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Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus

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Interface and Functionality

Tradeoffs, tradeoffs: the feature-rich S8+ interface slows the Galaxy down

Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus

We won't delve much into the iOS 10 vs Android 7 specifics here, as both the iPhone 7 Plus interface, and Samsung's UX are painfully familiar from our reviews, but would rather focus on added functionality, and dedicated modes that make using the big phablets easier with one hand. The S8+ does come with new iconography compared to, say, the S7 with the Nougat update – more uniform and minimalistic – but that beauty is skin-deep, as the settings and other menus are nearly identical. Not that they look bad.

Samsung has provided some wise new ways to call stuff on the big screen, and we aren't talking about the one-handed mode that shrinks the whole interface two sizes down for easier reach. You can, for example, slide up from the bottom of the screen to pull the app drawer now, then swipe in either direction to close it. Given how often you go to the app drawer, compared to pulling down the status bar with the connectivity toggles, though, it would have been wiser to include a swipe down gesture to unfurl the notification shade from any empty screen area, like on so many other Android interfaces. Now, if you want to turn off a radio, or read a notification preview, you have to hold the S8+ with both hands to pull down the shade safely. The alternatives are to do some dubious palm gymnastics to reach all the way to the top, or swipe on the faraway finger sensor which can be assigned as a touch pad of sorts for that action – both rather unsavory options.

Main UI of the Galaxy S8+ - Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Main UI of the Galaxy S8+ - Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Main UI of the Galaxy S8+ - Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Main UI of the Galaxy S8+ - Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Main UI of the Galaxy S8+


The iPhone 7 Plus is not much easier when it comes to bringing down its Notification Center shade with one hand, but it has a Reachability mode that can bring down the screen by double-tapping the Touch ID home key. Also, the connectivity switches and other oft-used controls are placed in the Command Center at the bottom, and it is much easier for your thumb to swipe or tap at the bottom than try to stretch all the way up.

iOS 10 on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus - Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus
iOS 10 on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus - Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus
iOS 10 on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus - Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus
iOS 10 on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus - Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus

iOS 10 on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus


Samsung's interface overlay on top of Android 7.0 Nougat is, as usual, full to the brim with functions you may or may not use, like the iris recognition security that is in addition to the fingerprint and other authentication methods already on the phone. It may be cool for bragging purposes, or if you are in a secure corporate environment, but not that much faster or more convenient than finger scanning or keying in a PIN number. Not that Apple hasn't added features that haven't proved everyday necessities just yet (looking at you, 3D Touch screen Peek and Pop), but on Samsung's new Experience UX, just as with TouchWiz of yesteryear, these are much more numerous, and often redundant. The end result for Samsung handsets is that you get a more function-rich, but a tad slower to move and execute apps interface, compared to the iOS frenemy.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Some of these extra options, especially with Nougat, can be attributed to Android itself, like the split-screen multitasking, or the power management features, so Samsung doesn't really have a say here, but others are of its own making. The new Bixby virtual butler, for instance, thinks it will be better than Apple's Siri in terms of natural speech recognition and language support, but its full functionality will be coming at a later date, and for now it just duplicates Google Assistant.

Processor and memory


Galaxy S8+ is powered by the latest and greatest Snapdragon 835 and Exynos 8895, which blaze through benchmarks, and even encroach on Apple's scores achievable with the A10 chipset in the 7 Plus. Moreover, 4 GB of RAM are a pretty generous amount still, but, as we mentioned, the Samsung UX is heavier than iOS, and not as organically fused with the underlying operating system kernel, so this raw horse power doesn't translate into unequivocally better performance of the S8+ compared to the 7 Plus, and even falls behind in some demanding graphics tasks.

Samsung starts at 64 GB of internal storage this year, and provides a microSD slot for memory expansion, while Apple has 32-256 GB tiers to choose from.

Connectivity

Top LTE dogs, but S8+ hits it out of the park in download speeds

These two are the handsets with the most LTE bands you can find (20+ on both), so if you are a globetrotter they are your best bets for local network compatibility. The S8+, however, has the upper hand in theoretical LTE speeds as it is the first phone to support Cat. 16 for up to 1Gbps downloads, if your carrier can provide those. T-Mobile already boasted that it can, in certain areas and conditions, so there's that – you can eat through your 30 GB “deprioritization” limit in no time now with the Un-carrier's unlimited plan.

The Galaxy S8+ and iPhone 7 Plus are chock full of almost every radio you can think of, and Samsung even throws in its MST standard for wireless payment authorizations that can mimic a swipe credit or debit card. As for wired connectivity, Samsung moved to USB-C at long last, while Apple has been doing Lightning for a good while – both are the best in speed and power transfers, so no complaints.

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