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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Galaxy S8 Plus: Phablet Fight

Fight of the phablets

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.

READ NEXT: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review

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.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Galaxy S8 Plus: Design

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.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Galaxy S8 Plus: Performance

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 of RAM. The Note 8 looks set to follow the same specifications, perhaps with a boost to 6GB of RAM. That’s good, putting it alongside the limited-edition Asia-only version of the Plus.

One slight quirk between the two: if rumours are to be believed, the Note 8 will actually have a slightly smaller battery than the S8 Plus – 3,300mAh to 3,500mAh. Not a huge difference, but you’d expect a larger device to mean a bigger battery, so what gives? Most likely a case of Samsung being super-cautious after last year’s Note 7 model proved to be a touch more flammable than ideal for something that spends a lot of time next to your head.

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

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Galaxy S8 Plus: Camera

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 among 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.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Galaxy S8 Plus: Price

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.

Let’s look at the S8 Plus first. It started life at £789, which is a crazy amount for a smartphone. Things have calmed down quite a lot, and you can now get it for closer to £600 if you shop around. On contract, it remains prohibitively expensive: you’re looking at at least £38 per month if you don’t want to pay any upfront fees.

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.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Galaxy S8 Plus: Verdict

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 will 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 is a deal-breaker, 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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