Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs. HTC U11: a comparison

It's a big world out there, and for a lot of smartphone users, they're looking for a big phone to match. For stylus fans who look forward every year to Samsung's latest Galaxy Note, they're getting a special treat in 2017 as the Note 8 brings the biggest screen yet to the popular flagship family. With that new 6.3-inch display, is the Note 8 at risk of being too big for its own good? Or has Samsung's manufacturing techniques allowed it to craft a big-screen phone that somehow manages to feel more compact than its smaller-screened competition?

This week at the Unpacked launch event for the Galaxy Note 8, we brought along some of the most high-profile smartphones to land in recent months to see how they stack up against Samsung's latest. That includes the HTC U11, itself a relative newcomer to the market. And though that model only has a 5.5-inch screen, the handset's bulk has us eager to compare it against the Note 8. Just how to these two very different Android models stack up? Let's take a look.


Samsung's flagship design language has been steadily evolving over the past few years, with once side-projects like over-the-edge curved screens graduating to become the new mainstream. But this year Samsung really took things to the next level with the Galaxy S8, introducing a bold new ultra-widescreen 18.5:9 display and removing all hardware buttons from the phone's face.

We already saw this new look come to the 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 and 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+, and now Samsung's back with more of the same for the 6.3-inch Galaxy Note 8. As a result, the Note 8 is very, very similar in layout to the S8+ in particular, coming in just a couple millimeters taller and wider. The Note 8's also a thicker phone, but now by much; even with the S Pen stylus lurking within, the handset's body is just 8.6mm thick.

HTC's also experimenting with a new look for its phones, but one that's a bit more conventional than Samsung's. The U11 marks the return of the design we first got to know on the U Ultra, ditching the metal-bodied look of One-series flagships in favor of a colorful glass-encased construction. While that's new, the phone still has the old 16:9 display shape that everyone's been using for years, and with no fancy edge display to help shrink bezels down, that makes the U11 feel physically larger than even some competition with bigger screens.

That's much the case with the Note 8, as while the U11 is a shorter, and even thinner phone, it's also slightly wider – and so when you hold the two, the U11 gives the impression of being a larger device.

While these two handsets may look and feel quite different, both still manage to offer water resistance – and though that's by-and-large become the norm these days, not every phone approaches that feature in the same way. Here, Samsung's level of protection is just a little bit more robust, rated at IP68 to the U11's IP67, meaning the Note 8 can withstand deeper depths and longer immersion without damage.


We've already talked the very different shapes these screens have, and the impact that results in on phone design. Both are quad-HD-class panels, but Samsung's understandably adds some extra pixels in order to get its extra-wide aspect ratio.

The tech behind these displays is different, too, and while HTC goes the Super LCD route, Samsung returns with another Super AMOLED panel. And just like the Galaxy S8, the screen on the Note 8 features rounded corners, while the U11 has a classic right-angle design.

Even with the size and shape disparity, the screens on the Note 8 and U11 still manage to offer very close to the same kind of pixel density – the U11 has a tiny lead, but both screens look similarly sharp and crisp. At least, that's when running things at their full resolution; the Note 8, by default, renders at a lower-res full-HD setting unless you explicitly want to take full advantage of the available hardware.

Interface and Functionality

HTC and Samsung each give their phones a custom take on Android thanks to these manufacturers' own interface tweaks, but the experiences the U11 and Note 8 go beyond just some fancy menus.

Each phone can connect you to the power of the voice-controlled Google Assistant, sure, but they also both go beyond that: the U11, with its dual-hotword support offering tight integration with Amazon Alexa, and the Note 8 with Samsung's own Bixby – including the return of a dedicated hardware button to access the service.

These two also both have their own special hardware to help entice shoppers. Obviously, with the Note 8 we're talking about Samsung's S Pen stylus, and while the pen we get this year isn't a drastic rethinking of last year's (on the ill-fated Note 7), we do get a newly-refined tip design. And with the U11, HTC introduces Edge Sense to let users access app shortcuts with just a quick squeeze of the phone.

They're both useful in their own ways, but while we appreciate how we can customize Edge Sense to trigger any number of apps or change system settings, it's ultimately just a means to access shortcuts, while the S Pen feel much more fleshed out, and eager to be used all across the Note 8's interface.

Samsung also gives its phone a lot of hardware the U11 lacks entirely, with the Note 8 scoring wireless charging, an iris scanner, heart-rate monitor, and even an analog headphone jack – all features just straight-up missing on HTC's flagship.


