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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36 Comments

1. maherk

Posts: 6887; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Funny how the regular lens on the Note 8 is wider than that on the iPhone 7 Plus, yet you mentioned it as a con in the review and how it isn't wide enough.

5. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1061; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

I think the issue is Samsung refers to it as a Wide Angle lens when in reality it isn't. They should've just called it the standard lens paired with Optical zoom

6. maherk

Posts: 6887; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

It is wider than the typical lens, they didn't claim it's a super wide angle lens.

14. Macready

Posts: 1824; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

26 to 27mm (35mm equiv) is wide angle by any standard.

18. AxelFoley unregistered

They refer to it as a "telephoto lens".

33. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

It is wide angled. Its 100% wide angled. What you need to do is go in the settings and change the resolution to a wide angled one. It shows you in the list, which resolution are 4:3 and which are 16:9. If you simply set your resolution to 16:9, you will get the widest angle on the shot and if you choose 4:3 it will be letter box. It is right on phone. All you have to do is learn to use it. Samsung use to have the camera set at the 16:9 resolution on all previous model before the S6. But because they wanted to be like Apple, they went 4:3 since then. Both PA and everyone who claims the there is no wide angle, simply don't know how to use the phone. On the S8 it shows the following: 4:3 (12M) 4032x3024 4:3 (6.2)M) 2880*x2160 16:9 (9.1M) 4032x2268 16:9 (3.7M) 2560x1440 And you can also use the full 18.5:9 (7.7M) 4032x1960 for the widest possible shot to fill the whole camera frame. Just set the camera to 16:9 or 18.5:9 to always take a wide shot and have the phone in landscape mode. The problem with PA is they don't know how to use a phone with advanced features. They leave the phone on the factory settings because this is how most will use. However, every REAL photographer knows that to get the shot you want, you need to changed the camera settings manually based on how you prefer to use it. But the fool writers have been so dumb down by using an iPhone which doesn't allow this, then when they use Samsung phones, they are completely clueless and since they aren't a real tech site, they provide no helpful info to help you use your phone better. A hammer can be used for more than hammering or pulling them. The phone is a tool. Use the tool in the way that works best for you. That is how a tool is suppose to work. The problem is the writers here are not tech lovers, they are simply consumers who understand tech terms.

19. samgsam

Posts: 149; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

The main lens is actually a wide angle lense

2. 314NTMD

Posts: 13; Member since: Jul 28, 2016

Compare against pixel or U11 please

3. talon95

Posts: 999; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

They really improved the Note over the S8. That's impressive. I would say the Note 8 is far better than iPhone in every image. In detail there is no question, but even the iPhone neutral WB is given too much credit, many scenes don't have neutral light so why should their images look so neutral. I want it to capture the scene as it appeared, not shifted neutral. The improved detail without over-sharpening over the S8 is what's really nice to see. Granted the over-sharpening looks pretty good on screen when not pixel peeping.

15. Macready

Posts: 1824; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

The sharpening level looks similar but they really refined it with a smaller radius (plus better masking) and greatly reduced artifacts (halos etc).

4. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

It has to be Iphone in "every" comparison so you can get your spice :) But we all know U11 and Pixel had to be there instead.

7. AwesomestMaximuss

Posts: 148; Member since: Jul 09, 2013

Whats up with scene 4?? You say S8+ has the best image and you give it the lowest score!!

9. nightfury

Posts: 80; Member since: Dec 04, 2013

i was gonna ask the same thing

20. sissy246

Posts: 7120; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Wondering the same

22. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1567; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

Typo in the article i assume but was wondering the same thing.

28. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Was about to say the same, then I remembered that this is PA.

8. Landon

Posts: 1245; Member since: May 07, 2015

It will be interesting to see the Note 8 vs iPhone X vs V30 vs Pixel XL2 vs U11.

10. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Galaxy Not8 pretty much has this one in the bag.

11. nightfury

Posts: 80; Member since: Dec 04, 2013

note 8 and s8 own iphone in details in all the shots , agreed shots from them are bit saturated though

12. Medoogalaxy

Posts: 232; Member since: May 25, 2017

f**k comparison with iphone 7 crap

13. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2215; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

It looks like the Note 8 and all Galaxy phones over expose their shots. You can correct this through software touch ups. Apple took the more natural approach towards their shots as they look less dynamic. Now in terms of close up shots and low light the iPhone lags in that area as you notice tons of noise in the pictures.

16. Macready

Posts: 1824; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

Not really. Exposures are similar but the iPhone has its blacklevels elevated (barely any 0 rgb values) to give the appearance of less dynamic range compression (output format almost always has less DR than the scene, hence compression a fact of life in photography), yet suffers more from highlight clipping, especially in low light. See the statues on the building for example.

17. erabe13

Posts: 7; Member since: Sep 02, 2011

Wow s8+ is 2nd place. I had seen that its on tje 3rd spot all the time I guess

21. jacky899

Posts: 431; Member since: May 16, 2017

I spent half an hour pixel peeping the zoomed in photos and I found that on average, the Note 8 takes slightly better detail than the other two. However there were many specific areas where the S8 and sometimes the Iphone 7 had sharper detail than the Note 8. Kind of disappointed, because I was expecting Note 8 camera would have U11 level of detail. I don't care about colors since that is preferential. Pixel peeping many full size photo comparisons between the U11 and the Iphone 7 and S8, the U11 captured far more detail than the other two and in some cases text could only be made out int he U11 photos. I really hope the Iphone 8 and Pixel 2 will be able to push the smartphone camera boundary beyond the U11.

23. kopkiwi

Posts: 102; Member since: May 31, 2013

I'd love to know what you guys are looking at (or how much you're being paid) to think the iPhone comes even remotely close to either Samsung in any of those shots. It's like you think we are blind. The difference in detail and clairty is huge. The iPhone doesn't even put up a mild competition.

24. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

You need to take off those "S" glasses lol!

25. darkkjedii

Posts: 31100; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

7 Plus, just got owned.

26. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1183; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

thank you for stating the obvious.....no s**t, darkstein

27. darkkjedii

Posts: 31100; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Your post made zero sense lol. That was stupid.

29. AriEru

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 06, 2017

You got the final score wrong. GN8 should be 7.8, SGS8+ should be 6.9 and IP7+ should be 7.2. Check the scores again and take the average.

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