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Samsung Galaxy S8 vs. Galaxy S8 Plus: Which galactic star should you pick?

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus may be the new kings of Samsung’s flagship range, but that doesn’t mean you should discount their predecessors. They might not have the latest coat of polish and some of the headline features you’ll find on the latest S-range phones, but some pretty hefty discounts and plenty of flagship-level power mean that the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are still fantastic phones.

So you’re sold on the idea, but do you get the Galaxy S8 or the S8 Plus? When it comes down to it, is bigger better, or does David slay Goliath? In order to find out, we took these two phones and pitted them head-to-head to see which deserves your money.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy S8 Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus
Size 148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm (5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31 inches) 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm (6.28 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches)
Weight 155 grams (5.47 ounces) 173 grams (6.10 ounces)
Screen size 5.8-inch AMOLED display 6.2-inch AMOLED display
Screen resolution 2,960 x 1,440 pixels (570 pixels per inch) 2,960 x 1,440 pixels (529 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo
Storage space 64GB
64GB, 128GB
MicroSD card slot Yes Yes
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay, Samsung Pay Google Pay, Samsung Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM 4GB 4GB, 6GB
Camera 12MP rear, 8MP front 12MP rear, 8MP front
Video 2160p @ 30 fps, 1080p @ 60 fps, 720p @ 240 fps, HDR, dual-video rec. 2160p @ 30 fps, 1080p @ 60 fps, 720p @ 240 fps, HDR, dual-video rec.
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 3,000mAh

QuickCharge 2.0

Qi wireless charging

3,500mAh

QuickCharge 2.0

Qi wireless charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support All major carriers All major carriers
Colors Midnight Black, Arctic Silver, Maple Gold, Coral Blue, and Orchid Gray Midnight Black, Arctic Silver, Maple Gold, Coral Blue, and Orchid Gray
Price $600 $690
Buy from Samsung, Amazon, Best Buy Samsung, Amazon
Review score 4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Image used with permission by copyright holder

With both of these phones packing the powerful Snapdragon 835 processor, there’s very little to separate them from a performance standpoint. No matter which of the two you pick, you’ll find the experience snappy and smooth. The S8 Plus has a slight edge with an optional upgrade to 6GB of RAM — 2GB more than the standard S8 — but since RAM has relatively little impact on performance, the difference is fairly minimal unless you’re a big multitasker. Both offer 64GB of onboard storage, which can be expanded with a MicroSD card, but if you upgrade to the 6GB version of the S8 Plus, then you get 128GB of internal storage.

It’s much the same in terms of charging and battery life — the S8 Plus may have the larger battery of the two, with an extra 500mAh of battery — but that’s balanced out by the reduced power requirements of the smaller screen on the S8. In practice, both of these phones will have much the same battery life — though the S8 Plus will probably last a bit longer, it’s unlikely to be a significant difference. Charging is much the same — both phones are equipped with QuickCharge 2.0 and Qi-enabled wireless charging, and will take around the same amount of time to refill.

The extra battery capacity and the option to upgrade to 6GB of RAM secure the win for the S8 Plus.

Winner: Galaxy S8 Plus

Design and durability

galaxy s8 tips and tricks
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When a phone’s successor keeps the same style, you know you’ve got something that still looks great. The S8 and S8 Plus are both rocking the same beautiful fusion of metal and glass — it’s stylish, it’s futuristic, and it just looks great anywhere. There’s basically no difference between the two phones in terms of design — they’re part of the same range after all — but that lack of difference does work against the larger model. We weren’t a fan of the fingerprint sensor placement next to the camera lens when the phones released, and time hasn’t really changed that. While the placement is a bother on the standard S8, it’s an outright chore on the S8 Plus, with the larger body making reaching a consistent stretch. If you do decide to go for the S8 Plus, be ready to stretch for the sensor a lot. The S8’s smaller size makes it easier to handle for most people.

Glass may be gorgeous, but it’s slippery, fragile, and it attracts fingerprints — make no mistake, cases for the S8 and S8 Plus are heavily recommended. Both are pretty well insulated against water, and the IP68-ratings should mean both can withstand accidental dunks into the bath — or down the toilet.

