Today, we have two of Samsung’s premium smartphones from the past twelve months going up against one other. In one corner we have the shiny new Galaxy S8 which was announced earlier this year, while in the other, there’s the Galaxy S7 Edge from last year. Sure, the Galaxy S8 does have newer, faster hardware on paper, but it also costs more than the Galaxy S7 Edge, given that the last year’s flagship can now be had for a sharp discount to its launch price. All things considered, are there enough improvements in the new device to warrant the higher price-tag? Let’s find out.
The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S7 Edge both come with large Super AMOLED displays curved at the sides, but while the older device has a more common 16:9 aspect ratio for its 5.5-inch panel, Samsung opted for a rather unusual 18.5:9 aspect ratio for the 5.8-inch ‘Infinity Display’ on the Galaxy S8. Samsung’s latest flagship also has an abundance of glass all around, and comes with glass on the front and the back. Both devices have fingerprint scanners and NFC, although, only the Galaxy S8 can boast of an iris scanner and USB Type-C connectivity.
Overall, the physical appearance of the Galaxy S8 is indeed eye-catching and makes its predecessor look like a relic from the Jurassic era, but did Samsung do enough with its latest flagship to justify the price-tag? Let’s take a look at the hardware specifications of the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S7 Edge side-by-side to get a better idea about some of the pros and cons of each device before deciding which one deserves your money and why.
The Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus are what Samsung hopes will bring the company some much-needed boost after the much-publicized Galaxy Note 7 fiasco and the ongoing corruption saga that’s been unfolding in South Korea over the past year. The device comes with an “Infinity Display” that’s curved on both edges. What’s really noteworthy, however, is the complete lack of bezels on either side of Samsung's latest flagship phone. Even the top and bottom bezels have been shrunk down to a minimum, but the ultra-thin top bezel can still accommodate the earpiece, the front-facing camera and the proximity sensor. Samsung’s trademark physical ‘Home’ button is nowhere to be found on the Galaxy S8, and the fingerprint scanner has been relocated to the back. With all the extra screen real-estate available as part of the larger, elongated display, Samsung has also done away with the capacitive buttons on the bottom bezel, settling instead for on-screen navigation keys like Sony and LG.
With smartphone displays getting bigger with every passing year, Samsung chose to go with a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display in what is essentially the ‘smaller’ of its two Galaxy S8-series devices. As mentioned earlier, it comes with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio and, has a QHD+ pixel resolution of 2960 x 1440, which translates to a pixel density of 570 DPI (Dots per Inch). Samsung also makes use of Corning Gorilla Glass 5 to protect the glass panels on the front and the back of the device. The U.S. version of the Galaxy S8 is powered by the latest high-end SoC from Qualcomm – Snapdragon 835. The chip comes with a 10nm CPU with 8 Kryo 280 cores clocked at a maximum of 2.45GHz, while the GPU happens to be the Adreno 540. However, this particular model is only available in a few countries, and most global markets will get the Exynos 8895-powered version. That particular chip is designed, developed and manufactured in-house by Samsung and, comes with an integrated octa-core CPU with four cores clocked at 1.7GHz and four cores at 2.3GHz. The SoC also has a Mali-G71 MP20 GPU. The Galaxy S8 packs 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and has 64GB of built-in UFS 2.1 storage that can be expanded by a microSD card.
Taking a look at the optics on the Galaxy S8, the device uses with a Dual Pixel 12-megapixel sensor with an f/1.7 aperture, phase detection auto focus (PDAF), LED flash, auto HDR and optical image stabilization (OIS). On the front, there’s an 8-megapixel auto-focus sensor with a wide-angle lens that also employs the same f/1.7 aperture. With The Galaxy Note 7 fiasco still fresh in its mind, Samsung reduced the battery size from 3,600mAh in the Galaxy S7 Edge to 3,000mAh in this device, although, it still retains support for the Quick Charge feature. Just like the Galaxy S7 Edge, the Galaxy S8 also comes with IP68 certification, denoting its resistance to water and dust. The device measures 148.9mm in length, 68.1mm in width and 8mm in thickness, while weighing in at 155 grams.
