Samsung announced its much-awaited Galaxy Note 8 smartphone just yesterday, and the device has already received a lot of positive reactions from the media and consumers alike. However, many have expressed serious reservations about the phone’s pricing, which starts from $930 in the U.S. for the unlocked version, making it the single most expensive mass-market smartphone in history. Sure, the top-end iPhone 7 Plus (128GB) does come with a very similar price-tag, but Apple does offer cheaper models of its flagship phablet. So in case you’re in the market for a premium smartphone but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it, you should check out our list of the 8 best Samsung Galaxy Note 8 alternatives you can buy right now:
1. Samsung Galaxy S8+: Best Android Smartphone
Let’s start off with the obvious here. You like the look of the Galaxy Note 8, you love the tech in the Galaxy Note 8 and you desperately want the ginormous, elongated Super AMOLED Infinity Display of the Galaxy Note 8. So why are you looking at alternatives for the Galaxy Note 8? Oh yeah, the price. That’s where the Galaxy S8+ comes in. Apart from a few features here and there, the Galaxy S8+ gets you pretty much everything the Note 8 offers, but at a relatively more pocket-friendly price-tag. The Galaxy S8+ comes with a nominally-smaller but equally spectacular 6.2-inch Super AMOLED display with the same WQHD+ resolution (2960 x 1440) and is powered by the exact same chipset(s): Snapdragon 835 in the US and China, and the Exynos 8895 in the rest of the world. You also get 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage out-of-the-box, but there’s also a microSD slot for capacity expansion. The device also carries a 3,500mAh battery, which is a little bigger than the 3,300mAh unit on the Galaxy Note 8.
As for what you’ll miss out on? Well, unlike the Galaxy Note 8, you won’t get a dual-camera setup on the back, nor the S-Pen stylus that has become a trademark of the Note line. The latest phablet from Samsung also comes with pre-installed Android 8.0 Oreo, an update that is only likely to be rolled out to your Galaxy S8+ sometime next year. If you’re willing to live with these major differences (and a few relatively less important ones), go get yourself the Galaxy S8+, as it’s a great device that should serve you very well in the years to come.
Buy From Amazon: ($674.99)
2. Google Pixel XL: Best Note 8 Alternative with Stock Android
The Google Pixel XL is the larger of the two first-generation Pixel smartphones launched last year. The devices are designed, developed and marketed by Google, and manufactured by Taiwanese tech company HTC. The device comes with premium hardware, but the real lure of the Pixel lineup is the stock Android that runs under-the-hood. If bloatware is a problem for you, look no further than the Pixel lineup. We’re recommending the ‘XL’ model because it’s the larger of the two Pixel devices, and will obviously be better-suited as a Galaxy Note 8 alternative. The Pixel XL features a 5.5-inch WQHD (2560 x 1440) AMOLED display and, is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC. The handset also comes with 4GB of DDR4 RAM and up to 128GB of UFS 2.0 storage.
Like the Galaxy Note 8, the Pixel XL also comes with a fingerprint scanner as well as an NFC chip, although, unlike Samsung’s latest device, this one doesn’t have an iris scanner. On the positive side, though, its primary camera has been rated higher than any smartphone camera ever by renowned photography website DXOMark, so you’re sure to get some pretty decent images from this device irrespective of lighting conditions. Overall, this is the smartphone to buy if you love quick updates, hate bloatware and use your mobile as your primary camera. Having said that, the second-generation Pixel devices are expected to be released shortly, so if you’re not in a tearing hurry to get a new handset, we’d advise you to wait a few weeks to get the most cutting-edge features with the Pixel 2 line-up.
Buy From Amazon: ($789.99)
3. iPhone 7 Plus: Best iPhone Ever
Android or iOS, whichever side of the divide you’re on, you’ll have to agree that the iPhone 7 Plus is the best smartphone ever launched by the Cupertino, California-based tech giant. The device features a 5.5” 1080p Retina HD display and is powered by the Apple A10 Fusion chipset with a quad-core CPU and hexa-core GPU. The device comes with 3GB of RAM and either 32GB, 128GB or 256GB of storage. Like the Galaxy Note 8, the iPhone 7 Plus also ships with a dual-camera setup on the back. Interestingly, the camera has the ability to snap 8-megapixel photos while recording 4K videos. The phone is also IP67 certified, denoting resistance to dust and water, while the fingerprint scanner and the NFC chip ensures compatibility with Apple Pay. The iPhone 7 Plus also comes with 3D Touch that makes use of capacitive sensors integrated directly into the display, much like the pressure sensitive on-screen Home button of the Galaxy Note 8, but only, more feature-filled.
