Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ vs. Galaxy S7 and S7 edge
The Galaxy S8 and S8+ mark Samsung's biggest design changes to its flagships in two years. Let's look at just how they differ from last year's Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, as we compare their features and specs.
The Galaxy S8+ stands a bit taller than either of the 2016 Galaxies, but without being any wider. The standard Galaxy S8 measures a hair shorter than the S7 edge, and is also the narrowest of the bunch.
The S8 series comes out a bit thicker than last year's models, but in our hands-on time at Samsung's launch event we didn't find the extra few millimeters to be remotely concerning.
The larger Galaxy S8+ is the heaviest of the bunch, while the standard S8 falls in between the weight of the S7 and S7 edge.
While the S8 series looks a bit different (for starters, the backside camera hump is almost completely eliminated), all the phones have glass backs and aluminum frames.
Color options are just about the same, with the lone addition of an "orchid gray"
The new phones maintain the IP68 water/dust resistance rating we saw in the 2106 flagships.
Even the smaller Galaxy S8 has a slightly bigger screen than the larger of last year's two phones. While the nearly bezel-free ("Infinity") displays in the S8 and S8+ look good, their practical advantage is that you get more screen-size bang for your phone-size buck.
Home button location
Keep in mind, though, that with an onscreen home button and navigation bar, the S8 series is going to sacrifice a bit of real estate in many areas. Videos and some games will fade the navigation bar out to use the entire display, but in other places it will take up the bottom row.
The Galaxy S8's home button uses pressure-sensitive tech (similar to Apple's 3D touch, only apparently only on that one small part of the screen) to recognize deep presses. (A light tap, however, works just fine as well.)
Pixel densities aren't changed much, as all four have sharp QHD or QHD+ resolution. The higher resolution is due to the S8 phones' more oblong aspect ratio.
Samsung sticks with its Super AMOLED panels.
Samsung's "Edge" is the new standard, as both new models of the S8 have curved screens that slope off on either side.
The new models include an improved version of the iris scanning biometric security first seen in the ill-fated Note 7. In our demo, the S8's version was faster and easier to use than it was in the Note, but it's still more cumbersome than a front-facing fingerprint sensor.
Samsung also gives you the option of logging in with faster facial recognition, but since it can reportedly be spoofed with a photo of someone, it's not very secure.
You can always lean back on the trusty ol' fingerprint sensor, but with a somewhat awkward back-facing placement (off to one side), this isn't as simple to use as it would be in a front/home-button placement.
Global versions will use Samsung Exynos processors instead, but US shoppers will see Qualcomm Snapdragon chips. All versions of the S8 use 10 nm architecture.
Samsung stuck with 4 GB RAM in the new phones.
A generous 64 GB internal storage is standard in the S8.
While there were three storage tiers of the S7 phones, US wireless carriers only stocked the 32 GB model.
All of them let you expand their storage, though, by popping in a microSD card.
Battery capacities are very similar, but we won't have anything definitive to say here until we run battery tests on the S8 phones.
All four use quick charging tech.
The S8 models retain the same wireless charging – and, with the right Samsung-made pad, fast wireless charging – that we saw in the S7 series.
We'll also need to do photography tests on the new models, but it doesn't sound like much (if anything) has changed in the Galaxy S8's rear cameras, apart from losing the protruding hump.
Camera aperture (rear)
Aperture, which can influence the quality of low-lit photography, also stands pat.
All four have Optical Image Stabilization.
Samsung didn't follow the modern trend of removing the device's headphone jack.
Samsung has yet another Gear VR launching alongside the S8, which isn't much different from the last two Gear VRs. The S7 series phones work with all three generations of Gear VR, while the S8 phones are only compatible with the 2016 and 2017 versions of the mobile VR headset (because of the next category).
Docked PC mode
Samsung isn't the first smartphone maker to try to turn the phone into a hub for a PC, but it is probably the most high-profile case so far. The US$150 DeX lets you slide the S8 or S8+ into a dock, hook up a monitor, keyboard and mouse and enjoy an Android-powered desktop PC experience.
While the idea has potential, remember that Android apps are going to vary wildly in how well their UIs and functionality work in a desktop environment.
Like the Note 7, the S8 pair switch from microUSB to USB-C ports.
No matter which phone you choose, you're looking at Android Nougat with Samsung's TouchWiz UI on top.
Somewhat confusingly, the S8 phones include both Samsung's Bixby virtual assistant, and Android's Google Assistant. And since Samsung disabled Bixby's voice control in demo models at the launch event, we have no idea how good it is.
The S7 series phones also confuse with two AI assistants, but they're dated and obsolete versions from Samsung (the awful S Voice) and Google (Google Now).
The Galaxy S8 and S8+ launch on April 21.
Starting price (full retail)
Pricing for all four models may vary a bit from carrier to carrier, but these are roughly what you'll pay in full (either all at once or spread out over time in installments).
While the phones have impressive designs and long feature lists, though, it's a little concerning to see full-retail flagship pricing creeping up into these ranges we see for the S8 – especially with companies like OnePlus and Motorola forcing us to rethink what a high-quality smartphone should cost.
For more, you can read New Atlas' launch event hands-on with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.