This year’s big smartphone war will involve flagships from the two biggest phone makers.
Samsung’s Galaxy S8, introduced this spring, is waiting to take on Apple’s yet-to-be-unveiled iPhone 8. Collectively, the devices will look to win over customers willing to spend serious cash on the latest and greatest devices.
Credit: Gabor Balagh (left); Sam Rutherford (Right)
Starting at about $750, the Galaxy S8 has introduced an all-new design that ditches the physical home button, expanding the screen size on the Galaxy S8 to 5.8 inches and 6.2 inches on the Galaxy S8+ (which starts at about $850). Samsung’s phone also comes with a new assistant called Bixby, though that feature remains a work in progress.
According to the latest iPhone 8 rumors, Apple has some pretty big plans for its device as well, as it will reportedly include an OLED display, wireless charging a 3D camera that will scan your face to allow you to access its operating system. It’s just a matter of when the iPhone 8 will be ready to take on the S8, as Apple’s phone is reportedly facing delays that could push its launch date past September.
Based on what we know about the Galaxy S8 and rumors we’re hearing about the iPhone 8, here’s how we think the handsets will stack up, along with an early prediction for which device will have the advantage when the two finally clash later this year.
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+ offer a curved screen billed as the Infinity Display. While the new device’s chassis doesn’t look much different from last year’s Galaxy S7, Samsung has reduced the bezel size above and below the display, eliminating the physical home button in the process.
The home button is now virtual and lives inside the handset’s software, along with other contextual keys.
Since the fingerprint sensor was previously on the home button, Samsung has moved the sensor to the back of the Galaxy S8 next to the camera. Watch out for smudging! At least you’ll still get a 3.5mm headphone jack, something Apple ditched with the iPhone 7.
Apple’s iPhone 8 is expected to undergo a major redesign to celebrate the iPhone’s 10th anniversary.
According to several rumors, the device will feature an all-glass enclosure in a design that might be inspired by the iPhone 4, with a metal spine to separate the pieces of glass.
There had been some reports that the iPhone 8 would be the company’s first device to offer a curved OLED. While a switch to OLED remains on the agenda — iPhones currently feature LCD panels — several reports have said that Apple’s iPhone 8 will come with a decidedly flat screen, similar to the display in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
The home button might also be converted into a virtual version, eliminating the need for a physical button; this would allow the iPhone 8 to come with a display that nearly covers the device’s entire face.
According to most reports, the iPhone 8 will come with a 5.8-inch screen, making it slightly larger than the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus and the same size as the Galaxy S8’s screen. Mock-ups of the iPhone 8 suggest it will use an elongated screen, making the phone itself only slightly bigger than the iPhone 7 and not as tall as the iPhone 7 Plus.
Early Advantage: Draw. If the rumors are true, Apple’s iPhone 8 will set a new standard for Apple’s mobile design. But the Galaxy S8 is already stunning in its own right.
There had been some hope that Samsung would offer a dual-lens camera in the Galaxy S8, but it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, you’ll find a 12-megapixel sensor that the company says will bring in more light and improve picture quality in low-light conditions. Additionally, the Galaxy S8’s camera features dual-pixel technology that can more quickly focus on your target.
Credit: Sam Rutherford
With help from a feature called Bixby Vision, your camera gets a little “smarter,” as it can provide contextual information about what you’re viewing. (When the feature works, that is, which is not always in our experience.) On the front, you’ll find a selfie-friendly 8-megapixel camera.
It’s a similar story with the iPhone 8. This phone, too, should retain the dual-lens camera added to the iPhone 7 Plus. However, leaks have shown that the iPhone 8 will have a vertically aligned camerainstead of the horizontally aligned shooter in the iPhone 7s Plus.
Credit: Imran Taylor
Some industry experts say a vertically aligned camera will enhance the iPhone 8’s augmented reality features, since the cameras would be farther apart than they would be in a horizontal alignment. Apple is also reportedly working on adding 3D capabilities to its camera, which enable all sorts of augmented reality applications.
Additionally, Apple is reportedly working on a 3D-scanning feature for its front-facing camera. The feature would allow you to scan your face to gain access to the software or verify purchases with Apple Pay. The front camera would also be able to sense the location and depth of anything in front of it, lending more reliability to its facial-recognition support.
Early Advantage: Galaxy S8. The Galaxy S7’s dual-pixel autofocus camera offered superior image quality to the cameras on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in our face-off, especially in low light. We expect Samsung to keep its lead in this category.
