Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs iPhone 7 Plus, Galaxy S8+ cameras compared


Studies show that most of the people who opened this article will skip straight to the conclusion part. This makes you a cool person if you're still reading this paragraph, and you probably smell nice too!

But does the Galaxy Note 8 take good photos? That's one of the questions we aim to answer here. And we'll compare it against the iPhone 7 Plus and the Galaxy S8+ while we're at it.

Before we proceed, there's a few things we should clarify. For starters, keep in mind that we'll focus solely on these three phones' main cameras. Telephoto lens shots haven't been used in this comparison. Also, we had all cameras set to "Auto", with automatic HDR, though we did intervene on rare occasions when a tap to set the exposure straight was needed – you know like a normal person would. 

Scene 1

When we asked Samsung about the camera hardware inside the Galaxy Note 8, we were told that the main camera is identical to the one on the Galaxy S8 and S8+. The software part, however, appears to have been tweaked. Taking a closer look at the Note 8's photo reveals that image sharpening is less aggressive. 

Sharpening is applied to accentuate details in an image. Its use in moderation is perfectly acceptable, but too much of it spoils fine details and produces an unnatural look. Samsung's image processing algorithms are known for excessive sharpening, so seeing less of it in the Note 8's photo is a sign of things turning for the better. 

In this scene, the iPhone 7 Plus can't quite match the clarity or the lively colors presented by the Note 8, so we're giving it a slightly lower score.

Scene 1: score
Galaxy Note 88.5
iPhone 7 Plus7.0
Galaxy S8+6.5

Scene 2

Here's how much of an impact software processing can have on a photo's appearance. The images out of the Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8 might look impressive and eye-catching, but they're also unrealistic with their oversaturated colors, as if they've gone through an Instagram filter. By comparison, the iPhone 7 Plus delivers a more faithful look. 

Again, the Note 8 goes easier on the sharpening compared to the S8+, most noticeable in the upper left corner of the images. But at the same time, details in the garden are softer, most likely due to camera software approaching the shots differently. 

Scene 2: score
iPhone 7 Plus7.5
Galaxy Note 87.0
Galaxy S8+7.0

Scene 3

This is a dynamic scene were all three phones switched on their HDR mode, just as we expected them to. As a result, all managed to deliver a proper exposure, without "burning" the clouds in the sky. Yet some differences are easily noticeable. For example, the images from the Galaxy Note 8 and the S8+ are more saturated – not as much as in the previous set of photos, but still quite colorful than the iPhone's view of the scene. Also, shadows are brighter and more detailed compared to what Apple's handset delivers. All of this makes it tricky to pick between the rather natural look of the iPhone's image or the spiced-up presentation from the two Galaxies. We lean towards the latter, as we trust many would.

Scene 3: score
Galaxy Note 88.0
Galaxy S8+7.5
iPhone 7 Plus7.0
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