With a trio of new iPhones to get amped up about before they hit stores over the coming weeks, we wanted to stack the fresh-faced iPhone 8 up against its most significant rival right now, the Samsung Galaxy S8.
Apple iPhone 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Design
Until this latest iPhone launch, there was little doubt as to who held 2017’s smartphone design crown and that was Samsung. The Galaxy S8 is at the head of the pack, not only from an aesthetic standpoint but from an engineering perspective as well, packing in more tech than practically any other flagship out there and looking good all at the same time.
The iPhone arguably has one of the most instantly recognisable designs around but it can’t really be considered cutting-edge by today’s flagship standards. The 8 is simply the latest variation on that same characteristic theme that we’ve seen from Apple for years now.
For the most part, it resembles last year's iPhone 7, right down to the headphone jack-free bottom edge, with the most obvious exception being the replacement of an all-metal build for a glass-backed form - a trait last seen by Apple on the iPhone 4S. That makes it easier to grip but also gives fingerprints a more welcoming canvas to adhere to, similarly to the S8.
Despite the new finish bringing the iPhone 8 in line with most other current flagship handsets, its 65 percent screen-to-body ratio, twinned with those chunky bezels render the phone’s styling as downright archaic when placed alongside the slick lines and curved glass of the Galaxy S8.
From a technical standpoint, the S8’s elegant frame is also more comfortable to hold, it retains a headphone jack, almost completely forgoes any form of camera bump and boasts superior IP68 dust and water resistance (the iPhone 8 is IP67-certified).
For some, the only real potential win for the iPhone is the more conveniently-placed Touch ID fingerprint sensor, mounted within the home button beneath the display. By comparison, the S8’s new larger screen has pushed Samsung to move its sensor to the phone’s back, awkward-enough for righties and even more so for left-handed users due to its offset position.
Apple iPhone 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Screen and media
The viewing experience is almost unchanged from previous iPhones too, with a 4.7-inch 750x1334 Retina HD IPS LCD panel. It arguably offers up one of the best viewing experiences in the business, if its predecessor’s is anything to go by; augmented by the introduction of the company’s True Tone technology to adjust colour temperature on the fly for a more accurate and realistic viewing experience in all manner of different environments and lighting scenarios.
Samsung’s Infinity display, meanwhile, is arguably the most eye-catching panel money can buy right now. The near bezel-free front of the phone looks unlike anything else on the market, especially as its curves away along the phone’s sides.
It too matches Apple’s True Tone tech with its Adaptive Display and boasts superior contrast and bolder colours as a result of Samsung’s preference for AMOLED panels. That choice also allows for always-on functionality when the phone is locked, serving as a more elegant alternative to Apple’s raise-to-wake functionality, due to its low power consumption. The S8’s Quad HD+ resolution also makes for significantly sharper imagery and its 18.5:9 aspect ratio gives you more vertical space to multitask with various apps at the same time.
On the audio front the tables take a turn, with the S8’s single downward-facing loudspeaker being usable but not exactly earth-shattering, whilst the iPhone’s stereo speakers are not only 25 percent louder and clearer than the predecessor’s but offer some amount of stereo separation too making it the greater media machine if you don’t intend on using headphones.
Apple iPhone 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S8: OS
With the S8’s entry into the market earlier in the year, it arrived running Android 7.0 Nougat, with the promise of an upgrade to the now-launched Android 8.0 Oreo still on the cards. Despite no longer technically running the latest and greatest (for the time being), Samsung’s TouchWiz skin ensures it’s still feature-packed and feels like one of the most current and capable phones on the market.
Elements like Samsung Connect go some way to streamlining the process of pairing and communicating with the multitude of other connected devices in your life and handy tools like Game Launcher are thoughtful offerings that sweeten fundamental smartphone experiences beyond that of rivals.
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The iPhone 8 is the first in the line to sport iOS 11 out the box. It goes without saying that this incarnation is the fastest and most fluid take yet on Apple’s already-refined mobile operating system, and continues to out-manoeuvre Android in some areas, however, in others it’s still leagues behind.