On the negative side, though, the iPhone 7 Plus looks positively tired next to the cutting-edge design aesthetics of the Galaxy Note 8, nor does it have the 3.5mm audio jack that you’ll find in the all-new Samsung device. While Apple is unlikely to ever bring the legacy audio port back to its smartphones, the bezel-less design may very well be a part of the next-gen iPhone if the recent rumors are anything to go by. So if you like the design language of the latest Samsung phablet but want the software features of iOS 11, wait a little while longer before taking the plunge. The iPhone 8 is likely to be even more expensive than the Galaxy Note 8, but if you’re an Apple fan and have a $1,000+ to burn on a spanking new smartphone, the iPhone 8 might just be the device for you.
Buy From Amazon: ($899)
4. OnePlus 5: Best Budget Galaxy Note 8 Alternative
The OnePlus 5 comes with top-shelf hardware that you’d only expect from devices costing significantly more. Not only does it have one of the fastest, most desirable smartphone processors under its hood in the form of the Snapdragon 835, it is also one of the first smartphones alongside the ASUS ZenFone AR and the Nubia Z17 to offer an 8GB RAM variant. The phone features a 5.5-inch 1080p Optic AMOLED screen with a range of DCI-P3 colors to ensure color accuracy and, is offered in two different versions – one with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of built-in storage, and another, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of native storage.
Like the Galaxy Note 8, the OnePlus 5 also sports a rear-facing dual-camera module and supports Bluetooth 5.0, but unlike Samsung’s latest, it still runs on Android Nougat, with the Oreo update unlikely to rolled out before the end of this year. Having said that, if you’re looking to get the biggest bang for your buck, you can do a lot worse than the OnePlus 5. Sure, it won’t give you the super hi-res Infinity Display, the iris scanner, the facial recognition, the DeX Dock, the S-Pen or any of the other bells and whistles that the Note 8 brings to the table, but you’ll get to save almost $450 without compromising a great deal on raw performance.
Buy From Amazon: ($504.10)
5. LG G6: Best Smartphone with 2:1 Display
The LG G6 is a perfectly-designed premium smartphone that ticks all the boxes in terms of aesthetics, build quality and performance, but what really makes it extremely lucrative is the price-tag that’s significantly lower than most of its competitors in the market today. Sure, the device doesn’t really come with all the cutting edge hardware that the Galaxy Note 8 is offering, but if it’s a premium smartphone with a stunning 2:1 hi-res display that you’re after, this is the one you need to seriously consider. The LG G6 features a 5.7-inch IPS LCD QHD+ (2880 x 1440) display and, is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC. It also comes with 4GB of DDR4 RAM and up to 128GB of internal storage that’s expandable via a microSD card of up to 2TB in capacity.
Just like the Galaxy Note 8, the LG G6 also ships with a rear-facing dual-camera setup that incorporates twin 13-megapixel sensors including one that’s paired with a wide-angle 125-degree lens. The device is also one of the few smartphones apart from the first-generation Pixel devices to ship with Google Assistant out-of-the-box. While all of that makes the LG G6 a great Galaxy Note 8 alternative with a reasonable price-tag, the one thing that you need to remember is that we’re very close to the launch of the company’s next-gen V-series handset, the V30, and since that one’s rumored to ship with newer, more powerful hardware, it will probably be for the best if you were to wait out a few weeks in case you’re looking to buy a premium LG device this year.
Buy From Amazon: ($509)
6. Huawei Mate 9 Pro: Best Dual-Cam Smartphone
Huawei is the world’s largest Android vendor, admittedly on the sheer strength of its market-share in China, but the company does make some pretty compelling devices, like the Mate 9 Pro, which can be a really compelling alternative to the Galaxy Note 8, all things considered. Sure, we could have recommended the original Mate 9 (without the ‘Pro’ moniker) with a giant 5.9” screen, but this one’s by far the better device, even though it comes with a more standard 5.5” display. For your money, you get a smartphone powered by the HiSilicon Kirin 960 chipset that’s designed and developed in-house by the Chinese telecom giant. You also get either 4GB or 6GB RAM alongside 64GB or 128GB storage depending on the model.