Credit: Sam Rutherford
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 comes with the curved Infinity Display. The smaller of the two, the Galaxy S8, comes with a 5.8-inch screen. The larger option, the Galaxy S8+, offers a gigantic 6.2-inch display. Both screens offer quad-HD resolution.
The iPhone 8’s expected to be the first Apple phone to use OLED, which would eliminate a major difference between devices from Apple and Samsung. OLED screens provide richer colors and better viewing angles. But they are in heavy demand right now, which could mean that the iPhone 8 will be in short supply when it finally ships.
Early Advantage: Galaxy S8. One of the Galaxy S8’s screens will likely be bigger than the iPhone 8’s, and Samsung has been offering OLED screens for a long while.
The Galaxy S8 has a fingerprint sensor, but because Samsung ditched the home button on the front, this sensor has been moved to the back, next to the camera lens. That makes its placement a little more difficult to reach than you might like, and there’s a chance of smudging the camera’s lens.
Credit: Sam Rutherford
The good news is that you can also unlock your S8 either with face recognition or an iris scanner, though apparently a photo can fool the former.
Many rumors hadApple keeping its Touch ID fingerprint sensor, but moving it under the display. In fact, Apple is said to be testing technology that would bake Touch ID directly into the screen and potentially let users press anywhere on the display to activate its features.
However, a host of reports claim Apple is having some trouble implementing the feature. If true, Apple would need to decide whether to move the sensor to another location, delay its iPhone, or remove it entirely. Some reports suggest Applemight follow Samsung’s lead and place the fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone near the camera. A patent Apple won this year also suggests that the sensor could be placed on a button on the device. A leaked render from Forbes seemed to have confirmed that the feature could be coming to a button on the side.
Early Advantage: iPhone 8. If Apple can pull off Touch ID in the screen, Apple would win this round. If not, placement is everything — the Galaxy S8’s fingerprint sensor is very difficult to reach.
AI Assistant: Siri vs. Bixby
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is the first device to get the company’s brand-new virtual personal assistant,Bixby. And it could be a big step forward, once all its promised features are in place.
The challenge, though, is that while Bixby can do some of things you’d expect from a virtual assistant, including reminders, the ability to set your alarm clock, and create events, its marquee voice-powered features remain in beta. Bixby Voice was supposed to let you accomplish tasks that would normally require multiple screen taps. For example, you can say “Send the last photo I took to my wife.” Butwhen we tried out the beta, not all of those features worked as advertised.
Using the Bixby Vision app, you can aim your camera at a product you want to buy or learn more about, and Bixby will find prices online and provide more contextual information. You can also aim your camera at a landmark and Bixby will get information about it. And if you point your camera at words in another language, Bixby will translate it for you on the fly. We found this feature to be somewhat hit-and-miss when we tested it for our Galaxy S8 review.
Apple is continually looking to make Siri smarter, and we’re getting an early hint of that with the iOS 11 beta. Siri’s voice now sounds a little more natural; more importantly, Apple’s assistant has picked up skills like the ability to translate words into five different languages. (It will even speak the phrase for you.) Siri should also integrate with more third-party apps by the time iOS 11 is finalized for the iPhone 8 this fall.
Early Advantage: iPhone 8. Siri still has its quirks, but until Bixby Voice performs more consistently, Apple’s assistant remains the superior option.
While Bixby may have yet to fulfill its potential, the Galaxy S8 at least shines on the security front, offering you an iris scanner and a facial-recognition scanner in addition to your fingerprint sensor.
The Galaxy S8 also supports a new $150 desktop dock called DeX that will let you plug your S8s in and get a PC-like experience, including multi-window support on a big screen, as well as mouse and keyboard support. In other words, you can use your Galaxy S8 as a mini PC, though we found that DeX remains a work in progress.
In addition, Samsung Connect allows you to control multiple smart home devices from a single screen. However, if you want to control non-Samsung gear, such as Philips Hue lights, you’ll need to invest $169 in an extra piece of hardware called the Samsung Connect Home, which is a combo router-SmartThings hub.
It’s also worth noting that the S8 offers a microSD card slot for expanding the memory. Don’t expect that from Apple.
And yes, the Galaxy S8 is water- and dust-resistant.
The iPhone 8 should come with IP68 water- and intrusion-resistance. And there’s speculation that in this device, Apple will finally offer wireless charging. You can also expect an iris scanner up front for logging in.
