iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S8 preview: Should you buy iPhone 7 or wait for S8?
Which is better: the iPhone 7, or the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8?
We now know, having listened to Apple's Q1 2017 financial results, that the iPhone 7 launch went well. Some of the reviews were negative, focusing on how much it had in common with the previous two generations of iPhone and the annoyance of losing the headphone port, but the actual customers voted with their wallets and gave Apple a record quarter for iPhone revenue.
But attention spans are short in the tech sector, and smartphone fans are already looking ahead to the next big flagship phone launch: the Samsung Galaxy S8, which comes out next month. We've put together a comparison preview, comparing what we know so far about the S8 with the iPhone 7 to help you decide whether to buy an iPhone 7 now, or wait for the Galaxy S8 to launch.
iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Design & dimensions
The iPhone is slightly smaller than the Galaxy S8, although this is to be expected given the S8's larger screen. And it's not a huge difference: less than two millimetres in length, about five millimetres in width, and 0.2mm in thickness.
iPhone 7 dimensions
- 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm
Samsung Galaxy S8 dimensions
- 140.14 x 72.20 x 7.3mm
- weight unknown
iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Key features
A few highlights to pick out:
Home button: The iPhone 7 has a separate Home button embedded in a bezel at the bottom of its screen; this obviously forces the designers to include an otherwise non-functional section of chassis that increases the phone's size without increasing its screen size.
The S8 is expected to feature an integrated Home button, allowing Samsung to remove the bottom bezel, and we think the left and right bezels will go too, giving the S8 an edge-to-edge screen that makes the most of the available space.
Stylus: The Note family's S Pen stylus is expected to be available for the Galaxy S8, although it's not yet clear whether it will be sold as an optional extra or come in the box.
Headphone port: Apple left the headphone jack out of the iPhone 7 and called the decision "courage". To be fair, it did take a fair bit of flak for the move and must have known it would. And also to be fair, the iPhone 7 comes with a pair of Lightning headphones and an adaptor so you can use older headphones with it.
The S8 is expected to include a headphone port, and you should probably expect a few jokes at Apple's expense when Samsung confirms this fact.
Waterproofing: Apple has historically been behind its smartphone rivals when it comes to waterproofing, but the iPhone 7 is rated IP67 - the most waterproof iPhone yet. Expect the S8 to be as waterproof or more so, but both should be fine with the occasional accidental dip.
Battery: Not so much a feature as a key talking point. Samsung is a highly successful and popular smartphone maker, but is currently working to recover the reputational damage from a number of Galaxy Note 7 models bursting into flames, and the muddled way the company handled the situation. It appears that the problem was caused by the battery in the Note 7.
The S8's battery specs will therefore face careful scrutiny (it's believed that overambitious specs made the Note 7 battery prone to overhearing - trying to cram in too much capacity in too small a unit) and may be lower capacity than they would otherwise have been, as a precaution. Expect higher-capacity batteries than the iPhone range, nevertheless; the batteries are rumoured to be rated at 3,000mAh for the S8 and 3,500mAh for the Plus model.
(The iPhone 7 has a 1,960mAh unit, with the 7 Plus rated at 2,900 mAh. Battery life isn't as bad as this suggests, however, because of the greater optimisation between the iPhone hardware and the iOS software and the lower-res screens.)
iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Tech specs
iPhone 7 specs
- A10 Fusion processor chip with 64-bit architecture & embedded M10 motion coprocessor, quad-core CPU, six-core graphics
- 4.7-inch (760 x 1334) LED-backlit IPS LCD screen (5.5 in, 1920 × 1080 & 401ppi on 7 Plus)
- 2GB RAM (3GB on Plus model)
- 32GB, 128GB or 256GB of onboard storage
- 12Mp ƒ/1.8 rear-facing camera (dual-lens on Plus model), 7Mp ƒ/2.2 front-facing camera
- Rated IP67 splash-, water- and dust-resistant under IEC standard 60529
Samsung Galaxy S8 specs
These specs are not official at this point, although they are supported by multiple leaks.
- Snapdragon 835 processor (Samsung, which is helping Qualcomm make the new 10nm Snapdragon 835 chip, has an exclusive: no other phone using the processor can launch before its Galaxy S8)
- 5.8-inch Quad-HD SuperAMOLED screen (6.2-inch 4K or Ultra-HD on 'Plus' model)
- 4GB RAM (this is according to Evan Blass. However, a number of other leaks have pointed to 6GB, and maybe even 8GB)
- 64GB of onboard storage
- microSD support up to 256GB
- 12Mp f1.7 rear-facing camera, 8Mp f1.7 front-facing camera. May feature dual-lens on rear camera, although this may be limited to Plus model
The most interesting thing about the S8's specs is probably that Snapdragon 835 processor. It’s the first Qualcomm processor to be made with a 10nm process, which will bring various improvements including performance (up to 27 percent higher) and efficiency (up to 40 percent lower power consumption) and lead to better battery life for devices.
According to Evan Blass, the Galaxy S8 will be "11 percent faster than the Galaxy S7 overall, with 23 percent faster graphics processing, but still 20 percent more energy efficient".
iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S8: OS and software
The iPhone runs iOS, and comes with iOS 10 preinstalled. It's a secure and user-friendly OS, albeit one that is harder to customise than the main alternative, Android.
The Galaxy S8 will come with Android 7.1 Nougat, the TouchWiz UI and Samsung's usual customisations. Samsung has also confirmed that it will integrate Viv's AI assistant in "Galaxy smartphones and expand voice-assistant services to home appliances and wearable technology devices", starting with the Galaxy S8.
Both iOS and Android allow for the installing of a huge range of third-party apps, in Android's case from the Google Play store and for iOS users from the App Store. Google Play has more quantity, while the App Store has more quality, but really there's not much in it: both have far more apps than any one person could use in a lifetime, and most apps of consequence will appear on both platforms, it just might come to iOS first.
For in-depth analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of iOS and Android, see our iPhone vs Android article.
iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S8: UK price
The iPhone 7 is a costly device. Here are its UK prices:
- iPhone 7 (32GB): £599
- iPhone 7 (128GB): £699
- iPhone 7 (256GB): £799
The Galaxy S8 is expected to cost €799 (£679), with the larger 6.2-inch model (supposedly called the Galaxy S8 Plus, although Samsung may go for S8 Edge) coming in at €899 (£749). In both cases that's expected to come with 64GB of onboard storage.
iPhone 7 vs Samsung Galaxy S8: UK launch date
The iPhone 7 launched in the UK in September 2016 and as mentioned above can be bought from Apple's website. The Samsung Galaxy S8 will launch at a Samsung Unpacked event on 29 March (not at MWC 2017 in February, as was previously expected), and go on sale on 21 April.
With the Samsung Galaxy S8 still to be officially announced, it's far too early to give our verdict on these two devices. Check back for a more in-depth preview once the S8 is announced in March, and a full review once we've had a chance to go hands-on with Samsung's next flagship smartphone and to put it through its paces alongside the iPhone 7 in our lab.