Galaxy Note 8 vs Galaxy S8: What Should You Buy?

From the OnePlus 5 and LG V30 to the iPhone, the new Galaxy Note 8 faces some stiff competition. But for Samsung fans, the biggest decision will be whether to get the Note 8 or turn to Samsung’s other top flagships, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

The Note 8 is certainly similar in some ways to the S8 and S8+, sporting a curved Infinity Display that goes from nearly edge to edge, as well as a pressure-sensitive home button (yay!) and a back-mounted fingerprint reader (boo!).

But it’s the differences between these two flagships that make this comparison a lot more interesting. Here’s how the Note 8 and Galaxy S8 stack up, and our recommendations on what you should buy.

Galaxy Note 8 vs S8 Specs

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Galaxy Note 8Galaxy S8Galaxy S8+
Price $930 to $960$725 to $750$825 to $850
Screen Size6.3 inches5.8 inches6.2 inches
ProcessorSnapdragon 835Snapdragon 835Snapdragon 835
CameraDual 12-MP w/2x optical zoom12-MP12-MP
Special FeaturesS Pen, BixbyBixbyBixby
Battery3,300 mAh3,000 mAh3,500 mAh


The 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch Super AMOLED displays on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are truly stunning. But if you want an even bigger canvas, the Note 8 has you covered. The Note 8's 6.3-inch screen is the biggest in Samsung's current lineup, making it ideal for getting lost in movies or getting serious work done with the included S Pen.

In addition, the Note 8 lets you do more with its additional real estate. Thanks to a new App Pair feature, you can launch two apps simultaneously side by side, such as the Browser and YouTube, or a music app and Google Maps. The S8 has a Multi Window feature of its own, but you have to launch the two apps separately.

Despite the extra size, we fund the Note 8 fairly easy to hold with one hand in our full review. On the other hand, because the Note 8 offers the same resolution as the S8 and S8+, you get less pixels per inch on the Note.

Winner: Draw. Although the Note 8’s screen is slightly bigger, they’re all stellar.


The Galaxy S8 and S8+ have topped our list of the Best Camera Phones, but the Note 8 has now taken the No. 1 spot. The Note 8 is the first handset in Samsung’s lineup to offer dual cameras on the back, and they performed very well in our testing.

The Note 8's deal 12-megapixel cameras boast a 2x optical zoom, which matches the iPhone 7 Plus, as well as a 10x digial zoom. Both of the Note 8's cameras sport optical image stabilization - a first for camera phones - which should result in steadier shots.

But the fun really starts when you start using Live Focus, which lets you adjust the bokeh/blur effect both before you snap the shutter and after. Then there’s Dual Capture, which enables Note 8 owners to take a wide-angle and close-up photo at the same time.

Winner: Galaxy Note 8. The dual cameras make a big difference.

Special Features

The Galaxy Note 8’s dual cameras is an important special feature. But perhaps the easiest way to determine whether the Note 8 or S8 is right for you is to ask yourself whether you want to use a stylus. The S Pen is back for the Note 8, allowing you to take notes with ease — even when the screen is off.

The Note 8 improves on the Screen Off Memo feature that debuted on the Note 7, this time letting you jot down up to 100 pages of notes without even unlocking your phone. Other notable S Pen features include Live Messages, which let you sketch your own GIFs, as well as improved translation capabilities.

Like the Galaxy S8, the Note 8 can access Bixby, Samsung's Siri-like virtual assistant. Based on our Bixby Review, it still needs some improvement, but if you get the hang of it this feature can save you lots of screen taps.

Winner: Galaxy Note 8.The combination of the S Pen and dual cameras give the Note 8 the edge in this round.

Performance and Battery Life

The Galaxy Note 8 sports the same Snapdragon 835 processor as the Galaxy S8 and S8+, but benefits from a beefier 6GB of RAM compared to the S8's 4GB. The Note 8's extra RAM helped it top the Galaxy S8 on a couple of key performance benchmarks.

Despite having a small-ish 3,300 mAh battery, the Note 8 offered the same great 11-hour battery life as the Galaxy S8+. The smaller Galaxy S8 lasted for a decent 10:39.

Like the Galaxy S8, the Note 8 comes with 64GB of internal storage that you can expand to up to 256GB using a microSD card.

Winner: Galaxy Note 8. The Note 8 and Galaxy S8+ offer similar endurance, but the Note 8 has a slight edge in terms of performance.


The Galaxy Note 8 costs between $930 and $960 (depending on your carrier), retaining the Note line's reputation as the priciest member of Samsung's lineup.

By comparison, the Galaxy S8 debuted at about $750 and the S8+ $850, though you can find better S8 deals, especially if you go the unlocked route.

Winner: Galaxy S8. You get more bang for your buck with the S8.

Overall Recommendations

Between its excellent dual-lens cameras and S Pen features, the Galaxy Note 8 is worth the nearly $1,000 price tag for Android enthusiasts who want the absolute best of the best. On the other hand, the Galaxy S8 is the better value who want Samsung’s great image quality, display and immersive Infinity Display for less.

The Galaxy S8+ is a fine choice for those who want a bigger screen, but if we had to choose between the 6.2-inch S8+ and 6.3-inch Note 8, we’d rather pay the little bit of extra dough to get an optical zoom camera.

Photo Credit: Tom's Guide

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.