Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Galaxy S7 edge: The big-screen option gets even bigger


Introduction


Nearly every aspect of building a smartphone involves a balancing act of some kind, trading one thing for another. Maybe you sacrifice thinness in order to find room for a massive battery, or give a user tons of storage, though driving the price of the phone up in the process. One of the most common of these decisions involves addressing the market's demand for large-screen phones, while trying to avoid making a phone that's physically very large (and uncomfortable to carry around).

Last year, Samsung gave its flagship customers a phablet option that attempted to minimize the impact of its 5.5-inch screen by taking advantage of the company's curved-screen tech: the Galaxy S7 edge. And while this year both Galaxy S8 models adopt that same sort of display, Samsung's once again back with a bigger-screen option, in the form of the Galaxy S8+. Let's take a look at how this new model compares to the GS7 edge.


Design and Display


A curved-edge screen isn't for everyone, but it's hard to deny it results in a smartphone with a very distinctive look. With last year's Galaxy S7 edge, Samsung took that fabrication method about as far as it could go with traditionally-shaped smartphone screens, those with a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio; in order to get any bigger, the phone itself would have to grow as well. Instead, with the Galaxy S8+ Samsung manages to cram in a whole lot more screen while minimizing the impact on handset dimensions, by switching to a new extra-wide 18.5:9 screen shape.

While the Galaxy S7 edge crammed its 5.5-inch screen into a phone body that was 72.6mm wide, the Galaxy S8+ manages to super-size that all the way up to 6.2 inches while only increasing phone width by under a millimeter. Instead, the GS8+'s display grows in height, eating up bezel space in the process.

That results in a phone that, while it shares many of the same design cues as the GS7 edge, looks significantly different. Part of that is due to all the adjustments that need be made as a result of that larger screen, the most significant of which is Samsung's decision to ditch the physical home button. Instead, we've got on-screen virtual Android buttons, though with a much-appreciated dose of haptic feedback to scratch that “clicky” itch.

More than that, Samsung also take a knife to the corners of the GS8+'s screen, shaving off pixels to give it rounded corners. That may sound a little odd, but it tends to work – and the display is just so expansive that it's hard to get too upset about losing some screen area here and there.

Samsung also loses room for prominent branding up above the screen, which we have to say is a move in the Galaxy S8+'s favor; say what you will about logos, but it's one thing to decide whether or not to plaster your phone in them, and another to not have room altogether – the display on this new handset is just that big.

Elsewhere, we see more little tweaks signaling the modernization of Samsung's design: the move to USB Type-C, the relocation of the fingerprint scanner around back, and the arrival of a dedicated hardware button for Bixby, the company's new virtual assistant.


Hardware: processor, memory options, and camera


When you're comparing one year's flagship against another's, we're bound to see a lot of growth – and that's very much the case with the Galaxy S7 edge and Galaxy S8+. Obviously, we're looking at a new generation of processor, and while the GS7 edge gave users phones powered by either Samsung's own Exynos 8890 or the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 – easily the most popular flagship chip of 2016 – the GS8+ upgrades to the very latest 10nm-processor tech, running either the all-new Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895. Being so new, we haven't been able to benchmark either of those GS8+ chips, but everything we've seen – to say nothing of our hands-on interactions (with responsive, smooth Android UI action) – sure suggests we'll be very satisfied with the phone's performance.

What's far less guaranteed are upgrades to other hardware components, like we see with the RAM on these phones: Samsung went with 4GB last year, and is sticking at this level this year. We can hardly complain with so much memory to spare, but it at least goes to prove our point. What was a little less expected, but still extremely appreciated, is Samsung's decision to ditch the 32GB storage level and start the GS8+ at a 64GB baseline.

It's also a little surprising to see so little motion forward in terms of camera hardware. To Samsung's credit, the 12MP Dual Pixel camera on the GS7 edge was absolutely stunning, and produced some of the best pics we got out of smartphone cameras all year. And while we might have loved to get a big camera overhaul that pushed our expectations to the limit, it's difficult to fault Samsung for what it's doing on the GS8+, essentially giving it the same camera as the GS7 edge – just with some faster image processing and interesting new multi-exposure capture tricks. Rather than feeling let down, though, we're trying to take solace in knowing that Samsung started with a very good thing, and looks like it's made it better – even if not by a huge degree.

That's the case with the main camera, anyway; the front-facer very much is seeing an overhaul here, going from 5MP to 8MP and picking up a much-appreciated face-tracking auto-focus mode along the way.

Battery capacity and charging


We're largely cool with Samsung's choice to bring the GS7 edge's camera back for the GS8+, but we can't say that same sentiment extends to other areas of the handset's hardware. Specifically, we're a little concerned to see the very same size 3,500mAh battery on both phones.

That capacity worked well for the Galaxy S7 edge, but the Galaxy S8+ has a bigger screen, with a fair number of additional pixels – and that tends to spell increased power demands. There's the potential that the new energy-efficient processors in the GS8+ will help rein in some of that consumption, but we can't help but think that the GS8+ might have benefited from a deeper well to draw from.

On the plus side, at least Samsung's versatile recharge modes return, and beyond standard wired fast charging, both phones are at ease with whatever wireless charging system you see fit to throw at them.

