Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Galaxy S7
Interface and Functionality
Samsung finds its mojo with the S8 interface – it is cleaner and more coherent, well organized, but the S7 after the Nougat update is not too far away.
With the S8, you get a brand new interface that builds upon the foundation set by the Samsung Grace user interface after the Nougat update on the S7. The thing you notice first are the redesigned icons that look simplistic, even a bit too simple. You can now launch the app drawer with a simple swipe up or down on any place on the home screen. The front button is gone too, so popular features like the Quick Launch shortcut for the camera on the S8+ is replaced by a double click on the power/lock key on the side. The taller display means that it’s hard to reach the very top to swipe down and get the notification drawer, but luckily Samsung now supports swiping on the fingerprint reader on the back (a single swipe allows you to drop down the shade, but you don’t have support for a second swipe to bring the shade further down).
The new Bixby assistant on the Galaxy S8 is a thing that holds more promise for the future, meaning that currently we can't test its full capabilities. In the near future, it is expected to allow you to just press the dedicated Bixby key on the side and speak with the assistant right away, without even waking your phone first. In the future, Bixby is also expected to know the context of an app and be able to do stuff related to the app, a thing that will definitely make it more useful than current-gen voice assistants. Of course, by the time this happens, we presume the other voice assistants out there will also be exhibiting such features.
The keyboard typing experience is similarly great on both phones: with clearly separated button keys, typing is fast and accurate. The big advantage of having the tall screen on the S8+ is that when you type, you can still see a ton of context, despite the keyboard taking up some space.
Processor, Performance and Memory
The S8 brings an improvement in performance that is best seen in benchmarks. In real life use, both phones do fine, but not perfectly well: we see a slight, but noticeable stutter on both, and the unintended touch actions remain an issue on both.
The Galaxy S8 has got a brand new system chip running the show, or we should rather say chips: in the United States, the phone is coming with the Snapdragon 835 by Qualcomm, while in other parts of the world it has the similarly powerful Samsung Exynos 8895 on board (we have the Exynos models of both the S8 and the S7 for this comparison).
What is not on the label of this chip is that it is manufactured using a new, 10nm manufacturing process, which allows the chip to consume less power on comparative terms, an important advantage.
In reality, the Galaxy S8 feels a bit faster and a bit less jerky than the S7, but if you are looking for the perfectly smooth frame rates as on Google’s Pixel or Apple’s iPhone… well, the Galaxy S8 is not there yet. And yes, those unintended touches are still an issue on the S8.
This, however, does not stop the Galaxy S8 to perform admirably in benchmarks, as you can see that it tops most (if not all) Android phones and loses only to the iPhone 7 series in terms of single-core performance. You can clearly see that the S8 has a more powerful processor than the S7, and the performance difference is often a double digit percentage number.
A side note for gamers: both the S8 and the S7 come with support for the Vulkan API, which guarantees better performance for more advanced games, although as we saw in our review of the S8 line, completely smooth frame-rates aren't achievable with some of the more demanding titles out there.
The Galaxy S8 doubles the on-board storage from the previous S7, and we now have 64GB of storage in the base model, while the S7 had 32 gigs. This is a great move by Samsung: it’s not something that you stumble upon initially, but as you get to use the phone for a few months, photos and videos tend to pile up, and with 64 gigs, fewer people will see those ‘out of memory’ messages. Both phones also have a microSD card slot, so that you can insert your own card and add to that initial allowance, a nice feature to have.
Internet and Connectivity
The full-screen display on the S8 makes a big difference when browsing.
Both being flagship phones, both the Galaxy S8 and S7 have a huge number of 4G LTE bands. In the United States, you can expect to see specific models that will cater to the major carriers and you will get full LTE compatibility on Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. The phones will also work across all major 4G LTE networks in Europe.
When it comes to the actual experience in the browser, pages do load a bit faster, but what you will really notice is the added screen space with the S8 that allows you to see more text and have a more enjoyable experience overall.
You have NFC on board on both phones, and both also support Samsung Pay for wireless payments. Dual-band Wi-Fi is also on board on both, a useful feature in congested urban areas where a single-channel Wi-Fi receiver would often result in reduced download and upload speeds. Both also share the following connectivity options: USB Type-C 3.1 and GPS.