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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Galaxy S8 Plus: Phablet Fight

August 22, 2017 3:40 PM
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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Galaxy S8 Plus: Phablet Fight

You’ve got big hands, and you want a big phone. Or alternatively, you’ve got small hands but like to pretend you’ve stolen a giant’s smartphone.

Either way, you’ll be wanting to know which of the big name phablets should get your hard earned cash. If you’ve settled on Samsung, that comes down to a straight-up fight between the Galaxy S8 Plus and the yet-to-be-officially-confirmed-but-definitely-happening Note 8.

While details aren’t officially confirmed yet (it’s likely to be officially unveiled at Samsung Unpacked in New York on 23 August), we know enough from leaks to make some educated guesses about how it stacks up against the S8 Plus – so let’s put ‘em head to head.

From what we’ve seen, the Note 8 looks like a big S8 Plus. If the “Plus” in the latter’s name wasn’t a clue, that means you’re talking about a huge handset, but how huge?

Well, the S8 Plus already dwarfs last year’s Note 7: it has a 6.2in 18.5:9 aspect ratio display, meaning it’s long and thin. The Note 8 is due to go further still, providing a 6.3 or 6.4in display with the same ratio between width and height. What does that mean in practice? Well, the S8 Plus is 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1mm, while one of the Note 8 leaks we’ve seen suggests a device that’s 162.4 x 74.5 x 8.4mm. Not massively different, but still more heft.

Other than that, it’s business as usual – only the Note 8 will, of course, have room for an S-Pen. But in terms of design, the Note 8 looks like a larger S8 Plus, albeit one with an extra camera lens on the back. More on that later.

From what we’ve heard, there shouldn’t be a great deal of difference in terms of raw performance between the two phablets. The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is already one of the most powerful phones you can buy, with its Exynos 8895 processor and 4GB RAM. The Note 8 looks set to follow the same specifications, perhaps with a boost to 6GB RAM. That’s good, putting it alongside the limited edition Asia only version of the Plus.

The software is predicted to be identical, although you’ll undoubtedly get some S-Pen specific tweaks and shortcuts.

So far, so similar… unless you want an S-Pen, why would you hang on for the Note 8? One word: camera.

The S8 Plus’ camera is amongst the best in the game, but the leaks we’ve seen show that the Note 8 is set to go above and beyond its little(r) brother with a dual lens array capable of taking even better snaps.

The purpose of this second lens, if the leaks prove to be genuine, isn’t entirely clear, but rumours strongly point to a 2x or 3x optical zoom, allowing you to zoom in on subjects without the results becoming a blurry mess. The latest Note 8 teaser trailer seems to strongly hint that’s going to be the case.

Here’s the sticky point. Not only does buying a Note 8 or S8 Plus mean you need deep pockets in the literal sense, you’ll also be needing them in the figurative too. Neither handset is cheap.

While we don’t know anything about the Note 8 pricing yet, you’re mad if you think it’ll be cheaper than the S8 Plus. While Samsung may not be quite as aggressive it was with the S8 Plus, given the problems they had with the Note 7, it’s hard to imagine it launching for less than £700 – and contracts will likely be £40+ to begin with.

Once again, Samsung is back in the phablet game. While the Note 8 isn’t completely specced out yet, it would be a surprise if it wasn’t a truly brilliant handset, worthy of a place in anybody’s pocket.

But is it all that much better than the S8 Plus? From what we know so far, probably not – except for two things. The camera looks like it’s going to be a decent upgrade, so if photography is important, you may be best hanging on a little. The second is the S-Pen: if you like to scribble, there’s just no real alternative to Samsung’s magical stylus.

But if neither of these things are deal breakers, then you’re likely best off jumping on the S8 Plus, in truth. It looks like it’ll be just as powerful and a similar size, but crucially the market has ensured that Samsung’s optimistic RRP has been slowly chipped away. As a result, no matter how much Samsung think it should cost, you’ll find it much easier to get a bargain on the S8 Plus than the Note 8. That’s the early adopter’s tax for you.


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