Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Apple iPhone 7
From now until the end of the summer, the fight that will define the smartphone realm will be between Samsung's newest Galaxy S8, and Apple's brave flagship, the iPhone 7. Is the 5.8” screen of the Galaxy all that it's cracked up to be against the humbler 4.7” iPhone panel? Are their 12 MP cameras ready to blow our collective minds? Which one will outlast the other? Let's embark and find those Easter eggs out...
The Galaxy S8 is a looker, while the iPhone 7 scores more practical design points, and both are very easy on the palm.
Samsung went thermonuclear on phone bezels with the Galaxy S8, destroying its clicky home key and flat screen flagship options in the process. That is why the 5.8” S8 is half an inch taller, but as wide as the 4.7” iPhone 7, and thus comparable in holding comfort. In fact, the size of these two munchkins makes them one of the most suitable for one-handed operation top-shelf phones on the market, and you can reach almost anywhere on their screens with your thumb only. That being said, you still have to readjust the elongated S8 slightly in your hand to, say, reach up and pull the notification shade.
There is a catch with the Inch High Private Eye screen diagonal of the Galaxy S8, when compared with the iPhone 7, and it's called a new 18.5:9 screen aspect ratio. Due to the laws of geometry, the screen area is not nearly as large as it would be on a 5.8-incher with the standard 16:9 display format. It is definitely bigger than the iPhone 7's, though, so you can, say, fit more text on one screen when reading, but is a double-edged sword when displaying 16:9 games and vids. These are the vast majority of titles for the moment, and either get letterboxed, or stretched out of proportion. Having black bars on the sides isn't a huge deal, but can be annoying.
Gorilla Glass 5 meets metal in the chassis materials of the S8 and the iPhone – one is more shimmery but prone to cracking when dropped, while the other is less pretentious but stands better to everyday abuse. If the Galaxy slips out of your hand and falls flat on its back, there is a greater chance for ugly damage than with the iPhone, whоse aluminum alloy would simply get a bruise or two, for instance, and that has been visualized in a few drop tests already.
The virtual home key of the S8 now provides pressure-sensitive area to ease the transition from a physical one. Its feedback is similar to the Touch ID home button of the iPhone. A physical feedback when tapping a home key is not really necessary, though, as most Androids with on-screen keys have already demonstrated, so we'd file the pressure-sensing screen section of the S8 in the “thanks for playing” cabinet. The physical keys around the sides of the handsets are all sturdy, easy to feel and press without looking, and with good tactile feedback. Apple has its staple mute switch there as an extra, while Samsung outfitted the S8 with a dedicated key to launch its new Bixby virtual assistant.
Much larger screen in a tad taller size? We'll take it, but iPhone 7 has none the cons of AMOLED, and no problems with 16:9 titles
To achieve the new 2:1 “Univisium” aspect ratio trend, or thereabouts, Samsung outfitted the S8 with a curved “WQHD+” display. It's a 5.8 inch panel across when flat, and has 2960 x 1440 pixels of resolution, hence the plus sign. The S8 has adjustable display resolution, and comes with 1080p set as default, though you can always move the slider all the way to the right in the display settings, and get to the screen's full-res potential if you need it for VR or something. The iPhone 7 has a 4.7” flat panel of the IPS-LCD variety, which offers good viewing angles, and credible sRGB color presentation, but is also “wide color” (DCI-P3 gamut) capable, so photos taken with the iPhone's camera which shoots in P3 as well, can be viewed in full bloom.
As for image quality, the S8+ display is the typical AMOLED affair in the default Adaptive mode, with gaudy colors that extend way beyond the standard sRGB gamut, and whites that turn blueish with the slightest tilt of the phone. Even if you set the display in the most color-credible Basic mode (sRGB), you'd still notice very pronounced colder tinting when you look at it from even the slightest angle. The iPhone 7's screen, on the other hand, exhibits more natural colors, and color temperature doesn't shift drastically at an angle.
The S8 display is “Mobile HDR Premium” certified, so in Cinema mode you can be watching those new UHD movies shot in the P3 gamut as their creators intended. The catch, though, is that you have to preload HDR content, as neither Netflix, nor Amazon Video have the Galaxy S8+ as a compatible device for their wide-color streams. We checked with Netflix, and the rep said that they plan to include mobile compatibility in the future, but for now the S8 display certification would be of limited practical use. In order to hit the HDR10 standard, however, Samsung pumped up the peak brightness abilities of the AMOLED panel, which, coupled with the low screen reflectance, bodes well for sunlight visibility in autobrightness mode, and that's an arguably more useful development stemming out of the HDR certification. The iPhone 7's panel is also very bright, at 600+ nits, so it offers great outdoor visibility as well.
Things that are NOT allowed: