Galaxy Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus: first look

Mobile tech has fallen under a heavy curse this year... so many incredible products to choose from! Really, it's such a strong cycle for most major brands, that we pity consumers for having to purchase just one device! Not only that, but things are bound to get even worse, because Samsung has just introduced another top-shelf smartphone – the Note 8. Not cool, Samsung, not cool. Another promising smartphone to compete for our hard-earned cash. And before the iPhone 8 has arrived, finally bankrupting many a household across the globe, let's see how this new Galaxy Note 8 baby handles itself against Apple's current top big-screen smartphone, the iPhone 7 Plus.

Design and Display

Samsung and Apple have different approaches when it comes to external design. Samsung prefers iterative, year-to-year updates, while Apple usually comes up with a forward-looking design which it then uses for at least a couple of years. Right now, Apple's iPhone 6 / 6s / 7 design is obviously close to running its course, which puts it at a slight disadvantage against Samsung's current Note 8 styling, for a couple of reasons:

1) Samsung has significantly reduced the bezels around the screen, and in the case of the Note 8, things are pretty symmetrical, so it looks great. Apple's iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, doesn't utilize frontal space too efficiently, by today's standards, keeping considerable top and bottom bezels, making the device larger than it needs to be. It still looks very nice, but is something that's going to be addressed in the next iteration of the iPhone. Not only do thinner bezels look more modern, they also mean the manufacturer can choose to fit a larger display in the same space, which is exactly what we have in this case, with the Note 8 having a significantly taller panel, allowing for more content to be shown at a time.

2) The other major difference is found with the materials in use: Samsung was never into the whole metal game, so back in 2015, it made the switch from plastic straight to glass, using metal only for the side frame of its handsets. Its initial attempts with glass weren't entirely convincing, but it had time to refine its styling, so now the Galaxy Note 8 comes in this nice assortment of mature color tones, with the whole phone surrounded by an equally nice polished metal frame. It's all very glossy, nice and easy to grip, and, of course: way easier to crack or break, compared to the iPhone 7 Plus' metal housing. However, the iPhone 7 Plus' clean, matte metal unibody (except for the Jet Black variant) now looks somewhat dry and not as extravagant as the Note 8's shiny exterior. Again, this is one thing that Apple's going to address with the upcoming iPhone generation in a few weeks, but for now, this is how things stand.

Both the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 7 Plus are certified as water- and dust-resistant, with IP68 rating for the Note 8 and IP67 for the iPhone 7 Plus. The actual difference in these certifications isn't big, and we've seen the iPhone 7 actually outlive the S8 when submerged deep under water, so success will depend on case and luck. In any case, it's great to have the confidence that both handsets should easily survive a spill of a drink (or a few!) on them. Beautiful and tough – these guys seem to have conquered all frontiers!

Samsung Experience vs iOS 10

iOS is the iPhone's biggest asset. To be really successful in mobile, you need to have a solid platform. The only two companies who own such platforms are Apple and Google. All Android manufacturers are at a disadvantage against Apple from the get go, not only because they are at the mercy of Google, but also because they need to conform to guidelines and strategic decisions made by Mountain View. One of the results of this setup is that Android manufacturers have historically tried to differentiate their products by developing their own user interfaces. Samsung has always been among the vivid supporters of this practice, and we can't fault it for that. However, developing custom software and consequently adapting it to new Android OS versions has proven to be too much of a pain for most Android phone makers, which is why most of those guys have fallen back to close-to-stock software experiences, with only slight modifications here and there. This has, of course, improved the usability of their products, but also reduced their uniqueness.

Not Samsung. This remarkably tenacious company has shown it knows how to reach and woo consumers in its own, unique way, in this meant keeping its own custom UI. We've long criticized Samsung for its incredibly bloated and inefficient TouchWiz software, and they've continually worked to improve and optimize it, but never remove it, which we believe has been the right choice. And look at the Samsung Experience (the new name of TouchWiz) now! With this latest generation of devices (S8 and Note 8), the company has completely overhauled it with new iconography and modern interface design vocabulary. And with the Note 8, Samsung turns up the eye candy even more, with a beautiful new lockscreen animation. Our hands-on time with the Note 8 thus far has revealed no out-of-place elements, although some of the more productivity-centric features do need some practice to get used to: like setting pre-defined app pairs for multitasking, for example.

And this brings us to the Galaxy Note 8's main area of expertise, which is productivity. Right from the start, the Note 8 is a comfortable machine to work on, due to the sheer size of the display. Its tall aspect ratio, however, also makes it suitable for dual-app multitasking, where you can view two apps side by side at the same time. Samsung has also enabled drag-and-drop functionality across some apps, like Files and Internet, for example, to further cement the Note's status as a smartphone to get work done with. Of course, the S Pen is a big asset here, allowing you to easily take notes, or interact with web sites and content in a variety of empowering ways.

So how does iOS 10 (soon to be replaced by iOS 11) compare? Well, Apple has also been doing an awesome job over the years at keeping iOS relevant and improving it in meaningful ways. Nowadays, iOS 10 offers a modern visual design and sticks with the same "even your mom can use it" principles. Unlike the Note 8, its built-in productivity features and the S Pen, however, Apple's iOS 10 brings the consumer's apps to the forefront. The powerful and refined app ecosystem is backed up by the versatile and reliable first-party software that comes with iOS 10. What's more, Apple's own iWork and iLife suites are incredibly capable additions which can greatly expand the range of what you can do on your iPhone, from music creation with GarageBand to 4K video editing with iMovie. In terms of file management, you need to install third-party software right now, but iOS 11 will introduce Apple's own Files application.

Galaxy Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus: dual-camera wars

Users have been enjoying the benefits of the dual-camera system Apple has installed on the iPhone 7 Plus for a while now, getting acquainted with how to use features like Portrait mode and optical 2x zoom. Now, for the first time with the Note 8, Samsung is joining the dual-shooter party as well. Generally, what Samsung does here is pretty similar to Apple's implementation, 2x zoom and portraits included.

There is one major difference, and that's the ability to change the focus point in a picture after the fact. You can do this from the Gallery app. You can also adjust the amount of background blur (bokeh) effect that you want, if you're working on a portrait shot.

Both handsets rely on two 12 MP shooters, but the Note 8 benefits from having optical image stabilization on the secondary (telephoto) camera as well, whereas the 7 Plus only has OIS on its primary camera. We expect this, along with the wider apertures of the Note 8's shooters, to lead to better low-light performance, compared with the iPhone 7 Plus, at least when the 2x optical zoom is concerned. It should deliver better results for bokeh portraits as well, but this would also depend on the way the Note 8 handles the blur effect, so we can't be sure yet if it's going to excel for portraits as well, or it's going to start blurring out the ears of your subjects once the conditions get tougher. We'll get to test how all of this works in real life soon, though, as the Note 8 is scheduled to go on sale on September 15.


When it comes to winning in the novelty area, the Galaxy Note 8 is clearly in the lead, but it's also clear this will be a short-lived victory. Very soon, the iPhone 7s Plus and the iPhone 8 are going to come out, and those guys will most probably equalize things or simply leapfrog what Samsung has on offer here. However, we definitely don't expect the Note 8 to become irrelevant or anything anytime soon. It is a superb smartphone with loads of ambition and capabilities to draw quite a few customers in.

There is an important point to make here, though. Samsung knows the Galaxy Note 8 is a power-user affair. It knows it's selling the Note to a special group of users who want to squeeze every bit of general productivity they can out of their phones. It remains a niche device, now more than ever after the Note 7 fiasco and the new, extra-large dimensions. Meanwhile, Apple's iPhone 7 Plus is selling to a much broader audience. True, distribution numbers between the 7 and 7 Plus aren't quite 50-50, but they aren't exactly a world apart either. And by staying true to its current direction of consumer-first features, such as the dual-camera and Portrait mode, as well as covering the content creation bases with top-quality apps like GarageBand and iMovie, the 7 Plus (and its soon-to-arrive successor) is much more of a mainstream (read: popular) choice, despite its imposing dimensions.

This is an intriguing face-off, and one that continues to lack a clear winner. Both sides have their strengths and weaknesses, and here, again, your platform preference may be the single biggest factor influencing your choice. You know what the best thing is? You really can't go wrong this time.



