If you’ve got a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge in your pocket, you’ve probably spent the past few months walking around like Billy Big Bits, knowing you’re rocking the best phone money can by. Well, all that just changed. You can stop the strut, the Galaxy S7 Edge just got blown out of the water by Samsung’s latest flagship phone, the long-awaited Galaxy S8.
‘But annual smartphone updates haven’t brought anything new for years’ we hear you say. Well, you’re right, until now, anyway.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is more than just an upgrade on the Galaxy S7 Edge, or anything else that’s preceded it for that matter. This is a phone that’s redefining what a smartphone should be.
It’s not going to be cheap when it hits retailers’ shelves next month though, and that begs a question, is it really worth upgrading? Well, having been privy to an early look at the Galaxy S8, we put the two phones to the test to find out.
Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: Design
Until today, the Galaxy S7 Edge was the best looking phone on the market. Now, it, and every other phone out there, looks like a relic. If it sounds like we’re bigging up the S8’s new look, it’s because we are. This thing’s not just stunning, it’s the future.
Although following a similar shape and look to last year’s phone, the newly rounded corners of the S8 give this metal-framed, glass-backed phone a more refined look.
That’s not what sets it apart though. Instead, that honour goes to the phone’s screen to body ratio. Like the S7 Edge, the S8’s screen gently curves around both the left and right hand edges of the phone. Unlike the old device, however, the S8’s screen almost touches the phone’s top and bottom edges too.
That’s because Samsung’s has heavily reduced the phone’s framing and completely ditched the space-sapping physical home button. The result is stunning, and far more impactful than you’d expect.
A giant 5.8-inch screen has been slotted into a device notable shorter and narrower than the S7 Edge and, despite being marginally fatter (8.0mm to 7.7mm) the S8 holds its overall size much better.
Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: Screen
The S8’s screen is eye catching for more than just its size too. It’s also bloomin’ beautiful. It’s not a huge step up on the S7 Edge, however. At least not in terms of overall resolution.
The S7 Edge’s 5.7-inch display was a 2560 x 1440 pixel QHD offering. By contrast, the S8’s 5.8-inch panel features a 2960 x 1440 QHD+ resolution. Those added vertical pixels are because the phone’s moved to a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio.
This is where the S8 starts to edge ahead. The longer screen gives the S8 an advantage when flipped horizontally to watch a movie as those traditionally pesky black letterbox lines that detract from the on-screen action.
There’s another bonus here, too. The S8 boasts a HDR Mobile panel, meaning those rich colours and deep, dark blacks of the latest Netflix and Amazon Prime content will be fully utilised.
Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: Features
With the phone having ditched the S7 Edge’s physical home button, one of the S8’s main new features is its facial recognition abilities. This lets the phone unlock just by looking at you, and only you. It works well too, even tackling face reads in areas of light and shade.
The fingerprint scanner hasn’t been scrapped completely, instead just moved to the rear of the device. This isn’t quite as accessible as the S7’s front mounting, but for that screen and design, we’re happy to make the compromise.
Elsewhere, there are all the usual speed boosts you’ll struggle to notice, with the S8 offering a 10% CPU bump and 21% GPU over last year’s phone, a device that already offered more grunt than you were ever likely to need.
This is paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage that can be expanded via microSD.
One area where the S7 Edge does have the advantage, is battery capacity. The S8’s 3,000mAh power supply pales compared with the S7 Edge’s 3,600mAh battery, and is the only real cost of this svelte, sexy design.
Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: Software
The Galaxy S7 Edge has finally been updated to Google’s latest Android 7.0 Nougat OS, software that runs direct from the box on the S8. That doesn’t mean that the two phones offer the same user experience though.
While the S7 Edge’s TouchWiz Android skin was a little bloated, the new Samsung UX is far more sophisticated and refined. It features a whole new, more elegant look without skimping on any of its predecessor’s solid additions such as S Health.
All the usual Android-based customisation options you'd expect are available on both phones, but the S8 has a little software-based trick up its sleeve, Bixby.
The company’s new voice-controlled digital assistant, Bixby is Samsung’s answer to Siri, although it has more focus on bringing the phone’s inner features out. Using your voice, and the dedicated Bixby button on the side of the phone, you can ask your phone to do all the usual call-handling, search making tasks you’d expect as well as finding images from your trip to Paris.
There is a catch though, and a pretty sizeable one at that. On day one when the S8 hits shops, Bixby support won’t be available for UK users. Instead, it will drop later in the year.
Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: Camera
A year on from launch, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge’s camera is still one of the best to have been fitted to a smartphone. That’s probably the reason that Samsung has stuck with the same 12-megapixel sensor with f/1.7 lens for this year’s phone then.
Things aren’t exactly the same though. The S8 now utilises multi-frame image processing, meaning it takes three shots for everyone image you’re shown. Why? Well, the other two images are used to reduce blurring and increase overall image sharpness. We need to spend more time using the camera before we can vouch for how effective this actually is, however.
What’s instantly noticeable though, is just how much the phone’s front-facing camera has improved. The S7 Edge’s 5-megapixel selfie-snapper has been subbed out for a new 8-megapixel offering and the results are great.
Enhanced by inbuilt autofocus and its own low-light specialising f/1.7 lens, the S8’s front-facing camera produced pleasing deep, airy shots during our hands-on time. With additional filters and stickers now built in, it’s a Snapchat-lover’s dream.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is undoubtedly still a great phone, and one that given the inevitable price cuts just around the corner will remain a tantalising choice for many. The S8, however, is something special.
This has the potential to be a once in a generation phone, this decade’s Nokia 3310 or original iPhone such are the changes it’s bringing. Technically, the improvements are huge, the overall impact of them, led most notably by that stunning new look, however, is massive.
If you’re after a new phone, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is, budget permitting, the only way to go. If you’ve already got an S7 Edge, there are plenty of reasons to upgrade too. As soon as you see an S8 in the street, you won’t look at your once beloved handset in the same way again.
More Samsung Galaxy S8 coverage from Giz UK:
- Samsung Galaxy S8: Best Phone Ever?
- Samsung Galaxy S8: UK Release Date, Price, and Where To Get It
- Will UK Samsung Galaxy S8 Owners Miss Out On A Key Feature At Launch?
- Samsung's DeX Dock Turns The Galaxy S8 into a Desktop PC
- Everything You Need to Know About the Samsung Galaxy S8
- The Samsung Galaxy S8 Is Here - But How Does It Compare to the S7 Edge?