After nine days of using the new Note8, it’s time to settle the score with a Galaxy Note8 vs Galaxy S7 Edge review.
One of my first post on this blog was a comparison between My Samsung Galaxy S5 and my then new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Now, 18 months later, I could no longer resist an upgrade. My device ecosystem has for a long time consisted of my S7 phone, a Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablet, and a Samsung Series 5, 13-inch laptop.
This spring, I upgraded my laptop to an HP Spectre X360 with a 13-inch touchscreen. Realising that my tab started to show signs of aging and that I hardly ever use it after getting my new 2-in-1 laptop, I was looking for a somewhat bigger phone, thinking that I could live with two devices instead of three.
Samsung Galaxy Note8 vs Galaxy S7 Edge
I have to say that I have been very happy with my Galaxy S7 Edge, and was not sure what to expect. I was unsure about how much bigger the display would feel. Keep in mind that one of my reasons for upgrading was to replace my tab.
In the box
- AKG earbuds
- Samsung fast charger
- USB C to standard-A cable
- Micro-USB to USB C adapter
- USB C to standard-A adapter
- S Pen tweezer and tips
- SIM tool
Physical size and feel
The size of the two phones is almost identical. The Note8 is 11mm/0.46″ longer, 2mm/0.08″ wider, and 1mm/0.04″ thicker than my S7 Edge. When it comes to the weigh, the Note8 is 38g/1.34oz heavier. Visually, the Note8 is a bit more square than the S7 Edge. The Note8 is a big phone, so big that I have trouble reaching the bottom left icon with my thumb when I hold the phone in my right hand.
Despite the minute difference in footprint, what is surprising is how much bigger the display feels. Officially, the Galaxy S7 edge has a 5.5-inch display. Due to the edge, the effective display size is 5.4 inches. Compared with the Note8 and it’s 6.3 inches, the difference is only 0.9 inches.
The resolution of the S7 is 1440 x 2560 pixels. The Note8 has 1440 x 2960 pixels. The numbers are almost identical but combined, the slightly bigger display and minutely higher resolution make the display of the Galaxy Note8 seem noticeable bigger.
The camera is the feature I have used the least amount of time on this far. On paper, the speck for the back facing cameras seems almost identical, except the fact that the Note8 has two of them. On closer inspection there is a list of features I would like to play with:
- Time-lapse video
- Continuous autofocus
- Object tracking
- Picture-taking during video recording
- Digital image stabilization
Other differences between the Note8 and the S7
The Galaxy Note8 has a USB C port instead of a micro USB port. This means faster data transfer, and also, in my opinion, the next step in charging standards. The USB C fits both ways, thus eliminating the daily irritation of fitting the USB cable.
The Note8 supports gigabit wireless networking, promising faster file synchronization. This is good considering that the built-in storage has doubled from 32GB to 64GB. The system memory has increased from 4GB to 6GB.
The fingerprint reader is moved to the back of the phone. I thought this was going to be an issue for me, but instead, I have taken to use the facial recognition. This generally works faster, except for the times I’m not wearing my glasses.
The Samsung Galaxy Note8 in gold. (Picture: Samsung)
The S Pen stylus
Comparing the Galaxy Note8 vs Galaxy S7 Edge is a bit like comparing apples and oranges in the sense that the Note has some additional tools included. The S Pen was another of the features that made the upgrade so tempting.
The last time I had a handheld device with a pen was back in 2003. That was the Palm Tungsten E. I remember how I used to take notes with my Palm and had high hopes for the S Pen.
Starting with using the pen in Todoist, I found that I would have the option of using the pen for both the task text and the comments. When choosing the pen, I got a small editor I could write and correct my text in before sending it to Todoist. This was quite handy. The thing even recognized my awful handwriting.
Going into my first meeting at work, I thought that using the pen on my phone in meetings would be more acceptable than fidgeting with the keyboard. Firing up Microsoft OneNote, I was in for a disappointment. I was able to draw and write, but there was no support for text recognition.
When the meeting was over, I wanted to test Evernote. Here it worked. starting with the note title, I was able to write with the pen. Moving down to begin typing the note, I found that absolutely nothing happened, not even writing or drawing.
It was clear that for taking notes, I would continue to use my Livescribe pen. Not that I wanted to replace that setup, but having the option would have been nice.
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If you want to know more about Livescribe, read Livescribe 3 smartpen – Handwriting goes digital.
Frustrated, I started googling. The official feedback from Evernote, found in the Evernote Community forum was this:
Our new editor uses an embedded version of Chrome for Android. Samsung’s handwriting function found in devices using the S Pen/handwriting feature does not work in Chrome. This is the reason it is not currently working. If Samsung were to release an update to support Chrome’s editor, then it would work again with Evernote (as well as Chrome).
It turned out that after an OS upgrade in May 2016, the S Pen was no longer supported. Come on, Samsung. What is taking you so long? Whit the lack of support for the two most used note taking apps in the world, I wonder where Samsung wants to go with the S Pen.
The Samsung DeX docking station
I have to confess that this is what triggered the sale. I pre-ordered the Galaxy Note8 to get a free DeX Station. The DeX arrived only a couple of days ago, and I haven’t had much time to play with it. My first impression can best be described as somewhat promising.
I have a USB hub where I have the dongle for my Logitec keyboard and my wired Rollermouse hooked up. I thought that the Logitech Unified unit and maybe the USB hub itself would be a problem. It all worked right away. Depending on my experience, I might write a separate review on the DeX station later.
Galaxy Note8 vs Galaxy S7 Edge – Conclusion
Let me make it clear: The Samsung Galaxy Note8 is a damn good phone. In fact, it is probably the best phone on the market right now. Since this is a Galaxy Note8 vs Galaxy S7 comparison, the question I’m trying to answer is “is it worth the upgrade?” That proves difficult to answer. Let’s look at the pros and cons.
- Bigger display
- Brilliantly clear display
- Better camera
- More camera functions
- Gigabit network
- Twice as much built-in storage
- USB C port
- Facial recognition
- Multi-Window mode
- Missing support for handwriting recognition
- Too big for one-handed operation if you have small hands
I started with Galaxy Note8 vs Galaxy S7. In the end, the Galaxy S8 Plus could end up as the winner. In short: If you need the S Pen, or just want the very best, go for the Galaxy Note8. If you want to save a couple of hundred dollars and just need a bigger display, go for the Galaxy S8 Plus.