How do the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ stack up to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus?

Now that the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are official, they will immediately be compared to the best of Samsung’s chief competitor in the mobile space, Apple. While Apple is halfway through its product cycle, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are still formidable opponents, so let’s take a look to see how the two sets of phones stack up against one another.

Galaxy S8 vs. iPhone 7

Perhaps the most striking thing about the Galaxy S8 next to the iPhone 7 is how much more efficiently it uses space. While nearly the same width and only a few millimeters taller than the iPhone 7, Samsung’s newest flagship manages to fit a 5.8-inch screen into a compact body; the iPhone 7 still has a small 4.7-inch display.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ specs

Apple is expected to do away with the home button on the iPhone 8, but for now the Galaxy S8 just looks more space-efficient.

Moreover, Apple’s 1334×750 pixel resolution, with its 326ppi pixel density, seems to fall further and further behind every year; Samsung’s 2960×1440 pixel QHD+ SuperAMOLED screen is bright, vivid and color accurate while maintaining a clear advantage in sharpness and clarity, at 570ppi. This year, Samsung has also done away with its physical home button, for the first time integrating its controls into the display (as Google encourages). That reclaimed space is now extra screen, which helps with games, media and other fullscreen activities. And while Apple is rumored to do away with its own home button later this year, it’s unclear how the company will minimize the impact to the way iOS works, since it has, since the beginning, relied on that single press or tap to return home.

Of course, the Galaxy S8 also sports curved glass, a move that puts Samsung all-in on a the so-called “edge display.” While this may initially be seen as a controversial move, it is also one of Samsung’s clearest technological advantages right now, and as limited a gain in productivity as the curved glass currently offers, it plays very well with consumers, and that’s all that matters.

Around back, Samsung has moved its formerly front-facing home button to the back, next to the camera, in what is quickly becoming a very controversial decision. As Andrew Martonik points out in his hands-on preview, as much as Samsung wants you to take advantage of the integrated iris scanner to unlock the Galaxy S8, the fingerprint sensor is still the most effective way of doing so quickly, but it may take users some time to get used to the new rear placement — and cleaning the camera lens from the smudges that will inevitably accrue.

But Samsung has also taken a small page from Apple’s playbook by integrating a pleasant haptic engine into the area below the virtual home button on the front, making it feel like a physical press. It’s not quite the real thing, but after a while, just as you do with the iPhone 7′s capacitive home button, you quickly grow used to it.

The ports and buttons on the two phones line up fairly predictably, with Samsung positioning its power button on the right side of the phone, and its volume buttons on the left. This year, though, there’s an addition to Samsung’s outfit: a dedicated Bixby AI button that sits just below the volume rocker on the left side, offering one-press access to dozens of on-phone features. Apple relies on a long-press of its home button to access Siri, its own AI assistant.

Moving to the bottom of the phone, Samsung has transitioned to a USB-C port, which is much more versatile and offers faster data rates and quicker charging through a compatible USB 3.1 connection. A single speaker cavity sits to its right, while Samsung has wisely chosen to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack around for at least one more year.

Both phones are made of a combination of metal and glass, but like the Galaxy S7 the back is covered with strong Gorilla Glass rather than brushed or matte aluminum. And while the Galaxy S8 looks and feels very similar to its predecessor, it the design is improved in one major way: its matte black version has color-matched metal on the sides to follow the contours of the black rear and front glass, providing an unbroken pool of gorgeous darkness. More companies have begun doing this, but Samsung still does it best.

Finally, it has to be said that as narrow as the Galaxy S8 is — which means it’s usable in one hand without discomfort — it does feel much taller than the iPhone 7. That 18.5:9 aspect ratio is going to be new to Android and iPhone users alike, so if you do decide to buy a Galaxy S8 after coming from an iPhone, you’re in for a small adjustment period.

Apple’s A10 chip is faster than anything out there right now, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice a difference between it and the Snapdragon 835.