Credit: Gabor Balogh
However, recent reports have said that Apple’s wireless-charging support might not be working the way the company had hoped. The hardware is operating correctly, but the software that would power it is not, the reports say. Unless Apple can fix the problem, it might need to delay wireless-charging supportuntil it’s ready to release iOS 11.1 later this year.
Bloomberg has reported that Apple is investing heavily in augmented reality, and we could see some of those features built into the iPhone 8, especially around object recognition. The Wall Street Journalalso reports that Apple is working with suppliers to help iPhone 8 owners map their surrounding 3D environment for various applications, including AR.
But we’ll have to wait and see.
Early Advantage: Galaxy S8. Samsung and Apple both have compelling special features, but Samsung has thrown in a slew of new tools that could make you far more productive.
Specs and Performance
Samsung is going all in on performance. The Galaxy S8 is has Qualcomm’s high-poweredSnapdragon 835 processor inside along with 4GB of storage.
Samsung’s flagship comes with 64GB of storage. The Galaxy S8 offers a 3,000mAh battery, while the Galaxy S8+ runs on a 3,500mAh.
Credit: Sam Rutherford
We haven’t heard too much about Apple’s plans for the iPhone 8’s performance. The device is expected to be powered by an A11 chip, which could be built on a 10-nanometer process. Ultimately, it’s expected to offer much faster performance than the A10 and be more energy efficient.
Credit: Concepts iPhone
On the storage side, look for Apple to offer up to 256GB internally. There’s also talk of Apple offering much better battery life in the iPhone 8.
Early Advantage: iPhone 8. The iPhone 7 proved to be the fastest phone around when it debuted, and we expect Apple to take the lead in the fall once more.
This one’s important in light of the Galaxy Note 7 debacle. Samsung has worked hard to reassure customers that the Galaxy S8’s battery will be safe. The Galaxy S8 comes with a 3,000-mAh battery, and the 6.2-inch S8 delivers a 3,500-mAh pack. Those numbers are close to the 5.1-inch S7 (3,000 mAh) and 5.5-inch S7 Edge (3,600 mAh).
In our battery test, which involves continuous surfing over an LTE network, the S8 lasted 10 hours, 39 minutes —roughly an hour longer than the average smartphone. The S8+, with its bigger battery, did even better, lasting 11:04 on our test.
The Galaxy S8’s batteries are the first from Samsung to get the new inspection treatment to ensure their safety. Here’s hoping that process will work out.
Apple is also reportedly planning to offer a “big battery” in the iPhone 8. We don’t know yet how big the battery will be, but its higher capacity, coupled with the A11’s power efficiency, should combine to deliver far more juice than what you’d find in the iPhone 7.
Credit: Cult of Mac
Early Advantage: Galaxy S8. The iPhone 7 Plus lasted longer than the S7 Edge on our battery test, as did the iPhone 7 over the S7, but the S8 has raised the standard once more. We’re waiting to see who finishes on top in the ever-changing race for top smartphone battery life.
Credit: Sam Rutherford
Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ back in March, before offering the device on sale in April. Right now, you can get the phone unlocked, and there are multiple deals on the Galaxy S8floating around out there.
Exactly when the iPhone 8 will hit store shelves depends on who you’re listening to at the moment.
Credit: Handy Abovergleich
Some reports have said that Apple is planning to deliver the iPhone 8 in September, but it’s possible that shipments could be staggered throughout the fourth quarter in order to meet early demand.
However, more recent reports have suggested that Apple’s troubles with the iPhone 8’s fingerprint sensor and wireless charging could push the handset’s launch to October or November.
Either way, the iPhone 8 will likely be unveiled alongside the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus, which are both believed to offer iterative updates over last year’s models. Because they’re only minor upgrades, however, there’s a good chance those devices will launch in September, as planned.
Early Advantage: Draw. Samsung has the first-mover advantage, but Apple will have the benefit of launching closer to the holiday season and getting the buzz around the iPhone’s 10th anniversary.
There’s little debating that the Galaxy S8 is an expensive handset. Samsung is selling the Galaxy S8 for $750 and the Galaxy S8+ for $850. Pricing will vary a bit depending on the carrier you choose and what current deals are available.
Apple’s pricing won’t be revealed until the handset makes its debut later this year. A report from earlier this year suggested that the smartphone would go for $1,000 or more. The price, the report claims, would be based on all of the advancements Apple is planning to offer in the device, including the OLED display, and would make the new phone the most expensive iPhone ever.
Early Advantage: Galaxy S8. The Galaxy S8 costs a pretty penny and it’s quite likely the iPhone 8 will, too. But it’s very possible that Apple’s device will command an even higher premium.