With the key hardware specs out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the key software features that Samsung hopes will be able to distinguish its latest flagship smartphones from the rest of the Android devices out there. First, off, the device comes with Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box, but is expected to receive Android O going forward. The phone also comes with the ‘Samsung Connect’ software that allows users to hook it up to other, connected Samsung devices, should you happen to own one. Samsung has also introduced its own AI personal assistant called ‘Bixby’ on its Galaxy S8-series devices. Bixby can not only answer simple search queries, but users can use the feature to get more information about architectural landmarks by pointing the phone’s camera at buildings and monuments in many cities around the world.
Unlike the completely revamped design of the Galaxy S8 series, the Galaxy S7 Edge looks considerably more traditional with a metal and glass design carried over from the Galaxy S6 series. The display, curved on both sides, still looks pretty cool even after a year of its initial release, although the Galaxy S8’s striking new ‘Infinity Display’ might have just stole its thunder a little bit. The phone is still a venerable performer, but it has been getting a bit long in the tooth, so can it hold its own against its glitzy successor that has been creating waves ever since its release earlier this year?
The Galaxy S7 Edge features a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display with dual curved edges. The panel comes with a WQHD resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, which translates to a pixel density of 534 DPI. Like all recent Samsung flagships, the Galaxy S7 Edge was also launched in two different variants – one powered by the Snapdragon 820 SoC and another, with the company’s own, in-house Exynos 8890. While the former comes with a quad-core CPU with two cores clocked at 1.6 GHz and two others at 2.15 GHz, the latter has an octa-core CPU with four cores clocked at 1.6 GHz and four others at 2.3 GHz. For graphics processing duties, the Snapdragon chip comes with an integrated Adreno 530 GPU, while the Exynos SoC ships with ARM’s own Mali-T880 MP4 GPU.
The rest of the hardware specs include 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 32GB of UFS 2.0 memory that’s expandable via a microSD card. In terms of optics, the Galaxy S7 sports a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera with an f/1.7 aperture for better low-light photography, and has features such as, phase detection auto-focus (PDAF), auto HDR, LED flash and optical image stabilization (OIS). The front-facing selfie-shooter on the Galaxy S7 Edge comes with a 5-megapixel sensor that also has an f/1.7 aperture. The battery is a non-removable 3,600mAh unit with support for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 in the Snapdragon version.
The Galaxy S7 Edge is also waterproof and dustproof as borne out by the device’s IP68 certification, and is also compatible with Android Pay and Samsung Pay. The device also comes with a heart rate monitor, an oxygen saturation sensor and wireless charging. On the software side of things, the Galaxy S7 Edge was originally launched with Android 6.0 Marshmallow pre-installed, but has already received Android 7.0 Nougat in many regions around the world. If the company’s current update schedule is anything to go by, it should also get the Android O update at some stage going forward. The Galaxy S7 Edge measures 150.9mm in length, 72.6mm in width and 7.7 mm in thickness while weighing in at 157 grams.
What a difference a year makes. When the Galaxy S7 Edge was launched last year with its curved-edges, a high-resolution Super AMOLED display, top-notch camera and premium glass-and-metal build, it was quickly acknowledged by reviewers and consumers alike to be one of the best smartphones money can buy. However, a year down the line, the device, although still extremely powerful, functional and good-looking in its own right, pales in comparison to its newer stable-mate. With the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, Samsung has absolutely hit it out the ballpark in terms of performance, functionality and design. The device looks every bit as good as it works, and works every bit as good as it looks, making it the indisputable winner in this particular contest. Sure, the Galaxy S7 Edge can be had for about $200-$250 dollars less than its successor, and it admittedly makes a lot of sense at that price point, but if you are in the market for the very best, look no further than the Samsung Galaxy S8.