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Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy Note 8: What Should You Buy?

From the processor and camera to new AI features, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ will reportedly pack all kinds of improvements when they debut later this month. But that doesn’t mean the already available Galaxy Note 8 shouldn’t be on your shortlist for the next phone you buy.

Left Credit: Evan Blass; Right Credit: Tom's GuideLeft Credit: Evan Blass; Right Credit: Tom’s GuideBased on all of the available Galaxy S9 rumors and leaked specs, we wanted to help you compare Samsung’s flagships so you can start thinking about which handset belongs in your pocket once Samsung unveils its latest flagship phone on Feb. 25.

Galaxy S9 vs. Note 8: Rumored and Real Specs Compared


Galaxy S9

Galaxy S9+

Galaxy Note 8






Android Oreo 8.0

Android Oreo 8.0

Android 7.1.1

Screen Size

5.8 inches
(2960 x 1440)

6.2 inches
(2960 x 1440)

6.3 inches
(2960 x 1440)


Snapdragon 845

Snapdragon 845

Snapdragon 835









Rear Camera

12-MP Super Speed
Dual Pixel (f/1.5, f/2.4)

Dual cameras: 12-MP
(f/1.5, f/2.4) and
12-MP (f/2.4 telephoto)

Dual cameras:
12-MP (f/1.7 wide angle),
12-MP (f/2.4 telephoto)

Headphone Jack





3000 mAh

3500 mAh

3300 mAh


5.8 x 2.7 x 0.33 inches

6.2 x 2.9 x 0.33 inches

6.4 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches




6.9 ounces

Design and Displays

One thing is almost certain: The Galaxy Note 8 will still sport the biggest screen in Samsung’s lineup at 6.3 inches. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ are likely to still feature 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch displays, respectively, just like last year’s S8 models. Wha’s not known is  if Samsung is planning on making any improvements to the Super AMOLED panels on its newer phones.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Credit: Tom's GuideSamsung Galaxy Note 8. Credit: Tom’s GuideRegardless, the Note 8 will undoubtedly remain the heaviest and largest phone in Samsung’s lineup. If you prefer to use a phone with one hand, the more compact S9 will probably be your best bet.

Based on leaked images, the design of the Galaxy S9 and S9+ should address one of the biggest flaws on the Galaxy S8 and Note 8. Instead of placing the fingerprint sensor to the side of the camera lens, the sensor will find a home beneath the S9’s camera. This will help prevent inadvertently smudging of the lens.

MORE: Feast Your Eyes on New Galaxy S9 Colors

Not much is known about the color options for the S9 and S9+, but noted leaker Evan Blass says that these hues are on the way: Midnight Black, Lilac Purple, Titanium Gray and Coral Blue.

Credit: Evan Blass/TwitterCredit: Evan Blass/TwitterThe problem is that most U.S. carriers tend to be conservative, so there’s a very real possibility we’ll get the more boring colors stateside. The Note 8 comes in only Midnight Black and Orchid Gray in America.


Given that Samsung promises to reimagine cameras with the Galaxy S9, this is the biggest reason to wait on buying that Note 8 right now. The rumored Super Speed Dual-Pixel camera is expected to boast an adjustable aperture, which would range from f/1.5 to f/2.4. This would allow the S9 and S9+ to achieve superb results in low light. In addition, the S9 and S9+ should offer a lot faster autofocus.

However, only the S9+ is expected to sport dual cameras, which would enable the same 2x optical zoom and Live Focus features the Note 8 currently offers.

Based on our camera face-off between the Note 8 and the iPhone X, Apple is currently in the lead regarding photography prowess.

And the Google Pixel 2 has performed better in low light than any Android phone up until this point. But the S9, and especially the S9+, could leapfrog the competition — including Samsung’s own Note 8. That’s something we’ll find out once the new phones officially ship.

MORE: Best Smartphone Camera – Phones With the Best Quality

Specs and Performance

If you want the fastest Android phone, you’re going to want to get your hands on the Galaxy S9 or S9+, as they’re expected to be the first phones in the world with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 processor.

