Interface and Functionality

The Galaxy Note 8 launches with Android 7.1, and we imagine it’ll be getting an update to Android 8 soon after. Meanwhile, the iPhone 7 Plus is running iOS 10, with an update to iOS 11 expected to drop in a couple of weeks.

At this point, both platforms can be considered very mature. The more interesting story is the Samsung Experience user interface, which the company reinvented yet again with the introduction of the Galaxy S8 series. This is clearly the best version of Samsung’s UI yet, with a consistent and unique new visual design. With the Note 8, Samsung turns up the eye candy even more, with a beautiful new lockscreen animation. The software is relatively intuitive to navigate and use, though some of its more advanced features need some getting used to: like setting up pre-defined app pairs for dual-window 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 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.

Performance and Memory

Hardware and performance are cutting edge on the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 7 Plus. Of the two, the iPhone 7 Plus has more immediacy and responsiveness, although the difference isn’t too noticeable. Even though the 7 Plus’ A10 chipset is now a year old, it’s still more than powerful enough to provide all the horsepower you may need, be it for gaming, productivity, or social networking.

The Note 8’s Snapdragon 835 (or Exynos 8895 if international) is the best chipset Qualcomm has to offer at the moment. Performance is generally smooth, although occasional lag is to be expected in the long term, when you have it loaded up with apps, accounts, media, and what not.

There isn’t much flexibility in terms of internal memory on the Note 8, as it only comes with 64 GB, but it does offer a microSD card slot, so you can still expand the available storage space, at least for documents and media. The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, does not allow memory expansion, but you can purchase it with 32, 128, or 256 GB of internal memory.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note8 175439
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 179811
JetStream Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note8 67.884
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 167.76
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note8 60
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 58.2
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note8 39
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 55.8
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note8 3422
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 3119
Geekbench 4 single-core Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note8 1877
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 3443
Geekbench 4 multi-core Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note8 6552
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 5619

Internet and Connectivity

Browsing is great with both phones. Some websites’ content may appear to close to the Note 8’s curved screen edge, making for a somewhat weird to look at, but it’s not too much of a pain. Samsung’s own Internet browser is a great alternative to Chrome, which is an impressive achievement: few companies have the capacity to build truly capable web browsers these days.

Speaking of which, Safari on the iPhone 7 Plus remains an incredibly refined and speedy browser, which makes the surfing experience a joy. The 7 Plus has a massive display for comfortable viewing, but the Note 8 pushes that even further with an extra-tall screen, which happens to be especially suited for viewing web pages.

In the connectivity department, the Galaxy Note 8 takes advantage of the newer Bluetooth 5 protocol for enhanced range and bandwidth, but to enjoy the benefits, you also need to pair it with other Bluetooth 5-enabled accessories. Aside from that, both phones will be available on pretty much every carrier, so networking and coverage should be a non-issue.

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