In terms of raw silicon, the Note 8 and U11 are on pretty even footing, with both running Snapdragon 835 chips (the Note 8 will alternately get the Exynos 8895 in international markets). But while the U11 gets a very respectable 4GB of RAM in its most common configuration, the Note 8 adds 50% to that with its 6GB.

So far, we haven't seen the presence of extra RAM past this 4GB point spell a lot of difference in the performance of Android devices, so we're not about to crown the Note 8 the obvious winner here – though we can't deny that the phone's better equipped to handle really, really serious multitasking.

Both phones arrive with the same 64GB base storage level, and support augmenting that via microSD.


Maybe the biggest advancement Samsung's making with the Note 8 is joining the dual-camera club, as the phone shows off a pair of 12MP sensors – the U11's also got a 12MP camera, but just the one. And while plenty of other manufacturers have similarly gone the dual-camera route, Samsung makes a name for itself by giving both of those cameras real optical image stabilization – not restricting the feature to just one of the two cameras.

The HTC U11 also has OIS, and shares the same wide f/1.7 aperture with the Note 8's telephoto camera, but it's impossible to ignore the extra versatility users get to enjoy thanks to presence of a dedicated wide-angle camera. Beyond just offering more choice when it comes to scene composition, Samsung brings us a familiar bokeh-effect portrait mode. Sure, that seems like something every dual-camera phone can do, but it's just a little ironic to see a Samsung phone delivering that functionality while an HTC phone doesn't – especially as HTC helped popularize the feature.

Like the rest of the software on these phones, the interfaces of these cameras are likely to play to personal preference as strong as anything else, but in using both we had to note that Samsung's came across as offering a bit more control, while HTC's felt like it suffered due to over-simplification.


Some users might not see the point of comparing the HTC U11 to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, as beyond both being 2017 flagships, they don't necessarily feel like they're going after shoppers with the same priorities. But as we start looking at the two models a little more closely, it's easier and easier to see how they're both operating in the same circles.

That said, for everything the U11 does, the Note 8 feels like it does most of that – and then some. The U11 does give us a thing or two the Note 8 doesn't, but more often than not it's the Note 8 that's going above and beyond HTC's phone.

Problem is, all that functionality doesn't come cheap, and while you can pick up a U11 for $650, expect to pay $930 or more for a Note 8. While we'd expect the Note to cost more, the sheer size of that premium might be more than a lot of people were prepared for. Samsung's might just be the better phone, but is it a 45% better phone that HTC's? It's going to need to be in order to justify that price.

We'll be breaking down the value of the Galaxy Note 8 in much finer details as we start putting the phone through its full review paces. For now, check out our video comparison of the Note 8 and HTC U11.

Related phones

  • Display 5.5" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 16 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2450 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(24.5h 3G talk time)
Galaxy Note 8
  • Display 6.3" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2350 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3300 mAh(22h talk time)



1. androiduser

Posts: 511; Member since: Jun 18, 2014

HTC u11 has better performance speakers battery life and faster updates Note 8 has s pen, infinity edge hdr oled display with small bezels, ip68 waterproof and dual camera.

12. amasog

Posts: 552; Member since: Aug 22, 2013

Note 8 is also like a remote control because of its crazy screen aspect ratio.

13. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

A remote control without an ir blaster.

16. darkkjedii

Posts: 31310; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Doesn't need one dumb ass, it uses smart software to do the exact same thing. You'd think a troll like you would know that, but your dumb ass just wants to run off at the mouth. Do your research, then troll.


Posts: 16; Member since: Aug 23, 2017

lol "smart software" you mean wifi and any smart TV app? IR blaster is better. Disappointed to see it still hasn't returned as I could control many air conditioners and other products that are not wifi enabled.

41. darkkjedii

Posts: 31310; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Wouldn't that be software?

39. AVVA1

Posts: 228; Member since: Aug 01, 2017

Smart 'software' is cringe LOL

31. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

You missed most obvious differences. HTC U11 is beautiful, Note 8 is ugly as hell. HTC U11 is so smooth and fast, Note 8 will lag just like any other Samsung phone. HTC U11 is $650, Note 8 is freaking $950. Now come again bruh...

33. androiduser

Posts: 511; Member since: Jun 18, 2014

I have the u11 but the note 8 isnt ugly at all.. It's actually more beautiful than the u11.

37. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Last time I checked, looks are subjective. Not that I expect much from a retarded Trump fanboy though.