Internally, the iPhone 7 sports the A10 chip, a quad-core SoC that includes two high-frequency, high-performance cores and two low-energy cores for ambient activities, with just 2GB of RAM (and the 7 Plus has 3GB). The RAM deficit hasn’t been a problem in years past, though, since iOS is generally more efficient than Android in its resource and RAM management.

It’s already been determined that the A10 is faster in single-core activities, but both the Snapdragon 835 and Exynos 8895 best it in multi-core benchmarks — conclusions that don’t really mean anything in the real world, but are interesting nonetheless. And while both Galaxy S8 models sport 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, the iPhone vacillates in storage size — and price — between 32GB, 128GB and 256GB. With the Galaxy S8′s microSD card, none of that price shuffling is necessary.

Galaxy S8+ vs. iPhone 7 Plus

The screen to bezel efficiency continues with the story of the Galaxy S8+, especially when compared to the iPhone 7 Plus. While Apple’s bigger phone boasts a 5.5-inch 1080p display, much more akin to most Android phones, it is very wide and extremely tall. Indeed, Samsung’s 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+ is considerably narrower, and only slightly longer, than the iPhone 7 Plus. Neither phone is exactly one hand-friendly, but you’re definitely going to need to adjust the way you hold the Galaxy S8+ to swipe down from that notification shade without a second hand.

The Galaxy S8+ has all the same ports and button placements as its smaller counterpart, including the rear fingerprint sensor, which is even harder to reach on the larger version of the phone. Its 6.2-inch QHD+ SuperAMOLED display shares the same resolution as the Galaxy S8, 2960×1440 pixels, which makes it slightly less dense at 529ppi, but still far sharper than the 401ppi iPhone 7 Plus. As accurate and bright as Apple’s screens are, they will likely never catch Samsung in the pixel density arms race — if that’s a real thing anymore.

The cameras

The Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 both have single rear 12MP camera sensors with f/1.7 lenses, making them pretty similar on paper and in real-world results. While Samsung tends to go for a more exaggerated color palette and Apple for a flatter, more realistic photo, they both have the potential to take amazing photos in daylight and low light.

The Galaxy S8+ lacks a second sensor, but Samsung doesn’t think it needs one.

While we haven’t had a lot of time to play with the cameras on the Galaxy S8, Samsung tells us it shares hardware components with the Galaxy S7; what is different, though, is the connection to the main chip, which has been upgraded from the Snapdragon 820 to the Snapdragon 835 (and in Europe, the Exynos 8890 to the Exynos 8895). This improved ISP, or image signal processor, should have a significant impact on things like focus speed and HDR performance, but we’ll see.

The one thing that the Galaxy S8 series doesn’t have that the iPhone does — at least, the iPhone 7 Plus — is a second camera sensor. While the LG G6 has a second camera for wide-angle shots, and the iPhone 7 Plus uses its for additional distance and depth-of-field effects, Samsung was comfortable with the Galaxy S8+’s performance to live on its own.

We’ve seen plenty of good and bad photos from Apple’s second camera — it lacks optical image stabilization, and has a much narrower aperture, so it lets in much less light — it’s still going to be a point of comparison when shopping for a new phone. Samsung did reportedly experiment with adding a second sensor to the new Galaxy S8 lineup but felt the technology wasn’t quite ready — in whatever form it was going to take — so it may be delayed a year.

Either way, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ should have amazing cameras, some of the best on the market, and we’re looking forward to putting them through their paces in comparison to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

Platforms

Finally, we come down to software. Samsung is shipping the Galaxy S8 with Android 7 Nougat, and while Samsung’s software has improved markedly over the past few years, to the point where it can be considered neck-and-neck with the best interpretations of Android, its update record is still shoddy. Take the Nougat update on the Galaxy S7 series; it took nearly 11 months for the update to begin rolling out to U.S. carrier devices, and it’s still not available on the unlocked version.

Apple, on the other hand, updates all of its devices at once, and does so with the cooperation of its carrier partners. It would be nice for Samsung to get to that point, but for now it — and Android — work differently.

