Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Galaxy S8 Plus: the weigh-in

Which Galaxy should you explore with your hard-earned cash?

In past years, Samsung's Galaxy Note phones have stood apart from the Galaxy S models – besides the S Pen, of course – by being larger handsets. But the difference isn't as noticeable now.

Not when you put the newly-announced Galaxy Note 8 against the Galaxy S8 Plus, at least. The Note 8 packs a 6.3in screen, while the S8 Plus is just a hair smaller at 6.2in, and there's quite a bit more that's pretty even between the two.

So what really sets them apart besides the stylus? If you're considering both of Samsung's current big-phones, you'll need to consider the finer details – and we've done just that below.

Design: Two of a kind

The Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8 Plus are, unsurprisingly, birds of a feather. The Note 8 follows in the S8's striking design lineage, and given the very close screen sizes, they're expectedly pretty close in appearance. But they're not identical.

The Galaxy S8 Plus has a subtler curve to its screen, most noticeably, while the Note 8 has harder curves to give you more flat surface on the front. As we wrote in our hands-on for the Note 8, the S8 phones are "smooth, soft, and almost pebble-like," while the Note 8 "feels like it means business."

Both dazzle with their bezel-lite looks and attractive curves, but honestly, this one will go down to personal preference. They're both essentially best of class because they feel like two sides of the same coin.

Initial Winner: Draw

Screen: Big and beautiful

And really, the same goes for the display, as well. As mentioned, the Galaxy Note 8 has 0.1in on the S8 Plus, which is something, but it's not much at all. They're both large displays, but since they're extra tall with 18:9 dimensions, neither feels unmanageable in the hand.

They're also both fabulous displays: Quad HD stunners at 2960x1440 resolution, and Super AMOLED panels at that. The Galaxy S8 Plus is arguably the best smartphone screen on the market today (tied with the standard S8), and from what we've seen so far, there's no reason to believe the Note 8 will appear any weaker to the human eye.

As above, they're both the best, so you'll just have to go on whether you notice any difference in screen size, as well as whether you like the softer or harder curves along the sides.

Initial Winner: Draw

Camera: Seeing double

The Galaxy S8 Plus, along with its smaller sibling, has one of the best smartphone cameras on the market today – although we wouldn't say the 12-megapixel sensor is the all-around best. But in any case, it's totally top-notch.

The Galaxy Note 8 has that same camera on the back, but then it adds another 12MP sensor alongside it, following the same kind of dual-camera approach as the iPhone 7 Plus, OnePlus 5, and other top handsets today.

In other words, we can't imagine how the Note 8 loses this particular battle. It seems to have the same f/1.7, dual-pixel autofocus camera as the S8 line, but then it adds a f/2.4 sensor with phase-detect autofocus alongside it, allowing optical-esque variable zoom without shedding detail as well as bokeh-packing portrait-like shots.

We'll out for sure once we put the Note 8 through our review gauntlet, but it's hard to believe the S8 Plus will win this category in the end.

Initial Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Performance: Pumped up

Both devices have the same heart: Samsung's own Exynos 8895 system-on-a-chip, one of the fastest available today, which is capable of pumping out killer graphics and overall performance, handling multitasking with ease, and plenty more.

However, the Galaxy S8 Plus has 4GB RAM inside, while the Note 8 bumps up to 6GB. That might help prevent the occasional hitch here and there, and it should ensure that the S Pen functionality doesn't slow down general use of the device.

But honestly, the RAM difference shouldn't result in any hugely noticeable change in everyday performance, so we'll calling it a draw for now. If we see something in our Galaxy Note 8 testing, then we'll change this category verdict for the final comparison.

Initial Winner: Draw

Battery and perks: S Pen pal

Samsung has opted for a smaller battery in the Galaxy Note 8 than in last year's phone, packing in a 3,300mAh cell (vs. 3,500mAh in the explosive Note 7). And 3,500mAh is what you'll find in the Galaxy S8 Plus, so there's a 200mAh deficiency for the Note 8 here.

How big of a difference does 200mAh make? Probably very little, to be honest. But even if that's another hour you'll get in everyday usage, then you might find yourself wishing for that extra capacity at some point. The Galaxy S8 Plus has excellent battery life, so we'll have to see whether the Note 8 can stack up.

But the Galaxy Note 8 does have one big benefit: the S Pen, of course. It lets you jot down doodles and notes on the screen, as well as translate words and sentences into other languages, and quite a bit more. It's a handy perk across the board, from navigation to interacting with the device.

Not everyone will want a stylus for their phone, of course, and you're paying extra for it. But it's one big benefit that the Galaxy S8 Plus just can't match.

At least they both have access to the Gear VR headset, as well as Samsung's DeX station, which lets you plug in an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard, and use your smartphone like a proper desktop computer.

Initial Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Verdict: About even

In a lot of ways, Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8 Plus are nearly identical. In a couple of key ways, the Galaxy Note 8 seems to have the edge.

Granted, you'll probably pay extra for those perks. We're still in the process of reviewing the Note 8, but with the Galaxy S8 Plus at ₹64,900 is still desirable as well. The Note 8 sure to top that figure in some respect, you'll have to decide whether you want to pay extra for the S Pen and some added camera abilities.

Right now, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are the best smartphones in the world. And if the Galaxy Note 8 really does just feel like an S8 Plus with a stylus and a doubled back camera, then there's a good chance that it can share that title to some extent – if the price is right.

We'll have to wait and see. But given that the Note 8's benefits seem minor and largely subjective as to their significance, we're calling these phones even for now.

Initial Winner: Draw