With Samsung routinely releasing its main flagships about 7-8 months before Apple's equivalent iPhones, we get some uneven comparisons where the newer phones' specs are at least a half-generation ahead. So until Apple launches its 10th-anniversary iPhone later this year, we're left to compare the specs and features of the Galaxy S8+ to last year's iPhone 7 Plus.
The Galaxy S8+ is just 1-percent taller, but 6-percent narrower, than the iPhone 7 Plus.
The S8+ is also 11-percent thicker, though it didn't feel overly beefy in our launch event hands-on.
The Galaxy S8+ is 8-percent lighter.
Neither company has changed course here, as Samsung sticks with a glass back and aluminum frame, while Apple is no stranger to aluminum unibody designs.
Both have solid water resistance, though Samsung's IP rating is higher.
You have five color options to choose from with each phone.
The screen of the Galaxy S8+ is 17-percent bigger. And keep in mind it's only a smidge taller – while measuring narrower – than the iPhone, accentuating how much more screen-bang for your phone-buck the Galaxy gives you.
Apple never bothered with the pixel density arms race that permeated Android flagships a few years ago. Despite lower (but still high) DPIs, iPhones often still have some of the best displays, as Apple hones finer points like color balance, contrast and brightness.
With that said, Samsung's nearly-edgeless display looked stunning in our hands-on.
It's AMOLED vs. IPS, on the display panels front.
The S8+ has a display that curves off on both sides.
Samsung has yet to copy Apple's 3D Touch, which lets you press deeper on the screen for various shortcuts, but the S8's home button does have some pressure sensitivity built in. (For what exact purpose we aren't sure, as pressing deeper didn't launch any shortcuts during our demo.)
Samsung moved the fingerprint sensor to the back this year, to make way for that almost-all-screen front.
It might be slightly tedious to use, as you have to hold your phone at just the right angle to capture your eyes, but the Galaxy S8+ has an iris scanner that works a little faster than the one briefly seen in the Note 7.
It sounds like it's too easily spoofed to provide much meaningful security, but Samsung also offers a quicker option to unlock your phone with facial recognition.
The Galaxy S8 and S8+ felt extremely fast in our hands-on, but event demo models, which lack carrier bloatware and other apps, may not be the best indication of retail-unit performance.
Note that US shoppers will see the Snapdragon 835 in the S8+, but many global markets will see an octa-core Samsung Exynos processor in its place.
The Galaxy S8+ has an extra GB of RAM, but that doesn't always translate directly into better performance.
Samsung gives you one generous storage tier, while Apple starts lower but reaches higher. Just keep this next category in mind.
It's easier for Samsung to skip 128 GB or higher internal-storage tiers because you can pop in a microSD card for things like storing extra photos or music.
We can't have much to say about the Galaxy S8+'s camera until we handle a review unit, but it doesn't sound like the rear one is much (if at all) changed from the Galaxy S7's.
Camera aperture (rear)
Both include Optical Image Stabilization.
Dual cameras (rear)
Samsung didn't add a dual camera, however, leaving Apple with the advantage of its Portrait Mode. It lets you blur backgrounds like you could do on a DSLR or mirrorless camera with wide-aperture lens.
The S8+'s battery capacity is 21-percent higher, but many other factors go into actual battery life. Another item to revisit in our review.
Apple has still yet to offer any kind of quick-charging solution.
Samsung is sticking with wireless charging and – if you splurge for a special Samsung-made charging pad – fast wireless charging (which is still slower than fast wired charging, but is faster than standard wireless charging).
Apple hasn't put a horse in the VR race yet, while the Galaxy S8+ still works with the mobile VR platform with the most well-stocked content library (even if we don't think the platform itself isn't advancing quickly enough), the Gear VR.
Unlike Apple, Samsung kept the headphone jack on its newest flagships.
An optional US$150 purchase, Samsung's DeX is a dock that you can connect a monitor, keyboard and mouse to: Slide the Galaxy S8 or S8+ in, and it will give you a desktop version of Android to use as a smartphone-powered PC.
Whether this will serve as an acceptable alternative to a Windows or macOS PC is a question we're going to remain skeptical on until we're convinced otherwise.
The Galaxy S8+ uses Samsung Pay, which works at both NFC terminals and many (if not most) standard credit card readers. Apple Pay only works with dedicated NFC stations, which are becoming more common.
Somewhat confusingly, the Galaxy S8+ includes two voice-controlled AI options: Samsung's new Bixby (which has its own dedicated hardware launch key on the S8 phones) and Google Assistant. The latter is a known –and very solid – quantity, while Bixby's voice control was disabled during our event demo, leaving us with little to say in terms of evaluation.
The iPhone, of course, has Siri.
The Galaxy S8 phones launch on April 21.
Starting price (full retail)
The Galaxy S8 phones are ultra-premium flagships, a fact that their striking designs will announce to anyone within eyeshot. But its price tag also shows further evidence that flagship costs are starting to get out of hand. As always, we'll evaluate the S8+ on a price-based curve when we review it.
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