As close as the two platforms are in terms of features, there’s another major consideration to take into the account: the two app stores. Google Play and Apple’s App Store don’t have too much between them these days, but some companies, especially smaller startups, still choose iOS as a first, or even exclusive, destination when publishing their apps. So do game companies, which derive considerably more revenue from iOS than Android. That being said, most of the major titles eventually come to Android, and the delta between releases is shortening, but it’s still a reality.

The other side of the argument comes in the form of continuity; Samsung relies on Android, so it’s increasingly trying to find ecosystem tie-ins in other ways. Take DeX, Samsung’s hardware dock that turns the Galaxy S8 into a Microsoft Continuum-like desktop experience. This is Samsung trying to exert as much control over its software as possible — this is Android, not Chrome or anything else, but it’s Samsung’s Android — and that’s admirable.

Which should you buy?

The question of which phone you should buy largely comes down to platform preference, but you should also keep in mind that Samsung’s phones are a full half-year newer than the iPhone 7 series, and benefit from a highly competitive Android ecosystem that is consistently pushing partners to develop innovations in the hardware space.

Apple feels less of a need to constantly redesign its phones because it has an entrenched and loyal user base that have, over time, grown reliant not just on the iPhone hardware but iOS as a platform, with iMessage, iCloud and many other features with which Android manufacturers can’t directly compete, since Google controls Android. Samsung has tried, and Bixby is a good example of that, but it still uses Google services as its backbone.

So it then comes down to hardware. The most notable upgrade in this year’s Galaxy S series is the screen — larger screens and smaller bezels make for phones that use space far more efficiently than ever before. They’re also taller, thanks to the odd 18.5:9 aspect ratio. That Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 processor keep things moving at a fast clip, and bring some much-needed efficiency improvements to the table. Of course, battery life benefits from the more-efficient processor, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer before we determine whether the 3,000mAh battery in the GS8, or the 3,500mAh cell in the GS8+, perform better than the equivalent cells in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

Both the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8 series are great, but Samsung has maximized the usable space on the front, and that makes it feel far more modern than the aging design on the iPhone.

Learn everything you need to know about the Galaxy S8!

There’s lots more to know about the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, from the subtle (and not so subtle) hardware changes to the software, Bixby, DeX and more. Grab a coffee and sit back to read our full hands-on preview of Samsung’s latest devices!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ preview




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Which Galaxy S8 is best for VR?

If you’re already a fan of the Gear VR experience and want your next phone to offer the best possible upgrade, it’s important to know the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus are very different phones in VR. They’re built to be similar for almost everything else, but inside the Gear VR there’s going to be two major differences that make choosing the best experience a little complicated.

Here’s what you need to know.

Read more at VR Heads!




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Here’s how, when and where you’ll be able to buy Samsung’s latest phones.

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are going up for pre-order starting March 30, which precedes a full release on April 21 in stores and online. With the three week lag time that means you’ll have a little while to decide what size and color you want, but also lock in your order early so you can get it as soon as possible without hunting one down in store.

Here are the details when it comes to online and in-store availability of the Galaxy S8 and S8+.

Note: This story is being constantly updated with new information.

U.S. carriers

All of the U.S. carriers will be offering both the Galaxy S8 and S8+, which come with 64GB of storage and will be available in three different colors — black, orchid grey and silver. As is always the case you may run into stock shortages finding a specific model in a specific color in the first few weeks, but as of now we aren’t aware of any all-out exclusives that will keep one color tied to a specific carrier.

Retailers

You can expect big retailers like Best Buy, Walmart and Target to sell the Galaxy S8 and S8+ tied to a carrier with many of the same perks as the carriers offer directly. Historically these retailers have offered slight discounts in the form of gift cards or accessory incentives, so take a look to see which one is offering the best deal.