36. jacky899

Posts: 431; Member since: May 16, 2017

This article doesn't mention that real world performance of Samsung phones are notoriously worst than similar android phones. I've been using Samsung galaxy/note phones forever and until I had to give up my Note 7 and got the Nexus 6P, I noticed how bad the stutter is on the Samsung phones compared to the Nexus 6P. Also the Note 8 will probably have much shorter battery life than the U11 if you enable the full resolution to match the U11's pixel sharpness. U11 will probably still have a better camera as my Nexus 6P was already slightly better than my Note 7 and U11 is superior to the Nexus 6P. However, Note 8 has the pen.

42. SupermanayrB

Posts: 1188; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

" my Nexus 6P was already slightly better than my Note 7..." Pretty much everything you said was BS, but this right here was just an insurmountable level of BS.

2. darkkjedii

Posts: 31310; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I've never even seen the U11 in person, so I can't judge it, but I'm all over the Note 8. It's just got too much going for it, for me to pass it up. Already got 2 cases ordered for it. Now it's just the wait. Those features man....damn. YouTube is making me want it even more.

4. BeersAndTech

Posts: 95; Member since: Sep 28, 2015

Please shut up already.

5. darkkjedii

Posts: 31310; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Suck something bruh, better yet shut me up. You're just a little btihc to me...nothing more.

6. BeersAndTech

Posts: 95; Member since: Sep 28, 2015

"Suck something bruh" Nah, I'll leave that to you bruh since you get down like that.

9. Subie

Posts: 2390; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

Ease up darkk. The dude could just be jealous that you're getting something that his mom won't buy for him ;)

10. darkkjedii

Posts: 31310; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Lol, right on Subie. He knows to keep it on the tech site. These keyboard warriors crack me up. He wants me to go back and forth with him...nope I'm good. If he get a good grades his fugly ass mom, might get him a Note 4.

14. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Lmao. Was bout to say thesame. Its getting pretty disturbing at this point.

15. darkkjedii

Posts: 31310; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

If I'm disturbing you, then why would you be stupid enough to keep reading my posts? That's plain dumb, but I know you can't resist. Just wait till I get my Note 8, you'll really wanna read my posts then. Stay tuned btihc

11. amasog

Posts: 552; Member since: Aug 22, 2013

Do you really need those features?

3. BeersAndTech

Posts: 95; Member since: Sep 28, 2015

They both are very ugly.

7. fyah_king unregistered

Note 8 all day and everyday of the week.That's the phone of all phones because of the mighty S pen!!!

17. darkkjedii

Posts: 31310; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Gotta have it. Did you preorder?

20. fyahking

Posts: 1146; Member since: Jan 28, 2015


23. darkkjedii

Posts: 31310; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Me too, and the wait is gonna drive me crazy.

24. fyahking

Posts: 1146; Member since: Jan 28, 2015

It's already driving me crazy. I thought bestbuy had it in store. So, i went there with 5 of my kids to check it out for The rug rats were running

32. Diezparda

Posts: 941; Member since: Oct 23, 2013

Hello darkk, i think this time iPhone 8 might outshine Note 8. Since Note in my opinion isn't much upgrade over S8, i think many S8 owner will skip this one. Of course if all rumours about iP8 was true. Tiny bezel (which never happen before), bigger screen, A11, etc... basically huge leap over their predecessor. What do you think? will you get iP8 too?

40. darkkjedii

Posts: 31310; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I think the iPhone 8 is gonna be a great device, but I'm wondering about the features of it. I've stated several times, what it would need for me to buy it, and I'm sticking to that. It's gonna be highly anticipated. It's more of an upgrade over the 7, than the Note is over the S8 Plus, but the Note should be compared to another Note. The Note 8 is well ahead of the Note 7, as it should be. IOS 11 didn't impress me in the least, and I have the iPad Pro, which will get the better version of it. Right now I'm curious about the iPhone, but I've no interest in buying based on just the look, and what I've see in iOS 11. Maybe Apple will shock me, and give me Split screen Picture in Picture  Slide over Themes Multi item clipboard  Fully customizable keyboard Symbols on keyboard  Simultaneous front and rear camera use Great battery life Free placing widgets Customizable widgets Then I'd definitely get it. Right now, it's strictly a wait and see device. The product8vity of the Note 8, and the s-pen are what I really need/want. Are thinking of you going to get the iPhone? You can't go wrong with it, just doesn't really excite me anymore.

44. Diezparda

Posts: 941; Member since: Oct 23, 2013

It's true iOS 11 will be optimized for iPad, that's why i love the iPad and tbh i never like the iPhone. They always miss a thing on previous flagship, like having same design, smaller screen compared to android competitor, no quick charge, no oled display, etc... It's probably just me, but it's 10 year's celebration of the iPhone. I have a feeling if they'll do some drastic changes then here's their time.

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