Like the Galaxy Note 8, the Huawei Mate 9 Pro also ships with a dual-camera module on the back. But unlike the Samsung phablet, the twin-cam setup on the Huawei flagship was developed in association with German optics major, Leica, as part of a partnership that was announced last year. While one of the two camera sensors is a 12-megapixel RGB snapper, the other one, interestingly, is a 20-megapixel monochrome one. While the camera is, without doubt, one of the best features of the Mate 9 Pro, the device also has another trick up its sleeve. It is actually the affordably-priced version of the limited-edition Porsche-designed Mate 9 model that was announced last year with an insane price-tag. So with the Mate 9 pro, you actually get a designer smartphone for all practical purposes, without having to pay a designer price for it.
Buy From Amazon: ($651)
7. Sony Xperia XZ Premium: Best Designed Smartphone
The Xperia XZ Premium is Sony’s latest flagship smartphone that was originally unveiled at the MWC trade show in Barcelona earlier this year. The phone features a 5.46-inch IPS LCD Triluminous display with 4K pixel resolution (3840 x 2160) and, is powered by the Snapdragon 835 SoC. Like the Galaxy Note 8, the Xperia XZ Premium comes with premium build and premium hardware, and even though it doesn’t have dual cameras on the back unlike the latest Samsung phablet, its 19-megapixel sensor can actually record 720p ultra slow-mo videos at 960fps, although you can only record for about 0.15 seconds of video in this mode. The Xperia XZ Premium is powered by the Snapdragon 835 like most high-end smartphones this year and, has 4GB of RAM plus 64GB of internal storage. While it ships with Android 7.1 Nougat out-of-the-box, it is expected to receive Android 8.0 Oreo going forward.
While the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is a great Galaxy Note 8 alternative, buyers in the U.S. will do well to remember that the U.S. version of the device doesn’t ship with a fingerprint scanner. Sony hasn’t yet given a clear and unambiguous answer as to why that should be the case, although, speculations in the media seem to point the finger at legal contracts signed with U.S. carriers a few years back. However, the good news is that the fingerprint scanner is available on all international (non-US) versions of the Xperia XZ Premium, so it’s not like Sony completely ignored the sensor while designing the handset.
Buy From Amazon: ($624.50)
8. Essential Phone: Best Bezel-less Phone
Last but definitely not the least, we have the Essential Phone that is the brainchild of Android co-founder, Andy Rubin. The device was officially announced back in May, but went on pre-order only recently after many a delay and postponement for reasons not yet publicly disclosed. The device has a titanium and ceramic chassis and, features a 5.71” LTPS IPS LCD display with an unusual 19:10 aspect ratio and 2560 x 1312 pixel resolution. It’s powered by the Snapdragon 835, and comes with 4GB of RAM + 128GB of storage. Like the Galaxy Note 8, the Essential phone also features a dual-camera setup on the back, although, this one has dual 13-megapixel shooters instead of the dual 12-megapixel sensors found on the Samsung flagship. The device also runs pure Android without any modifications, which is in direct contrast with the highly-modified UI the Galaxy Note 8 will be shipping with.
While the hardware on the Essential Phone is plenty good, what really separates this device from the herd of premium Android smartphones is its modularity. What it means is that users will be able to add new functions to the device by adding third-party modules, somewhat like the now-defunct Project Ara. Another piece of information that has created a lot of interest among the enthusiast community is the announcement that the Essential Phone will have an unlocked bootloader, which will basically allow users to flash custom ROMs, kernels, recoveries etc.without having to go through the hoop. It remains to be seen if the company releases the kernel source in a timely manner, because without it, an unlocked bootloader really won’t be of much use. All said and done, the Essential Phone sounds like a really interesting option for advanced users, and so as long as Essential releases all the Apache-licensed sources and the binary blobs for its proprietary components, this could be the very best Galaxy Note 8 alternative you can buy this year.
Buy From Amazon: ($699)
The Best Galaxy Note 8 Alternatives You Can Buy
While Galaxy Note 8 is undoubtedly going to dominate the headlines over the next few days, you don’t necessarily need to spend that much money to get a premium, high-performance handset. Any of the aforementioned Galaxy Note 8 alternatives will perform just about as well as the the Samsung flagship and will save you some a bit of money at the same time. While not all of them are in the same league as the Galaxy Note 8, most of them will have better price-performance ratios. So, which is your choice as the Galaxy S8 alternative from the list above? Or did you have something else in mind that we overlooked? Do leave your thoughts in the comments section below.