Finally, Samsung has pulled the Galaxy S8 out of the hat - though to be fair, many leaks prior to the launch had already pretty much told us what we'd find in the hat. But now, with all the facts laid out for all to see, the wait was brought to an end for Samsung's latest flagship. So how does the Galaxy S8 compare against its predecessor, the S7? Well, I've been using the Galaxy S7 since March 2016 and had the chance to test the Galaxy S8 briefly - so let's rival these two smartphones against each other.
Design: the Galaxy S8 sets the gold standard
Although Samsung smartphones in the past have not always been particularly aesthetically pleasing, in recent years Samsung got some designers on board and has put a little more effort into the look and style of its smartphones. The S6 in 2015 and especially the S7 in 2016 set the gold standard in their respective years. And now, the Galaxy S8 will do the same in 2017.
Once again, Samsung has created a beautiful phone with the S8, with its minimalist front, no protruding camera on the back and some pleasantly curved edges. In short, the Galaxy S8 sets a new standard for 2017. At this point, it's worth mentioning that the only difference between the Galaxy S8 and S8+ is the size and not much else.
But the Galaxy S7 isn't an unimpressive device either. Comparing the S7 and S8, they are of a similar width and thickness, though the S8 is slightly taller.
In fact, the Galaxy S8 is actually 1.5 mm narrower than the S7 though the display feels wider than on the S7. Despite this, some users are under the impression that the S8 is too narrow!
Display: QHD panels but still only Full HD?
The design is the main difference between the displays because the front screen encompasses a taller display on the S8 than on the S7. The new aspect ratio for the Galaxy S8 is 18.5: 9 with a resolution of 1,440 x 2,960, which is 400 pixels taller than the S7. The extra display space is partly taken up by the virtual navigation buttons, but there is still some free space remaining.
The Galaxy S8 has an HDR panel that shows more colors than its predecessor - but in everyday life, this is barely noticeable.
Curiously, although there are QHD panels in both smartphones, the user interface only uses Full HD (or Full HD+ for the S8). The Galaxy S8 calculates the UI at a smaller resolution and then expands the content to match this. For the S8, the virtual resolution is 2,224 x 1,080 pixels however, this is not immediately and obviously visible. The Galaxy S8 is only 2.4 MP in Full HD+ rather than 4.2 MP in full QHD+ resolution (in the case of the S7, the lower value in Full HD is 2 MP and in QHD is 3.6 MP). In the S7, this has little impact on the battery life, which could also be attributed to the fact that the pixels don't always have to be recalculated.
This feature can be changed in the settings. As such, both smartphones then render the UI in full resolution of the display.
Software: the only difference is a swipe
The virtual buttons on the Galaxy S8 are a novelty for Samsung, however, they are not revolutionary. Ultimately, it doesn't really matter whether the navigation is done through capacitive buttons below the display or if the buttons are shown on the display itself. The fingerprint sensor inside the home button on the S7 does however have some advantages, which many Samsung fans are not keen to give up. Instead of the fingerprint sensor being on the front, S8 owners will have to use the fingerprint sensor on the back, the iris scanner or face detection to unlock their smartphone.
A small detail Samsung has added on the Galaxy S8, which was inspired by Google: the app drawer now appears when you swipe. The Galaxy S7 with the Touchwiz launcher isn't able to do that yet. Concerning Touchwiz:
In the future, Samsung will call it the Samsung Experience
This is, however, pretty much identical in terms of visuals, and was originally developed with the code name Grace UX, found in the Note 7. Grace UX has been running on the Galaxy S7 since the Nougat update.
The Samsung software, however, has a history of losing performance over time. This is especially noticeable for the Galaxy S7. Has Samsung made any improvements here? We can only hope so, but it will take a few months of testing before we can really judge. The same is true for Bixby: Samsung has an interesting idea going, but currently it needs a spot of work before we can really appreciate it fully.
Camera: Samsung is hoping for multi-frame processing
How much work did Samsung actually put into the camera on the Galaxy S8? This is certainly an interesting question. Although the camera on the Galaxy S7 is very good, it has its weaknesses, especially in poor lighting conditions. In this regard, Google took a huge leap ahead with the Pixel.
Surprisingly, Samsung has changed very little on the the Galaxy S8 camera compared to the S7. Sure, multi-frame processing has been added, but other than that, the details are very sparse, so a big leap is not really expected. My colleague Steffen was surprised that during the presentation of the S8, Samsung dedicated so little time to presenting the new camera functions.
It's currently difficult to know whether the camera on the Galaxy S8 will produce better images than the S7 does.
Technical equipment: the S8 only just beats the S7
Samsung Galaxy S8 vs. Samsung Galaxy S7 technical specifications
|Samsung Galaxy S8||Samsung Galaxy S7|
|Dimensions:||148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm||142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm|
|Weight:||152 g||152 g|
|Battery size:||3000 mAh||3000 mAh|
|Screen size:||5.8 in||5.1 in|
|Screen:||2960 x 1440 pixels (568 ppi)||2560 x 1440 pixels (577 ppi)|
|Front camera:||8 megapixels||5 megapixels|
|Rear camera:||12 megapixels||12 megapixels|
|Android version:||7.0 - Nougat||7.0 - Nougat|
|RAM:||4 GB||4 GB|
|Internal storage:||64 GB||32 GB
|Chipset:||Samsung Exynos 8895||Samsung Exynos 8890
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
|Number of cores:||8||8
|Max. clock speed:||2.3 GHz||2.6 GHz
|Connectivity:||HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth||HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2|
The improvements here are barely noticeable. The new CPU has more computing power - Samsung says that the new processor on the S8 is 10% faster than on the S7, but in real life this is barely noticeable. The GPU is 20 percent faster. However, the new production process is more important: Samsung is now using 10 nm structures in the chip for the first time ever (previously it used 14 nm). Smaller structures typically also mean lower power consumption. However, only a detailed review can show how much these advantages are visible in the S8.
A big plus for the Galaxy S8 is the larger internal memory of 64 GB. The S7 was smaller with only 32 GB. Because Samsung pre-installed quite a few apps on the S7, it didn't leave much room for photos, apps or games. What was also particularly unfortunate was that Gear VR apps also take a lot of space. Space problems occurred on my S7 very fast - I was in a constant battle for the free space, trying to hold at least 3 to 4 GB. Without an SD card, where photos and music end up, this would have been impossible.
The Galaxy S8 phones brings about the advent of Samsung's USB Type-C era. Though not everyone will consider this good news if they have multiple devices with Micro-USB connectors, as a new cable or charger will be necessary.
Conclusion: the Galaxy S7 is still in the game
Although the Galaxy S8 is a consistently great smartphone, everything revolves around the design. This is the essential difference between the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S8. Technically, the Galaxy S7 is still a good smartphone and is now much cheaper than the Galaxy S8.