The iPhone 8 Plus has breath-taking colors, while the Note 8 is a close runner-up with excellent sharpness.

Not only are these two of the best smartphones all around, both of them aim for the best phone camera title as well.

Both have a dual camera system on their backs, both have a telephoto lens to zoom in, and both support portrait mode to blur the background. So let’s skip the specs and go straight to what matters: the actual performance.

The cameras on both open similarly quickly and snapping pictures is very fast on both.

First thing you notice when you compare photos from the two is the difference in colors. The iPhone has more realistic colors while the Galaxy has slightly more vibrancy to them. Both look great and it’s a matter of personal preference which one you like better, in some cases the iPhone has the slightly better look, in others – it’s the Note. One peculiarity with the Note is that it always renders greens with a slight yellow tint, this is an easy way to tell the pictures apart between the two.

The Note wins it in terms of sharpness: pictures on it clearly have more definition and have a more eye-popping look. Looking at the details, you notice that the iPhone lacks sharpness around the edges of a picture, while sharpness on the Note stays consistent in the whole frame.

Is there a clear winner? We tend to like the Note 8 look a bit more, but stripping personal preference aside, a draw is a fair outcome.

Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Apple iPhone 8 Plus 0.95
No data
No data
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 1.7

Portrait Mode vs Live Focus

The thing that you probably are really curious about is Portrait Mode, the feature that blurs the background of an image leaving only the person in sharp focus. On the Note 8, this is called Live Focus because you can actually adjust the amount of blur added to the frame, while on the iPhone it is pre-set to a certain level.


One area where the iPhone has an advantage is certainly video: it supports 4K at 60fps, which is a big leap in terms of quality, especially when there is any kind of motion in the shots. It makes a big difference and once you see how smooth 4K at 60fps looks, you will not want to go back to 30fps. But it comes at a cost: double the storage size. So if you are planning on recording a lot of video in 4K at 60fps, you’d better get ready to spend extra for that 256GB iPhone model.

Samsung has promised to update the Note 8 to support 4K at 60fps in the near future, but we don’t have that update yet. But even in 4K at 30fps we can see that the Note 8 has a slightly less dynamic video capture and video stabilization with OIS looks more jittery on the main, wide-angle camera. Switch to the tele lens in video, though, and the iPhone 8 Plus can’t match up: it lacks OIS and footage looks very shaky, while the Note 8 stabilizes the secondary tele lens as well.

Image formats and sizes

iPhone now uses modern HEIF and HEVC formats for photos and videos. These new formats can half the size of photos and videos, and make great use of limited on-device space. 1 minute of 4K 30fps video now takes up 170MB, while it used to occupy 350MB of space. Keep in mind that many other platforms will not recognize and play these newer formats, but unless you directly try to download these files, sharing them will automatically convert them to compatible legacy formats.

The Note 8 uses the standard JPEG and MP4 file formats that take up more space, but are easily recognizable across all platforms.


There is a single bottom firing loudspeaker on the Note 8 and while it gets pretty loud, it lags behind in comparison to the clear, crisp, well pronounced sound from the iPhone 8 Plus. The Note 8 is muddy and lacks definition sorely, so if you listen to music straight from your phone speakers, the iPhone provides a much better experience.

Of course, using headphones results in much higher quality of the audio, but there is no audio jack on the iPhone 8 Plus. Yes, it’s been a year, and no, the Lightning ecosystem of headphones has not really exploded with options. You do have the excellent AirPods, though, and we recommend using them. Dealing with the unsightly Lighting to 3.5mm adapter is really not something that we are looking forward to, but you should know that the adapter does come included in the box. It’s all easier on the Note 8 where the good old 3.5mm jack is present.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Apple iPhone 8 Plus 0.995
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 0.78
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Apple iPhone 8 Plus 76.4
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 74.6



1. dubaiboy78

Posts: 446; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Iphone 8 is the best best best best best!!!! - iphonearena

6. Victor.H

Posts: 1062; Member since: May 27, 2011

You did not bother reading, did you?

7. You_Dont_Say

Posts: 431; Member since: Jan 26, 2015

Phonearena haters are like Trump supporters. Claim they will boycott the NFL, yet watch every NFL event to see if players are kneeling. Like Trump supporters, the same people who shout 'iPhonearena' are here on PhoneArena reading content they supposedly hate. Phonearena haters, Apple haters, and Trump Supporters are literally the dumbest people on Earth.

9. PhoneInQuestion

Posts: 496; Member since: Aug 20, 2017

I guess you spend more than a good portion of your working hours retweeting Donald Trump like a lot of Silicon valley interns?

13. You_Dont_Say

Posts: 431; Member since: Jan 26, 2015

ROFL no. Seems like you don't know what retweeting is.

14. LebronJamesFanboy

Posts: 671; Member since: Mar 23, 2013

You might want to reread his post.

16. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Reading isn't one of their strengths, unfortunately.

81. LiveFaith

Posts: 464; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

Yep. LOL. Busted. Obsessing over others obsessions.

18. Bankz

Posts: 2543; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

lol, exactly

45. bobby84

Posts: 595; Member since: May 13, 2016

Iphonearena do some research bixby can unlock your phone it did that like a week after the voice part was activated and it's much better at understanding speech

82. LiveFaith

Posts: 464; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

The best news is that the button can be natively disabled now. Only one step away from allowing it to be remapped. You can bring this massive breakthrough Samsung. I just know it. Actually, their are a couple of apps that are ahead of Samsung blocking that allow remapping it. But, honestly, the thing is in the way of volume, so I've decided to disable.

