Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Essential Phone – Two EPIC Android Phones For 2017

Samsung is launching a new Galaxy Note 8, but should it be worried by the Essential Phone?

The Galaxy Note series has come a LONG way since its origins back in 2011. Back then it was the first big form phone, the first phablet, and a huge number of people in the industry just didn't take it very seriously; it received a fair bit of flak for its size from critics, but consumers loved it anyway, and it sold in droves. The series has gone from strength-to-strength in the years that followed, and has often acted as a testbed for Samsung technologies; the Galaxy Note Edge, for example, launched alongside the Galaxy Note 4 as the first smartphone with a curved OLED display. The only fly in the ointment to date has been the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7, the one responsible for "explosiongate" where the phone's batteries were unstable and volatile. After a messy recall, Samsung is now back on form with the Galaxy Note 8.

Samsung's much-anticipated Galaxy Note 8 phablet is now official, with the wraps having been taken off at a "Samsung Unpacked" event in New York on August 23. Sales went live globally on September 15 following a pre-order period.

The announcement came, as usual, following an extremely long period of leaks, rumours, speculation, and general excitement; the hype train, in other words. Unsurprisingly, the picture we had of the Galaxy Note 8 just ahead of its launch was pretty much 100% spot on accurate, as all the leaks up until that point had coalesced into giving us a full run-down of what to expect. Such is the nature of the rumour mill these days.

As the leaks tipped, for the most part, the Galaxy Note 8 is very similar to the Galaxy S8+, due to the 6.3in screen diagonal being only 0.1in bigger and.

Typically for the Galaxy Note series, it shares a lot of tech and design features with the Galaxy S8 range from the same year. Amongst them, it has the same processor and uses the same design of an edge-to-edge curved Super AMOLED Infinity Display (QHD+).

It's more squared off in shape though, and it packs the S-Pen stylus with added multitasking features, as well as the much-hyped dual-sensor camera. Other prominent features include the addition of more RAM and onboard storage.

It's not landing in a quiet marketplace, however. A Google Pixel 2 launch is imminent - October 4, to be exact - and right now we've just seen Apple drop the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, while Nokia has just unwrapped the Nokia 8 Android flagship for a rather spectacular return to the industry. Not to mention the likes of the OnePlus 5 already in the wild, and Huawei's Mate 10 series is also landing in mid-October.

Then there's Andy Rubin's Essential Phone (PH-1) debuting as a kind of Nexus/Pixel rival that will also give Samsung a run for its money.

The Essential Phone, aka the Essential PH-1 (its official title), is the brainchild of Andy Rubin, co-founder of the Android OS and considered by many to be the true father of the platform. The Essential Phone is pretty much another crack at the Google Nexus/Pixel concept of a streamlined, stripped-down handset optimised for running pure vanilla Android as it's supposed to be. It packs some interesting features such as a Titanium body and its own dual-camera hardware, it's also got plenty of other flagship level specs such as Qualcomm's S835 processor.

The Essential Phone has begun shipping to pre-order customers, with the company confirming the fact in a Tweet. Essential began taking pre-orders just over a week ago and customers received notifications via email that their devices would be shipping within a week of those initial orders. The Tweet confirms Essential is following up on those plans.

"We're beginning to ship Essential Phone! Please look out for an email today with tracking info. We appreciate everyone's patience!"

But how do the two compare? Let's look at the raw specs...

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Specs

  • Dimensions: 162.5 x 74.6 x 8.5mm
  • Display: 6.3in Quad HD+ Super AMOLED, 2960x1440 Infinity Display (18.5:9 Aspect Ratio)
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (10nm) octa-core CPU OR Samsung Exynos 8995 (10nm) octa-core CPU - region dependent
  • GPU: Adreno 540 (Qualcomm Snapdragon) OR ARM Mali-G71 (Samsung Exynos) - region dependent
  • RAM:6GB
  • Software: Android Nougat
  • Connectivity: 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Type-C USB, NFC, GPS, Fingerprint scanner, Iris Scanner, Face Scanner
  • Storage: 64GB, 128GB or 256GB - region dependent
  • MicroSD: Yes
  • Primary Camera: Dual-12MP, f/1.7 and f/2.4 apertures, 1/2.3" sensor size, 1.55µm pixel size, Dual-Pixel Phase Detection Autofocus, OIS, 2x optical zoom, touch focus, face/smile detection, Auto HDR, panorama, 2160p video @30fps, 1080p video @60fps
  • Secondary Camera: 8MP with autofocus, f/1.7 aperture, Auto HDR, 1440p video @30fps
  • Battery: 3,300mAh
  • Other: IP68 Certified (Water & Dust Resistant), S-Pen Stylus

Essential Phone PH-1 Specs

  • Dimensions: 141.5 x 71.1 x 7.8mm [Titanium Body]
  • Weight: 185g
  • Display: 5.71in IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen 1312 x 2560 pixels (504 ppi)
  • Processor: MSM8998 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa-core (4x2.45 GHz Kryo & 4x1.9 GHz Kryo)
  • GPU: Adreno 540
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Software: Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Connectivity: 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Type-C USB, NFC, GPS, Fingerprint scanner,
  • Storage: 128GB
  • MicroSD: No
  • Primary Camera: Dual-13MP, f/1.9 aperture, phase detection & laser autofocus, LED flash, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panoramic capture 2160p video @30fps, 1080p video @60fps, 720p video @120fps
  • Secondary Camera: 8 MP, f/2.2 aperture, 2160p video @30fps, 1080pvideo @60fps, 720p video @120fps
  • Battery: 3040mAh

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Essential Phone – Android Oreo Update Release 

Both the Essential Phone and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will get Android Oreo at some point inside Q4. Given Samsung's track record with updates, I'd wager Essential will get the update out the door before Samsung does.

The release of Android Oreo is significant too, as it brings in plenty of new features, optimisations, and tweaks that will make your phone better and more efficient.

The best of which are detailed below:

  • Improved Notifications 
  • Better Battery Management 
  • Picture-In-Picture Mode 
  • Adaptive Icons 
  • Improved Sound Quality 
  • Password Autofill 
  • Multi-Display Support 
  • Improved Keyboard Input

"We've been working closely with our partners over the last many months," said Google, "and by the end of this year, hardware makers like Essential, Huawei, HTC, Kyocera, Motorola, HMD Global Home of Nokia Phones, Samsung, Sharp, and Sony are scheduled to be launching or upgrading new devices to Android 8.0 Oreo."

You can now pre-order the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 at Carphone Warehouse – they have A LOT of deals, ranging from as little as £49 a month right up to £70. 

If you're something of a pimp and want to pick one up off-contract, prices start at £849, then you can do so by going directly to Samsung