Samsung Galaxy Note8 review

GSMArena team, 16 September 2017.

Samsung Galaxy Note8 performance test: Exynos & Snapdragon

Samsung played things pretty safe regarding hardware. You could also argue that timing simply worked out this way. But, whichever way you cut it, the Note8 is based on the same duo of current top-end chips, like the S8 - the Exynos 8895 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835.

Before we get into any actual numbers and analysis, it is worth noting that both of these are efficient 10nm silicone, powerful enough to drive a flagship experience, with little to no compromises. That said, you can expect both variants of the Note8 to chew through power-user tasks as intended.

Samsung Galaxy Note8 review

Still, Samsung's official stance on all matters regarding performance variances remain unchanged. Namely, the Korean giant wants you to believe there are not. Besides not being feasible from a purely objective technical standpoint, we know for a fact that that is not the case with the US and non-US S8 units.

Both chips have a total of eight cores - a pretty standard setup. Qualcomm has its custom Kryo 280 cores working at 2.35 GHz. These do have a bit more wiggle room in terms of maximum frequency (2.45 GHz, as rated by Qualcomm), but this is what Samsung decided to go for. As for the Exynos 8895, it has four of redesigned M1 "Mongoose" V2 custom cores, clocked at 2.3 GHz and a less power-intensive cluster of four Cortex-A53 units, at 1.7 GHz.

There are some differences in the graphics department as well: an Adreno 540 on the Snapdragon 835 and a Mali-G71 MP20 on the Exynos 8895.

As far as some other interesting comparisons go, we lined up some of the company's older flagships, like the S7 edge and the Note5. We also included the Note7, regardless of its demise. So, we can get a pretty good idea of performance variances throughout the years on both the Snapdragon and Exynos fronts.

We also have a selection of current flagships from other manufacturers, most running on the Snapdragon 835 chip. This makes for a good potential optimization comparison. Naturally, we threw in Huawei's Kirin 960 chip in the mix, as well as the older Snapdragon 821. The LG G6 and Google Pixel XL are still selling quite well with it on board.

Kicking things off with some pure CPU performance numbers and GeekBench 4 in particular, we find the Exynos-powered Note8 out-inch its S8 siblings by only a few points in multi-core. The difference is a bit more noticeable between the Snapdragon 835 inside the phablet and the S8+. This does indicate that the Korean giant is clearly working hard to minimize the performance delta between the two chips.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    6784
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    6754
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    6656
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    6629
  • OnePlus 5
    6604
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    6590
  • Nokia 8
    6568
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    6541
  • HTC U11
    6393
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    6301
  • LG V30 (non-final)
    6151
  • LG G6
    4175

Single-core runs on GeekBench 4.1 paints a very identical picture. Even looking as far down as the Snapdragon 821 inside the LG G6, performance variances just aren't all that significant.

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    1991
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    1987
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    1986
  • OnePlus 5
    1932
  • Nokia 8
    1925
  • HTC U11
    1919
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    1915
  • LG V30 (non-final)
    1904
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    1862
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    1840
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    1832
  • LG G6
    1767

On to more compound benchmarks and Basemark OS II 2.0. We can clearly see a lot of Snapdragon inclination here as well. The US Note8 does appear to make up quite a few points here, but do bear in mind that this is a really old benchmark platform, no longer equipped to properly handle new types of loads. In modern Android terms, the Exynos 8895 does objectively handle loads better and more efficiently.

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3796
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    3609
  • OnePlus 5
    3601
  • Nokia 8
    3503
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    3424
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    3376
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    3333
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    3319
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    3298
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    2986
  • HTC U11
    2970
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    2940
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    2676
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (E8890, Nougat)
    2670
  • Huawei Mate 9
    2637
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    2432
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    2352
  • Google Pixel XL
    2281
  • LG G6
    2126
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    1880

AnTuTu 6 seems to favor the Snapdragon variant as well. However, we are happy to see that the differences are really small, meaning we can safely rule out any major substitutions in the flash storage department either. Both units we tested have 64GB chips, which appear to be equally snappy.