U.S. unlocked

Samsung didn’t actually make an announcement about the availability of U.S. unlocked models, but Best Buy has pages up giving us pricing and a supposed pre-order date of May 9. The model numbers follow the same scheme as the U.S. unlocked Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, so it seems to be the case that the unlocked models will be on their way soon.




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On the Galaxy S8, your Always-On Display, lock screen and home screen seamlessly flow into each other.

In the various online leaks leading up to the Samsung Galaxy S8 announcement, we got to see glimpses of the phone’s new lock screen, home screen and always-on display, and it always seemed like there was something new going on with the way the GS8 handled the interaction between these three screens. Android has had animated home screens and lock screens for years, thanks to the Live Wallpapers feature, but the GS8 takes this a step further with its new Infinity Wallpapers.

And they’re actually pretty neat.

A three-in-one live wallpaper pack for each of the GS8′s main screens.

Infinity Wallpapers live in the Samsung Themes app, and they package three different live wallpapers together as one — for the Always-On Display, lock screen and home screen — with smooth transitions between each three levels.

Raise a sleeping Galaxy S8 and you’ll see the Always-On Display wallpaper, which is usually pretty barebones. In most cases this is a simple pixelated star field with some kind of colored glow in the background. Press the virtual home button and a swooping 3D effect will transition you to a geometric pattern surrounding the GS8′s neat clock widget, and any notifications that might be waiting for you. Then unlock the phone -— by swiping, using the fingerprint scanner, or scanning your irises — and you’re catapulted into a cleaner colored gradient, with the same animated star field in the background.

Infinity Wallpaper on Galaxy S8

There’s a dozen or so different Infinity Wallpapers loaded on the Galaxy S8 out of the box, with more likely to be accessible via the Samsung Themes portal in future. The company has largely shied away from animated wallpapers in the past, and these new Infinity Wallpapers add a futuristic sheen to what’s already a very forward-looking handset.




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It does more than mesh networking. Samsung Connect Home acts as a hub for all your smart home gadgets, too.

Samsung revealed its first Wi-Fi system today alongside its new flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S8 and S8+.

Samsung Connect Home is a mid-tier system that comes in a pack of three, similar to Google WiFi and Eero. One unit connects to your existing broadband modem, while the other two units work in tandem as network extenders, the idea being you can create your own fluid Wi-Fi network without too much complication.

If you were a SmartThings Hub user, good news: you won’t need a separate hub if you bring home the Connect Home.

The Connect Home also features its own app, just like Google Wi-Fi. You can use it to manage your home network. At launch, you will need one of the newfangled Galaxy S8 devices to use Samsung Connect Home. Towards the end of the year it should be available to other Android devices — and maybe even iPhones.

If you were a SmartThings Hub user, good news: you won’t need a separate hub if you bring home the Connect Home. The device has Zigbee and Z-Wave compatibility built-in, so your house can stay smart. It’s also compatible with other smart home devices, including Philips Hue Lights and the Ring Video Doorbell.

There isn’t too much information about the Samsung Connect Home yet and the company has yet to settle on a release date or price point. There is a Pro version that will launch alongside the Connect Home, though as a single unit. We’ll hopefully have more details in the coming weeks.




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Samsung is leaning on one of its greatest hits for the Galaxy S8 launch.

If you’re planning to pick up a Galaxy S8 on or near launch day, you should probably pre-order it. If you do, Samsung and its partners are going to toss in a Gear VR with the new Gear VR Controller for free.

This isn’t the first time Samsung has made this particular offer, but this is the first time that deal is far too good for anyone to pass up. The Gear VR has grown into its own incredible part of the VR ecosystem, complete with compelling games you can’t get anywhere else and a ton of streaming video apps for watching stuff in VR. It’s the first VR headset with its own functional social platform, making it an incredibly compelling VR experience over all.

But the real add-on here is the new Controller, which saves you from needing to tap the side of the headset for interaction and eventually plans to offer Daydream-like laser pointer navigation for a bunch of VR apps. When you add that $40 accessory to the $60 headset, it’s clear even if you aren’t totally sold on VR just yet this is something you want to get your hands on for free with your Galaxy S8.

