The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a big, beautiful, and powerful new Android phone, but how does it compare with Apple’s iPhone 7?
We’re still months away from Apple’s rumored announcement of the iPhone 8, but given the rivalry between the two companies, there’s no reason to hold off making comparisons. After all, most consumers looking for a new phone will be picking between Apple and Samsung, so let’s take a look at how the 7-month-old iPhone 7 compares with the brand new Samsung Galaxy S8.
|Name||Samsung Galaxy S8||Apple iPhone 7|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835||Apple A10|
|Dimensions||5.87 by 2.68 by 0.31 inches||5.44 by 2.64 by 0.28 inches|
|Weight||5.47 oz||4.87 oz|
|Screen Size||5.8 inches||4.7 inches|
|Screen Type||Super AMOLED HD||Retina|
|Screen Resolution||2,960 by 1,440 pixels||1,334 by 750 pixels|
|Camera Resolution||12MP Rear/8MP Front-Facing||12MP Rear, 7MP Front-Facing|
|Wireless Specification||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac|
Design, Features, and Display
The S8 and iPhone 7 couldn’t be more different when it comes to their respective design languages. On Samsung’s end, you have a sleek glass-and-metal phone that packs a large curved screen into a small form factor, while Apple embraces a metal unibody that isn’t shy of having a sizable bezel.
Both phones have fingerprint sensors, but where the iPhone 7 has one on the front below the display with haptic feedback, Samsung moved it to the back by the camera sensor, a less convenient location than the front. On the other hand, the phone has an iris scanner and facial recognition, giving you more unlock options than the iPhone 7. And there’s a headphone jack next to the USB-C port, so at least you can listen to music without a dongle.
The S8 measures 5.9 by 2.7 by 0.3 inches (HWD), making it taller than the iPhone 7 (5.4 by 2.6 by 0.3 inches), but not much wider or thicker. The dimensions make it easy to use the S8 with one hand, an impressive feat for a phone that manages to pack in a 5.8-inch curved display with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio (the S8+ is slightly larger and has a 6.2-inch curved screen with the same resolution and aspect ratio). It’s also a Quad HD Super AMOLED panel, meaning you get rich colors, inky blacks, excellent viewing angles, and generally the single best smartphone screen we’ve had the pleasure of viewing.
That’s not to say the iPhone 7’s 4.7-inch, 1,334-by-750 Retina display is bad by any means, but it’s smaller and not nearly as sharp. Text, games, and pictures just won’t look as crisp as on the S8’s panel. All this makes the Samsung Galaxy S8 is the most attractive and eye-catching phone we’ve seen in terms of design and display.
Processor, Battery, and Camera
A peek under the hood gives us a closer match between the two phones. The Samsung Galaxy S8 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor, a chipset we haven’t benchmarked yet, but is expected to outstrip the Snapdragon 821, which provided buttery smooth performance when we tested the Google Pixel.
The iPhone 7 has a very capable A10 processor, which is 40 percent faster than the Snapdragon 820 processor found on many leading Android phones. We’ve yet to encounter an Android phone capable of matching the iPhone 7 (and 7 Plus) in their overall performance.
Battery life is another area we’ll have to reserve judgment until we get the chance to run some tests, but it’s reasonable to expect the S8 to be the winner here. It has a large 3,000mAh cell (3,500mAh on the S8+) compared with the 1,960mAh on the iPhone 7. For reference, the Samsung Galaxy S7 clocked an impressive 9 hours in our demanding battery rundown test in which we stream full-screen video over LTE at maximum screen brightness. By contrast, the iPhone 7 fell several hours short, clocking 5 hours, 45 minutes. We expect to see a similar result for the S8, though this will depend on how much juice the larger curved screens suck and how power-efficient the Snapdragon 835 chipset proves to be.
The Galaxy S8 has the same 12-megapixel camera sensor as the S7, so here we have a good notion of who wins in a shootout. When we tested the S7, it offered the best overall camera performance of any smartphone, beating out the 12-megapixel dual-camera iPhone 7 Plus due to its large sensor size, which gave it an edge, especially in dim lighting. The S8 should perform just as well, if not better depending on the software tweaks Samsung has made.
Software and Features
Software is always the most difficult aspect to compare, in part because Android and iOS have both gotten so good. Many features like widgets, lift to wake, and voice assistants can be found on both platforms, as can most apps. That said, iOS 10 does pull ahead in one big regard— updates. All iPhone 7 users (and iPhone users in general) get regular updates at the same time. Apple’s ability to roll out updates and keep supporting devices are one area Samsung can’t match. Flagship phones like the S8 come with Android 7.0 Nougat and they are likely to get Android O, but beyond that, it’s hard to make any predictions.
On the other hand, if you want to customize everything from your home screen to your launcher, Android still gives you the most flexibility. You’ll find tons of customization options, a sensible file management system, and other features that you just won’t get on the iPhone without jailbreaking. When it comes to voice assistants, Siri still lags behind Google Assistant in terms of functionality and Samsung’s new assistant, Bixby, is likely to increase the gap. It gives you more reactive AI that starts to notice things about your habits, like if you call a particular person every day at the same time, and sets a reminder if you haven’t.
The Galaxy S8 also supports accessories like Gear VR for gaming, now with a motion-enabled controller, a refresh of the Gear 360 camera, and Samsung Dex, essentially giving you a desktop experience powered by your mobile device. For sheer flexibility for productivity and multimedia, the S8 can’t be beat, while the iPhone 7 wins out for support and stability.