With iPhone X hogging the spotlight, iPhone 8 might feel a bit like Apple’s unloved stepchild, but it shouldn’t. With a comfortable 4.7-inch form factor and more affordable price, the iPhone 8 will be a palatable option for consumers who still want the latest and greatest hardware without breaking the bank. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy S8 costs nearly the same as iPhone 8 and packs plenty of premium features into its sleek body. Let’s see how the two compare.
Design and Physical Features
The iPhone 8 stays with a design that hasn’t fundamentally changed since the iPhone 6. You still get the traditional home button with Touch ID, a sizable bezel on the top and bottom, and polished aluminum sides. Like the iPhone 7, the headphone jack is also absent. The only change is matching panes of glass on the front and back.
In comparison, the Galaxy S8 stands out. Its display curves along the sides but keeps a tiny bezel on the top and bottom to spare you the awkward “notch” cutout on the iPhone X. The S8 also sports glass front and back panels and metal sides, but there are two notable features you don’t find on iPhone 8: a headphone jack on the bottom and a microSD card slot up top for more storage.
In terms of dimensions, the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 measures 5.45 by 2.65 by 0.29 and weighs 5.22 ounces, while the 5.8-inch S8 is only slightly bigger at 5.87 by 2.68 by 0.31 inches. Even more impressive, it weighs just 5.47 ounces. When it comes to maximizing screen-to-body ratio, the S8 can’t be beat. That said, both phones are small enough to fit comfortably in your hand and their tall-and-narrow form factors make it easy to reach across for one-handed use.
Other shared features include wireless charging; iPhone 8 and S8 are both compatible with the Qi wireless charging standard. Samsung also supports PMA and a proprietary standard that lets you wirelessly charge faster with compatible charging pucks.
The iPhone 8 is IP67 water- and dust-resistant, letting it survive in 5 feet of water for half an hour, while the S8 can go a little deeper (6 feet) with its IP68 rating. Both also support Bluetooth 5.0, which improves range and lets you stream to two pairs of headphones simultaneously.
Display quality is where you’ll notice the biggest distinction. The iPhone 8 sticks to a 4.7-inch 1,334-by-750 Retina HD display that hasn’t increased in resolution or pixel density (326ppi) in several years. The only upgrade is a wider color gamut and True Tone, which give you better contrast and warmer colors. And of course, 3D Touch, a feature that dates back to iPhone 6s, lives on.
By contrast, the 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display on the Galaxy S8 has a much higher 2,960-by-1,440 resolution that packs in 570ppi. That higher pixel density will make images and text on the S8 appear sharper. You also get the advantages of an OLED display, like rich saturated colors, and dense, inky blacks. Features like Active Display help save battery life by giving you time, date, notifications, and media controls as necessary and only lighting the required pixels.
That being said, the iPhone 8 does have a good IPS panel in terms of color accuracy and viewing angles. Screen brightness is also great for both devices, and you shouldn’t have a problem using either outdoors.
Processor and Battery
This is where the iPhone 8 really shines. It’s powered by the same A11 Bionic chipset found in iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. Without putting too fine a point on it, the A11 Bionic is the most powerful phone processor we’ve ever seen. According to leaked benchmarks on Geekbench, it boasts a single-core score of 4,061 and a multi-core score of 9,959, beating every Android device and all previous iPhones and iPads. The Snapdragon 835-powered S8 (1836/5960) looks like a midrange device next to it.
Of course, we’ll reserve judgment until we can run our own benchmark tests, but if you’re looking for the world’s smallest, most powerful phone, it’s very likely the iPhone 8 will earn that title.
Battery life will be fairly similar for both devices. According to Apple, iPhone 8 battery life is about the same as the iPhone 7’s, which clocked 5 hours, 45 minutes in our battery rundown test (in which we stream full-screen video over LTE at maximum screen brightness). Oddly enough, the Galaxy S8 had an identical runtime of 5 hours, 45 minutes, likely due to its larger, hungrier display. If you change screen resolution from Quad HD to 1080p, runtime increases to 7 hours, 39 minutes.
As always, camera quality requires a shootout in PC Labs, but we have a pretty good idea of the hardware in each phone. The iPhone 8 has a single, 12-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization and quad LED True Tone flash. Unlike its larger sibling, there’s no secondary sensor, so you don’t get features like telephoto zoom, portrait mode, portrait lighting, or the bokeh effect.
Overall, we expect to see performance that’s similar to the iPhone 7, which we found to be a great camera during our testing, though not necessarily the best compared with other phones on the market. However, with Apple’s ARKit, the iPhone 8 should work with AR apps without requiring any additional hardware. Currently, that’s not something you’re able to get on the Galaxy S8 until ARCore comes out.
The S8 on the other hand, is among the best camera phones we’ve tested, boasting a single, 12-megapixel rear camera that excels in capturing detail and shooting in low light.The S8 also has OIS and both phones have 4K video recording and slow-mo video. The S8 has the added advantage of manual controls, which let you tweak focus, shutter speed, white balance, and other elements to take better shots.
Software and Features
The iPhone 8 comes running iOS 11, Apple’s latest operating system. It also rolls out to other iPhone owners starting Sept. 19, bringing new features like ARKit’s augmented reality support, a file manager, and serious multitasking capabilities. When it comes to consistent updates, you won’t do better than Apple.
The S8 by contrast, runs Android 7.1 Nougat with the TouchWiz skin. Though it should get an update to Android 8.0 Oreo, when you’ll actually see it depends on your carrier. The S8 will support AR apps once Google’s ARCore arrives.
Samsung has its own advantages, though. For example, Samsung Pay works with nearly all credit card readers and terminals, not just those that are compatible with Android Pay or Apple Pay.
A small ecosystem of S8 accessories also provides useful functionality. Samsung Dex lets you hook the S8 up to a monitor and keyboard, to mirror Android onto a bigger screen for productivity and games. The Samsung Gear VR headset and a touch controller lets you use the phone for fun gaming experiences.
Price and Availability
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is available for sale unlocked and from carriers at a price that ranges between $750 to $800 depending on where you buy it.
The iPhone 8 is available for pre-order now (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Apple Store), and will begin shipping Sept. 22. Prices starts at $699 for the 64GB model and $849 for 256GB. That’s less than the $1,000+ iPhone X, but it’s about the same as what you’ll spend for the S8.
Generally, if you’re tied to Apple’s ecosystem, like a more compact phone, and want to take advantage of the powerful new A11 Bionic processor, the iPhone 8 looks to be a great choice. On the other hand, if you want a futuristic-looking phone with a gorgeous display, premium features, and excellent camera performance, you won’t do better than the Galaxy S8. We’ll compare both phones again when we get our hands on the iPhone 8 in the coming months, so stay tuned for more.