Samsung Galaxy S7 vs. Galaxy S8: Is this year’s ‘Next Big Thing’ really worth it?

samsung galaxy s8 camera tips
Samsung experienced just about one of the most up-and-down years a company can in 2016, excelling out of the gate with the impressive Galaxy S7, before struggling through the back half of the year after the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco.

The South Korean tech giant needed to hit it out of the park with this year’s flagship, and so it took its time, neglecting to reveal the Galaxy S8 during Mobile World Congress in February, and overhauling its safety protocol in the meantime. Now, at long last, Samsung has returned — and made a statement in the process. The Galaxy S8 looks to be one of the most significant leaps forward, particularly in design, of any new product in the company’s flagship lineage.

But last year’s Galaxy was no slouch either, and although the S8’s exterior certainly fits the revolutionary bill, it remains to be seen if Samsung’s latest boasts enough meaningful improvements to necessitate an upgrade — especially when the S7 can be had for significantly less after a year on the market. How do they compare? We put them head-to-head to find out.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy S7

samsung-galaxy-s7-640x640-220x220

Samsung Galaxy S8

google pixel vs samsung galaxy s8 thumb

Size 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 millimeters (5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches) 148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm (5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 5.36 ounces (152g) 5.47 ounces
Screen 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED 5.8-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED
Resolution 2,560 x 1,440 pixels 2,960 x 1,440 pixels
OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow (Upgradeable to 7.0 Nougat) Android 7.0 Nougat
Storage 32/64GB 64GB
MicroSD card slot Yes Yes
NFC support Yes Yes
Processor Qualcomm MSM8996, Snapdragon 820 (U.S.)
Samsung Exynos 8890 (International)
Qualcomm MSM8988, Snapdragon 835 (U.S.),
Exynos 8895 (International)
RAM 4GB 4GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, GSM, HSPA+ Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+
Camera Front 5MP, Rear 12MP with OIS Front 8MP, Rear 12MP with OIS
Video 2,160p 4K UHD 2,160p 4K UHD
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.2 Yes, version 5.0
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Other sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate, iris scanner
Water resistant Yes, IP68 Yes, IP68
Battery 3,000mAh 3,000mAh
Ports Micro USB, 3.5mm headphone jack USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
Quick Charging Yes Yes
Wireless Charging Yes, Qi and PMA Yes, Qi and PMA
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Color offerings Black, white, gold, silver Black, silver, Orchid Gray (U.S. Models),
Blue, gold (International models)
Availability AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Samsung
Price $570 Starting at $720
DT review 4 out of 5 stars First take

In the U.S., the Galaxy S8 trades its predecessor’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 system-on-chip for the newer, more powerful 835. Elsewhere, the S8 will receive Samsung’s new Exynos 8895, replacing the 8890 seen in the international variant of the Galaxy S7. Both the Qualcomm and Samsung chips were comparable in performance last year, and the same looks to be true this time around.

Whichever S8 you buy, it’ll be capable of seriously fast download speeds over LTE — up to 1,000Mbps to be exact. Carriers will soon begin rolling out their gigabit-class LTE networks in limited capacities, and — unlike the S7 — the S8 is future-proof with the necessary hardware to take advantage of the new infrastructure as it proliferates over the next several years.

The Galaxy S8 also utilizes Bluetooth 5.0, which offers improved range and data transfer, though not at the same time. It’s still far superior to the Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity on the S7.

In terms of memory, the S8 retains the 4GB RAM of its predecessor. However, Samsung has thankfully followed the example of Apple and LG and decided to bump up base storage in the S8 to 64GB, up from half of that in the S7. As usual, you can add a MicroSD card to raise that total even higher, if you wish.

The added processing power, future-proofed LTE connectivity, and greater stock storage make the Galaxy S8 the clear winner in the specs race.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8

Design and display

samsung galaxy s7 vs s8 1

Just as the Galaxy S7 featured a Quad HD Super AMOLED panel, so too does its successor. But that doesn’t mean they share the same resolution — the S8 has a slightly higher 2,960 x 1,440 pixel resolution. That difference is due to size and the Edge display, which both the S8 and S8 Plus utilize.

The S7 offers a 5.1-inch screen, whereas the S8 has a much bigger 5.8-inch curved screen. While that may sound too big, the Galaxy S8 is fairly compact because Samsung massively shrunk the bezels — so you’re getting more display in a similar frame. To make room for this edge-to-edge panel, Samsung had to remove the physical home button. It opted for a pressure-sensitive home button in the display, similar to Android’s on-screen buttons. Meanwhile, the fingerprint sensor was moved to the rear, to the right of the center-mounted camera.

