Similar on price and performance, the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8 are both good choices for your next phone. The iPhone is smaller and lighter, but the S8 packs a much larger, higher resolution screen into a body that’s really not much larger or heavier. It supports wireless charging and has the latest tech including Bluetooth 5, while retaining old tech like the headphone jack. There’s just one model – 64GB – in two relatively muted colours, but unlike the iPhone in its various shades, you can insert a microSD card to get up to 256GB of storage. Ultimately, both are great phones and you’re sure to be happy whichever you choose.
Price When Reviewed
Samsung Galaxy S8: $724.99
Apple iPhone 7: $549 (32GB), $649 (256GB)
Best Prices Today: Samsung Galaxy S8
Because Apple and Samsung launch their flagship phones around six months apart, it’s always a little hard to compare them. Not in the absolute sense, of course, but any comparison has to factor in that a new model will be released (in theory) from one of the companies in around half a year.
For some that may be too long to wait as they need an upgrade right now, but for others in less of a rush, the temptation will be to wait and see if the rumours are true.
In this case, the Galaxy S8 looks to have stolen a march on the putative iPhone 8 by offering a 5.8in screen in a body that’s more commonly associated with a much smaller screen. Rumour has it that Apple’s going down exactly the same route.
For now, we’re comparing the S8 with the iPhone 7. Although their screens differ in size by more than an inch, they’re both the ‘smaller model’ – we’ll compare the S8+ with the 7 Plus separately.
Also see: Galaxy S8 Active latest rumours
Which is the cheapest?
These are not cheap phones. But you knew that before deciding to read it, right?
The Galaxy S8 costs £689 from Carphone Warehouse, which is £90 more than the cheapest iPhone 7.
But if you think you’ll need more than 32GB (and you probably will) then your options are the 128GB iPhone 7, which costs £699 from John Lewis or the extravagant 256GB version at £799.
The S8 has 64GB of storage, which you can expand via a microSD card.
Which has the better design?
We’ve waited what feels like a long time for a reduction in the bezels which surround every phone screen. Xiaomi was the first to offer the wow factor with its Mi Mix, then LG with the G6.
Now the S8 – with its Infinity Display – crams a 5.8in screen into a frame measuring 148.9×68.1mm.
The iPhone 7 is 10mm shorter and 1mm narrower, but only houses a 4.7in screen.
For resolution the Samsung wins too. It packs in 2960×1440 pixels (that’s 570 pixels per inch) albeit in an unusual aspect ratio of 18.5:9.
The iPhone sticks with 16:9 and also sticks with the same 1334×750-pixel resolution as the iPhone 6 and 6s. Its 326ppi is fine, but put side by side with the Galaxy S8 you can see the difference. Apple may say otherwise, but we can even tell the difference between even this and the 401ppi iPhone 7 Plus’ screen in terms of outright sharpness.
The only issue is that not all apps work well with the unusual aspect ratio, particularly video – a lot of which is made for a 16:9 screen. You can zoom using the native video player to remove the black bars at the sides, though.
And the S8’s screen is just fabulous. Partly it’s because the AMOLED tech gives colours more pop than the iPhone’s IPS LCD, but also because the edges of the screen are curved and this makes the bezels look even thinner.
We do, however, prefer the iPhone’s front-mounted fingerprint scanner. On the S8 it’s slightly awkwardly position on the rear, to the side of the camera. Also see: Samsung Pay is now available in the UK!
But then again, you could argue that the lack of a headphone jack on the iPhone 7 is awkward too. It’s all too easy to leave behind the Lightning-to-3.5mm adaptor or lose it entirely. And as of yet, the choice of Lightning headphones is pretty limited.
The iPhone is available in more (and brighter) colours but overall both are attractive phones.
What are their specs and features?
Here’s how the two phones compare on their main features:
Samsung Galaxy S8
Android 7.0 Nougat
5.8in QuadHD+ (2960×1440, 570ppi) SuperAMOLED, dual-edge
4.7in 1334×750 326ppi IPS
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Apple A10 with M10
Custom (Based on PowerVR GT7600)
64GB, microSD support
12Mp, f/1.7 rear; 8Mp selfie with autofocus
12Mp, f/1.8; 7Mp selfie
Fingerprint scanner, iris scanner
Fingerprint scanner (Touch ID)
802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, NFC, USB-C
802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, Lightning
3,000mAh, fast wired- and wireless charging, Quick Charge 4.0
1,960mAh with fast charging
One of the S8’s extra features is wireless charging. No iPhone (yet) has offered this, but it’s possible that it’s coming on the iPhone 8.
The S8, being that bit newer, benefits from Bluetooth 5 (which offers better range) and the latest Snapdragon 835 processor. It also supports Cat 16 4G LTE, which means that in theory it will give you a faster internet connection than the iPhone when carriers upgrade their speeds. Right now, there’s no advantage.
Apple doesn’t talk much about specs when it comes to the processor and RAM but the iPhone 7 does have a quad-core CPU and six-core GPU. And it’s not short on performance.
The iPhone 7 hits 60fps in GFXBench’s Manhattan test and while the S8’s 54fps is lower, don’t forget that it’s managing this at a much, much higher resolution.
In the real world – as opposed to benchmarks – both phones feel (and are) very fast indeed. As we’ve said before, Samsung phones have a reputation for slowing down noticeably after a year of use, but obviously we can’t say anything about the S8 in this regard at this stage.
Samsung has changed its TouchWiz interface quite a lot, but it’s still far from stock Android 7.
Apple has the benefit of designing both software and hardware, and you’re guaranteed a timely software update with the iPhone 7 to iOS 11 and, more likely than not, iOS 12 in 2018.
Which operating system you prefer is down to you (as is your preference for the design of each phone) but Android is much less restricted than iOS and offers more freedom
Continuing with software, Samsung has added its own Bixby assistant to Google’s. Currently it’s a damp squib but could – and should – improve over time.
Siri is in need of a boost. Although helpful to an extent it doesn’t feel like the assistant’s capabilities have improved much over the last couple of years and it still regularly fails to correctly interpret what we mean.
Which has the better cameras?
Samsung has improved the camera compared to the already excellent S7’s and though it still has 12Mp don’t let that fool you into thinking that no progress has been made. When necessary – such as in low light – the S8 combines multiple frames to produce one based on the best parts from three, reducing or removing blur and ghosting.
Similarly, the iPhone has a 12Mp camera that also has optical stabilisation and is also capable of recording video in 4K. It uses Apple’s image processor for excellent performance and accurate colours – it can record the same wider colour gamut that the iPhone’s screen is capable of displaying.
Ultimately they are two of the best cameras to be fitted to a phone, and it’s very difficult to say which is better. Both are capable of taking great photos and videos.
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Samsung Galaxy S8: Specs
- Android 7.0 Nougat
- 5.8in Quad HD display (2960×1440), 570ppi
- Dual curved edge display
- Exynos 8895 octa-core processor
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB internal storage
- Micro-SD card slot (up to 256GB)
- 12Mp rear-facing camera with OIS
- 8Mp front camera
- Pressure sensitive home button
- Fingerprint scanner
- Heart rate monitor
- 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX
- 4G LTE Cat 16
- Headphone jack
- 3000mAh non-removable battery
- Wireless charging
- IP68 dust & waterproof rating