12. NickHill

Posts: 388; Member since: May 07, 2016

No, your Shamesung is best.

2. PhoneInQuestion

Posts: 496; Member since: Aug 20, 2017

The Note 8 seems actually practical to hold.

83. LiveFaith

Posts: 464; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

Holds well in hand. It really does. But the length is excessive IMO. Would prefer a Note 8 Mini with same specs and about 20% smaller in size.

3. PhoneBag

Posts: 8; Member since: Jul 06, 2015

518 nits of maximum brightness for note 8? I guess the writer needs to improve his RESEARCHING skills. This is plainly MISINFORMATION iPhoneArena pwe!

5. Victor.H

Posts: 1062; Member since: May 27, 2011

The screen brightness on the Note 8 is 518 nits at 100% white. We have tested two different units multiple times with professional tools and we get these results over and over. So what is your research?

17. jellmoo

Posts: 2588; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Every other online publication saying that it's hitting record brightness of over 1200 nits?

21. IT-Engineer

Posts: 543; Member since: Feb 26, 2015

MKBHD & the verge reported a number around 1200 - 1280 nits on note 8 compared to the 625 nits on Iphone 8 & iphone X.. I mean come on Victor, you guys clearly need to revise your test methods, first your battery tests are different than all the rest of the tech community and now the brightness???? Seriously!!!

22. IT-Engineer

Posts: 543; Member since: Feb 26, 2015

Here you go 1200 nits: As i said, either your tests are completely wrong, or your intentionally giving misleading information.

24. JK7844

Posts: 11; Member since: Sep 20, 2016

My research is from displaymate, which shows 1,200 nits. Go check it out if you haven't.

25. IT-Engineer

Posts: 543; Member since: Feb 26, 2015

26. mrochester

Posts: 997; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

It only reaches those values when auto-brightness is switched on and you are outdoors in bright light. These are unlikely the conditions in which the devices were tested by PhoneArena. The iPhone 7 reaches 705nits in the same conditions. There's no data for the 8 or 8+ yet.

84. LiveFaith

Posts: 464; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

Oh, you mean THAT "maximum brightness".

28. IT-Engineer

Posts: 543; Member since: Feb 26, 2015

By the way, it is your responsibility as an author to correct your article if you have a wrong or misleading information. So please do correct it for you and this site credability!

31. MrShazam

Posts: 987; Member since: Jun 22, 2017

You're asking for way too much from victor...

35. jeroome86

Posts: 2314; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

Even though I’m a iOS guy mostly, I would like to see a corrected article on this. Worst thing for a tech site or any business is when you lose credibility. But always look at different sites for comparisons. Android Central is real good site to check out.

43. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

How do you set an AMOLED display too 100% whiteness when OLED displays don't produce a natural white? How is that accomplished? Also, you stated in another article, you all set the brightness to 200NITS using a scientific method. How is this equal to you saying, all devices are tested at default settings? Are you not convoluting the test when you change any variable that swings a device on one direction or another? Forget the auto-settings. DisplayMate states that when you "manually" set the display to 100%, that the display produced 728NITS of brightness. If you manually set the display brightness, how are you achieving 100% white levels on a device that doesn't have white LED's? Also would like to know, if you change the variables on any test, how is your test any different from any test on YouTube?

47. Victor.H

Posts: 1062; Member since: May 27, 2011

Okay, so let's sum it all up: you guys have 1 source that everyone is quoting from and that source is DisplayMate. There is NO other source, neither TheVerge, nor MKBHD, nor anybody else. They all quote from DisplayMate. That's cool. But what does DisplayMate really say? Well, you need to first READ the damn report before going with that 1200 nit number! In other words, don't be like TheVerge or MKBHD who did NOT bother reading and just quote a number they don't understand. Here is what DisplayMate says (look for it towards the end in the Brightness and Contrast table in green): it says that the Note 8 has a brightness of High Auto Brightness 560 – 1,240 cd/m2 It does not say 1,240 nits, it says FROM 560 to 1,240 nits. So how does it get to 1,240 nits? You can ask DisplayMate because they never say in their article, but I can save you the effort and tell you how: by showing 1% white and 99% black. That is the way AMOLED works. How do you do this? Load up a picture with just a single dot of white on a black background and test! So yes, we do NOT get 1,240 nits because we don't do such a test! We think it's not that important to know the brightness of a screen with 1% black because nobody uses their screen like that. What do we do? We have always tested a 100% white, which means that we load up a fully WHITE picture that covers the whole screen. That's it. And we measure. So we get around 518 nits. Look back at DisplayMate's tests: it says "FROM 560 nits" and we have a score that says "518 nits" which is close enough. So yes, our results are not false, they are not fake, they are not made up. But they need context. The same is true of DisplayMate: 1,240 nits is just wrong without a context. It's absurd, nobody uses their phone with 1% black. A perfectly correct measure would be to do something like a 50% white, that would be closer to average use. At 50% white, I guess the Note 8 would have a brightness higher than 520 nits, but much lower than 1,240 nits. And that's it! Hope you guys understand how display testing is done and what it means, and we stop repeating bulls**t numbers over and over again. Hit me up with your questions if you have any, I'll do my best to answer!

53. jellmoo

Posts: 2588; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

To be fair, GSMArena topped out at 850 nits on a single square, but say that you can expect to get 647 nits in real world use, which is a pretty big difference from your findings. Regardless, considering the fanfare that the 1200 nits claim received, it's silly not to acknowledge it in a review or comparison.

64. Victor.H

Posts: 1062; Member since: May 27, 2011

Why acknowledge a meaningless number? We could write an article just to explain that it's a meaningless number, that we could do.

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