Otherwise, these phones look pretty similar along the sides and the back, right down to the materials. Samsung’s trademark polished glass cloaks the rear of the S8, surrounded by a ring of aluminum.

The screen really is the differentiating factor between the design of both models. The wider, 18:5:9 aspect ratio on the S8 lets you view more content, potentially making multitasking easier.

As long as you can put up with the fingerprint sensor moving to the back, the S8’s luxurious display and astonishing screen-to-bezel ratio makes for a device that is simultaneously more useful and aesthetically pleasing than the one it replaces.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8

Battery life and charging

samsung galaxy s7 vs s8 4

The Galaxy S8’s battery retains the 3,000mAh capacity of its predecessor, but it will benefit from Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4.0 debuting with the Snapdragon 835. According to the chip maker, this newest iteration of its fast charging tech is 20 percent faster and 30 percent more efficient than the previous one, and can deliver five hours of use in five minutes. Like the S7, the S8 will also support wireless charging.

The Snapdragon 835’s 10nm manufacturing process also makes it a bit smaller than the 14nm chip featured in last year’s Galaxy S7, leading to a 25 percent reduction in power consumption, according to Qualcomm. All of these tweaks should help keep the S8 up and running for longer on a charge than the outgoing flagship, despite the size of the battery remaining unchanged.

When we reviewed the S7 last year, we found its battery life to be satisfactory — if a little unimpressive — and averaged a little more than a day of use. A more frugal processor and improved Quick Charge capabilities mean Samsung’s latest is likely to eclipse that benchmark.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8

Mobile

Exclusive: Take a look at what a next-generation 5G phone will look like

With 5G phones debuting at MWC in mere days, there is discussion about whether they will be clunky bricks that die after a few hours? A reference design from Qualcomm offerrs a glimpse of the future: This is what 5G phones will look like.
Mobile

The best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases to keep your titanic phone safe

The new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a gorgeous device, with one of the best dual-lens cameras we've ever seen. Keep your titanic device safe and scratch-free with the best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases.
Mobile

It hasn't even been announced yet, but you can already reserve the Galaxy S10

It won't be long now. With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.
Mobile

Buying a Galaxy S10? Here's how to sell your old Galaxy phone

If you’re preparing to upgrade to a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S10 or S10 Plus, then you will want to turn your old Galaxy into cash. Follow our guide on how to sell your old Samsung Galaxy for the best results.
Mobile

Galaxy S10? Foldable phone? What to expect from Samsung’s Unpacked on Feb. 20

Samsung's skipping Mobile World Congress 2019 to launch its next big smartphone a week earlier in San Francisco. We're fully expecting the Galaxy S10 to show up, but what else will be there? Here's what to expect.
Mobile

Xiaomi Mi 9 will be one of the first phones with monster Snapdragon 855 chip

Xiaomi's next major smartphone release will be the Mi 9, and the company hasn't held back in giving us a good look at the phone, revealing the design, the camera, and a stunning color.
Wearables

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…
Wearables

Galaxy Watch Active isn't official yet, but you can see it in Samsung's own app

Samsung may be about to resurrect its Sport line of smartwatches under a new name: The Galaxy Watch Sport Active. Leaks and rumors are building our picture of the device at the moment.
Mobile

Stop buying old tablets, says Samsung, buy the new Galaxy Tab S5e instead

Samsung has launched the Galaxy Tab S5e -- the E is for Essential -- a reasonably priced tablet that includes many of the features we like from the Tab A 10.5, and the Tab S4. Here's what you need to know.
Mobile

Bag yourself a bargain with the best budget tablets under $200

The battle for your budget tablet affections is really ramping up. Which tablet, costing less than $200, should be commanding your attention? We take a look at some different options for the budget-conscious.
Computing

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.
Home Theater

Samsung accidentally leaks its new Galaxy Buds ahead of launch

It's been all but certain that Samsung would launch a successor to its Gear IconX wireless earbuds soon, but a newly leaked photo and recent FCC certification document seems to indicate that the debut is very close.
Home Theater

Hi-res streaming audio service Qobuz arrives in U.S., threatens Tidal’s monopoly

For several years, Tidal enjoyed a monopoly on hi-res music streaming in the U.S. Now, French company Qobuz is here to offer some competition with a variety of monthly plans starting at $10 a month.
Mobile

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.
1 of 2