Galaxy Note 8 vs. Galaxy S8: Are Stylus, Camera Worth the Extra Price?

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Earlier this year, Samsung launched arguably two of the most advanced Android smartphones on the market: the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. The company’s flagship smartphones offer outstanding extras, high-end power and a design that puts all of its previous devices to shame. But despite the phones’ popularity, Samsung refused to rest on its laurels—on Aug. 23 it delivered the Galaxy Note 8, which might just be better than the Galaxy S8 line. Although it comes with a Galaxy S8-like design, the Note 8 has some advantages over its predecessors, including a better camera and stylus support to facilitate digital writing. But for all the advantages, Samsung’s Note 8 also comes at a cost—with pricing nearly touching $1,000. There are certain to be some who will balk at that price—especially when the Galaxy S8 line is so good. In this eWEEK slide show, we compare Samsung’s top handsets to help determine...

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Note 8 and S8 Have Similar Designs

Samsung didn’t try to reinvent the wheel with the Galaxy Note 8. The design is nearly identical to the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, complete with a thin bezel at the top and bottom and curved edges on the left and right. There’s also no room for a physical home button, forcing Samsung to move the fingerprint sensor to an inconvenient spot next to the rear cameras. The Galaxy Note 8 is bigger than the Galaxy S8+, but not dramatically so.

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The Phones Come With the Same Power Inside

The Galaxy Note 8 and the Galaxy S8 line should provide about the same power. That’s because they both run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835. However, the Note 8 has 6GB of RAM, compared to the 4GB of RAM in the Galaxy S8 line, meaning resource-intensive apps should work a bit better on the Note 8.

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The Operating System's the Same

Like the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, the Galaxy Note 8 runs Android Nougat. But look for Samsung to upgrade the Note 8 (and likely the Galaxy S8) to Android Oreo at some point.

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Users Will Find the Same Software

Samsung says the software experience beyond the operating system will be the same in the Galaxy Note 8 as it is in the Galaxy S8 line. The operating system will run the same Android skin as the Galaxy S8, and it will come with Samsung’s many apps, including Bixby and its proprietary Web browser.

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If You Like Big Screens, Note 8 Has a Slight Edge

The Galaxy S8 comes with a 5.8-inch display, and the Galaxy S8+ offers a 6.2-inch screen. The Galaxy Note 8 tops both of those devices with a 6.3-inch display. However, the resolution is the same in all the models and delivers quad-HD visuals.

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Only the Note 8 Comes With a Stylus

Arguably the biggest difference between the Galaxy Note 8 and the Galaxy S8 line is the inclusion of a stylus. Unlike the Galaxy S8 smartphones, the Galaxy Note 8 supports Samsung’s S Pen stylus, allowing users to digitally write on the screen. Samsung has even updated the S Pen this year, giving it improved precision and faster responsiveness.

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Note 8 Boasts a Dual-Camera First

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the first smartphone from the Korean giant to offer a dual-lens rear-facing camera. The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, in contrast, have a single rear-facing camera. With the dual lenses, the Note 8 takes zoom effects to another level. The feature also helps Samsung keep pace with Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus, which similarly has a horizontally aligned dual-lens camera.

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Ample Storage With Each Option

Both the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 come with enough storage for most users. The Galaxy S8 line has 64GB of onboard storage and can support up to a 256GB microSD card. The Galaxy Note 8 similarly has a 64GB storage option and support for 256GB of space on a microSD card.

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Phones Are All Carrier-Agnostic

Both the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 are carrier-agnostic. That means the devices can be purchased from any major carrier network and work just fine. Samsung is selling versions that are locked to certain carriers, as well as unlocked options for users to bring to different carriers whenever they choose.

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A Big Price Difference

With its stylus and dual camera, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 looks like a nice upgrade over the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, but remember that all comes at a price. Galaxy Note 8 pricing is over $900 and in some cases can touch $960 or more. The Galaxy S8, on the other hand, comes in at $750, and the Galaxy S8+ tops out at $850. Either way, it’s not cheap to buy a Samsung smartphone.

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