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iPhone 7 vs. Galaxy S8: Is the S8 that much better than Apple’s best?

by Danny Zepeda | May 25, 2017May 25, 2017 9:30 am PDT

The iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8 are two of the market’s best smartphones, offering everything consumers are looking for. So, we decided to pit them against each other to see which device is better.

Both devices are fantastic, but differences in design, aesthetic and functionality set them apart. We broke down the face-off into six different categories: design, screen, camera, software, battery and intangibles.

You can find Jon’s assessment in the video above. Below are my own thoughts about how these two devices stack up.

Design

Apple has kept the iPhone design the same going back to 2014. It’s a great design that shows off Apple’s attention to detail and mastery of aluminum, but it feels dated. Samsung has refused to stand pat and pushed the evolution of its design to the next level with the Galaxy S8. The Galaxy S8’s design is a tour de force. The seamless fusion of glass and metal and gorgeous (nearly) bezel-less display scream premium and luxury. Over the past generations, Samsung has slowly been refining the design to perfection. The Galaxy S8 is the future of smartphones.

Winner: Galaxy S8

Screen

Sticking with a 720p Retina display on the iPhone 7 for three years has been a move that’s paid off for Apple. It maximizes battery life while still offering a fairly impressive display to the undiscerning eye. But it’s not difficult to see that the Galaxy S8’s QHD OLED display dances circles around the iPhone 7’s LCD display. From the vibrant colors to the smooth yet subtle curved edges; it’s the best display ever on a smartphone.

Winner: Galaxy S8

Software

A marriage between hardware and software has been Apple’s secret weapon. No other company has quite caught up to Apple’s fortitude. This is none more obvious than with the iPhone 7 and iOS 10. Everything works perfectly. Apps load quick, games are fast and there is virtually no lag. iOS does feel quite boring, but functionality and usability can’t be argued with.

Samsung has tried, and made gigantic strides, to improve its software skills. But it still falls short. An improved Android experience on the Galaxy S8 makes the software battle closer than it’s ever been. Samsung’s latest attempt to separate itself from stock Android with new buttons designs is poorly implemented with ugly icons. But at least the water drop sounds are long dead.

Winner: iPhone 7

Camera

Both the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8 feature 12MP cameras and take extraordinary pictures. Samsung’s cameras have always taken vibrant and oversaturated eye-catching pictures that lean on the fake-looking side. Apple likes to focus on realism. You can’t go wrong with either. But the devil is in the detail.

This year, Samsung improved things with software that produces more detailed pictures. The Galaxy S8 also takes much more detailed low-light pictures that hide the noise and graininess. This is where the iPhone 7’s camera falls apart. If you have to go with one camera, the S8 earns the nod.

Winner: Galaxy S8

Battery

Right off the bat, we’ll just state that both phones will get you through a full day. With normal use—web browsing, social media, taking pictures and some video—you’ll last through an entire day fully charged. Where the differences are noticed is with charging the battery. The iPhone 7 still features normal charging through a Lightning cable that’s solid if unspectacular. The S8, on the other hand, features wireless charging, fast charging and fast wireless charging. Samsung packed the S8 to the brim with charging functions to get the most out of its battery, making battery worries a thing of the past.

Winner: Galaxy S8

Intangibles

This category includes thoughts that couldn’t quite fit in the other sections. It comes down to the fit and finish and overall usability of the phone. The S8’s display is its jewel, but its new home button is cool and it also features a headphone jack. Samsung introduced a new Bixby button that would have been truly great if you could configure it to Google Assistant, but you’re stuck with the half-baked Bixby for now. Future updates that will round out Bixby’s performance are coming soon, but not soon enough.

The iPhone 7 misses with the headphone jack, but its taptic home button and dual-stereo speakers are key improvements over the S8. It has big bezels but that’s offset by the prime location of the fingerprint scanner. And although its all-aluminum design is dated, it’s still a confident build unlike the all-glass S8 that feels like it’ll shatter into a million pieces if dropped on pavement. The iPhone 7 takes this category narrowly.

Winner: iPhone 7

Final thoughts

The winner of this face-off is the Samsung Galaxy S8, and rightfully so. Samsung’s gamble with design has paid off. This is the best-looking phone ever by a wide margin. It’s been a long time coming since the day of the all-plastic Galaxy S3, S4 and S5, but Samsung adapted to the shifting market toward premium devices and the Galaxy S8 is the realization of that.

Don’t feel too bad for the iPhone 7 though. It put up a great battle for a nine-month-old device. The real test will come when the iPhone 8 is released this fall.

This round goes to the Samsung Galaxy S8 but Apple isn’t far behind.


Danny Zepeda

Born and raised in Southern California, Danny grew up on a steady diet Pixar, Star Wars and Steven Spielberg movies. Unbeknownst to him, this was...

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