“Every spring, Samsung introduces a new Galaxy phone; every fall, Apple (AAPL) counterpunches with a new iPhone.
At the moment, we find ourselves in mid-cycle: Samsung has just released its Galaxy S8, and the iPhone 8 is still a summer away.
The S8 is a gorgeous phone. It’s a hardware masterpiece, it’s getting rave reviews, and—hey!—so far, nobody’s battery has exploded.
It’s also so crammed with features, it’s amazing the thing doesn’t weigh 20 pounds. That’s the Samsung way: Pile on features to see what sticks. Unfortunately, some of it’s garbage.
So here, as a public service, is a peculiar kind of review: A master list of features that the new Samsung has and the iPhone doesn’t—along with an assessment of which ones are actually useful.
1. The wraparound screen
Samsung’s S8 design goal was, “the most screen in the smallest space.” And sure enough: the side margins of the screen are gone completely—the screen image actually begins to curve around the side edges—and the top and bottom margins have been halved.
The result: Samsung’s screen shows 40% more than the iPhone 7’s—but the phones are the same width. (The screen is 5.8 inches diagonal on the S8, vs. 4.7 on the iPhone.)
That’s a little misleading, of course—the Samsung gets some of that extra screen area by being taller than the iPhone (.4 inches taller). In other words, it’s a weird shape—tall and skinny—that leaves you with black bars beside your videos.
Here’s what else is misleading: Samsung advertises a resolution of 2960 by 1440 pixels—much higher than the iPhone’s 1334 by 750. But in hopes of saving battery life, Samsung hides much of that high-res goodness. Out of the box, the phone comes set to 1080p resolution—only one-quarter of its potential sharpness. You have to fiddle with Settings if you want all the clarity you paid for.
But no question: it’s great to have so much screen. And such a great screen! Bright, colorful, gorgeous OLED.“