Expectations


If you liked the Galaxy S7 edge, will you love the GS8+? Well, that's not necessarily an easy answer. First you have to get your head around Samsung's new design, the absence of the home button, and what having a screen so tall means for one-handed operation. And we're also looking at a situation where the screen on Samsung's “small” Galaxy S flagship is now larger than the display on last year's “big” model. As a result, we could see existing GS7 edge fans maybe preferring the GS8 itself over the phone's big brother.

But for all the changes, the Galaxy S8+ is still a phone that feels right at home in Samsung's lineup, and the addition of things like new edge-screen features (like Smart Select for capturing screen data and even extracting text) and the very exciting Bixby virtual assistant help make this year's phone look that much more compelling than last year's. Sure, you'll pay a pretty penny for the GS8+, but you're also going to be getting a lot for your smartphone-buying dollar.




Related phones

Galaxy S8+
  • Display 6.2" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2450 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3500 mAh(24h 3G talk time)
Galaxy S7 edge
  • Display 5.5" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3600 mAh(36h 3G talk time)

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18 Comments

1. Spyro

Posts: 334; Member since: Mar 29, 2017

I think current S7 Edge owners should keep their phones. For those who don't own it, I think it's a good buy.

3. BamaBoi89

Posts: 26; Member since: Jan 06, 2015

I agree...I have the s7 edge and been trying to convince myself I need this 8 plus lol. I will hold out for the note 8

14. JDogg5281

Posts: 74; Member since: Aug 09, 2012

I agree. I am keeping my S7 edge even though i am still not the biggest fan of it coming from the note 7. The Note 8 will be here soon.

4. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Totally agree. Should be great for S6 edge+ owners.

6. metalspy101

Posts: 105; Member since: Dec 15, 2012

what if you own a note 5, i have it and its perfect but its missing that omph...

7. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 965; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

I had a Note 5 before getting a V10 and then iPhone 6S Plus, and I'm definitely eyeballing the S8+. Definitely. Trade-in for 6S Plus tends to give great discounts.

18. solesolesalva

Posts: 19; Member since: Mar 17, 2017

Thanks, anothr fan here ! love comparissons: both devices great at specs... like them better than the new ones: i mean why the curved screen :( ?? its so easily breakable! :( even tho, i went for cheap rugged (an Agm x1)... surprise enough, its been an amazing phone !! :( ?? its so easily breakable! :( but at the end i went for cheap rugged (an Agm x1) just because i hated it so much... surprise enough, its been amazing :)

2. darkkjedii

Posts: 30902; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Battery life will suffer. Galaxy's always get better battery life in testing than real life usage (at least in my experience). Extra pixels, almost another inch of real estate, stronger CPU, and haptic engine all on the same size battery. Yeah, the battery life will suffer. Oh well, charge it rite back up, and keep going.

5. TerryTerius unregistered

Pretty much the way I look at it. If the battery life is roughly on par with the S7E (or a bit worse), I'd honestly be fine with it. The S7E already charges incredibly quickly, since the S8 allegedly charges even faster than that I'm honestly okay with the trade off.

13. darkkjedii

Posts: 30902; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Right. I never really worry about battery life, cause I'll prepare for things. If I need a charger, I'll bring one, and I have a lighter charger in my car. Nothing is more irritating, than babysitting your battery.

8. Zylam

Posts: 1813; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

Why couldn't they place the finger print scanner under the camera and in the middle? Seriously it looks horrible to use in the videos and the phones way too long to unlock with one handed usage. How on earth did they green light the placement.

9. SupermanayrB

Posts: 1188; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

1. How small are you or the dudes that you've seen using the new fingerprint sensor to where it's so much of an inconvenience? 2. There's a very fast & accurate iris scanner that makes up for the horrible placement.

15. TerryTerius unregistered

Consider that not every dude has large hands, and half the world's population are women... who generally have smaller hands than men. That's an odd answer. There's no need to be insulting. Iris scanners don't work as well with contact lenses or glasses. And IIRC, it was hampered by sunlight.

10. phichart

Posts: 335; Member since: May 03, 2014

I will stay with galaxy s7 edge! I like the design of s8/s8 plus but I hate small battery.. 6.2 inches display with 3500Mah sorry Samsung.. I will gonna move to another brand but i will wait note 8.. if note 8 has small battery with big screen than bye bye this year! you are even more silly than Apple now.. iphone 7 plus have 2990 Mah with 5.5 display but galaxy s8 has 5.8 inches display and only 3000 Mah.. :(

11. twens

Posts: 1167; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

6.2 inches screen in an s7 edge body this is wizardry. Amazing

12. kkmkk

Posts: 699; Member since: May 06, 2013

s7 edge still one of the best smartphone in the world, especially the exynsos version which has a cpu very similar in performance to the sd835 and dont forget they have the same amount of ram with the same camera with same ( slightliy smaller in s8+) battery and the screen while battery is not that big of an improvment and really s8 is not that big of an improvement, but to to be honest the s8 is not exactly targeting s7 owners it is for people who have s6 / s5 devices which then make it a compelling upgrade

16. poojarathod

Posts: 41; Member since: Mar 06, 2017

i have used s7 edge also but s8 plus looks and features are awesome and new era. i will go with s8 plus.

17. solesolesalva

Posts: 19; Member since: Mar 17, 2017

Thanks! great article. I payed a friend in China to bring me a agm A8: Loving it! All about durability! The curved display in the "new phones" … noo thanks :s dont like it at all! So expensive to repair.

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