Credit: QualcommCredit: QualcommAccording to Qualcomm, the 845 chip promises a 25 percent improvement in “performance uplift,” which means you should expect faster app launches and smoother performance in processor-intensive apps like video editing. In addition, there should be a 30 percent boost in graphics performance. And because Snapdragon 845 is designed to be more efficient, the S9 and S9+ should last longer on a charge than their predecessors, even with the promised performance gain.

On the other hand, the Snapdragon 835 chip in the Note 8 is no slouch, and it’s paired with a robust 6GB of RAM. Based on rumors, the S9 will pack 4GB of RAM and the pricier S9+ will come with 6GB.

Regarding storage, the S9 and Note 8 should be neck and neck with 64GB, but the Galaxy S9+ will reportedly double that with 128GB.

MORE: Top Snapdragon 845 Features That Will Supercharge’s Phones

Special Features and Software

The Galaxy Note 8 stands out with its included S Pen, which lets you draw, take notes and even translate languages on the fly. Our favorite feature is Screen Off Memo, which allows you to jot down items without turning the phone completely on.

Credit: Tom's GuideCredit: Tom’s GuideOne nifty feature of S Pen is Live Messages, which lets you send your scribbles to friends and family as a short animation via a text message.

Another special feature on the Note 8 is App Pair, which allows you to launch two apps side by side at the same time. This feature could be coming to the S9 and/or S9+, but it remains to be seen.

Other than the more advanced camera, the biggest upgrades expected for the S9 and S9+ are said to be Intelligent Scan and a new AI UX. The former feature would combine facial recognition and iris scanning to unlock your device. AI UX refers to leveraging artificial intelligence to anticipate your demands, making the interface more intuitive. It will almost certainly be based on the Bixby assistant, which has received mixed reviews thus far.

Regarding the operating system, it’s a lock that the S9 and S9+ will launch with Android Oreo, which is the latest version of Android’s software (though we’re not sure if it will be the latest Android 8.1). The Galaxy Note 8 currently rocks the old Android Nougat, but we’re hearing an upgrade to Oreo is imminent.

MORE: When Is Your Phone Getting Android 8.0 Oreo?

Battery Life

If you look at the battery life results for the Galaxy S8, S8+ and Note 8, all offer excellent endurance. On the Tom’s Guide Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over 4G LTE, the Note 8 lasted 11 hours and 11 minutes, which is well over the 9:40 smartphone average. The S8 and S8+ turned in runtimes of 10:39 and 11:04, so they were not far behind.

Based on the rumored specs, the S9 and S9+ will have the same battery capacities as their predecessors at 3,000 mAh and 3,500 mAh, respectively. The Note 8 has a 3,300 mAh battery. And yet the S9 and S9+ should both outlast the Note 8, because the new Snapdragon 845 chip is reportedly more efficient than the 835 processor in the Note.

Price and Value

While the Galaxy S8 and S8+ started at $750 and $850, a recent report said that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ could cost at least $100 more. So you could be looking at $850 and $950 for Samsung’s newest flagships.

MORE: What’s Your Old Galaxy Phone Worth Now?

The Galaxy Note 8 costs about $950 through most carriers, but you can find it for as little as $899 on sale. Check out our Galaxy Note 8 deals for the latest offers.


It looks like the Galaxy S9 and S9+ will be faster, more secure and provide longer battery life than the Note 8. And the rear cameras will likely be superior, offering better photo quality, especially in low light. Plus, based on the rumors, it looks like the S9 will find a better way to build on the Bixby assistant to make your life a bit easier with AI.

Credit: Tom's GuideCredit: Tom’s GuideHowever, the Galaxy Note 8 remains the Samsung phone to buy if you prefer a bigger screen and you find the idea of the S Pen useful. And while the Note 8’s main rear camera isn’t as advanced as what’s promised for the S9, you still get dual lenses for shooting compelling portraits and a 2x optical zoom.

When the Galaxy S9 and S9+ go on sale this March, you’ll have a tough call to make, so stay tuned for our full coverage and an update of this comparison.

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