Related phones

Galaxy Note 8
  • Display 6.3 inches
    2960 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Dual camera)
    8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 6GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 3300 mAh
  • OS Android 8.0 Oreo
    Samsung Experience UI
iPhone 7 Plus
  • Display 5.5 inches
    1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Dual camera)
    7 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A10 Fusion, 3GB RAM
  • Storage 256GB, not expandable
  • Battery 2900 mAh
  • OS iOS 13.x



36. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Looking at these 2 phones side by side, makes me think of how you look at old video games vs what we have now. There is no mistake that Samsung going glass and metal in this design works pretty good. Makes a big device that feels small and easy to handle. Even with tiny Asian hands. Apples first attempt at a big phone, landed a dinosaur looking monstrosity. The iPhone 7 looks as good as the S4 and S5 did back then. The iPhone no longer represents what modern smartphone looks like anymore. While all the Samsung hating suckups to Apple are worrying about how fast apps open, how about you should be bashing Apple for making all this money and doing nothign with it. Apple is hoping to drive you all into buying the iPhone 8/Next/Edition, by making the 7S look exactly like the past models, but with a rotated camera. The Note 8 is gonna have a better camera than Apple's new iPhone 8. I guarantee it. FHD+ resolution? For $1000? Gosh the iPhone is just ugly. Apple knows it.

38. clarity

Posts: 56; Member since: Jun 19, 2017

"FHD+ resolution? For $1000? " The 7 Plus with FullHD has 8 less ppi than the note 8 QuadHD. I kind of agree with you, but not on the screen part( quality wise at least ).

31. YeahYeah

Posts: 254; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

So phonearena think there's an iPhone that compete with the note series. Is this a joke or just being an isheep

32. mikehunta727 unregistered

The iPhone does directly compete with the Note 8 and is Samsung's biggest competitor...wake up from your bubble

25. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2292; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

Overall Apple has a much better approach to create more excitement for their products year to year. Let's use this example from 2017 to 2018... Samsung: They release the S8 and S8+. They now release a Note 8. Same design as S7 and S8. There is not much of a difference from an S8+ and a Note 8. Minor differences with software due to stylus. Camera improvements, but very very minor. What does Samsung build on to next year? Apple: They will release 7S And 7S Plus. Not much of a difference between than the 7 and 7 Plus. Now they hit consumers with an all brand new design in the iPhone 8 to generate consumer interest and buying demand. Now 2018 rolls around....they discount iPhone 8 and use the iPhone 8 as their base model towards all OLED only technology. They release an iPhone 9 with OLED with A12, etc and create a 6.3"-6.4" iPhone 9 Pro that works with Apple Pencil. Essentially the same size as the Plus models. Same design principles as the iPhone 8. They will automatically open up a new product category. They can price this phone at $1300 and consumers who buy Apple prodiucts wont break a sweat getting the 512GB/1TB model. Apple's approach for the next few years looks more exciting than a Samsung upgrade. They more control over their software process to integrate well with their entire eco system, in which their hardware will always be top notch. Apple will invest more into AR as Samsung will still develop under VR. Everyone will prefer AR over VR...this will be a glasses no problem...

23. fyahking

Posts: 1146; Member since: Jan 28, 2015

Damn, that iphone is getting uglier and uglier. I won't be caught dead in that ugly

24. tbacba

Posts: 134; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Unless you are extremely small, you shouldn't have to worry about that.

22. PhoneInQuestion

Posts: 496; Member since: Aug 20, 2017

Yeah this comparison is dumb and you should feel bad- Wait you're that guy who jumped in to defend Apple's decision to remove the headphone jack- LOL.

19. Spyro

Posts: 334; Member since: Mar 29, 2017

Really stupid comparison considering the 7+ is almost a year old at this point.

27. fyahking

Posts: 1146; Member since: Jan 28, 2015

It's actually 3 years old.:)

16. darkkjedii

Posts: 31807; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

This is laughable.

10. dreyfus

Posts: 22; Member since: Feb 24, 2015

I really hate the S8/Note 8 display design... If the UI si squared on the corners as you may see on the screenshoots, why on Eart the dumb ideea to crop the screen by rounding the corner? I would like Samsung to bring the possibility for potential buyers to opt for a ormal flat screen with squared corners. I'm a designer and I like my screen to display more accurate things like all the image on the acreen without rounded crap and no bending distortions on edges! Shame Samsung, because of your sefish will, you force all of your customers to take things with some features, they don't really need or want!

13. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Or you can just buy a phone that offers what you want. Obviously this isnt what you want.