With so much being the same, the smaller size of the Galaxy S8 means it’s simply a better fit for most people’s hands. The standard S8 takes this category.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8

Display

Galaxy S8 Plus
Galaxy S8 Plus Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

There are few companies that make displays as well as Samsung. The AMOLED displays on the S8 and S8 Plus are a joy to behold, with deep, inky blacks and vibrant colors. The edge-to-edge design we saw debut with these models does the Galaxy range proud, thanks to AMOLED screens that stretch across the whole front panel. You’ll find a 5.8-inch screen on the S8 and a larger 6.2-inch screen on the S8 Plus, but both run the same 2,960 x 1,440-pixel resolution. Due to the smaller screen, the S8’s display is a little crisper, but we challenge you to tell the difference.

There’s no difference in this save the slightest edge in pixels-per-inch for the S8, because of the additional size of the screen in the S8 Plus. This is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Camera

Galaxy S8
Galaxy S8 Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Samsung carried the same 12-megapixel camera over from the Galaxy S7 for the S8 range, and it’s still a good shooter. Don’t get us wrong — it pales when placed against the best camera phones in all but the best lighting, but you’ll still get good results from both of these phones. The front-facing 8-megapixel shooter is similarly good, and has some fun software tricks that make taking group selfies a tad easier. Video-wise, you can shoot up to 4K quality on both of these phones, as well as slow-motion video at 240 frames-per-second.

Unlike the S9 Plus, the S8 Plus doesn’t come with a second camera lens, so you’re looking at exactly the same software and hardware when it comes to picking between the S8 and the S8 Plus. That’s good for parity, but bad for this particular category — there’s no way we can pick between these two.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Both of these phones are running Samsung’s own spin on Android — the Samsung Experience. It’s a long way from the bad old days of TouchWiz, and it’s actually a decent UI to use, with a good amount of customizability. It’s running over the latest version of Android — Android 8.0 Oreo — and you can expect both of these phones to get upgraded to Android P when that finally becomes available. Be warned, Samsung’s record with timely updates isn’t the best. Hopefully, Project Treble can help with that, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Since these phones are running the same software, this has to be a draw.

Winner: Tie

Special features

Samsung DeX docking station
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Love it or hate it, the Galaxy S8 was the first Samsung phone to ship with Bixby, Samsung’s own A.I. assistant, and Bixby’s functionality is hardwired into the phone itself with the inclusion of the dedicated Bixby button below the volume rocker. Thankfully, you can turn most of Bixby’s features off if you really don’t like it, but it’s seen more than a few updates now that really improve the way it works. Unlike some other assistants, Bixby can interact directly with your phone, and is capable of turning things like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi on or off, if you ask nicely.

There’s also VR included in the S8 and S8 Plus, as both can use the Gear VR — and if you’re working away from the office, you can use the Dex Station to turn your smartphone into a decent enough desktop workstation. That said, you’ll have to pay around $100 for the chance to play with these.

Both of these phones support the same special features. This is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Price

Thanks to the release of the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, the S8 range has seen a couple of price cuts. Being the smaller model, you can now pick up the Galaxy S8 from Samsung for just $600, while the larger S8 Plus starts at $690 for the 64GB model. You can find all the latest sale and carrier offers in our Galaxy S8 buying guide.

Winner: Galaxy S8

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy S8

Being two versions of much the same model, there’s really not much to separate the Galaxy S8 and the S8 Plus — however, the smaller model does come with its advantages, and the easier-to-handle Galaxy S8 pulls ahead based on that alone. Add to that the cheaper price and comparable power, performance, and general usability, and you’ve got yourself a winner. For our money, the Galaxy S8 is the superior phone out of the two to buy.

But if you’re a tried-and-tested lover of giant phones and want as much screen real estate as you can get, then the Galaxy S8 Plus provides an awful lot of phone for your money and will be best for you. Everyone else should go for the standard S8.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Jansen
Mark Jansen is an avid follower of everything that beeps, bloops, or makes pretty lights. He has a degree in Ancient &…
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