AnTuTu 6

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 5
    180331
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    178674
  • HTC U11
    177343
  • Nokia 8
    175872
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    175153
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    174987
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    174435
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    174070
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    172425
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    168133
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    144462
  • LG G6
    143639
  • Google Pixel XL
    141186
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    134660
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    132849
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    130111
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (E8890, Nougat)
    129629
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    126252
  • Huawei Mate 9
    122826
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    81615

The Mali-G71 MP20 and Adreno 540, driving graphics inside the Exynos 8895 and Snapdragon 835, respectively have always had their differences. Back when the S8 was unveiled and went through our review procedure, we discovered a rather significant drop in performance in the Adreno 540. We never quite put our finger on the cause back then, but we did naturally expect the situation with the Note8 to be identical.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    63
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    61
  • HTC U11
    60
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    60
  • OnePlus 5
    60
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    57
  • Nokia 8
    57
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    51
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    50
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    50
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    49
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    49
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    49
  • Google Pixel XL
    47
  • LG G6
    41
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    40
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (E8890, Nougat)
    38
  • Huawei Mate 9
    30
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    28
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    21

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    56
  • OnePlus 5
    56
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    48
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    42
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    40
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    40
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    37
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    36
  • HTC U11
    35
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    34
  • Nokia 8
    33
  • Google Pixel XL
    30
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    29
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    29
  • Huawei Mate 9
    28
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    27
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (E8890, Nougat)
    27
  • LG G6
    24
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    19
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    15

However, new numbers make it clear that something has changed big time. In most OpenGL 3.0 and 3.1 loads, the Mali-G71 MP20 seems to do better at pushing pixels on screen. However, the Adreno 540 consistently showed higher frame rates off-screen - pretty inconsistent with what we observed on the S8 pair.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    43
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    42
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    42
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    42
  • HTC U11
    41
  • OnePlus 5
    41
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    39
  • Nokia 8
    39
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    39
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    39
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    36
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    32
  • Google Pixel XL
    32
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    32
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (E8890, Nougat)
    29
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    28
  • LG G6
    26
  • Huawei Mate 9
    22
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    19
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    15

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    42
  • OnePlus 5
    40
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    40
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    23
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    23
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    23
  • Huawei Mate 9
    23
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    22
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    20
  • HTC U11
    19
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    18
  • Nokia 8
    18
  • Google Pixel XL
    17
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (E8890, Nougat)
    15
  • LG G6
    12
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    12
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    6.7

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Nokia 8
    32
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    25
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    25
  • HTC U11
    24
  • OnePlus 5
    24
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    24
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    23
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    20
  • Google Pixel XL
    19
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    18
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    16
  • LG G6
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (E8890, Nougat)
    16
  • Huawei Mate 9
    13
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    12

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    25
  • OnePlus 5
    24
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    15
  • Huawei Mate 9
    14
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    13
  • HTC U11
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    12
  • Nokia 8
    12
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    11
  • Google Pixel XL
    11
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    10
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    9
  • LG G6
    8.5
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (E8890, Nougat)
    8.3
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    8

Differences start to shrink more and more with more demanding GPU loads, two things remain consistent - the Mali-G71 MP20 seems to perform predictably in the S8, S8+ and Note8, while the Adreno 540 in the Note8 does noticeably better than the on inside the S8 pair.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    43862
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    42370
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    40890
  • OnePlus 5
    38844
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    38615
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    38583
  • HTC U11
    38399
  • Nokia 8
    37593
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    37211
  • Huawei Mate 9
    36519
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    34951
  • LG V30 (non-final)
    33719
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    33520
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    32648
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (E8890, Nougat)
    32609
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    32160
  • Google Pixel XL
    30861
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    30602
  • LG G6
    30507
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    26281

Digging a bit deeper, we think we finally reached the route of the problem. According to official specs, the Adreno 540 should have a maximum clock frequency of 710 MHz. The one inside our US Note8 unit does indeed, match that speed. However, our S8+ Snapdragon unit is capped 40 Mhz lower at 670 Mhz.

Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    1517
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    1268
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    1189
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    1111
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    875
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    867
  • Nokia 8
    855
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    853
  • HTC U11
    836
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    817
  • OnePlus 5
    796
  • Huawei Mate 9
    794
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Exynos)
    727
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (E8890, Nougat)
    680
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 (Snapdragon)
    629
  • Google Pixel XL
    626
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    624
  • LG G6
    541
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    316

To be frank, the difference in GPU clock speed is a new discovery for us, but it concerns the Snapdragon 835 models of the S8 and S8+ rather than the Note8.

The key takeaway here is that the GPU performance variance between the two Note8 chipset variants is now smaller than ever.

All things considered, the only problem we really had with the Note8, while using it as a gaming platform had to do with ergonomics, rather than performance. In its quest to abolish bezels, Samsung has left a pretty limited area for you to rest your fingers on when holding the phone horizontally. To mitigate this, the OS offers a special edge touch rejection while in game. It works pretty well and only leaves the user with the task to overcome any residual tendency to shy away from gripping the screen.

Granted, the less curvy panel on the Note8 and slightly more grippy sides do make for better horizontal handling overall. Well, at least a bit.

Reader comments

  • boateng

It's so cool

  • Ioannis

Are you joking? if you do not use spen go for mate 20 asap!

  • Jerry

note 8 is better never buy huawei they are shit