15. therealestmc

Posts: 680; Member since: Jul 23, 2012

I agree with the no bending display. It looks good but it isn’t practical.

8. kkmkk

Posts: 699; Member since: May 06, 2013

so the note 8 has a 0.8 inch bigger screen in a smaller sleeker body than the iPhone 7+ !!!! this is absolutely fascinating

2. Supah

Posts: 692; Member since: Mar 08, 2017

Man, that crash king iToy look super dated and ugly next to the best smartphone of 2017

1. You_Dont_Say

Posts: 431; Member since: Jan 26, 2015

iPhone 7 Plus wins hands down. - Better performance and almost a year old - S8+ is super laggy, so we know the Note 8 will be no better - Note 8 already has unimpressive battery life iPhone 7/7+ is the best phone in the world, as evidenced by being the best selling smartphone.

3. abdane

Posts: 507; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

QHD vs 1080p 3300 mAh vs 2900 mAh Customization vs Boredom Octa core vs dual core 6gb RAM vs 3gb RAM Yea... uhmm... put your hands up bitch. GN8 Slays your iP7+

5. clarity

Posts: 56; Member since: Jun 19, 2017

We both know specs mean nothing...

11. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Just like we both know sales mean nothing... To the end user. Just chill it.

34. razmahtaz001

Posts: 501; Member since: May 11, 2013

re: 5. clarity (Posts: 15; Member since: 19 Jun 2017) We both know specs mean nothing... ========================================== specs may mean nothing, but the note has an spen and alot of special features that iphonies call gimmick...when apple decides to add an ipencil to their iphone, it will no longer be a will be called "apple did the spen and features better" LOL

7. metalspy101

Posts: 105; Member since: Dec 15, 2012


9. sip1995

Posts: 1771; Member since: Feb 07, 2014

7Plus has Quad core but never mind.

12. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Dual cameras with better optics and specs. more storage included free. headphone jack, full multi-tasking,splitscreen, floating windows, mass storage, pen, better design and more.

33. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

You still think Octa-Core will banish dual core, always? And that war over RAM amount??? You're kidding me right!?!? Now don't tell me a 16MP cam will always be better than a 12MP one.....

37. mrochester

Posts: 1050; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

iOS vs Android though. The Note 8 has such a bad OS compared to the iPhone. If the Note 8 had iOS it would be absolutely amazing; great hardware and software. At the moment, it's totally let down by it's OS.

39. Diezparda

Posts: 941; Member since: Oct 23, 2013

If note 8 had iOS it won't support s-pen just like how iphone doesn't support apple pencil, no multiwindows, no expandable storage because Apple won't allow it etc...

4. abdoualgeria

Posts: 928; Member since: Jul 27, 2015

But why the iphone7+ looks like an ugly unfinished chinese android one prototype next to the note 8 ??


Posts: 1461; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

Yeah, Apple has that "forward looking" old brick thick ass bezeled design that's aledged forward looking..... Really. Rofl the author dug deep to pull that old ass rabbit of forward looking design out of the hat bs.. Rofl Design wise lately Apple hurls software wise it is outstanding. It will copy Samsung bezeless design, and introduce 3d facial recognition, and that will make it "revolutionary". 1000.00 older new bezel less design with 3d facial recognition is going to be hype for iSheep like you do say..... Rofl no pun intended you don't say. Rofl.

14. thxultra

Posts: 494; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

Both phones have their pro's and cons. One huge advantage to Apple is os updates. You know you are going to get the latest OS on day one (as long as your phone isn't crazy old). With any Android phone you are at the mercy of the manufacturer for OS updates. Apple phones also tend to be more efficient both battery wise and the OS is more efficient. On the flip side Android is more open. You can customize Android better. Samsung phones have micro sd card slots so you don't have to spend more money on the handset to get more memory. As for the 7+ vs the Note 8 the note 8 is a better phone hand down. Higher resolution screen Better Camera S-pen Bigger screen Can be used as a desktop pc with the dex station (wish Apple would put osx on the iphone and do this would make the phone a must have for me if they did) Now how the note 8 compares to the new iphone we will see. I have had both Apple and Samsung devices and honestly they each have pros and cons. One thing is for sure these phones are getting crazy expensive. $930 for the note 8 ouch. New Iphone rumored at $999...

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