos, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus’s capability to take 4K60 videos is amazing as I have discussed here. A TL;DR version would be Apple has developed a custom HEVC encoder for iOS 11 that enables A11-powered Apple devices to capture 4K60 videos.

Talking about stability, these two differ even though both use EIS. The Note 8’s is smoother overall. And to boot, the difference in detail is still similar as it is with picture mode.

Front Camera

With the front camera, the story is pretty much the same save for the colors. The iPhone 8 Plus’s shots preserve the colors better. Low-light is still the Note 8’s domain, but the border is made thinner.

To sum it up, daylight-assisted shots are more of the iPhone 8 Plus’s domain except for telephoto ones, but when you turn the lights down the moon takes its place, the Note 8 does better, even indoors.

For videos though, I couldn’t help but favor the 4K60 capability for rear camera capture, but overall, it would be the Note 8 for better stabilization and better exposure.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

 

Performance

SPECIFICATIONS

SPECS Apple iPhone 8 Plus Samsung Galaxy Note 8  
Display 5.5″ 1080 x 1920 OLED (~401 ppi)
Ion-strengthened glass, oleophobic coating
6.3″ 1440 x 2960 Super AMOLED (~521 ppi)
Corning Gorilla Glass 5 front & back
Dimensions & Features 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5 mm, 202 g, Single SIM tray 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm, 195 g, Hybrid dual-SIM tray
Chipset A11 Bionic Exynos 8895
CPU Hexa-core (2x Monsoon + 4x Mistral) Octa-core (4×2.3 GHz & 4×1.7 GHz)
GPU 3-Core Apple GPU Mali-G71 MP20
Memory 64/256 GB, 3 GB RAM 64/128/256 GB (expandable), 6 GB RAM
Connectivity Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, BT 5.0, GLONASS, BDS, A-GPS, NFC (Apple Pay only), Lightning Wi-Fi n, BT 5.0, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, NFC, USB Type-C 1.0 (USB 3.1), 3.5mm audio jack
Battery Non-removable Li-Ion 2691mAh battery Non-removable Li-Ion 3300mAh battery
Price PhP 48,500/$970 PhP 49,990/$1000

With the pricing being really close based on what they go for here in the Philippine market, the actual difference in both benchmarks and gaming are huge. Apple’s A11 Bionic chipset puts itself at the top of the hill. With just AnTuTu, the near-40k difference in score is nothing but crazy, along with a better point-per-peso rating. The A11 Bionic easily doubles the single-core score of the Exynos 8895 with also an outstanding multicore performance. In the 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme benchmark, its the iPhone 8 Plus that currently has the highest score to date.

BENCHMARKS

Benchmark Apple iPhone 8 Plus Samsung Galaxy Note 8
AnTuTu 215601
(~4.445pts/PhP)
175171
(~3.504pts/PhP)
Geekbench
(Single Core)
4271 2033
Geekbench
(Multicore)
10319 6578
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme 2723 2650
ManilaShaker Battery Rating 42h 15m 38h 36m
Charging Time (0-100%) 2h 4m 1h 52m

Even though that the iPhone 8 Plus has a smaller battery, it trails the Note 8 in our battery rating test by almost 4 hours. And the charging time that we got out of the iPhone 8 Plus is with the Note 8’s adapter to put it in the same league. With the 5W charger, charging from 0 to 100 takes more than twice that time.

Overall, the iPhone 8 Plus outperforms the Note 8 by over a mile.

Winner: iPhone 8 Plus

 

Audio

Here are the songs that I’ve listened to on both IEM’s and speakers:
– ‘Rhythm of the Rain’ by yours truly
– ‘Tukso’ by Eva Eugenio
– ‘Give ‘Em Hell, Kid’ by UNVRS
– ‘Tadhana’ by UDD
– ‘Knuckles’ by Moose Blood

Leaving the EQ at default/flat, quality and room volume belong to the iPhone 8 Plus’s stereo speakers. In every way, it was just better, except for EQ tuning. Apple still only has preset for their devices to date, which is a big no-no for hi-fi audio enthusiasts like me.

 

Moving to using my KZ ZS3’s, the Note 8’s support for 32-bit 384kHz audio becomes clear. Throw in a truly custom EQ tuning to the mix, and you have yourself a decent hi-fi audio smartphone.

As someone who uses my IEM’s more than listening to my phone bare, the Note 8 wins in the Audio category. Not to be picky, but I’d still commend Apple for what they did with the faux stereo speakers of the iPhone 8 Plus.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

 

Results

What the Apple iPhone 8 Plus is better at:

  • Design
  • Display
  • Performance

What the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is better at:

  • Included Accessories
  • ROM/UX
  • Cameras
  • Audio

Being closely priced, or at least in the Philippine market, both flagships deliver what they will in the best of their abilities. If you’re into a phone that’s stealthier, faster, and easier on the eyes, take the iPhone 8 Plus. It’ll be a solid upgrade too if you have invested heavily into Apple’s products.

For a more functional smartphone with better cameras and audio support, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is your best buddy right now, although it may prove to be larger than what you were used to.