Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7: What's the difference and which is best?

Oliver Cragg
Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7

Samsung has officially unveiled its Android flagship for 2017, the Galaxy S8 – a smartphone that Samsung is hoping will finally exorcise the fiery demons from the Galaxy Note 7 debacle and reclaim the South Korean giant's crown in the mobile market.

Outclassing its predecessor, the Galaxy S7, thanks to impressive specs, an eye-catching design and key new features, one big question remains: How does it compare to the smartphone sector's current tog dog, Apple's iPhone 7?

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With the iOS vs Android war set to rage once again, here are our early thoughts on which mobile device will rule the roost... at least until the iPhone 8 comes around.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7: Specification

Samsung Galaxy S8 iPhone 7
Screen size 5.8in 4.7in
Screen resolution and pixel density 2960 x 1440, 570 per inch 750 x 1334, 326 per inch
Size 148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0mm 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm
Weight 155g 138g
Storage options 64GB (expandable up to 256GB via microSD card) 32GB, 128GB, 256GB
Cameras 12MP rear, 8MP front 12MP rear, 7MP front
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core Apple A10 Fusion quad-core
Battery 3,000 mAh 1960 mAh
Ports USB-C, headphone jack Lightning
Colour options Midnight Black, Orchid Grey and Artic Silver Black, Jet Black, Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, Red (special edition)
Price from £689 £599

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7: Display

Samsung has a fancy new name and a much taller 5.8in "Infinity Display" for its 2017 flagship, packing an extended 18:9 aspect ratio that eliminates bezel room and curves along each edge beautifully. There's also a resolution bump from the Galaxy S7 up to 2960 x 1440 and all the colour vibrancy we've come to expect from Samsung's AMOLED panels.

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The iPhone 7's 4.7in retina screen has a tough task to match Samsung's flagship here, although additional display interactions via 3D Touch technology is a nice bonus. Smartphone users unwilling to move away from physical home buttons might also take issue with Samsung's on-screen keys with haptic feedback. Apple's static, "taptic" button isn't exactly traditional, but for those that want to keep their keys off the screen, the iPhone 7 still holds the upper hand in this minor department.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7: Camera

The larger iPhone 7 Plus got the real killer camera when it comes to Apple's current smartphone family, with two rear lenses and optical zoom. That being said, there is still plenty to love about the 12 megapixel f/1.8 sensor and the 7 megapixel selfie snapper, not to mention Apple's excellent take on "bokeh" effects.

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The Galaxy S8, meanwhile, has the same 12 megapixel rear sensor as the Galaxy S7 but with improved low-light performance. The Galaxy S7 excelled in the camera department and sticking with its top-tier module for a second year does make some sense. While it may not lead the pack at this point – the Google Pixel camera takes some beating – there will likely be enough here to love. Samsung is also boosting the front facing camera to 8 megapixels from 7 megapixels on the S7.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7: Processor, storage and colour options

The iPhone 7 sports Apple top-end A10 Fusion, quad-core processor, which sounds a little underwhelming on paper, but functions beautifully in practice.

On the other hand, Samsung's Galaxy S8 introduces the world to Qualcomm's latest flagship chipset, the Snapdragon 835. A full comparison will have to wait until we get more hands-on time with the device, but early tests suggest it is an absolute powerhouse.

On the storage side, Apple finally ditched the 16GB base model for a much more acceptable 32GB, with options going all the way up to 256GB. There's a clear winner here though as the Galaxy S8 comes with 64GB as standard and expandable storage up to 256GB via a microSD card slot.

In the UK, the Galaxy S8 will be available in Midnight Black, Orchid Grey and Artic Silver, while the iPhone 7 comes in Jet Black, Black, Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, and, in an iPhone first, the recently revealed special edition Red colourway.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7: Price

The iPhone 7 starts at £599 for the 32GB version, £699 for the 128GB and £799 for the 256GB model.

Pricing for the Galaxy S8 has yet to be confirmed, but retailer leaks have suggested a figure of £689.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7: Bixby takes on Siri and early verdict

In truth, both the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8 are fine smartphones that are packed to the teeth with software features, water-resistance and fingerprint sensors that would make any potential buyer happy.

The key difference, as ever, is the OS. Samsung's lightly-skinned version of Android 7.0 Nougat strips back the bloatware of old for a sleek experience, but still lacks the dignified purity of Apple's iOS.

The OS comparison also extends to each UI's assistant, with Samsung entering the digital assistant race with its own horse, Bixby. It's a horrible name, but the features make it a viable alternative to Google Assistant, especially thanks to the dedicated physical Bixby button. That being said, we do love Siri and its quirky ways.

There are other reasons to pick one or the other – especially if you have a nice pair of headphones and really need a 3.5mm jack which the Galaxy S8 has, but the iPhone 7 notoriously does not – but the choice here is really between Android and iOS.

If you have a lot of Google Play apps then the Galaxy S8 is a strong contender to Google's Pixel as the best Android device on the market. If you have a swathe of iOS software you wouldn't want to lose, then the iPhone 7 is the best smartphone Apple has ever made.

This is the small matter of Apple's 10-year anniversary iPhone due later this year, but for now, either smartphone is more than worthy of a place in your pocket.

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