It’s now far easier to organise homescreens and apps; an experience Samsung continues to tweak and change to try and simplify that, by comparison, still feels awkward. Notifications are now more pervasive across the OS, which for most will be an appreciated change, whilst a redesigned Control Centre feels more concise and yet just as powerful as before.
iOS’ new Files app isn’t quite as you’d find with Android, letting you manage content stored on cloud services like iCloud, Dropbox and Google Drive but not actually allowing for local file manipulation, which is still infuriatingly locked-down, and unfortunately the iPhone 8 misses out on one its latest operating system’s biggest benefits in more robust multitasking capabilities, which seem to be reserved for iPads running this latest software.
Siri has undergone a minor upgrade that means it looks slicker and in certain languages sounds more natural but beyond that the experience is much the same, whilst the S8 counters with its own Bixby assistant as well as Google Assistant, both of which offer strengths in different areas, depending on what you’re hoping to achieve.
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Apple iPhone 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Performance
The S8 was the first phone to sport Samsung’s own Exynos 8895 processor or in some markets Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835. With comparable performance, the latter has gone on to serve as the signature chip of practically every flagship Android smartphones in 2017 so far, which is to say, it’s still one of the fastest, most powerful and most power-efficient chips around.
It should come as no surprise that the S8 felt fast and lag-free on day one and continues to serve up a consistently snappy experience today. It’s also loaded with impressive additional hardware like an iris scanner, Bluetooth 5.0, fast wired and wireless charging chops and an in-display haptic home button.
The iPhone 8 is powered by Apple’s new own-brand A11 Bionic chip, which in benchmarking wipes the floor with most other mainstream mobile silicon out there. As such, if it’s raw power and efficiency you’re after the A11 is a great piece of kit that might give the iPhone 8 greater staying power over the S8 throughout your average two-year contract.
In other areas, the 8 is playing catch-up, like its adoption of wireless charging and Bluetooth 5.0. Apple’s new blower does also possess fast-charging capability but unlike Samsung, the company has been characteristically unwilling to give its customers such a luxury as part of the in-box experience. Instead, if you want to be able to juice your iPhone 8 up to 50 percent in 30 minutes you’ll have to be willing to pay an addition £49 for the privilege by picking up the company’s 29W USB-C power adapter separately.
Apple iPhone 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Cameras
The battle for smartphone camera supremacy is unending and depending on what you’re looking for both of these phones take some of the best pictures in the business. If all you’re after is a simple, no-fuss point-and-shoot experience, the iPhone will give you more realistic images, whilst the S8 will take more processed but potentially more attractive pictures out the gate.
That said the S8 will also give you more control with a wealth of shooting modes including full manual control and superior low light performance thanks to a wider aperture lens. It also packs in a richer selfie game, with augmented reality modes and a panoramic selfie capture tool so you can more readily get you and your friends into a single shot.
The iPhone 8 meanwhile boasts one of the fastest shutters in the game and some impressive slow-motion video chops that are practically unrivalled in the smartphone world right now, letting you shoot up to 240fps video at Full HD resolution as well as standard 4K video at an impressive 60fps.
Apple iPhone 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Verdict
By throwing the intriguing new iPhone X into the mix, this year Apple’s launch strategy creates a conundrum for consumers. With the company considering all three of its new handsets as flagships, the choice of which one to go for primarily falls to budget.
Of the three, the iPhone 8 is technically the most affordable but that said, at £699 for the base 64GB model, it’s still the most expensive non-Plus iPhone ever. If you’re invested in the Apple ecosystem or you want the same iPhone as last year but with wireless charging, a tweaked camera and better performance, then the iPhone 8 is the perfect fit. If you’re not tied to iTunes, the App Store or iCloud, however, then the Galaxy S8 hits many of the same notes as Apple’s latest phone, plus a host more that the iPhone misses completely, for significantly less.
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is still wholly equipped to last you at least two years on a contract, just as the iPhone 8 would. Its camera is still a serious contender for the best on the market, it boasts a superior display, more capable charging chops, a slicker, more water-resistant design and it offers expandable storage; all for under £540 or £160 less than the iPhone 8, and that’s before you take into account that the price will continue to fall, unlike Apple’s handset, which only drops in price when the company says so.