Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 was at launch the best big phone you could buy. For once, it’s more than just the size of the screen and the power of the S Pen that count. It also captures superior telephoto and bokeh-rich photos with its new dual-lens array, and it clocks in faster with 6GB of RAM.

There's a price to pay, however. It’s a taller phone with a steeper price tag. It takes a lot of finger-stretching to reach the outer edges of the screen, and costs more money than any previous Note phone. You’re also only getting all-day battery life that’s lower than expected, probably thanks to last year’s recall. It’s less, shall we say, Note-worthy.

The Note 8 is Samsung’s big phone homecoming, its dual-lens camera debut and its 6GB of RAM premier wrapped into one. It makes quite an entrance.

Who’s it for?

Can you handle the Note 8 size and price? Yes? Then this phone is for you, at least if you want something a little cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. There’s more screen than the Note 7, it has a great camera and you can’t slow it down, but it can’t be recommended to everyone.

Upgrading from an old Note? It’s a big jump from 2015’s Note 5, the last Note with more than a two-month lifespan. And for those in the UK, it’s the first Note since the plastic-clad Note 4. It’s going to be like upgrading to the future – and sorry, futuristic inflation rates apply.

Competition

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

We liked the S8 Plus at launch and still do, but we’re in favor of you buying the Note 8. Why? Because if you’re going to spend this much money on a Samsung phone, you might as well get the best you can. They both have sizable all-screen displays, fast chipsets and stunning cameras, but only the Note 8 has the dual-lens camera, 6GB of RAM and the S Pen. For a little extra you’re a lot more future-proofed.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review

iPhone 8 Plus

Launched the same year as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the iPhone 8 Plus is itself a bit dated now, but it remains expensive while Samsung's phone has dropped in price substantially.

Other than a higher price tag, the iPhone 8 Plus has a quality dual-lens camera, even more power than the Note 8 and a similarly stylish design, with a glass back of its own. Your choice here mostly comes down to whether you prefer iOS or Android, though at 5.5 inches the iPhone 8 Plus is a lot smaller.

Read our full iPhone 8 Plus review

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is an obvious alternative. It's newer and even bigger at 6.4 inches. It also has a larger 4,000mAh battery and more power.

That said, it's also a lot more expensive and the upgrades feel relatively minor, so if you're on a slight budget then the Note 8 remains a top choice, but if you just want the best Samsung phablet available then the Galaxy Note 9 is now the only option.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review