The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the latest flagship to join the fight. It’s bigger, better and bolder than anything Samsung has released before – but not by all that much.
While it’s tough to not be persuaded by the new kid on the block, the Samsung Galaxy S8, the company’s smaller flagship that’s still very much worth your attention and money, isn’t as far behind the curve as much as some might think.
We’ve listed a few reasons below why investing in Samsung’s early 2017 creation is undoubtedly the better option for some.
The lower price
This is the elephant in the room. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has a price to match its large size: it starts at $929 in the US, £869 in the UK, and AU$,1499 in Australia. Compare that to the best Samsung Galaxy S8 deals (US, UK, AU), which we’ve seen go (opens in new tab).
You don’t need me to tell you that the difference in cost is pretty huge. And while there certainly are some favorable features that some will find tempting in the Note 8, they don’t make the S8 into a lesser product.
The S8 is more likely to drop in price now that the Note 8 is out, especially since more and more people will flock to the newer product. So now – or very soon – is your best chance to snag a good deal.
A still-totally-capable camera
While the Note 8 gets the immediate leg-up on the S8’s camera due to the fact that it boasts two lenses and some enhanced software features, don’t count it out just yet.
The S8 contains a single 12MP f/1.7 lens that can still take some of the best pictures around. Next to the Google Pixel, this is probably the smartest choice for your dollar if taking stellar photos is important to you.
The specs aren't too different
Hardware evolves quickly, but in the case of Samsung’s flagship smartphones, not that quickly. Wherever you are in the world, you’ll find that the Note 8 is powered by the same system on a chip that brings power to the S8.
Aside from RAM, which has received a boost from 4GB to 6GB, the hardware offering is unchanged between the two devices. Each supports microSD, has a rear-facing fingerprint sensor and stylistically, each boasts the Infinity Display.
For power users and Samsung Dex buyers, the extra RAM might seal the deal. But for most, it’s hard to pin down where exactly that boost will help you during everyday use. Until we see some real application of that extra gusto, the S8 seems to offer nearly just as much.
Software is among the best
In terms of software, both the S8 and Note 8 come loaded with the latest Android Nougat software. No, Samsung’s latest isn’t arriving with Android Oreo installed as we hoped it would. But alas, that puts the two phones at parity with each other.
However, there are some differences. App Pair is one of the Note 8’s defining software features in that it really takes advantage of the phone’s large 6.3-inch display. Putting apps into multi-window view is a little more difficult than it should be, but App Pair lets you set up an app duo that launches simultaneously in multi-window view – no extra presses necessary. Google Play Music and Docs, Clash of Clans and YouTube. The possibilities are endless.
Cool as App Pair is, the Note 8’s camera features are the big point of distinction compared to the S8. Live Focus, which lets you adjust the bokeh brought by the dual-lens camera, and Dual capture, which captures both your zoomed-in selection and the original wide-angle shot, are likely going to become standard settings in phones – at least, Samsung’s – moving forward.
The main point of delineation for the Note 8 and S8 is the S Pen. Lodged inside of the larger Samsung phone is the smart stylus that is multi-talented, bringing a set of useful, fun tools to productivity users, artists and everything in between.
It’s still too early to rule out if some of these software features (aside from the S Pen and dual-lens abilities) will ever come to the S8. During our meeting with Samsung, it didn’t deny the possibility that some of them would eventually trickle down the Galaxy line. But for now, they’re only on Note 8.
Even without these features, the S8 is still leading the charge in terms of software on an Android phone for now and it will only get better.
Last but not least, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is easier to stick in your pocket compared to the Note 8.
For some, this is a bigger deal than it will be to others. In the move from 16:9 aspect ratio to 18.5:9, companies like Samsung have been able to fit much larger screens within a smaller chassis. The S8 represents the best of both worlds: a phone you can easily grip and slide into your pocket.
If screen size is something that you’re willing to take in sacrifice of portability, the Note 8 is definitely worth your consideration. But again, the S8 trumps it as a stow-and-go smartphone.