Here are all the places you can pre-order the Galaxy S8 and get a free Gear VR!




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Who doesn’t love a free game? Get A Dark Room today from the Google Play Store!

Thanks to Google’s ‘new’ plan to offer some paid apps for free on a weekly basis, you can now get A Dark Room for free from the Google Play Store. It’s a text-driven adventure game that might seem unassuming or boring when you first start out… but just you wait.

The game starts in a black room, signaled by a black screen. “The room is freezing.” You start a fire and suddenly the screen brightens up a bit. “A ragged stranger stumbles through the door and collapses in a corner.” Well, it beats being alone in the middle of nowhere.

Your goal is to keep the fire going and collect supplies, as more lost wanderers stumble across your encampment as it slowly grows village. I’ll leave it for you to discover from there, since this is one of those games you just need to experience for yourself. I’d compare it to Reigns in terms of its simple gameplay and unique style of storytelling, except solely relying on text and your own imagination.

A Dark Room features no ads, no micro transactions, no permissions and no data usages. It’s only available for free for the next 7 days before it jumps back to its regular $.99 price, so don’t miss out!




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Don’t feel like reading up? Watch Google’s Android O video for its developers instead.

Developers, get excited! There’s a new version of Android on the horizon and it is chock full of new and exciting features to integrate into your apps. Users, you can get excited, too, because these new features mean better apps and an overall better experience on Android.

To get developers revved up and into the trenches of the Android SDK, Google published an Android O Developer Preview video. Sit back, relax, and bring a pen and some paper (or a Chromebook with a comfortable keyboard) to take notes. The video will teach you about new changes to Android, including background restrictions and notifications channels.




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There’s always something new and interesting to play.

Whether you’re recovering from a Summer Sale hangover or you’re in desperate need of something new to keep your kids distracted while you figure out a good vacation schedule, there’s a lot happening in the VR world right now. New apps and games are being released on an almost daily basis, and keeping up with that is a lot of work.

To lend a hand, we’ve assembled a short list of the fun things we’re playing this week, so you’ve got something quick to glance at while you sort out the rest of your week in the real world.

Read more at VR Heads!




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Facebook is adding Stories to its core app, and over 1.6 billion people will now get to know Snapchat, whether they realize it or not.

For years, Facebook has been about sharing with everyone — and doing a million other things, from selling products to joining groups to marking yourself as safe during emergencies. All of these things, together, have led to the service being the most-used Android app in the world, and overall the most popular digital platform on earth, with over 1.6 billion people hitting some form of Facebook’s wide berth every day.

But since Facebook split Messenger from its core app, to participate in one-on-one communication you have to leave the app. Well, no more. Facebook has announced that it is adding Stories to its core app, taking a lot of Snapchat and a bit of Instagram and giving it a new front-and-center placement. Stories, which is rolling out worldwide to all Facebook mobile users on Android and iOS, is similar to what you see on Instagram (and Snapchat, of course) today. It is a feed of photos and videos that string together to form a 24-hour diary, replete with filters and other camera frills.

Facebook is acknowledging that filters, and the camera itself, is quickly replacing text as the important status update in peoples’ days. The new camera interface will be available, as with Snapchat and Instagram, a swipe away on the left side of the app, and will offer live filters and effects (many of which will be sponsored) that can be added to photos and videos. They can either be added to one’s story, which can optionally be shared to the main Facebook feed, or sent using Direct, to a single person or group of people. Either way, the content will expire within 24-hours.

Direct is an interesting addition, because it ostensibly makes the core Facebook app a competitor to its own Messenger, along with WhatsApp and Instagram, all of which incorporate their own versions of private messaging. It’s unclear whether Facebook plans to consolidate these things down the line, or just slowly add asynchronous story sharing to all of its apps, but it will be interesting to see whether people actually want this to be in the core Facebook experience.




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