There was a time when Apple lead and other premium brands followed. But it seems those days have passed. When it comes to comparing the Samsung Galaxy S8 with the iPhone 7, the master has clearly become student, with the S8 trailing features tipped for the much anticipated iPhone 8. Whatever the features of that flagship when it arrives, however, for now the Galaxy S8 leads the way.
It’s all about the screen
There’s no doubt that the gorgeously designed Infinity Screen is the standout feature of the Galaxy S8.
With it, Samsung have declared war on bezels, focusing instead on a seamless blending of screen and chassis.
Hold your S8 to the sky when in camera mode and the image on your phone will bleed almost imperceptibly with the background. It’s pretty impressive stuff. In comparison the boxy design of the iPhone 7 now looks dated, which is a sea change from a company that once rode the crest of the design wave.
Samsung have pulled out all the stops to maximise the screen whilst keeping the phone compact.
The Galaxy S8’s 5.5 inch display has a mega ~83.6% screen to body ratio compared to the 65.6% ratio of the iPhone 7, and the S8 Plus manages an impressive 6.2-inch display compared to the 5.5 inch display of the iPhone7 Plus.
What’s more, the S8 is more comfortable to hold than the iPhone 7. The efficient display to handset ratio and the smooth curvature of its edges makes for a compact phone with plenty of display which comfortably fits in one hand.
The iPhone 7 introduced new Matte Black, Jet Black, and Red colour finishes to the Apple range, and the tech giant has always had a way with visuals. But Samsung are not to be outdone and the Galaxy S8 is available in a range of beautiful colour styles; chic Midnight Black, stylish Orchid Grey, refreshing Coral Blue, stylish Arctic Silver, and sumptuous Maple Gold.
Samsung have prioritised battery life on their S8 models, presumably an obvious area in which they can take on Apple, whose users often bemoan rapid battery drainage.
S8 Plus vs iPhone 7 Plus
When it comes to battery life, the S8 Plus is a real monster compared to the iPhone 7 Plus. This battery test saw the iPhone 7 Plus slightly on top in terms of app browsing, but when it came to YouTube playback, 3D gaming, and video capture, the iPhone drained rapidly compared to the S8 Plus which was still on 39% battery even after its rivals’ screen had gone blank. The S8 Plus also shaves a not inconsiderable hour off of the iPhone 7’s recharge time, taking 1 hour 42 minutes in this test vs the iPhone 7’s 2 hours 46 minutes.
The Galaxy S8’s camera tech is not much different to its predecessors. It has a new image sensor, and a more powerful processor, and that’s about it. But where Samsung have tried to get the edge is in the software.
There’s lots more contrast, colour detail and warmth in the S8 Plus,vs the iPhone 7 Plus which, whilst it retains more information, is not as smart on the software side when it comes to producing images and can often over saturate and over emphasise colours so they look unnatural.
Overall the S8 is good at representing the feel of an scene, rather than slavishly reproducing the accurate colour and details. The iPhone 7 is a little more scientific in this regard, but that can end up with slightly less attractive photos.
The S8’s autofocus is speedy and accurate and features Dual Pixel tech, an innovation introduced first on the S7 which saw DSLR camera tech brought to the smartphone for the first time.
This test shows the Galaxy’s colour profile to be more vibrant and with more contrast compared to the iPhone 7 which produces darker images. The autofocus and lighting adjustment of the Apple is pretty poor given any reference point let alone the smooth, seamless adjustments of the Samsung device. When taking macro photos up close the iPhone does seem to have the edge when it comes to autofocus, although as these images show it can make some whacky colour decisions that often go to extremes.
The Galaxy is also much better at taking photos in near-pitch black light environments, and produces some cracking night shots.
A delicate beauty?
Samsung’s Gorilla Glass 5 has a reputation for easily scratching, so a case and screen protector are a must if the delicate beauty of the device is to be preserved.
That said, it’s the replaceable glass at the rear of the phone that is the most drop sensitive. In a fairly comprehensive drop test the S8 proved to be pretty durable, as is the iPhone 7.
The S8’s screen didn’t crack in the drop test until falling from 10 feet, and even after that the display still worked compared to the iPhone 7 which was by this point exhibiting a glitchy display and the shattered glass of the scree had a rough texture (the S8’s screen was still pretty swipable). With a case and a screen protector both units add up to pretty durable handsets, but the S8 does seem to have the edge in terms of durability.
As with so many phone comparisons, personal preference is key, certainly when it comes to aesthetic features.
The Android vs IOS debate will continue to rage for years to come, but for all the iPhone 7’s one-size-fits-all functionality, Android is much less proprietary, and easier to reconfigure. It also has a wider range of free apps via Google Play than can be found in App Store and has as wide a selection of productivity apps as can be found on IOS.
The S8 boots up just a notch faster than the iPhone 7, and is quicker at loading most apps. However, the iPhone 7 loads games faster, and exports 4k videos much quicker, but both units have fast performance for day to day use and the 4GB of ram for the S8 is plenty to ensure multiple apps stay in the phone’s memory at the same time.
Is summary, it must be said that both phones have their armies of ardent advocates, and for good reason; both Samsung and Apple are premium phone manufacturers at the top of their game. It must be said however that with the advent of the Galaxy S8 it becoming apparent to many that Samsung have plenty to entice Apple users over to Team Android.
For all those readers considering making the switch from Apple to Samsung phones, check out our guide on making the switch.